Basildon AC had a fantastic day at the Essex Cross-Country Championships, collecting three victories over the energy-sapping course at Hadleigh Country Park.
The new-towners had wins in the under-13 and under-15 boys races, while the under-17 girls team were also victorious.
It was another fine day for the Judd sisters, Jessica and Jodie, as they both returned home to Canvey with gold medals after anchoring their Chelmsford AC teams to victory in the senior women’s and under-15 girls races respectively.
While the most dominant performance of the day came from a class Southend AC senior men’s team who demolished the field and had the flying Adam Hickey on the last leg. Hickey set the fastest time of the day on the 5km loop, finishing nearly a minute ahead of the next fastest man, his team-mate Tom Frith.
While the senior men and women’s loop was 5km, the junior races’ legs were 3km each.
The youngest victors among Basildon AC’s hat-trick of wins was the under-13 boys team. Mason Webb put them in the lead from the outset with Joe Wakerley and then the fastest runner of the day, Gus Withers (10m 31s), rounding things off in style.
Southend AC’s team of Craig Wheel, Mitchell Lawrence and Toby Wright finished as runners-up.
The under-15 boys’ race was in the balance until the last leg when Basildon’s Daniel Ashley stepped up to anchor his team to victory. The win was set up by great runs from Max Jones and Ollie Cantwell on legs one and two.
The fastest leg of the race went to Westcliff’s George Elliott (9m 47s), but unfortunately he was the only representative of Chelmsford AC in the age group and so had no team to contest the final standings.
The Southend AC team of Adam Jordan and Lawrence Willmore were also going well but had no third leg runner.
Basildon’s only win in the women’s section came in the under-17 age group where Alice Perkins, Poppy Aitmarri and Emily Bullis came out on top, seeing off the threat of Southend AC (Annabel Matthews-Smith, Emma Jarvis and Sarah Imbush) who finished second.
Thurrock Harriers’ Gemma Holloway run the fastest time of the day (10m 41s), but like Elliott, did not have a compete team to figure in the overall standings.
Benfleet RC were leading the senior women’s race after two legs but will have known they faced an uphill struggle when they spotted Jessica Judd standing on the line to run the final leg for Chelmsford AC.
Judd stormed around the 5km course in 18m 06s, finishing nearly two minutes quicker than the next fastest runner, Colchester Harriers’ Sarah Stradling, who herself is an international marathon runner.
Benfleet’s Catherine Stunt dug deep on the final leg to see her team, which also included Lucy Mancer and Tracy Swindell, to a silver medal.
Rayleigh’s Millie Smith set the Chelmsford AC under-15 girls team up for victory with a strong first leg that saw her finish in second position, just behind Colchester Harriers’ KJ Watts.
Cameron Venton got the team up to first place before Jodie Judd run the fastest leg of the day (10m 58s) to make the trio’s overall victory comprehensive.
Southend AC won a fine silver medal with Lucy Kidwell and Rachel Aldis setting up Natasha Mann for a sensational final leg which saw her finish just three seconds behind Judd.
After coming so close to victory throughout the day, it was left to the final race for Southend AC to get their first win on the board and it was little surprise when they did.
Their senior men’s team of Frith, David Gibbon, David Smale and Hickey were made to work hard by Chelmsford. But in the end it proved too good, with Hickey easily making up more than a minute on Chelmsford’s Mark Sanford on the last leg.
Hickey finished in a rapid 15m 46s, with Frith the next fastest on the day (16m 40s).