Runners enjoy a cracking day at the Suffolk Cross Country Championships at Culford School
- Credit: Archant
Culford School hosted the annual Suffolk County Cross Country Championships, with runners relishing the muddy conditions and a cold breeze over varying distances, and in numerous age groups.
Runners ranging from the under-11s right up to the over-65s were in action, over different looped courses on the school playing fields, along Culford Water and over the famous Iron Bridge.
In the under-11 races, which kicked off a busy day of competition, West Suffolk AC's Bella Taylor, the defending champion, was a comfortable winner of the girls' title in 8mins 00secs (for 3K), finishing 40 seconds ahead of runner-up and team-mate Lily Ambrose (8:40) and third-placed Bella Rose Jameson , of Ipswich JAFFA (8:46).
The boys' race was a closer affair, with Ipswich Harriers' Aston-Fox Barrington-Hibbert taking first spot in 7:47, just five seconds ahead of Jacob Griffin, of Saint Edmund Pacers.
There was a strong run from Roman Gambling, of Stowmarket Striders, in third (7:56), who was pursued by the West Suffolk duo of Elijah Dube and Max Uttley.
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Verity Valentine was one of the most impressive winners of the day. The talented Saint Edmund Pacer coasted to victory in the under-13 girls' age group in a sparkling 12mins 41secs.
Valentine was 48 seconds ahead of runner-up Amelie Taylor, of West Suffolk, who took silver by just two seconds from Pacers' Elise Wright (13:31) with another Pacer, Isabel Moore, in fourth slot.
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Liam Davison also enjoyed a comfortable margin of victory in the under-13 boys' section. The Ipswich Harrier crossed the line in 11:53, with 19 seconds in hand over the West Suffolk double act of Jacob Trangmar (12:12) and Tom Taylor (12:20).
Ruby Vinton, last year's under-13 champion, was in a class of her own in the under-15 girls' race, leaving the rest of a 22-strong field trailing in her wake.
The Woodbridge School pupil won in 16:42, a massive 99 seconds ahead of Ipswich Harriers' team-mate Amy Goddard (18:21).
Ipswich JAFFA's Madeline Lansdown was third, just ahead of West Suffolk's Lila Battell over a 4K challenge.
There was another fine display of front running in the under-15 boys' race, where Lewis Sullivan retained his title with much to spare in 14:25.
Sullivan, a member of the Pacers and a pupil at Sybil Andrews Academy, won the prestigious English Schools Championships last year, as well as winning the Schools Home Countries International in Dublin.
There was a terrific battle for second spot, behind Sullivan, with Ipswich Harriers' Oliver Hitchcock digging deep to take second in 14:52, just six seconds ahead of Thetford AC's Ben Peck (last year's under-13 champion), with older brother James Peck in fourth.
In the under-17 age group, April Hill, who now runs for Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers, surged home in 19:37, finishing 38 seconds clear of runner-up Holly Fisher, of Ipswich Harriers, with fellow Harrier Tilly Aldis in third (20:27).
One of the most exciting races of the day was actually the last one, the under-17 boys' event, where Tom Henson and Kit Evans Lombe were neck-and-neck for the bulk of the 6K route.
In the end, Pacers' Henson took the title in 20:49, with Evans Lombe just three seconds adrift. Pacers' Will Lowden was also on the podium with 21:26 in third.
The under-20 age groups were contested within the senior races, Stowmarket Striders' Maddie Jordan-Lee winning the girls' title over 6K in 24:16, ahead of Ipswich Harriers' Philippa Unthank (24:55) and twin sister Millie Jordan-Lee (25:15).
James Pettersson was away and clear in the under-20 men's category, the Ipswich Harrier registering 26:57 (over 8K) to finish more than a minute-and-a-half clear of Pacers' Steven Quercia-Smale (28:38).
Older sister Hannah Pettersson was crowned senior women's county champion after an exciting duel with Lauren Howe over a tough 10K distance.
Pettersson and Howe were shoulder-to-shoulder for much of the race, working together to build up a big gap. Pettersson eventually won in 39:57, with Howe, a member of City of Norwich AC, eight seconds behind in second position.
JAFFA's Laura Thomas took third in 41:02, and the top five was completed by Cambridge & Coleridge's Justine Anthony (fourth in 41:53) and JAFFA's Georgia Garvin (fifth in 42:15).
Pacers' Odette Robson was sixth overall and the leading veteran (over-45).
Others to top their age groups included Hadleigh Hares' Alice Heather-Hayes (over-40), the Framlingham Flyers duo of Geraldine Clarke (over-50) and Marion Walker (overe-65), West Suffolk's Christine Anthony (over-55) and Pacers' Jenny Morgan (over-60).
The senior men's event, which attracted a field of 140, ended up being a close finish with James Reeder, of Ipswich Harriers, holding off the challenge of West Suffolk's Jacob Freeborough to win the title. Reeder clocked 34:55 for the 10K route, with Freeborough four seconds behind.
Hadleigh Hares' Scott Ramsey ran well for third spot in 35:08, while Cambridge & Coleridge's Michael Gilbert and Harriers' Connor Whiting were fourth and fifth respectively.
Neil Pollard, of Newmarket Joggers, was the leading veteran in eighth slot, and there were other veteran category wins for JAFFA's Keith Tilley (over-45), the Newmarket Joggers duo of Paul Holley (over-50) and Neville Clarke (over-65), Pacers' Chris Cooke (over-55, an excellent 15th overall), Felixstowe Road Runners' Richard Wold (over-60, just pipping Brian Rogers) and Stowmarket Striders' Frank Moggan (over-70).