Cyclists grab bragging rights over runners at Colchester’s Friday Woods

The winning Three cyclists with shield and Markham Cup (from left, Ben Paton (previous winner), Jame

The winning Three cyclists with shield and Markham Cup (from left, Ben Paton (previous winner), James Jackson (winner) and Ivor Burch (previous winner) - Credit: Archant

The cyclists won the day in the annual challenge against the runners, in Colchester on Boxing Day.

Over a crisp wintry morning, a total of 130 runners and cyclists embraced this testing event, held in Colchester’s Friday Woods.

It was the magnificent seven cyclists who outgunned their running opponents for a clear victory to retain the Markham Cup for the 13th consecutive time, winning by 21 points to 71 (lowest score wins).

Straight from the start, 16-year-old cyclist James Jackson, a Colchester sixth form college student, showed his class as he powered through the woods with precision over three laps of the one-mile mud-covered course.

With skill and youthful panache, Jackson stormed to victory with over a minute to spare from his nearest rival, in 20mins 54secs.


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The teenage prodigy, who has developed through the Colchester Rovers ranks since joining as a six-year-old, became the youngest competitor to win this long-standing race and looks set to become a star of the future.

He was chased hard home by cyclists and former winners Ben Paton (second in 22.02) and Ivor Burch (third with 22.56), who always click into form for this race.

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The next four places were dominated by cyclists Andy Hurst (fourth in 23.03), Michael Martin (fifth, 23.10), Oliver Edwards (sixth, 23.27) and David West (seventh, 23.42).

Another former winner of this event, Robert Malseed, had the distinction of being the first runner home. He showed that he had lost none of his determination as he finished eighth in a time of 23.49.

The next five to complete the runners team were the hard-working Allen Smalls (10th in 24.22), Saul Muldoon (11th with 24.34), Ross Sharp (13th in 26.06), Paul Spowage (14th in 26.08) and Keith Thomas (15th with 26.23.)

The oldest competitor in the field was once again the remarkable cyclist, Neil Pears, who was competing in his 55th consecutive Runners v Cyclists event.

Meanwhile, the ladies’ two-lap race saw over 40 competitors take part, a new record field for this event.

A stirring run came from a confident Emma Burgess as she crossed the line first in 18.19.

There was also an impressive performance by fast finishing 15-year-old Lydia Callan (pictured left), who came second in a time of 19.02.

Debbie Cattermole gave a good account of herself in third (19.32) with Andrea James fourth in 19.36. They were followed by Lynn Higgs (fifth in 19.50), Vicky Presland (sixth in 20.22), Ellie Neale (seventh, 20.27), Julia Gardener (eighth, 20.42), Lacey Bareham (ninth, 21.20) and Sian Gifford (10th, 21.28).

In the Juniors (Under-14/15) one-lap race, the leading trio of runners were Aidan Cahill (first in 10.00), Georgina Sturgeon (second in 10.43) and Callum Richardson (third in 13.43).

Now in only its second year, the Under 11-13 race, over two small laps of 900 metres, proved what a great success it is fast becoming, with over 30 competitors taking part.

Cyclist Dexter Mansel-Thomas produced an excellent ride to race home first in the fast time of 6.03, followed by great runs by Daniel Millward (second in 6.37) and Joseph Boden (third in 6.42).

Runners and cyclists that followed were Ollie Partner (fourth, 6.47), Daniel Hall (fifth, 6.49), Adrian Seaward (sixth, 7.44), Roman Callan (seventh, 7.50), Savanna Harrison (eighth, 7.54), Oliver Wellsted (ninth, 7.58) and Millie Presland (10th, 8.00).

Special thanks go to Colchester & Tendring Athletic Club, Colchester Rovers Cycling Club, Great Bentley Running Club and Colchester Harriers for helping in the officiating and marshalling of the course.

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