Ipswich Harriers’ athlete Jack Millar selected to represent England

John Millar (centre), on his way to a fine 11th position at last year's National Cross Country Champ

John Millar (centre), on his way to a fine 11th position at last year's National Cross Country Championships. He improved to a superb fourth in the same event at Parliament Hill on Saturday. - Credit: Archant

Jack Millar, despite veering off course on a couple of occasions, recovered to finish a marvellous fourth in the junior men’s race at the English National Cross Country Championships, held at Parliament Hill Fields on Hampstead Heath in North-West London on Saturday.

The Ipswich Harriers duo of Mimi Salsby, left, and April Hill, who finished 76th and 40th respectiv

The Ipswich Harriers duo of Mimi Salsby, left, and April Hill, who finished 76th and 40th respectively in the under-15 girls' race at the National Cross Country Championships last weekend, Picture: ANDY ABBOTT - Credit: Andy Abbott

As a result, Millar has been selected to run for England at the annual Home Countries International, which is to be held in Nottingham on March 24.

It was a cracking run from Suffolk speed merchant Millar, a specialist steeplechaser on the track, against the best runners in the country.

There was no stopping Mahamed Mahamed, of Southampton AC, who won by 57 seconds (31mins 26secs) from Leeds City AC’s Emile Caitress (32:23) and Stroud & District’s Thomas Mortimer (32:54) over a punishing 10K route.

But 20-year-old Millar, a member of Ipswich Harriers, was only two seconds behind Mortimer in fourth slot.

The Ipswich Harriers duo of Mimi Salsby, left, and April Hill, who finished 76th and 40th respectiv

The Ipswich Harriers duo of Mimi Salsby, left, and April Hill, who finished 76th and 40th respectively in the under-15 girls' race at the National Cross Country Championships last weekend, Picture: ANDY ABBOTT - Credit: Andy Abbott


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It was a race packed with incident, for Millar especially, as he explained following his return to normality at Bath University this week – he is a second year Mathematics student.

“I feel that I ran well, and I’m very comfortable with that fourth position,” explained Millar, who comes from the village of Helmingham, to the near of Ipswich, near Otley.

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“I actually had a slight problem with my adductor in the weeks leading up to the race. It was a little sore, so that was in the back of my mind, but it wasn’t a factor.

“The Parliament Hill course was unusually dry this year, due to the cold snap. It was muddy in places, but you didn’t have the usual challenge of wading through bogs.

The Ipswich Harriers duo of Mimi Salsby, left, and April Hill, who finished 76th and 40th respectiv

The Ipswich Harriers duo of Mimi Salsby, left, and April Hill, who finished 76th and 40th respectively in the under-15 girls' race at the National Cross Country Championships last weekend, Picture: ANDY ABBOTT - Credit: Andy Abbott

“That meant the race went a little faster, and I lost touch with the top two early on. They pushed hard and were racing each other.

“Meanwhile, I went wrong on a couple of occasions. The course ducked off to one side, from the main footpath, and there were no marshalls there, so I took a wrong turn.

“This happened twice, which put me back a few places to eighth, although I think this just motivated me to run harder.

“I caught my with the third-placed runner (Mortimer) with a kilometre to go, but he then picked the pace up again on the long downhill and final straight stretch to the finish,” added Millar, who was nearly a minute clear of the fifth-placed runner.

Amy Goddard, who was 211th in the under-13 girls' event last weekend

Amy Goddard, who was 211th in the under-13 girls' event last weekend - Credit: Andy Abbott

Millar can now look forward to running in an England vest, against the best from Scotland, Wales and Ireland next month.

“I’m really excited about that,” enthused Millar, who was 11th at the previous year’s National Championships, held in Nottingham.

“It’s great to be invited to run for England. I’m chuffed to be asked to run for my country, and to get the chance to run against different athletes.”

Former Farlingaye pupil Millar, who won a silver medal in the 2,000m steeplechase at the English Schools Athletics Championships in 2016, was crowned Suffolk County cross country champion at Culford School in early January.

Coached by Stephen Hicks at Ipswich Harriers, Millar was 23rd at the British Universities Cross Country Champs in Uxbridge at the beginning of this month.

Meanwhile, it was a good day all-round for Ipswich Harriers at the National Championships.

There were top 10 places for the Harriers’ duo of Oliver Hitchcock and Elliot Gladwell in the under-13 boys’ race, helping the Ipswich team to seventh place.

Hitchcock was fifth in 11:40 (3K course), followed by Gladwell in 10th with 11:48. They were backed up by Joseph Davison (115th in 13:03), Ryan Grady (198th in 13:28), Max Fisher (250th in 13:45) and Edward Rufford (395th in 14:33).

In the under-13 girls’ equivalent, the talented Ruby Vinton, one of the youngest in the field, was 37th in 13:23, with Amy Goddard 211th.

The Harriers’ under-15 girls’ team were a fine fourth overall, thanks to the quartet of Tilly Aldis (40th, 15:46), Holly Fisher (62nd, 16:03), Mimi Salsby (76th, 16:12) and Katie Challinor (113th, 16:33) over a 4K course. Other Harriers competing in this age group were Mia Dann (155th, 16:56), Poppy Branton (168th, 17:02) and Rose Branson (347th, 18:34).

Charlie Turner led home the Harriers in the under-15 boys’ race, finishing 54th over a 4.5K course in 16:41. Freddie Adams also ran well in 73rd (16:56), with Franek Ouk (372nd) also in action.

Matthew Snowdon was 250th in the under-17 men’s event, while Thomas Adams (77th, 36:31) and Alex Tripp (108th, 37:33) backed up Harriers’ team-mate Millar in the under-20 race. Over the 12K senior route, Stephen Hicks flew Harriers’ flag in 1,775th position.

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