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Sullivan wins at Liverpool, and Millar earns selection for European Championships

PUBLISHED: 11:25 28 November 2019 | UPDATED: 11:25 28 November 2019

The top three: Lewis Sullivan, centre, who won the British Athletic Cross Challenge race in Liverpool, is flanked on the podium by fellow Suffolk athlete Ben Peck, left, and Joshua Blevins. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

The top three: Lewis Sullivan, centre, who won the British Athletic Cross Challenge race in Liverpool, is flanked on the podium by fellow Suffolk athlete Ben Peck, left, and Joshua Blevins. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

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Suffolk athletes have celebrated some superb results on the cross country circuit, over the last week or so, on both sides of the Atlantic.

Suffolk's Jack Millar, on his way to sixth spot while representing England at an international meeting in Belgium last season. Picture: CONTRIBUTEDSuffolk's Jack Millar, on his way to sixth spot while representing England at an international meeting in Belgium last season. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

In the UK, Suffolk teenagers Lewis Sullivan and Ben Peck recorded a notable one-two in the under-15 boys' race, at the latest British Athletic Cross Challenge meeting, held at Sefton Park, Liverpool.

Meanwhile, over in America, fellow Suffolk athlete Jack (John) Millar earned his place in the Great Britain under-23 men's team to compete at next month's European Cross Country Championships, in Portugal, by starring in the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletics Association) Championships.

It will be the second time that Millar has represented his country at the European Champs, following on from his 28th slot in the under-23 race at last year's event, held in Tilburg in the Netherlands.

Bury St. Edmunds-based Sullivan, who had an outstanding season in 2018-19, has continued his rich vein of form at the start of this winter's campaign. His highlights of last season included being crowned English Schools champion (at Leeds), in addition to winning the SIAB Schools International in Dublin.

Lewis Sullivan (hooped vest) leads the way at the recent Suffolk Winter League junior race at Framlingham. Sullivan romped to victory in Liverpool last weekend. Picture: PHILIP DONLANLewis Sullivan (hooped vest) leads the way at the recent Suffolk Winter League junior race at Framlingham. Sullivan romped to victory in Liverpool last weekend. Picture: PHILIP DONLAN

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The 15-year-old Sybil Andrews Academy pupil blasted to victory in Liverpool last Saturday, leaving a high-class field trailing in his wake.

Ben Peck, who finished second to Suffolk team-mate Lewis Sullivan at Liverpool. Picture: CARL MARSTONBen Peck, who finished second to Suffolk team-mate Lewis Sullivan at Liverpool. Picture: CARL MARSTON

A member of Saint Edmund Pacers, a stylish Sullivan surged to victory in 9mins 50secs over a 3K course, finishing eight seconds clear of the field.

His Suffolk team-mate and training partner Ben Peck, who comes from Brandon and is a pupil at Mildenhall College Academy, finished strongly to overhaul Joshua Blevins to take second spot in 9:58.

Although Peck is a member of Thetford AC, he joins up with the Pacers to train in Sullivan's group in weekly sessions at the West Suffolk Arena track.

Ben's older brother, James Peck, also ran well to make the top 10 - he finished in 10th spot, in 10:15.

Sullivan said: "I was second last year, in the same race, when I was at the bottom end of my age group.

"We travelled up on Friday night, and I ran the race on Saturday morning. It was a short race, only about 3K, so I went off quickly, which I always tend to do.

"I got a good start, and I led throughout the race, which is my normal style. Josh (Blevins) tried to stay with me for the first half of the race, but the gap then got bigger and Ben caught and overtook Josh near the finish.

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"It was very muddy and very soggy," added Sullivan.

Last Saturday was the third race in the British Athletic Cross Challenge Series. He won the first leg at Cardiff, but dropped out when leading the second race at Milton Keynes due to feeling unwell. The final two races are at Stirling in Scotland (January) and Loughborough (in March).

Meanwhile, Millar, who is in his first year at Iona College in New York, has been registering some superb results on the American collegiate scene.

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At the end of September, Millar tasted his first victory on American soil when winning the prestigious Iona College Meet of Champions, held in the Bronx.

And last Saturday, the Ipswich Harrier, who continues to be advised by long-term coach Stephen Hicks at the Ipswich club, registered an impressive 26th position at the NCCA Championships held in Terre Haute, at the Indiana State University. He was the first finisher from Iona College.

Millar, who comes from Helmingham near Otley, explained: "I've been attending University in the US at Iona College and partaking in the distance running program here.

"With help from both staff at the university and external staff, who work with professional running teams, I've continued my training and adjusting biases I'd accumulated in my running on a very subtle level.

"They've been great, though I still share lengthy calls with Steve (Hicks) every week, just like when I was in Bath (University), where we look to unravel some of running's mysteries.

"Being here, I have been competing for Iona College at numerous races, ranging through conference (similar to county in terms of size), regional (similar to UK nationals in terms of area drawn from), and Nationals (which encompasses the whole of the United States) within the collegiate level.

"These races have been great, if a little bit clean for my liking.

"I can confirm that having the regional cross country race get snowed off, meaning we did a 10km road race instead, was not ideal for me, but I still cruised a bit to a new personal best.

"There has also been a chunk of studying and adjusting a little to life in the US, as I am looking to get a masters in Computer Science with a focus in cyber security," added Millar, who has been fourth at the English National Champs for the last two years.

- James Pettersson, of Ipswich Harriers, won the first Suffolk Winter League meeting at Framlingham by two minutes and 26 seconds, not the 26 seconds that was previously stated.

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