Sullivan wins English National title with Suffolk team-mate Peck in second
- Credit: Archant
Lewis Sullivan was crowned English National champion as Suffolk celebrated a marvellous one-two in the under-15 boys’ race at the annual English National Cross Country Championships, held at Wollaton Park, Nottingham, on Saturday.
Sullivan continued his superb start to 2020 with a very mature run, coping well with the muddy and in places waterlogged conditions to take victory and so win an English national title for the first time.
And his reward is likely to be a chance to represent England at a world event in Slovakia.
Sullivan's nearest rival at Nottingham was his fellow Suffolk runner, and regular training partner, Ben Peck, who also ran an outstanding race to take the silver medal in second spot.
The impressive Peck still has another year at under-15 level, so Saturday was a terrific effort from the Brandon-based teenager.
For a county of Suffolk's size to record a one-two at such a prestigious national event is a remarkable achievement, although not a big surprise given the performances of Sullivan and Peck over the last couple of years.
The richly-talented Sullivan, who is a member of Saint Edmund Pacers and a pupil at Sybil Andrews Academy (Moreton Hall), triumphed in 16mins 30secs over a testing 4K course, finishing just two seconds ahead of Peck (16:32) with Tyne & Wear athlete Chris Perkins, of Birtley AC, a distant third with 16:52.
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"It was very soggy, and very boggy, with standing water in places," explained Sullivan.
"We were knee-deep in water and mud at times, and it was quite hilly as well, but I'm very happy to have won the race. I was pretty much in the lead for most of the race, and I managed to pull away a bit on the second lap.
"Ben (Peck) likes the soggy courses, so he was catching me a bit on the muddy stretches, while I pulled away on the firmer ground. I had a fairly decent lead, but it was an amazing run from Ben.
"It would also be amazing to run for England. I just have to keep working hard," added Sullivan.
Perkins was actually just in front at the end of the first lap, before Sullivan stepped up a gear, with Peck passing a fading Perkins on lap two to take silver.
Already this year, Sullivan, who is coached by Martyn Brophy at the Bury-based Pacers, has been crowned Suffolk county champion (at Culford School), Anglian Schools champion (Boston) and also won the South of England title at Parliament Hill Fields in north-west London.
Last year, in the bottom half of the under-15 age group, he finished fourth at the English Nationals, when they were held in Leeds, while winning the English Schools title and also tasting victory at the Home Countries Schools International in Dublin.
Meanwhile, Peck won the English National title at under-13 level last year, in Leeds, to add to his South of England victory from the previous month. The Thetford AC athlete was third in the same South of England event at the older under-15 level last month.
Other Suffolk results at Wollaton Park on Saturday saw Ben Peck's older brother, James Peck, finish 19th in the same under-15 race. Also in that age group were Ipswich Harriers' Joseph Davison (53rd) plus the Pacers' duo of Luc Wallace (82nd) and Ashton Richardson (242nd).
Elsewhere, there was a fine run from Ruby Vinton in the under-15 girls' race. Vinton, up against many competitors a year older than her, was sixth over the 4K distance in 19:33.
A pupil at Woodbridge School, and a member of Ipswich Harriers, Vinton was just 23 seconds off a medal place.
Other Suffolk finishers in the under-15 race were: Harriers' Amy Goddard (108) and Pacers' quintet of Freya De'Ath (282), Florence West (315), Sophie Gathorne-Hardy (322), Annabel Henson (323) and Amber Bradnam (340).
Liam Davison (Harriers) was an excellent 20th in the under-13 boys' race. Iwan Fothergill (160th) and Pacers' Thomas Southwood (341st) were also in action.
There was a top 15 berth for Verity Valentine in the under-13 girls' race. The fast-improving Valentine, of the Pacers, who was 127th in the same age group at last year's event, was a strong 14th in 16:11 over 3K. Her Pacers' club-mates Isabel Moore (192nd) and Jessica O'Brien (302nd) also ran.
Suffolk's Kit Evans Lombe (Shaftsbury Barnet) finished 31st and Pacers' Tom Henson finished 40th in the under-17 section, over 6K, followed by the Harriers' pair of Freddie Adams (66th) and Charlie Turner (75th), and then the Pacers' duo of Charlie Boldock (263rd) and Jordan Denny (265th).
Harriers' Philppa Unthank was 50th in the junior women's (under-20) race, while in the junior men's equivalent, there were strong runs from the Harriers' duo of Alex Tripp (24th) and James Pettersson (39th), with Shaftsbury Barnet's Nathan Goddard in 66th. Older sister Hannah Pettersson was an impressive 68th in the senior women's event, while JAFFA's Paul Wain (531st) and Stowmarket's Sam Burdett (534th) ran well in the senior men's field.
Finally, Suffolk results in the under-17 women's event: 31 April Hill, 154 Rebecca Morley, 176 Chloe Cavill, 240 Jasmine Bilner, , 242 Rhian O'Brien, 251 Izzy Free, 252 Rachel Beare, 257 Molly Lewis.