Suffolk athlete Peck wins English National cross country title
PUBLISHED: 10:01 27 February 2019 | UPDATED: 11:34 27 February 2019
Suffolk had a terrific day at the English National Cross Country Championships, spearheaded by Ben Peck’s marvellous victory in the under-13 boys’ race.
Brandon-based Peck lifted the national crown in style, thanks to a strong sprint over the last 200 metres of an undulating course within the grounds of Harewood House, in Leeds, on Saturday.
And there were also superb fourth places for fellow Suffolk athletes Lewis Sullivan, in the under-15 boys’ age group, and John (Jack) Miller in his first year as a senior athlete.
A member of Thetford AC, and a pupil at Mildenhall College Academy, 12-year-old Peck won the English u-13 title by three seconds.
He covered the 3K distance in 9mins 51secs, with Poole AC’s William Rabjohns second in 9:54. There was a fine run from Henry Dover, of Colchester & Tendring, in fourth slot (10:13).
“I didn’t know what to expect,” said Peck, who became the first member of Thetford AC to win a national cross country title since Darren Mead in the mid-1980s.
“But I felt good and I managed to get clear with my final sprint.”
Dad Steve Peck said: “We knew that Ben had a chance of finishing in the top five, based on previous results. But we’re obviously delighted that he managed to win.
“He made his way up to the lead group early on and stuck with the leaders. There was a group of three going into the last corner, which is where Ben made his break for home.
“We’re overjoyed that he has become an English champion.
“In fact, if anyone had told me just a year ago that Ben would win the National Championships, I wouldn’t have believed them.
“Ben and his brother James only started running about three or four years ago, and they started out by running the parkrun in Brandon Country Park.
“Running is in the family. My wife and I met through athletics, and my Dad ran for Bedfordshire.
“Even now the boys still use parkrun as part of their training. It’s especially important for Ben, because as an under-13 all his races are 3K, whereas parkrun gives him a chance to run 5K.”
Ben, who turns 13 in June, and his older brother James (14) are coached by Dean Kirton at Thetford AC, although on Monday nights they head off to Bury St Edmunds for a track session with Saint Edmund Pacers, under the watchful eye of Martin Brophy.
Meanwhile, the richly talented Lewis Sullivan, of Saint Edmund Pacers, followed up his victory at the recent Anglian Schools Cross Country Championships by finishing an excellent fourth in the under-15 boys’ race in Leeds.
Competing in the bottom half of his age group, Sullivan was only beaten by three runners from the year above.
The race was won by Alexander Thompson (Wharedale Harriers) in 13:27, while Sullivan posted 13:42 in fourth, just seven seconds behind third-placed Matthew Taylor, of Tonbridge AC.
“I’m delighted with my run. I was running against older runners,” said Sullivan, who is a pupil at Sybil Andrews Academy.
John Millar, of Ipswich Harriers, was also very happy with his impressive fourth spot in the men’s senior event. The race was won by Southampton AC’s Mohamed Mohamed (36:34), who just pipped Leeds City AC’s Emile Cairess by one second. Carl Avery, of Morpeth Harriers, took third in 37:04, with Miller fourth in 37:12.
“As usual for the nationals, it was a very hectic start, but fortunately I was able to get away quickly and was near the front,” said Millar, who ran for Great Britain at the European Championships in Tilburg, Netherlands, before Christmas.
“The lead kept changing hands, but the group thinned-out at the start of the second of two 6K laps. Mohamed and Emile broke away, and I sat behind Carl Avery.
“I’m told that it was a very exciting race to watch. The finish had 200 metres of downhill, and then 800m of slight uphill, so it was a very long run-in,” added Millar, of Helmingham.
- Suffolk finishers, u-13 boys: 1 B Peck, 92 A Fisher, 128 R Grady. u-15 boys: 4 L Sullivan, 37 F Adams, 60 J Peck, 122 J Davison. u-15 girls: 218 A Goddard. u-17 men: 50 N Goddard. u-17 women: 44 H Fisher. u-20 women: 29 P Unthank. u-20 men: 86 A Tripp, 116 P Wain, 158 J Grady. Senior women: 15 H Archer, 130 H Pettersson. Senior men: 4 J Millar, 1518 S Hicks.