City of Norwich athletes takes part in University challenge

The British Universities Cross Country Championships took centre stage at the weekend, giving many City of Norwich AC endurance athletes the opportunity to represent their respective universities in a top-flight competition.

The event, over the demanding Blackweir Fields course in Cardiff, proved very satisfying for St Mary's University College-based Ashley Harrell and Ryan Saunders. Contesting the A Men's race over 10km they produced cracking performances to finish third and fourth respectively.

The prize for their outstanding performances, yet to be confirmed, is a place in the British Universities team for the World Universities Cross Country Championships to be staged in Lodz, Poland, in April.

Stuart Huntington, also representing St Mary's, also produced an outstanding run, finishing in a high 13th position. The inter-university rivalry was, as always, fierce, but with the help of the City club athletes, team gold was secured for St Mary's over the strong Birmingham University squad by just 12 points.

In the same race the club's UEA-based athletes played their part. Nick Earl, after running 15km in last week's South of England Championships, dug deep to finish 63rd. Alec Beaney worked hard for his 133rd finishing spot as did James Berehowskyj, who crossed the line 177th. Oxford Brookes University was represented by club member Josh Entwistle who was placed 84th in a race in which 320 athletes completed.

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The ladies also played their part in the club's success on the day. Iona Lake and Claire Pring, both first year students at Birmingham University and making their debut in the championships, were pleased to finish high up the field that helped Birmingham take team silver. Iona finished in 13th place with Claire just three places adrift in 16th.

In the Men's 8km B race Alex Dunbar put behind him a disappointing run in the South of England Championships to finish a much improved sixth. Long-term club member Carl Goose crossed the line in 13th while Luke Allen had to settle for 46th. Oliver Maskell, a first year student at Cambridge, was another to make his debut in this event and was 51st in a race in which just short of 360 athletes finished.

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Elsewhere, the indoor season continues unabated. Rick Ward has had a busy week, including a trip to Austria mid-week to compete for England over 800m in the Vienna Indoor Classic where he produced a season's best time of 1:51.9 when placed fourth. Soon after hitting home base ,Sheffield beckoned and he was off to compete in the McCain Inter City Challenge. At the end of another tough 800m race he finished fourth clocking, in his words, a disappointing 1:53.71.

In America, James Senior, competing in the New Mexico Collegiate Classic, is beginning to hit better indoor form, producing a winning 800m time of 1:55.27. He will again be testing himself over 800m at the weekend and is looking to go faster. New York-based Mitch Goose ran an indoor trial over 1,200m in 2:56, which equates to 3:55 mile pace. He anticipates carrying this excellent performance into next weekend when he will attack the 3000m distance.

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