Davis claims silver in longest race yet
Combe Down runner Max Davis admitted he had to dig deep to earn his place on the podium at the 2019 South West Inter Counties Cross Country Championships. The 17-year-old found himself alongside the senior men with the under-20 men’s race held in conjunction with the main event on the challenging course around Aldon Hill, near Yeovil. That made Davis one of the youngest runners in the field and over three gruelling laps it took him to the limit before he recovered to win an excellent silver medal in the U20s category. “That was such a hard race as it was not only further than I normally race but the hills were so tough,” said Davis. “Last year as an U17 I only had to do two laps but this was three big laps and while I felt I made a strong start that second lap felt horrible, really horrible. “But I got my second wind on the third and final lap, I just managed to survive and overall I am very pleased to finish 11th and second in the U20s. The first guy [Finn Birnie] had a great run today.” The experience will certainly stand Davis, who is in Steve Williams’ coaching group at Avon Valley Runners, in good stead when he returns to U20 men’s only action at the South of England and South West Schools’ Championships over the coming month. “Max has great stamina and works hard but he has to learn to concentrate in the middle of these sort of big races because if you switch off you can lose lots of ground very quickly,” said Williams. In the senior men’s race the Team Bath AC squad will take satisfaction in finishing second team behind runaway winners Bristol & West in what is arguably their best result in the competition. The squad of Aaron Pritchard, junior Frederick Webb, Dan Jones, James Donald and Thomas Davies scored 175 points to beat Cornwall AC by just three points. Further local success came in the masters’ age categories with brothers Alec and Guy Woods finishing second and third respectively in the over-50s while recentlycrowned Running Bath performance of the month winner for November Tom Hutchison was runner-up in the M60 age group. Team Bath’s sole representative in the senior women’s race was Rebecca Pierce, who finished 18th overall and third scorer for the Avon team who picked up the silver medals in the inter-counties event. Alex Parsons also won team county bronze medal for Avon after placing tenth in the U17 men’s while Harry Maxwell was 11th in the U13s. Lucy Fitzpatrick ran strongly to make the top ten in the U20s age group, finishing seventh, and in the U17s India Ibbotson (14th), Serene Read (21st) and Eva Porter (30th) all made the top 30. Ella Treby won a county silver medal finishing 14th overall and third scorer for Avon in the U15s age group with Jocelyn Cotterill 22nd. Younger sister Isobel Cotterill was 25th in the U13s. Team Bath AC’S Eleanor Webster got the new year off to a winning start as she won the gold medal in the U17 women’s 800m at the South West Indoor Championships in Cardiff on Sunday, clocking a time of 2 mins 20.45secs. Team Bath athlete Jenna Blundell is this week celebrating her first Great Britain vest. The 17-year-old was given her first international call-up after finishing third in the U20 women’s pentathlon at the England Athletics Combined Events Indoor Championships at the weekend. “It is a dream come true and I am ecstatic,” said Blundell. “That bronze medal last weekend meant so much to me and to now get my first GB vest off the back of that is brilliant and shows that my perseverance has paid off. “I am feeling very emotional about it.” After missing almost the entire 2017 season though injury Blundell, a recent winner of the Running Bath/chronicle Athlete of the Month competition, eased her way back into top-class competition last summer so her joy at getting 2019 off to such a flying start is understandable. “Last year I was getting back into the sport but it was frustrating and I was lacking in confidence,” added Blundell. “I want to make 2019 the year I fall back in love with athletics and this is a great start. I was never among the medals as an U15 athlete and then I got injured so this shows that with patience and resilience it is worth it to keep going.” Blundell is certainly a determined competitor and showed that again in Sheffield. After the first four events – 60m hurdles (8.71secs), high jump (1.67m), shot (10.17m) and long jump (5.64m) – she was lying in fourth so needed a big finale in the 800m. “I knew I had to beat the other girl by five seconds to get the bronze medal and that was my focus in the race,” explained Blundell. “The race went well and when I crossed the line I started crying and then looked over to my coach [Julie Alexander] and shouted: ‘Did I do it?’ It was a very emotional moment.” With news of the GB call-up coming later it proved to be a memorable weekend for Blundell and, all being well, could be the first of many this year as she renews her love affair with the sport. In the U20 men’s heptathlon clubmate Rory Howorth finished sixth with a score of 4,824 points. It was Howorth’s first attempt at the event and as one of the youngest competitors in the field he should take encouragement from his performance, especially as it included personal bests in the high jump (1.89m), pole vault (3.60m) and long jump (6.63m). The Chronicle’s athletics coverage is sponsored by Running Bath, Bath’s specialist running shop. Find them at 18 High Street, call 01225 462555 or visit runningbath.co.uk.
Team Bath AC with their 2019 South West Inter Counties Cross Country Championships team silver medals