Saturday 25th January saw runners from across the midlands set up camp at Prestwold Hall in Loughborough for the Midland XC Championships. With the numbers collected, a walk around the course confirmed that the new route for 2020 would be challenging and heavy going … perfect!
A number of BRAT juniors ran very well in the earlier races (U13G, U15B, U17B). Lauren Hevey came 97th in U13Girls, Tom Burdett 19th and Morgan Hill 78th in U15 Boys and Rueben Kite 21st in U17 men. Then it was suddenly time for the BRAT women to take to the start line. The course was two laps with lots of mud, a log to jump and a steep hill to contend with. The gun went and as expected it was a quick start on what felt like the only downhill section of the course. A leading pack went off early and soon there were two leading groups. Anne Kenchington and Molly Browne were close behind working together in 9th and 10th going onto the out and back section. Eloïse Lee, Amy Brammer and Sophie Dalley were right in the pack and running well, so far so good. The course didn’t offer a lot of opportunities to spectate but as the first three runners came back into view at the halfway point, Molly and Anne had moved through and were now in 4th and 6th. Eloïse was through next into the challenging muddy section leading into the second lap with Amy closely following on her Midland XC debut and Sophie taking the mud in her stride to have all the BRAT women safely on lap 2. As the leader, a European XC Silver medal winner in 2013, turned to head up the long drag to the finish and 2nd and 3rd not far behind Molly was trying to chase them down finishing in 4th. Anne found herself battling the final few hundred meters and held onto a fantastic 7th place to secure two BRATs in the top 10! Eloïse had a brilliant second lap moving through the field to finish 46th and closely followed by Amy in the mid-60’s. Sophie had a great run to finish 209th and due to a missing chip, Sophie secured the BRAT team position of 12th overall on the day in a competitive field. The team ran superbly and it was clear that they’d given their absolute all on a challenging course, time to refuel and refresh ready to watch the men.
The men were a two-man team with Martin Ludford and Simon Lanckham making sure we had BRAT vests on show. The men had to navigate 3 laps of the course which by now was very churned up resulting in a really tough run for everyone. Simon was having a cracking run as he came into lap two, working hard and in a great position. Soon Martin was heading onto the long out and back causing excitement as he was in a top three spot in his age category. Both Simon and Martin seemed to be holding their positions well and really giving it their all as they went past to go onto the final lap. All eyes were on the gateway into the main field as the leaders emerged and took the right hand turn into the long finishing straight (it was very long and uphill). Simon produced a brilliant finish to take 79th in a really stacked field, a great run! Martin had a fantastic final lap and came through in 289th but more excitingly potentially having gained himself a medal in the Midland Masters Championships. Everyone gathered to watch the presentations and as the masters medals were announced Team BRAT were delighted to hear Martin was the silver medal winner for the M60 – a brilliant achievement and so well deserved after a terrific run.
A big thank you must go to Richard Carney who cheered everyone from start to finish and yet still somehow kept track of all of the BRAT positions. Massive well done to our small but mighty team BRAT, we may have been lacking in numbers but the encouragement and team spirit was not!