Jessica Judd and Ben Connor Storm to Cross Challenge Victories in Liverpool

The pair were amongst the winners at the third round of the British Cross Challenge Series which acts as a trial race for the Great Britain & Northern Ireland Team to compete at the Spar European Championships in Lisbon on December 8th.

Jessica Judd of Blackburn Harriers used the first two laps of the course in Sefton Park to sound out the competition which included last year’s winner Charlotte Arter of Cardiff AC and 2014 European Silver medalist Kate Avery of Shildon AC.

It was Judd however who accelerated away from the leading group over the final kilometre to overcome Arter who was second and Avery who finished third in the sticky Liverpool mud.

It was always likely that if Judd remained in contention long enough, the track specialist with a sub 2 minute 800m best would turn on the pressure and prove very difficult to beat.

The fourth senior women also gaining automatic selection for the European championships was Amy Griffiths of Aldershot, Farnham & District.

Bronwen Owen of Leeds AC followed up on a third place in the senior race at Milton Keynes with a comfortable u23 women’s victory ahead of Swansea Harriers Cari Hughes who seamlessly made the transition from junior race victory last November.

Amelia Quirk of Bracknell AC and Eleanor Bolton of Ribble Valley AC were the next two automatic team place winners.

‘I wasn’t expecting a lot but I’ve been really good in training’, said outright race winner Judd.

‘It just seemed to go really well today, with a lap to go I felt really strong so I made a move and was hanging on desperately in the last 500m thinking I’ve just got to finish. To win is just crazy, I’m really happy’.

Ben Connor’s senior men’s victory was equally well judged, using the early laps to test his rivals before breaking clear with the current Series leader, Mahamed Mahamed of Southampton AC. It was Mahamed that came home next in the men’s race and also as the first u23 athlete here.

Former Inter-Counties Cross Country Champion Adam Hickey of Southend AC was the second senior home followed by Tom Evans of Lewes AC and Swansea Harrier Kristian Jones.

Alex Yee was the second placed u23 running for Kent AC with Emile Cairess of Leeds City third and Scotsman Sol Sweeney of Perth Strathtay Harriers fourth.

Ben Connor spoke following the race saying; ‘It went well. This has been the big target for me since the end of the IAAF World championships so I went straight from that into this rather than have an end of season break’.

‘The target was obviously to make the team and then the big one is in two weeks time. I want to go there and perform really well. I’m Just looking forward to getting out there, getting amongst the leaders and to see if I can get amongst the medals’.

Saskia Millard of Herne Hill Harriers edged out Newbury AC’s Izzy Fry to take the Junior women’s title with Megan Keith of Inverness harriers, Amelia Samuels of Wolverhampton & Bilston and Olivia Mason of Border Harriers who completed the top five with all guaranteed automatic spots for the European Championships.

Welshman Matt Willis of Wrexham AAC maintained his 100% record in the Junior men’s 2019/2020 Cross Challenge Series with perhaps the largest winning margin of the day, a sign to himself and his rivals that the European Championships is a real target this year.

Charles Hicks of University of Stanford and Zakariya Mahamed cleared out the podium places with Hamish Armitt of Giffnock North AAC and Will Barnicoat of Windsor, Slough & Eaton claming the remaining automatic team spots.