The highlight of the day came when Loughborough’s men were confirmed in first place in the team competition, ending a 19 year wait without a win.
The team, which included UK U23 1500m record holder Matt Stonier, French World Mountain Running representative Baptiste Fourmont, and recent England Cross Country International Ned Potter, were going into the long course race with high expectations, while also being keenly aware that close rivals Birmingham would have Loughborough firmly in their sights.
The final result saw eight of the first 11 athletes across the finish line being in either a Loughborough or Birmingham vest, though with 23 points to Birmingham’s 31 (the lower the points score the better), Loughborough were the convincing winners of the men’s BUCS long course race.
The race was won by Senior International Mahamed Mahamed from Solent University, followed home by Loughborough’s Stonier in silver medal position, Potter in 4th place, Fourmont in 6th, Max Heyden in 11th, Flynn Jennings in 18th and Ben Wills in 32nd.
Loughborough’s women were agonisingly close to making it a double long course team win, missing out to Birmingham by just two points. However, Loughborough’s Alex Millard was the victorious individual winner of the race, in the same week that she was announced as being part of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s World Cross Country team to compete in Australia later this month.
She was followed across the line by Abbie Donnelly in third place, with Megan Harris in 15th and Charlotte Dannatt in 33rd. Donnelly and Harris will join Millard in the GB&NI World Cross Country team to compete in Australia in the Senior and U20 teams respectively.
The short course races saw a clean sweep of Loughborough wins, with Loughborough winning both the men’s and women’s team races, as well as the gold individual medals for each race. Bethan Morley had a fantastic run to finish 13 seconds clear in the women’s race, followed by Louise Hackett in third place and Abi Hancock in fourth. Jess Spilsbury also made the top 10, finishing in eighth position.
The men’s short course was won by Josh Fiddaman, with first year Rowan Miell-Ingram just one second behind in second place. Sam Hodgson finished in seventh place, and Louis Small in tenth.
Loughborough’s Head of Endurance Kyle Bennett was delighted with the team’s performance. He said: “We knew the team would be strong, but I think the athletes even surprised themselves out there. Today’s performances are testament to the hard work of the Loughborough coaches and support staff who are invaluable to the Loughborough programme. We are all looking forward to the remainder of the cross country season and wish Abbie, Alex and Megan the best of luck in Australia where we know they will represent their country with pride.”