CROSS COUNTRY: That’s not a bad warm-up, Holly

Wiltshire Times: Holly Rush leads the senior women’s race field on her way to county victory Holly Rush leads the senior women’s race field on her way to county victory

BRADFORD on Avon international runner Holly Rush picked up her fourth county title in five years as she raced to an emphatic victory in the Wiltshire Cross Country Championships, writes Kevin Fahey.

Rush squeezed in the race among a heavy block of training as she prepares for the Pisa marathon this Sunday but she still had too much speed in her legs for county rivals Georgie Starkie, who is a teammate at Team Bath, Swindon’s Fiona Gordon and Cordula Hurcum, of Chippenham Harriers.

“I was keen to race ahead of the Pisa marathon and I was pleased with that, having finished third overall in the senior women’s race,” said Rush.

“I felt I ran better than last year so that was a good thing and while it was a bit too short, fast and furious for me I have to be happy with the way I ran.

“It shows my training, which is mainly geared towards marathon stuff, is going well and I am still quite sharp.”

The county championships, which were held as in previous years with the Avon & Somerset county events, were this time incorporated into the Gwent League fixture at the University of Bath on Sunday and Rush was only beaten by Bristol & West AC runners Kate Goodhead and Jessie Sanzo.

Admittedly, the result will have hardly any bearing on Rush’s hopes for her Italian challenge apart from the fact that she will depart with her spirits and confidence high.

“I am not sure how I will perform in Pisa and I may surprise myself as I did when running the Yorkshire marathon (in October, clocking 2:46.26) but I also know that it has been bitterly cold on race day,” said Rush.

The story of the men’s race was much the same as Avon Valley Runners’ Michael Towler, who lives in Trowbridge, retained his title with a strong performance ahead of in-form Robert Mann, who recently smashed his personal best finishing second in the Wiltshire half marathon.

In the U20 men’s race Calne’s Simon Nott never gave up the chase but Winsley-based Alex Carter is a class athlete.

“I thought I was closing him down a bit towards the end but Alex was brilliant,” said Nott.

Will Stockley is fast emerging as one of the best young runners in the county and the 14-year-old from Semington improved from second 12 months ago for an exciting U15 victory.

The Team Bath boys dominated the U13s’ race with the impressive trio of Rory Howorth, Hayden Bailey and Alfie Green securing a clean sweep.

Team Bath runners dominated the female races with Katherine Turner (Bradford on Avon), Gemma Shepherd (Yatesbury) and Caitlin Wosika (Trowbridge) claiming the titles at U20, U17 and U15 respectively.

Avon Valley Runners won both senior team titles.

Jackie Rockcliffe led the AVR women’s squad in fifth with great support from Fiona Price, Jill Westwood and Diane Hier, all of whom made the top ten.

In the men’s race, individual champion Towler was backed up by Chris Roxburgh, Joby Hobbs, Tim Lowrie, Thomas Coney and Peter Veleski.

FOR MORE SPORTS NEWS, REPORTS & PICTURES SEE THURSDAY’S GAZETTE AND HERALD AND FRIDAY'S WILTSHIRE TIMES. FOLLOW US ON TWITTER @gazsport AND @WTSport

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