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Gerrard crosses the line first as Beagles have English champion

PUBLISHED: 12:00 02 March 2012

Newham stars John Beattie and winner Keith Gerrard (right) celebrate a fantastic day on the fields of Parliament Hill

Newham stars John Beattie and winner Keith Gerrard (right) celebrate a fantastic day on the fields of Parliament Hill

Archant

Keith Gerrard was crowned English National Cross-Country Champion on Saturday, with a ‘tactically-perfect’ victory in the 12k race at Parliament Hill.

The Newham & Essex Beagles runner won the two-lap race in 35 minutes 56 seconds – finishing 11 seconds clear of his nearest challenger.

The 25-year-old had been training at altitude in New Mexico for the past six weeks and only returned to the UK 48 hours before the race.

But Gerrard arrived in Hampstead Heath determined to take the title and after keeping pace with the leading pack for the first lap, he pulled away in the second to earn a memorable victory.

“I am absolutely made-up to win the title, my tactics worked perfectly,” he said.

“I knew I was in good shape on the start line and I was there to win, simple as that. “The altitude training is really paying off.”

A total of 1,689 athletes competed in the 125th running of the senior men’s Championship where club-mate John Beattie took bronze, crossing the line in 36.13, with Steve Vernon of Stockport Harriers sandwiched for silver.

The next Beagles athlete over the line was Rory Chesser (38.50) who placed 55th, with Kairn Stone (39.23) close behind in 80th.

Clocked

Tom Gayle clocked 40.51 for 158th, while 41-year-old Stuart Major finished in 41.40 for 211th.

Just seven seconds further back was Andy Barber, who placed 221st and Wayne Bell closed the team, finishing in 43.17 for 322nd spot.

Beagles finished seventh in the team competition, won by Leeds City AC, whose six individual scorers finished inside the top 76.

In the under-20s men’s race, Harun Abdi finished 11th in 32.50 – exactly a minute behind the race winner, who was Jonathan Hay from Aldershot, Farnham & District – while David Kail clocked 40.02 for 156th.

Beagles had two runners in the under-13s boy’s race, held over a shorter distance. Ben Haynes crossed the line in 11.56 for 65th place, while Charlie Ackland, making his national debut, clocked 12.16 for 104th place.

Elsewhere, at the British Universities Championships in Sheffield, Simon Phelan won bronze in the high jump.

The 25-year-old, who attends Birmingham University, cleared 2.04m – just one centimetre short of his season’s best.

There was bronze too for Loughborough University student Matthew Devereux, who successfully cleared a season’s best 5.00m in the pole vault.

■ Meanwhile, at the England under-20s Championships in Birmingham, sprinter Kelvin Tairou was denied a medal after a photo finish.

Tairou clocked 6.88 in the 60m, finishing neck-and-neck with Woodford Green’s Jordan Kirby-Polidore in their battle for bronze, but after close inspection was awarded fourth place.


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