THE first Brooks Westward League of the winter marked the beginning of a new cross country season in Cornwall, with well over 200 runners taking part in the opening races at Redruth School on Sunday.
The forecast of heavy rain and strong winds fortunately failed to materialise and the reasonably kind weather conditions on a tough course, made more challenging by the recent heavy rains, produced some quality performances, none more so than from the Senior winners, Miranda Heathcote (Newquay & Par) and Mark Jenkin (Bideford AAC).
Miranda set off at too fast a pace for her rivals, seemingly getting quicker over each of the three laps of the 5,000 metre course, beating the runner-up Amy Yetton (Plymouth Harriers) and third placed Amy Wilkinson (Tamar Trotters) by well over one minute.
The team race could not have been more closely fought between the top two Cornish clubs, Cornwall AC and Newquay and Par, with both clubs sharing the same points total but Cornwall winning by virtue of their third scoring runner finishing one place and two seconds ahead of Newquay and Par's third scorer.
In the Under-17 Ladies' race, incorporated with the Senior Ladies, the defending Westward League champion Issy Steele (Cornwall AC) made the best possible start to the defence of her title, beating training partner Charlotte Cayton-Smith (Newquay & Par), with both girls well ahead of most of the Senior competitors.
The Senior Men's race held over five demanding laps totalling 8000 metres, saw a group of five runners, including Jenkin and 17-year-old Callum Jones (Cornwall AC), making his senior cross country debut, leading the way on the opening circuit.
At the mid-race point Jenkin made his move, with James Deene (Exeter Harriers) briefly trying to stay with the Bideford runner, but there was no holding the man from North Devon, who won by a clear margin from Deene.
Cornwall AC's Colin Snook began more slowly, never being out of the top ten and gradually eased his way past runner after runner, eventually finishing in third place.
Cornwall AC, with their five scoring runners in the top 12, beat their Devon rivals Exeter Harriers by a comfortable margin, kick-starting their winter campaign as they begin their defence of the Westward League Senior Men's title.
The strength of cross country running in the Duchy also shone through in the Young Athletes races, with Newquay & Par, led by the race winner, Finn Birnie, beating Cornwall AC in the Under-13 Boys' race, despite strong performances from the Cornwall AC youngsters Freddie Bareham (2nd) and third-placed Thomas Fisher.
Cornwall AC extracted a degree of revenge in the equivalent Girls' age group, with Katie Hughes storming to victory and Sarah Wilson finishing third in her first year in this age group, as Cornwall beat Newquay and Par by four points.
In the Under-15 age group, the top three places in both the Girls and Boys age groups were filled by Devon runners, although the Newquay and Par Girls team squeezed to a one point victory ahead of Tavistock AC in the team competition.
Cornwall AC finished in third place, three points behind Tavistock and then in the Boys' race repeated the success of the club's Girls' team with another third placing.
Results page 102.