Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
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SEAA Senior Men's Cross Country Championships (January 2012)

BEN TICKNER won his first major title on the last grass straight to the finish in the Southern Men's cross country Championships at Stanmer Park, Brighton. For the mile or so before that Belgrave's Phil Wicks was leading and looked like heading for victory, building a lead of up to 50 metres but the race was snatched from him in that closing stage.
   In the first lap, going up the hill there was a large group with Adam Hickey at the front of it.
A third of the race was concluded as they went down a steep incline. At that stage it was Southern Champion, Nielson Hall and Glenn Watts together in the lead, about 30 metres ahead of Phil Wicks, with no sign of a challenge yet from Tickner or Pepper. At that stage those two were starting to work their way through together.
Wicks soon stopped biding his time and went into a reasonble lead, of up to 50 metres but, a more cautious Tickner was making in roads, having gone ahead of Pepper and, rushed past Wicks as they came into the finish.  
    Ben Tickner About his brother international Frank Tickner he remarked smiling "It's My time to be in the limelight.'
' I was very pleased but it only happened 50 metres from the end. I was a long way back early on. There were times I thought it was going to be one of those days being out of the top 10. John Pepper and I were together for half of the second lap before I decided to take it on. Frank talked me through the race and was confident I could have a go at winning. He will be pleased and surprised."
   Phil Wicks " I should have won but not good enough to win at the end"
He continued " I felt rubbish on the first lap, terrible. I was hanging on to the leding group. I felt a lot better on the second one. Started to work through, got the lead and felt good all the way to the end and Ben came flying past me in the last 100 metres and took it away from me. ' Phil is training for the London marathon but admirted " I just ran my legs into the  ground today but it was not good enough"
   John Pepper " I was really pleased with third and the way I had timed it. The type of course it was. Ben and I did the Country Champioships and we knew how hilly it was so, we did not want to overcook it at the start. The way it panned out I think the race went off faster than I expected. I was just hanging back so I was pleased as, on a different day, you don't know how far up you would be. When Ben got the gap on me I had thought I could stick with him but I think I did time it it well at the end."
  Glen Watts " A tough guys course. I enjoyed the hills, felt quite good going up the hills. I wanted to make the most of it and I like the long course over 9 miles rather than a 5 mile one. I had a good pace right from the start but looking back now I might have been a bit better off, having a bit more pastience but my coach Geoge Harrison thought I could not have done any better so, He was pleased with me.
  Neilson Hall the impressive Metropolitan League winner and last year's Champion " I was not feeling good today. It was one of those races. Live to fight another day!"
First six " Ben Tickner (Wells City Harriers) 49:11; 2 Phil Wicks (Belgrave Harriers) 49:15; 3 Jon Pepper (Enfield & Haringey AC) 49:21; 4 Glenn Watts (Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers) 49:25; 5 Kevin Heywood (Bideford AC) 49:27 and 6 Nielson Hall (Bedford & County AC) 49:45.
The first three teams were 1 Highgate Harriers 157; 2 Bedford & County AC 174 and 3 Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers 259.
 Highgate Harriers, to actually beat the favourites Bedford & County was considered a surprise, as Highgate last won the trophy in 1997. Who are partly responsible for that I asked one of their 'Star' runners Ben Noad " Henry Dodwell and Ben Pochee together. A lot of work behind the scenes with administartion and stuff. The two of them make a wonderful  team. Ben the Vocal 'Bullit' backed up by Henry. They are the coaching Managers."
Highgate Harriers team were 10 Shaun Dixon 50:42; 17 Ben Noad 51:33; 23 Henry Dodwell 52:09 32 Danny Russell 53:22; 33 Ryan McKinlay 53:23; 42 Ben Pochee 53:53.

Alastair Aitken

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