Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
Interviews and

World Trial and Inter-Counties Part Three (March 2013)

McCain Challenge

It was interesting to see that, with both the Under 20 Men and Women, the first six in each race at Crofton Park were selected to run in the World Cross Country Championships in Poland, on the 24th of March yet, only five senior men and women were selected to run!
   At Crofton Park, Jonathan Davies, went clear in the final lap after being amongst a large group headed by Michael Calligari- (2nd in the National Junior)- It was after that the front group was severely splintered and they all ran on their own for the rest of the race.
   The First 8 runners out of 200 finishers were:- 1 Jonathan Davies (Berkshire) 24:51; 2 Gordon Benson (Yorkshire) 24:55; 3 Williams Paulson (Gloucestershire) 24:58; 4 Lewis Lloyd (Surrey) 25:00; 5 Michael Calligari (Hertfordshire) 25:05; 6 Mike Ward (South Wales) 25:12; 7 Henry Pearce (Surrey) 25:19; 8 Charles Joslin-Allen (Kent) 25:25.
    The First Three teams:- 1 Surrey 47; 2 Essex 125; 3 Yorkshire 127


 " It was a good result.I did think it would be a bit firmer but the rain in the week made it muddy. I kept in the group for a long way and kept focused."
     His adviser at Reading AC is ROB McKIM, a qualified Senior National Development Coach, who came back into athletics when he went to watch his six year old daughter Kate run on her School Sports day.
McKim was an 8:52 steeplechaser as a senior but  top class as a youngster. Scottish 800 (15) and 1500 (17) National Champion and defeated the 'Great' Scottish runner Nat Muir in those days, before Rob was hit by injuries.He has much knowledge he can draw on and his opinion on Jon Davies was interesting to hear about
" He has immense drive and he is willing to learn and draw on experience. He has got a good banter with the other lads from Reading AC that he trains with. He is a really good model for other young athletes at Reading AC.He added " At the moment he combines the cross-country with good Summer racing. He was second fastest over 5k for a first year junior. This year his aim is the European Junior Championships and to get in the UK team for 5000."


 In the race he concentrated on getting in the team first of all. " I raced the BUCS and came sixth (Leeds University) but I am actually a Tri-Athlete and I had been away in  Australia all January and, in New Zealand last year. I came fifth in the World Junior Triathlon Championships.'
   ' I was more than happy with today. Phil Townsend is my coach and I have a good group around me that includes James Wilkinson. I think cycling helps me as well.."


When did he realise he was going to be third in the race?
   "Jon pulled away on the back field. I really did not have much left in me to sprint at the finish and Gordon came and took me.'
What was his favourite cross-country or track?
       " I have to say I prefer 1500 on the  track-(3:46.91 is his Personal best in 2012).
He ran 40th in the European cross country and ran in Edinburgh for GB in December. His coach is Chris Frapwell, who coaches ATW Metropolitan league 'Overall' Champion Rachel Felton.


Certainly one of the massive talents who ran was Aldershot & Farnham's athlete, EMELIA GORECKA. It was  her 7th Inter-Counties win, which added to her multiple success in the 'National'  She is  someone who is well educated too, having had good results last year in her Final exams at school and, able to go to her chosen university Royal Holloway College (London Univ).
   Another with amazing potential, challenged her for much of the race Bobby Clay. Running in the 'Under 20' race and yet, only 15 years old (First year as an under 17), like Gorecka, at that age,was also a prospect for the future. However, for the first time Emelia was not Super-confident of winning beforehand as she explained to me about her bout of flue.
    " In my first session after the 'National-(which was on the 23rd of  February)' I got so ill. I could not walk for two days. I did nothing for five days then did a few training runs but I had been feeling so weak. I had not been able to train that much as I lost a lot of nutrients. I had been blessed till then with no injuries or illnesses.
 ' This was my first solid run since the National so, I tried to  focus on what I did  know rather than I don't know. and how my training had been going recently.".
   Running in the race, rather than the younger age group was a tough task for a 15 year old but BOBBY CLAY did just that. (Doing her GCSE's at the moment-history,Sports Studies ,German.etc..)
You hung on to Emelia Gorecka as long as you could.
'I thought I would give it a go.!'
" I think I ran better than I did in the Southern (She won at PHF)-and it is nice to  run like this while I am still young' ' With the future in athletics ahead of her, well and truly, she feels ' It is nice because I am still young and do not feel I have any pressure on me. It is quite nice I can run relaxed.without pressure"


   She won the Northern and fourth in the he National 'Under 20' in Sunderland
    " I have been running since I was 14/15 but it is the try-iathlon now and cross country in the Winter really" said Georgina
      What race in her life would she single out as special to her then?
     " Probably winning the European Junior Triathlon back in April last year. (19 on the 15th of the 15/3/2013)
       Her coach is Paul Roden of Sale Harriers (Cross Country international and ran for UK on road and track)
First 8 of 145:- 1 Emelia Gorecka (Surrey) 19:41; 2 Bobby Clay (Kent) 20:07; 3 Georgina Taylor Brown (Greater Manchester) 20:13; 4 Amey Eloise-Neale  (Snohomich Track club) 20:15; 5 Rebecca Weston (Kent) 20:32;  
6 Alex Clay (Kent) 20:37; 7 Annabelle Mason (Wakefield Harriers) 20:46; 8 Charlotte Taylor (Lincolnshire) 21:01


Jac Hopkins, who is at Bishops Comprehensive School and coached by Kevin Tobin of Swansea Harriers, does 3 training sessions a week and says his mileage down as about 40 miles a week.
He  ran a very positive race going for it from the word go and never let up till he past the finishing post. There was a brave effort by Mat Shirling to pin him back but it was not to be.
First 8 of 276:- 1 Jac Hopkins  (West Wales) 18:15; 2 Mathew Shirling (Merseyside) 18:22; 3 Alex Carter (Wiltshire) 18:31; 4 Zak Miller (Greater Manchester) 18:32; 5 Euan Gillharn (Scotland West) 18:36; 6 Lewis Boyle (Scotland) 18:38; 7 Joe Steward (Greater Manchester) 18:40; 8 Alex George (Gloucestershire) 18:45.
First Three Teams:- 1 Greater Manchester 82; 2 Surrey 86; 3 Scotland West 98.


  How did he place this race as an aim?
   " This was my No 1 target. The other McCains'  were amazing to win but coming third in this last year and then coming back to it also a year young and winning all the other races a year young. I wanted to  maintain that."
  Who brought you into running?
' My PE teacher said to me ' Do you want to for the school?'. I thought a day off school for me, I'll do that. I won the race and Andrew Jenkins was there from Swansea Harriers. he asked me to join and I went up to another race in Cheltenham and won that. I started to train.(July 2011) .
 Cross country is your favourite sport
' I want to transfer that to the  track as well. I have done 3000's which is my main one's-8:42 last year.
 Last year was really my first cross-country season coming third in this.
Your memories of this race
"I pulled away at the start and I thought, have I pulled too early! Have I sprung too early! and I would keep up the pace and see who comes back to me. The races which I have run, no one has actually come back to me. I knew because this was top standard people would come back to me."


AMY GRIFFITHS, with her long blond hair blowing in the cold breeze looked most impressive winning. She went ahead on the second lap.
   " I got injured half way through the track season last year and had 3 months out, Then I had little niggles
so, I was quite surprised to win today to be honest'
I started doing cross-sessions about 4 weeks ago
   Your last race
" I was fifth in the 'National'
   Coached by Mick Woods He has been able to help you a lot
 " Definitely"
Can you mark out any particular race you did in the past
   ' Liverpool the year before in 2011. I was  young 17 year old running in the 'Under 20's race. I was in a qualifying position for the Europeans.'
When did you start out in athletics
  'Year One. I started racing at Primary school. I am in year 12 now and at Loughborough College.
Your favourite event
' I do love the country I think that is my favourite. Longer distances. I will do track in the Summer. I look forward to it this year.
   "Today's race was special for you. Was their any point you knew you were going to win"
   " I just felt really good and I was going to see how it went."

First 8 out of 233:- 1 Amy Griffiths (Leicestershire) 19:13; 2 Bronwen Owen (North Wales) 19:34; 3 Georgia Garner (North East) 19:45; 4 Lydia Turner (North East)  19:48; 5 Sophie Foreman (Surrey) 20:06; 6 Hannah Nuttall (Leicestershire) 20:09; 7 Georgia Hartigan (Worcester) 20:11; 8 Mari Smith (Leicestershire) 20:14.
First Three Teams:- 1 Surrey 59, 2 Essex 61; 3 Yorkshire 64.  

Alastair Aitken

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