Aldershot Farnham & District's runners won half of the titles in Saturday's English Cross Country Relay championships at Mansfield, including both senior races. The women led from the start as Steph Twell completed the opener two seconds ahead of Charlene Thomas of Wakefield District, a fellow competitor in the 1500 metres at the 2009 World championships. Louise Small and Emily Hosker-Thornhill extended the advantage to nearly three quarters of a minute over eventual silver medallists Charnwood .
When AFD's men reached the halfway point in fourth place and five seconds off the lead held by Notts, following legs by Josh Grace and Harvey Dixon and with Andy Vernon and Jonny Hay to come, the opposition was reduced to fighting for the minor medals more than a minute behind.
Another of AFD's international athletes, Lucy Pygott, anchored the under-17 women to victory after Eugenie Cockle had taken over from Maisie Grice and put the club into the frame. In the u15 boys' event, Josh Genco-Russo and Charlie Kershaw ensured that Luke van Oudtshoorn set off on the anchor within fourteen seconds of the leaders. The English Schools junior 1500 metres champion came home with a dozen seconds to spare.
Harry Hyde took over in fourth from Ryan Martin for the middle stage of the u13 boys' competition. One of the athletes Hyde passed on his way to the front was club mate Alfie Spear. The latter had set off in third where Ed Henderson finished for the B team. Spear also passed first-leg leaders Kendal to hold third. While Rudi Morrell guaranteed bronze medals for the B, Sam Bodoano was taking the A team to a winning margin of seventeen seconds and revenge over the same Herne Hill Harriers trio that had beaten AFD to the national road relay title last month.
Both of the club's u20 sides claimed medals. The men (Dane Blomquist, George Gathercole and Ellis Cross) were second and the women (Gabi Eglen, Daisy D'Santos and Niamh Brown) third. The team of Robbie Coupland, Guy Tucker and and Max Heyden completed the top ten of the u17 men's event.
Two more of AFD's B teams finished inside the top ten. Laura Gent, Philippa Bowden and Tasha Vernon were sixth senior women's team. Eoin Canning, Theo Doran and Joe Blacknell came seventh in the u15 boys' race. The club's C team of Theo Cheshire, Michael Gar and Bailey Roberts was eighth in the u13 boys' competition.