CROSS COUNTRY: John's a shoe-in for South West triumph
5:00pm Friday 11th January 2013 in Latest News
DOMINANT on two legs on the local scene, Hilperton runner John Howorth showed he is pretty much unbeatable even on one at the South West Cross Country Championships.
It is not often that you see a winner cross the finish line carrying one of his spiked running shoes in his hand, but that’s what 12-year-old Howorth did in the U13 boys’ race at Bicton College, in Devon, on Sunday.
“It happened on the first lap as I ran through a bog and my shoe came off,” said Howorth.
“They were a new pair I had received for Christmas and it was the first time I had worn them.
“The laces were done up okay but the shoe just came straight off.”
With twin brother Robert on his shoulder and his Team Bath AC clubmates Henry Dixon and Themis Bower just behind him, Howorth merely ignored the footwear malfunction and carried on regardless on a slippery and muddy course, featuring several tricky climbs.
“I would have lost too much time,” he added.
A spectator handed him the shoe on the second lap but he still wasn’t prepared to stop as both he and Robert edged clear of the field.
“I must admit I was a bit surprised I won after losing a shoe and I am very happy with how it turned out eventually,” he said.
Brother Robert was only a stride behind as they crossed the finish virtually together.
Nine seconds behind, Dixon completed a remarkable day for the St Augustine’s School trio by claiming third spot with Bower fourth to ensure a crushing victory for Team Bath in the team contest.
Completing a stunning day for the Howorth family, younger brother Rory had got proceedings off to a winning start by romping to victory by 22 seconds in the U11 boys’ race.
Further golds came to Warminster’s Imogen Wolsey (U20 women), Winsley’s Alex Carter (U17 men) and Yatesbury runner Gemma Shepherd.
Wolsey had her best run of the winter to finish third overall in the senior women’s race, a big improvement upon 12th spot 12 months ago.
Carter, who had ended 2012 on a high with a course record time for U17 men in the Clevedon 4 on Boxing Day, opened the new year in much the same fashion the 16-year-old retaining his U17 men’s title.
St Laurence School (Bradford on Avon) pupil Carter held off the Somerset pair of Oliver Fox and Joe Walton.
“I could never relax because I knew Oliver was right behind me for a long time and I didn’t expect that,” said Carter.
“That felt like the hardest race I’ve ever had but then again I have been training hard over Christmas.”
There were also bronze medals for Team Bath runners Alex Hill (U20 men) and Naomi Webber (U20 women) while in the senior men’s race Michael Towler of Avon Valley Runners finished 25th.