The Southern Cross Country
By Alastair Aitken
FRANK TICKNER was tipped by his brother Ben, who won the Southern Senior last year, to win this year which he duly did in style.When Tickner is 'On Song' without injuries, he is virtually unbeatable in recent times over the Hampstead Heath course and he proved that at Parliament Hill in the mud on the 16th of February.
Neilson Hall, the four times ATW Metropolitan League Champion, who has won the Southern twice before and Tickner were running together ahead of the field till half way, when Tickner then drew clear. Darren Deed has finished fourth several times in that South of England Championships and many times in the winning team so, at last he gained a medal in third place. He moved passed last year's silver medallist Jon Pepper in the middle of the race to do that.
Hall, had seriously considered not running the race, because the newly arranged Southern, was only a week before the 'National' but he wanted to secure Bedford's win in the team event which they did with all their six scorers all within the first 18 positions, out of the field of 541. It was interesting to note that Frank Tickner's 60 year old Father Ed, who is not so used to running cross-country much, as opposed to road, managed to complete the long stiff task in 362nd place.
Last year's surprise team winners Highgate Harriers and, current ATW Met League Champions, had their six all inside 48 places which was still good for second place. Ben Noad led them home in 11th position but someone who is a ''Great' motivator for the team was first veteran in the race by the name of Ben Pochee, who was 26th overall.(The team were missing Tim Gardner who was 8th in the last ATW Met League race with flue and international Shaun Dixon, who like their Oxford 'Star' Doctor David Bruce will be running in the 'National').
The first six teams were 1 Bedford & County 57; 2 Highgate Harriers 158; 3 Aldershot Farnham & District AC 221; 5 Serpentine RC 300; 6 Woodford Green & Essex Ladies 357 and Belgrave Harriers 424.
The First Six in the race were 1 Frank Tickner (Wells City Harriers) 48:10; 2 Nielson Hall (Bedford & County) 49:14; 3 Darren Deed (Bedford & County) 49:37; 4 Jon Pepper (Brighton Phoenix) 50:07; 5 Paul Rogers (Aldershot & Farnham) 50:16 and 6 Chris Smith (Thames Valley Harriers) 50:25.
" last Saturday you won the Surrey League cross country comfortably over Farthing Down, South London's undulating course. That must have helped your preparation for today?"
" Pretty similar. Going out from the gun but one has to keep in mind it is three laps at Parliament Hill Fields.'
'It was at half way, just of the 2nd lap it tried to go away and Nielson was not giving up!"
Last year we talked at the Inter-Counties when you were coming back from injury and sixth in that race.
" I wanted to run it properly to-day because my shoe came off in the Cardiff race and I was playing catch up"
Which race did Frank consider was his best so far?
" Winning the 'National' with a full compliment, at Parliament Hill fields because my win in Sunderland (2007) there was a lot missing as they were going for the World Trials but the National (2009) here at Parliament Hill. Steve Vernon came past and had a good lead on me with not much to go. I managed to claw that back and win."
Clive Thomas who competed for England as a steeplechaser and Welsh international runner, coaches you. What are his strengths?
" From a young age he was never too serious. Serious in some ways but relaxed in others. Never had any burn out for me and Ben. He managed to control that increase in training and racing quite nicely. So at 18 I was doing 20 miles a week and quite naturally increased the mileage which kept you away from injuries, (as much as possible) and bring you into top form. I think that development has helped and I am able now to do back to back- in two weeks- 100/110.'
' Working at New International since last year has meant that I don't really get the sessions done in the week. I try to get a tempo run in here and there."
Read The Southern Cross Country Part 2
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Posted Date: 21st Feb 2013