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Cross Country is back! Jells Park plays host to opening round of XCR series

Cover image by Cooper Clarkson-Grigg

With pandemic pandemonium a thing of the past, Victoria’s distance runners were back in action with cross country relays in the opening round of Athletics Victoria’s XCR series at Jells Park.

The event catered for everyone from Olympians to dedicated club athletes and everything in between. Run over a 3km loop, the adult relays were 6km legs, while younger juniors sped around their 3km legs.

Very relaxed at sub-3 minute kilometres… Stewart McSweyn in action at Jells Park.

St Stephen’s Harriers were the dominant force in the Open Men’s Premier division, with a sextet that included Stewart McSweyn and Ben Buckingham taking a convincing victory by over four minutes from Western Athletics and Glenhuntly. In fact, Division 2 victors, Bendigo Region, spearheaded by Andrew Buchanan, were the second fastest team on the day.

Liam Adams

It was marathoner Liam Adams that recorded the quickest split of the race. Adams is a strong supporter of his Athletics Essendon team and will frequently don the black and red to support the club, even if just putting in a threshold training effort (which at his level is still very competitive). It wasn’t just a threshold effort here, with a swift 17 minutes, 2 second leg being almost half a minute quicker than the rest of the field.

Andrew Buchanan

Stewart McSweyn ran the fifth leg for St Stephen’s, with a relaxed 17 minutes, 39 seconds the third fastest of the day. Splitting Adams and McSweyn was Buchanan’s opening leg of 17 minutes, 30 seconds.

Five fastest splits of the day

RankAthleteSplit
1Liam Adams17:02
2Andrew Buchanan17:30
3Stewart McSweyn17:39
4Cody Shanahan17:52
5Tom Thorpe17:55
Box Hill Athletics Club’s Calli Thackery

In the women’s open Premier division race, Glenhuntly took line honours ahead of South Melbourne and Box Hill. Box Hill started strongly with a 21 minute, 5 second opening leg from Calli Thackery, which was the second fastest of the day, but just one second.

Melissa Duncan

Backing up after a bronze medal in the National 3000m titles on Thursday, Melissa Duncan was the fastest of the day with a 21 minute, 4 second split for St Stephen’s.

Five fastest splits of the day

RankAthleteSplit
1Melissa Duncan21:04
2Calli Thackery21:05
3Karinna Fyfe21:38
4Emilie Guy21:55
5Simone McInnes22:03

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Check out our full gallery of 440 photos from Jells Park

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