Gold in the balance

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Jersey Spartan McGarry, going for her third championship, was trailing to Great Britain international Louise Damon, with around one kilometre remaining of the 7 1/2k course around the War Memorial Park in Basingstoke, when the former Dorset runner inexplicably took the wrong turning and failed to finish the course.

But an appeal, from or on behalf of Damon, has made McGarry’s subsequent victory, in 29 min 54 sec, dependant on the result of a Hampshire AA executive decision.

And although the chances of a reversal would leave the county open to derision – it simply beggars belief that they could consider awarding a race to a runner who didn’t finish – it has understandably clouded another great performance from McGarry.

Said the AIB Bank worker this morning: ‘I was really pleased with the way I ran, it was as good a performance as I’ve put in at the Hampshire championships.

But I obviously can’t be as pleased as before.

‘I’d have been happy with the silver as Louise was around 30 seconds ahead and would certainly have won.

But changing the result doesn’t seem logical.

The course is a new one for the championships and is quite complicated, but we were on the second lap, so it’s a bit of a mystery as to how she took the wrong turn.

‘It doesn’t feel quite right now, and I’m sure Louise will feel the same.

I am a bit surprised about the appeal.’ McGarry, running for the first time as an over-35, is undecided what to do about the remainder of the cross-country season, but is targeting track and half-marathon bids for this summer’s NatWest Island Games in Rhodes.

McGarry’s Jersey Spartan colleague Sue Le Ruez, also a defending champion, finished second in the ladies over-50 race and 24th overall, in 36.18, with Winchester’s Jan Ross winning in 34.26.

Said Le Ruez: ‘I’m happy with my run.

The conditions were slippy, with persistent rain, so wearing spikes was certainly a good decision.’ Rebecca Roberts was tenth in the O35 category and 39th overall in 40.23.

Jersey were unplaced in the team event which was won by Guernsey’s Louise Perrio, Martine Scholes, Alderney runner Nikki Neal and Sara Quéripel.

Meanwhile Jersey’s junior runners enjoyed great success in the championships, with Elliott Dorey claiming a superb gold in the U13 boys’ event.

Four junior Spartans qualified for county teams in the inter-county competitions next month after splendid runs in difficult conditions.

Dorey, running in the event for the second time, pipped Guernsey’s finest, Samuel Hall, by just six seconds over the 3,075m course, with another Sarnian lad, Marcus Heaume, a further eight seconds adrift in third.

De La Salle pupil Dorey (12) clocked 12 min 2 sec over the course at Basingstoke, while in the girls’ race Carey Fenton, also in her second year at the event, placed an excellent sixth.

Wade Le Marquand put in a really gutsy performance to pull back places in the latter stages of the boys’ U15 event and secure a county place with eighth position.

In the same age category Felicity Johnson-Deeley led the Spartan girls home in superb style, finishing just outside of the medals in fourth – an achievement all the more remarkable as she is running a year young in the U15 group.

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