The 115th NSW open men’s Cross Country Championship was one of the best in the long history of the event. The athletes and race tactics were top quality and made for an interesting race with Ranwick Botany’s Jeff Hunt taking home the gold medal.
Hunt’s coach Ken Green has dominated the men’s race over the last decade. He has coached five different athletes to win 11 of the last 13 races.
The race brought together three strong contenders, three-time winner Russell Dessaix-Chin (Sydney Uni), London bound Olympian Jeff Hunt and steeplechaser James Nipperess (Sydney Uni). From the gun a group of six moved free of the pack but there was a surprise when Dessaix-Chin opened up a big lead before being caught by Nipperess and Hunt.
”I was also disappointed with my impatience at 5km when I had a crack at the win,” Dessaix-Chin said.
“It was way too early. I should have known better, having run on this course for more than 20 years now, and been a winner three times previously.”
On the last lap, the sun had disappeared and there was a distinctive drop in temperature, however the race heated up as Nipperess seized the lead.
“I surged hard coming off the top of the steep back hill on the last lap and gapped the Huntsman a bit, but he was too strong and clawed me back in,” Nipperess said.
Hunt added: “Nipper had about 30m on me at the bottom of the winding downhill run, and I just told myself to make myself hurt for five minutes. I thought if I could make myself run as hard as possible over that last five minutes, I would be able to run away from him.
“It was a tough race, especially over the last lap. Nipper really ran very well and I had to dig very deep over the final 2km to get the win. We ran the 10th to 11th km so quickly that you’d swear we were finishing at the bridge. I have never closed so hard over that last 2km.”
- 115th NSW Cross Country Championships (jeffreyhunt.com.au)