The championships were due to be held in 2020, however due to the Covid 19 Pandemic, the championships were initially cancelled, however in June 2021 Denmark volunteered to host the 16th Union Sportive des Polices d’Europe (USPE) Cross Country Championships in Aarhus.
The course, on open land at the Firmasport, Aarhus – Sport and Recreation centre, was challenging – a traditional and true cross country course taking in mud and the natural obstacles of a dry ditch and water course. On the morning of the races the weather was fresh, sunny and dry. The going was dry and firm. The women’s race was run over 4 laps, a total distance of 8km, with the men’s race run over 5 laps, sligthly extended loop, total distance of 12km.
Police Officers and staff from 19 European countries took part in the event.
The ladies started of the morning’s racing. Germany’ s Domenkia MAYER (2016’s individual silver medallist) and France’s Anais BOURGOIN leading the field out onto the 2km lap. At the end of the first lap MAYER and BOURGOIN had opened up a 26 second gap on the chasing group of Isabel APPELT, Kerstin HIRSCHER, Theresa ORTENREITER (all Germany) and Kaisa KUKK (Estonia), with PSUK’s Natalie BURNS (Lincolnshire)in the top 10, just over 50 seconds down. Burns was well supported by Amy BECK (Norfolk) , Nia NOKES (Staffordshire) and Kat ALPE (Metropolitan). with Kelly MORGAN (South Wales) and Louise BLIZZARD (Cheshire) a little further down the field.
By the end of the second lap MAYER had opened up a small gap of around 6 seconds on BOURGOIN and was the stronger of the two, increasing the gap to 30 seconds by the end of the race to go one place better than 2016 and taking the individual title. BOURGOIN was never challenged and took silver, with APPELT and HIRSCHER battling it out to the line, so much so that they crossed the line together and were awarded the joint bronze medal. BURNS ran strongly to finish 12th , with NOKES and BECK having their private little battle with a Norwegian and finishing 15th and 16th respectively. These three were well supported by ALPE in 19th, Kelly MORGAN (South Wales) in 37th and Louise BLIZZARD (Cheshire) in 44th. All except BURNS and MORGAN were making their debut for both PSUK and at a USPE event.
In the team event, Germany, having three runners in the top four, retaiined the team championship title. Spain came through strongly as the race progressed to take Silver and PSUK ladies having put in a gutsy performance took the bronze medal.
In the men’s race, double olympian Florian CARVALHO (France) took control of the race from the gun, closely chased by Patrick KARL (Germany), Mario BAUERNFEIND (Austria), Nicholas WEBER (France), Markus HARTINGER (Austria) and Tom GROSCHEL (Germany) (silver medallist in 2016) who in turn were chased by the rest of the field with PSUK’s Andrew MILES (Cheshire) in 13th.
CARVALHO was never headed, extending his lead to 15 seconds over KARL to take the championship title, KARL took silver and BAUERNFEIND finishing a further 21 seconds back to take the bronze.
The PSUK’s team put in a gutsy performance, led home by MILES in 11th. MILES was well supported by Martin WILLIAMS (West Midlands) in 28th, Ben BREWSTER (Wiltshire) in 29th, Paul CARDY (Hampshire) in 34th, Harry PATON (Metropolitan) in 36th and completing the team Matt SPEED (Metropilitan) in 42nd. MILES, PATON and SPEED all making their debut for PSUK at a USPE event.
In the team event, the German men’s team, not to be outdone by their female colleagues and having four runners in the first twelve, retained the team championship title. France took the silver medal and Austria the bronze. PSUK finished a very credible 5th place out of 19 teams.
All are to be congratulated on the their performances.
Report from Sally Broome