If the National C.C.U. had arranged for the weather they could scarcely have had a more brilllaant day than Saturday. The venue for the thirty-first annual championship was Colwall Park, Great Malvern, a beautiful spot, and thanks the energy the G. W. Railway Company, easily accessible from all parts. The South were favoured by fast special which performed the journey in three hours, while too much praise can hardly be given to the company's officials for the manner in which they catered both for competitors and pleasure seekers. The course selected was a very trying one, and would have delighted those old stagers who so frequently declaim against our present championship courses.
A spur of the Malvern Hills had to be ascended in each of the three laps of the country, and it may safely be said that, though the course was obviously short of the full ten miles, it was a thoroughly satisfactory test of stamina, It soon found out the weak spots of those who were short of training. From a spectators' point of view the race could not have been beaten, yet the gate was somewhat disappointing; but thanks the fine entry of twenty clubs, financial success is assured. Those who were urging that the severe course tended to upset public form found the result a stumbling-block, for on the whole the running was just what we were led to expect.
Birchfield once again took the honours, and they ran a very fine team indeed, the accession of Underwood and Green making their victory secure at an early stage, and at half distance they had ten men in the first thirty-seven. Such running put the other clubs out of the hunt. Highgate lamented the breakdown of A. G. Horne, J. Woolley, and J. G. Coughlin, but they never flattered their supporters. Hallamshire ran sound team, and might have troubled our Southern champions more had they not made such hard running in the first mile. Much regret was expressed at the absence of the Haddington Harriers, who scratched, thus leaving nineteen teams in the field, of whom sixteen finished the course, the non-stayers being Derby, Worcester and the Godiva, the latter only finishing one man - Arthur Ashby, the Midland Junior champion. The Polytechnic, true to their traditions, finished their complete twelve, and in the proportion of finishers to starters, the Southern came out well ahead of the other divisions.
Individual honours fell to a worthy athlete in George Pearce, who has now gained an honour for which he has striven for some years, and he will be hard to beat in the 'International.' Joe Deakin was an excellent second, notwithstanding a fall which cost him much ground, and shook him up so severely that at five miles he looked like being beaten both Dunkley and Underwood, who made up quite seventy yards on the racecourse. But it turned out that Deakin had wisely reserved his energies over the light going so as to recover fully from his mishap, and up the hill he went right away again, and was never afterwards approached. A. Underwood beat Dunkley over the last mile or so. In the foremost positions Midlanders were well represented, principally because they were running nearly all the leading men in their district race, while from the South the race was scarcely as well supported as had been expected. In club placings they had five in the first eleven, however, Polytechnic proving themselves a fine team, and closing in fourth - a long way behind the placed clubs. The arrangements, generally speaking, were good, but there was room for improvement in one or two details, and especially in the matter of keeping the course clear. The thanks of all sportsmen are due to the Colwall Park executive for lending their course to the N.C.C.U.. while the secretary, Mr Page, was unremitting in his endeavours to secure the comfort and convenience of all concerned. Taken all round, the championship was a decided success, and when in future years we find the race decided in gloomier districts, many of us will look back with pleasure on the experiences of Saturday.
The start was rather a poor one as Middleton, Worcester, Hallamshire, and Salford got on the move early, and, A. F. Goodwin (Worcester) led off with two or three club mates close up. They soon compounded, however, and at a mile the order was:- H Bennion, S Welding, J E Deakin, W Birtles, A Shirtcliffe, G Pearce, F H Hulford, E V Loney, J Murphy. W G Dunkley, A Underwood, and A Ashby. When 2¼ miles had been traversed Pearce led from Deakin with Bennion, Birtles, Loney, Ashby, Dunkley, Underwood, Murphy, Shirtcliffe, Price, Johnston and Brooks. Now to the country, and up the hill they began to spread out. Pearce and Deakin were drawing away, and at four miles, Deakin had rather bad fall, coming down the hill, and at 4¾ miles Pearce led him by 80 yards. Underwood and Dunkley were coming up fast, with Birtles, Loney, Bennion, Price, Day, Johnston, Brooks, Murphy, Long, J Turner, Sewell, Arblaster, Green, Whiston, Hulford, Barker and Wiggington.
The Stagbearers were now well ahead. At the next circuit Loney had passed Birtles while Sewell, Green, Whiston, Hulford, and Ashby had improved. When they came in sight for the finish Pearce was fully 150 yards ahead of Deakin, while Underwood had drawn clear of Dunkley. So they finished, as stated above, while Birchfield won easily, although Arblaster popped out after being in the first twenty for 7½ miles.