An unfortunate mistake spoilt Saturday's race for the National Cross-Country Championship at Dunstall Park, though it is improbable that the individual placings or the result of the race would have been altered had the regulation ten miles been traversed. As it was, and in the absence of an official admission that the full distance was not run, we have it on record that Ernest Glover of the Hallamshires, covered ten miles in 51mins. 1sec., whereas that great runner of old times Sid Thomas, holds the ten miles record over flat with 51mins. 38 3/5secs.
The fact that in Glover's journey a wide stretch of plough, with numerous iron rails and wire, had to be got over, shows that something was very wrong with the mileage on Saturday and this is further demonstrated by winners times during the past few years. These are as follows: 1907, Colwall Park, G. Pearce. 56.33; 1908, Newbury, A. J. Robertson, 59.47 4/5; 1909, Haydock Park, J. Murphy, 62.25; 1910, Derby, F. C. Neaves, 58.38; 1911, Taplow Court , F. N. Hibbins, 59.22 2/5; 1912, Haydock Park, F. N. Hibbins, 60.0 4/5. Of course times over different tracks have little relative value, but the above list offers strong evidence that ten miles were not covered on Saturday.
For all that we had a very pretty race, the sun shining warmly most of the time, and though the attendance was poor, interest was always pronounced. The racecourse was spoken of by the competitors as affording fine going, but out beyond it, barbed wire was found, resulting in countless cuts and scratches, and one competitor tore a piece out of his groin in his haste to get over. Barbed wire is surely an unnecessary even in such a race as this, just as much as it is in the hunting field, and the runners freely complained of its existence out in the Oxley Manor estate beyond the canal bridge.
The Hallamshires realised that their chances of a fourth successive win had gone when Murphy was unable make the journey through a severe cold, whilst Cottrill was also a conspicuous absentee, and has not been training this season. The result was that the chosen party included several juniors who had no experience of ten mile races, but all who competed fought splendidly for the honour of their club, and in the end the Hallamshires were not kept out of a place finishing third, and thus adding to a magnificent record. In the seven years of their experience in the National their placings have been third, first, second, first, first, first, and now third. Leaving Cottrill out altogether, is fairly evident that Murphy's absence meant a difference of close on sixty points in Hallamshire's total. The one lesson of the race, so far as the club champions are concerned, is that the contains many very good youngsters, who are sure to show improved running another year, and to whom Saturday's initial experience must be invaluable.
Even as it was the race gave Hallamshire a brilliant success, in that Glover added to his Yorkshire and Northern honours that of being first man home in the National. Only two were really fancied for individual honours, Baldwin, but the Derby man, after showing a bold front for half the journey, could not sustain the effort, and during the latter half Glover and Vose were out by themselves, no one else within a furlong. Glover led by fifteen yards passing the stand the first time, and doubled doubled that advantage going into the country. However, his many friends had a shock when the runners reappeared, for Vose was then a hundred ahead, but two-thirds of this was wiped out when the stands were again reached, and from this point those who knew Glover had no fears.
Glover's story of the finish is illuminating enough : I was jogging along comfortably about five yards ahead of Vose when a man standing by the rails called out: 'Only four furlongs more.' I was surprised, for I quite thought we had another lap to go, but I didn't give Vose time to wink. I jumped straight away, and got such a lead as made me all right. Vose made a gallant effort up the straight, but was always comfortably held, for Glover had got the first run and Baldwin finished third, about 200 yards behind, but finished very fresh. Glover seemed quite fit at the finish, and stands out as a wonderfully strong runner, capable of any exertion and perhaps possessing a shade more pace than his friends had thought. His style is just suited to such contests, for he runs well from the hips and covers lot of ground.