Wolverton was privileged on Saturday last to stage the fourth annual National Cross-Country Championship of the Women's Amateur Athletic Association, and the townspeople and many visitors gave it as an enthusiastic reception as they did four years ago, when the Men's National race was staged at the same venue. In fact, the same course was used again except that the number of circuits was reduced so as to comply with the women a championship distance of a furlong under a three miler. The course could well be described as an ideal one for the slope of the ground made a natural grandstand, and the whole of the 5,000 spectators - a record attendance for this event, could see the runners the entire distance. It will be remembered that when the Men's National was held, Wolverton then provided record attendance figures, which evidences the keen interest taken in athletics in the North Bucks railway centre and the adjoining district.
A motor saloon brought a full complement of passengers from Bristol, another from Wolverhampton, and yet another from Haywards Heath. Fully an hour before the race was due to commence, spectators began to take up positions in the large field adjoining the Stacey Hill Farm, where the race run by permission of Mr, E. Norman.
The weather was cold, and an icy wind blew from a northerly direction. Both the start and finish of the race took place in the Stacey Hill field after a circuit of which a number of adjoining fields were rounded, the runners again entering the starting field for a further lap before breaking off towards the centre of the field down a roped "funnel" which was thickly lined with people.
It was a thrilling spectacle to witness the start of 144 competitors, who were striking examples of healthy young women, and they faced, what proved to be a stiff course, with splendid determination. There were 18 teams represented, being drawn from various parts of the country, and also eight individual runners. It fell to Capt. Sir George Bowyer M.C., the M.P. for North Bucks, to signal the start. Press camera men found a point of vantage in the boughs of a tree near by the starting post, whilst a cinematograph film was run off from the roof of a motor von. The going was a trifle heavy, a sharp shower of rain and sleet at midday having given the ground a sticky surface. After the first get away, the favourites - Styles, Christmas, Wear, and Hinton - were all in the lead. At halfway, Styles was hanging close to Christmas, and later drew away to breast the tape with a comfortable distance lead amid very enthusiastic applause of the crowd. She finished surprisingly fresh, which could hardly be said of many other competitors as they passed the final post. The race was an individual triumph for Miss L. Styles, of Littlehampton, an individual runner who retained the title for the third successive year. The team's honours rather unexpectedly were wrested from the Middlesex L.A.C.. who were previously unbeaten in this event by the Westbury Club. Of the 144 competitors who started no fewer than 122 completed the course, and both the first and third places were taken by individual entrants.
The Wolverton A.A.C. placed their services at the disposal of the W.A.A.A., and did everything possible to ensure the championship success from every point of view. The facilities for dressing-room and tearoom accommodation could not have been better, the commodious dining hall of the L.M.S. Railway Carriage Works being placed at the disposal of the championship committee by the Works Supt., Mr. J. Panes.
Following tea, to which the competitors, officials, and others at, the presentation of awards was made by Mrs J. Purves. The winning team received, in addition to a silver shield presented by Mr. G. French, gold medals, the second team silver medals, and the third team bronze medals. The first three competitors received similar awards. Mr. J. Purves, as president of the Wolverton Amateur Athletic Club, spoke of the pleasure it gave Wolverton to welcome the championship race again. He pointed out that Wolverton had been associated with athletes for well-nigh 50 years. Capt. Sir George Bowyer, M.P., said it was one of the greatest of privileges he had had to take an important part in that day's proceedings. The event had been wonderfully organised. (Hear, hear.)