A FIELD which would rival any to contest the national cross-country titles lined up for Saturday’s racing at St Anne’s Winery in Ravenswood. Athletes from near and far lined up to contest leg three in the On-backed XCR series run by Athletics Victoria.

Racing was 8km, 4km or 3km distances on the picturesque course at the foot of Big Hill.

Athletics Bendigo Region’s teams dominated across several categories.

Bendigo’s team, aka Bats, was number one in men’s premier division, division three women, division six men, and under-18 boys.

There were also top-three placings in women’s division four, division seven men, under-20 men, and  under-14 boys.

The Bats fielded their strongest men’s premier line-up and achieved the lowest score of 92, based on placings in the 8km duel, .to win the round from Box Hill, 113; and Glenhuntly, 143.

A top-class field vying for the men’s open 8km crown included Australian marathon record-holder Brett Robinson, Olympian David McNeill, Glenhuntly’s Edward Marks, Essendon’s Archie Noakes, Box Hill’s Andre Waring, and gun steeplechaser Liam Cashin.

Birmingham Commonwealth Games marathon runner and world XC representative Andy Buchanan was back to lead the Bats charge.

Buchanan was fourth in a time of 24.41 as Waring charged to victory in 24.17 from Edward Marks, 24.20, and Robinson who clocked 24.40.

Rounding out the top seven were McNeill, 24.45; Cashin, 24.49; and Noakes, 24.53.

“It was a great day racing at St Anne’s near Bendigo, with so much support and a great turn-out of Bendigo runners,” Buchanan said.

“The men’s field was deeper than most national cross-country titles. It was probably the strongest cross-country field we may have in XCR this season.

“We had some outstanding junior results which is exciting for the future of the Bats.”

Buchanan was rapt the Bats achieved back-to-back wins in men’s premier on the Ravenswood course.

This year it was Buchanan who teamed up with Matt Buckell, 12th in 25.22; Nathan Stoate, 13th in 25.24; Paddy Stow, 19th in 25.48; Brady Threlfall, 20th in 25.59; and Archie Reid, 24th in 26.08.

Bendigo’s unbeaten run in women’s division three kept rolling.

Virginia McCormick and Tullie Rowe led the charge in times of 29.37 and 29.55 to be fifth and sixth.

The Bats were also represented by Alice Wilkinson, 24th in 32.21; Rebecca Wilkinson, 59th in 35.40.

Bendigo scored 94 points and was well clear of APS United, 311; and Waverley, 408.

The women’s open 8km was won by Geelong Region’s Ellie Pashley in 28.11.

The 34-year-old returned to racing from maternity leave last year and was 19th at the world cross-country titles run in February in Bathurst.

Among many highs for the Bendigo Bats was the victory by Logan Tickell in the under-18s 4km in 12.44 which was two seconds faster than the under-20 men’s winner.

The Bats’ line-up of Logan Tickell; Kade Hutchinson, 7th in 14.10; and Max Rowe, 8th in 14.20; won the under-18 boys race from Mentone and Ballarat.

At under-20 level, Bats’ team-mates Harrison Boyd and Jayden Padgham ran the 4km in 12.53 and 12.54 to be second and third.

University’s Avery McDermid beat the 10-minute mark as he won the under-16 3km in 9.57.

Other highs for the Bats were Phoebe Lonsdale, 17.06 to be 8th in the under-20 4km; and Tully Lang, 12th in the under-18s 3km in 12.20.

Chelsea Tickell was fifth in the under-16 3km in a time of 11.54.

Tyler Fynch from South Bendigo ran 4km in 14.27 to again be the under-14 champion.

Round four in XCR will be on June 17 at Cruden Farm.

Times and placings for the Bendigo Bats at St Anne’s Winery in Ravenswood:

Men’s open, 8km:

Andy Buchanan 24.41, 4th; Matt Buckell 25.22, 12th; Nathan Stoate 25.24, 13th; Paddy Stow 25.48, 19th; Brady Threlfall 20th, 25.59; Archie Reid 26.08, 24th; Oscar Reid 28.31, 90th; Nigel Preston 28.37, 93rd; Stephen Van Rees 28.53, 97th; Lewis Gillett 28.59, 102nd; Jackson Eadon 28.59, 103rd; Nathan Meade 29.07, 105th; Jordan Buckell 29.36, 124th; Luke Crameri 29.50, 133rd; Ben Warren 29.51, 135th; Kye Jenkyn 30.11, 144th; Chris Armstrong 30.28, 156th; Shaun White 30.40, 160th; Luke Millard 31.26, 179th; Jake Hilson 31.34, 182nd; Ben Stolz 32.29, 209th; Rory Flanagan 32.46, 212th; Adam Parker 33.11, 217th; Octavian Power-Priede 34.39, 251st; Trevor Kelly 34.46, 254th; Greg Hilson 35.47, 272nd; David Heislers 36.45, 290th; Kelvin Niblett 38.51, 312th; Ben Sandeman 38.55, 313th; Ben McDermid 42.29, 338th.

Women’s open, 8km:

Virginia McCormick 29.37, 5th; Tullie Rowe 29.55, 6th; Alice Wilkinson 32.21, 24th; Rebecca Wilkinson 35.40, 59th; Anna Mulquiny 36.30, 67th; Vanessa Bull 37.04, 75th; Anne Buckley 39.10, 94th; Ruth Sandeman 41.18, 110th; Debby Kirne 41.55, 115th; Juliet Heahleah 42.52, 122nd; Norah Armstrong 44.17, 126th.

Under-20 men’s, 4km:

Harrison Boyd 12.53, 2nd; Jayden Padgham 12.54, 3rd.

Under-20 women’s, 4km:

Phoebe Lonsdale 17.06, 8th

Under-18 boys, 4km:

Logan Tickell 12.44, 1st; Kade Hutchinson 14.10, 7th; Max Rowe 14.20, 8th; Thomas McArthur 14.58, 12th; Sebastian Rossi 15.06, 13th; Tanner Fear 15.55, 18th; Aden Thomsen 16.31, 19th; Kai Thomsen 18.51, 20th.

Under-18 girls, 3km:

Tully Lang 12.20, 12th; Abbey Cartner 13.20, 23rd.

Under-16 boys:

Avery McDermid 9.57, 1st.

Under-16 girls, 3km:

Chelsea Tickell 11.54, 5th; Ebony Woodward 13.04, 19th.

Under-14 boys, 4km:

Tyler Fynch 14.27, 1st.