A murky, wet afternoon greeted our 28 young athletes where the course, which was all grassland, had good going underfoot. Althogh a good turnout, despite having two runners at the English Schools Cup, we still seem to be lacking athletes in the Under 13/15 and Under 17 Women. The Under 13 boys lost three of their best runners who won at Claybury for very good reasons.
Under 11 Boys
Although Jimmy Geller was given 2nd place there is good evidence from us that he actually crossed the line in first place. Jimmy was chasing down a Slough runner who had gone off very fast from the gun and eventually caught him just before the line. Luca Gormley was never far behind in a solid 3rd place. Ellis Carter, not available for Claybury, ran very well indeed for 4th with Nathan Wright in 6th place. Sid Cody added valuable support with a good 12th place. Poor Dylon White started well but was forced to retire with injury. The boys have a massive lead of 159 points with our B team in 2nd place.
Under 11 Girls
Kezia Beeton got off to a great start but so too did Ruby Nauhgton from VPH (a 20 mins 24 5k parkrunner). The two of them were close together until the VPH runner found that bit extra to come home 9 seconds clear of our girl. Larna Morgan was never far behind with another excellent outing for us in 5th place. Holly Hudson, just a year 5, more than showed her paces in 6th spot, with Bronya Overington placing 14th to close our team in. Macy Huthwaite ran really well for 15th with Molly Wain also showing big improvement with 18th. Charlotte Harrington, just 9 and a year 4 girl, was 21st with WASPS Emily and Alice Caton 25th and 26th. Special praise must go to Year 5 girl Rose Grady who is recovering from whooping cough but sportingly turned out for us in 28th place. The girls hold a 53 points lead with our B team in 4th place.
Under 13 Boys
After a great showing at Claybury, where we were winners, we were without the services of Richard Reid (unwell), Maxwell Chinn (ESAA Cup race) and Alessandro Berni (family commitment). We stood little chance as only one runner toed the line. Brandon Baldacci can feel very pleased with his 19th place from 50 starters, a good run throughout.
Under 13 Girls
In this age group we are lacking in numbers but the team manager is optimistic there will be a full team for the next Met League. The two girls that did run performed well. Hollie McArdell, such a reliable club girl, wa 15th from 50 starters, with 800 metre runner Zahara Malcolm improving from Claybury with 17th. Zahara will compete indoors later in the winter.
Under 15 Boys
This was an amazing result for us, with no less than five runners in the top 10 from 55 starters in this age group. They have certainly benefited from their showing in the National Cross Country relays last Saturday. Kai Boggon, in great form, led the team home in 4th spot, just 38 seconds behind the winner from Hillingdon. Just one place behind was Sidnie Ward in 5th spot. Sidnie is gradually recovering the form that made him the No. 1 U13 800m runner in the UK. In 6th spot was fast finishing Joe Geller, with Todd Maleary having a great run in 8th spot. Kieran Allgood toed the line for his first race for us and, although he did not score, he should be really happy with 9th spot, just 23 seconds down on fellow clubmate Kai. Although we had no Under 17s running, when the overall scores came in for both age groups we were 2nd, just 2 points behind Hillingdon. This squad has the potential to do really well at all levels this winter. I must praise Fred Taylor who was 53rd. Fred always supports his club and trains hard and I hope that in the months and years to come this likeable lad will progress with his running but the important thing now is that he enjoys it. Hayden Maleary, last year's Essex Schools Year 8 champion, was also forced to retire with an ankle injury whilst in a prominent position.
Under 15 Girls
Wren Jackson placed 13th at Claybury and was pleased with that. Since then she has been training hard with two midweek sessions and with coach Steve Cody on a Saturday at Harlow. The training has paid off, for Wren motored hard towards the end for an excellent 3rd place and nearly caught the 2nd place girl. This has given Wren greater confidence so that an Essex team spot at the English Schools CC at Norwich is now her aim.
Under 17 Women
This was Louise Gilbert's first outing this winter and after setting out in the lead she unfortunately fell back in the closing stages to place 7th. I am sure Louise will improve with more races and hopefully before the winter is out will seek to run for Essex again.
Overall, at the individual level, this was an excellent showing with four podium placings and another 10 runners inside their top 10. But we do need to improve the turnout, particularly on the girls' side. There are many new faces at Ashton since the success of the Olympics and the Team Manager hopes to address this before the next match. In the Howard Williams Junior Trophy Woodford sit in an impressive 3rd spot from the 22 clubs, just 9 points behind the leading club.
At Kettering in the North Midland League, Under 20 runner Alicia McArdell, running for her University, had an excellent run in the Senior Ladies race over 6.5 k. She placed 16th from over 200 starters in 25 mins 49 secs. I am sure our ladies' team can't wait for her to return from University before Xmas.