For many years this winter Championship was a local one for us, alternating between Claybury and Hainault. Gradually it has moved eastwards, this time in the beautiful surroundings of Writtle University College which, if the rows of greenhouses, terracotta pots and tended gardens were anything to go by, specialises in agriculture. Always a popular fixture, it seemed busier this year. Doubtless the number of races being held on the day beginning with U13 and U15 boys and girls. The unbroken sunshine and clear blue sky helped.
In customary style, the W35 and M50 groups opened the Vets competition; 8k over what appeared to be a flat, open straightforward course. Four to score. Two women and five men from Woodford were in this out-and-back race which began with a twisting, flat, first section then around a lake with a treacherously slippery steep sided camber, across fields with ankle twistingly deceptive undulations and along narrow tracks and then back again.
In the Men’s race of 123 finishers M60 Dave Cox (10) was our first home, also winning his age group race. He was followed by Neil Ford (33) 2’ behind, on his M50 debut. Andy Coleman (60), who looked by the end as if he had taken a slide lake-wards was next, 2’45” behind Neil. Not far behind Coleman were Tom Spanyol and Paul Stockings. Who would be fourth scorer? Tom (66) currently on good form from a consistent training schedule, including faithful attendance at Tuesday track sessions, had begun to relax a bit by the mid-point of the race until, finding Jenny Thomas on his heels, he fired up the proverbial Quattro and went on to pass a not quite back to form Stocko (71) in the final stages, thus closing the team.
The race was won by Colin Ridley of Colchester Harriers. Woodford were ninth team behind Colchester Harriers who won gold with 4 in 11 (8 in 28), silver medallists Orion Harriers and Benfleet RC who took bronze. Colchester B were fourth.
Jenny Thomas (29) in the Women’s race of 111 finishers, disappointed not to be able to hold on to Tom Spanyol or Paul Stockings, was nonetheless pleased to be in clear sight of both and in the top 10 V45 category. Susan Edwards (44), coming slowly and surely back to strength after an ankle injury, ran strongly to finish well within the top half of the field.
The race was won by Elizabeth Davies of hosts Springfield striders. Colchester Harriers won the team race, closing 4 in 19.
Ninety in this race. After their epic battle for the funnel at Stevenage it was Cavell and Caton again going head to head for the top spot. Again Gareth Cavell (19) was the in form guy, closing first for the team in his final appearance in this race before he steps up a category next year. Peter Caton (21), also finding some endurance form after injury, was just behind Gareth. Next home was Vet debutant Joe Everett (35) running very strongly in his comeback race after a long spell out with injury. Closing was marathon and 5am treadmill addict James Perry (44).
The race was won comfortably by Crispian Bloomfield of Billericay Striders. Colchester Harriers had to settle for bronze in this race which was won by hosts Springfield Striders with 4 in 13. Silver was won by Orion Harriers.