We travelled with high hopes and a strong team to Wormwood Scrubs on Saturday afternoon, for the third Start Fitness Met League fixture of the year. Sitting in second place in the league, we knew it would take something special to overhaul a stubborn Highgate team. Unfortunately we came up just short, with the A team 110 points behind in second, but we cemented our second place position nonetheless, and had some very pleasing individual performances. All should be feeling positive heading into the Championships post festive period.
Our first athlete home was James Stockings (photo right, Sept. 2016). Feeling confident from his positive result at Stevenage, James knew the fast, flat, firm ground of Scrubs would give him a platform to shine. Starting aggressively he asserted himself well in the lead group and maintained a good cadence to finish 8th. This is the Durham student’s highest Met league finish and this fantastic form is welcomed by both James and the team!
James was closely followed by debutant Ross Matheson in 9th position. This was Ross’s first cross country race of the season and he too started strongly. Unfortunately a stitch inhibited his progress round the second lap, but this was still a fine run and leaves us all excited about what else Ross may have in the tank. Next up was Woodford stalwart Tom Beedell. An ever-present in our first few finishers, Tom used his experience to start slightly conservatively and move through the field, finishing well in 18th. Similar can be said for our next man home, Dan Steel. It is becoming common place to see Dan creep up the field, which shows the confidence he has in what is proving to be his best cross country season. He finished in 21st, but surely a top 20 finish is just around the corner.
In contrast to those two preceding finishers, team manager Darren Southcott was all too eager to test out his fitness after a good 10 days training whilst on holiday in Ethiopia. Feeling strong aerobically he went with the early pace but his legs didn’t quite last the distance. 29th place was a reasonable run and something to build on over the Christmas break. 6th man home was Tom Phillips, who returned from holiday only a day before. Tom is currently on a running ‘sabbatical’ as he goes travelling around the world in December, but Tom’s love of the club is evident as he still pulled on a vest and ran well for 37th. Easily recognised in a red and white hooped beanie, Bertie Powell was our next man home. Having put in a few more miles over the last months, Bertie’s form is improving. As always, he worked hard, left everything on the course and finished well for 42nd place. A few places further back, our next man home was Angus Holford, who has had a small setback with illness over the last few weeks. Those less hardy souls may have stayed at home when not feeling 100% fit, but Angus, as always, put in a solid shift to help the team. He finished 48th and was our 8th man home.
In 9th place was hard marathon man Simon Beedell. Expressing his surprise at the quick pace of the race, with his Garmin indicating that he was running his 10K PB pace, Simon showed good leg turnover speed to get round in 56th. He was closely followed by an athlete who would have welcomed the flat, fast conditions. 800m maestro Canaan Solomon finished well for 10th man home and 60th place. This was a solid run from the youngster who will look to move indoors after Christmas and focus on the shorter distances. Canaan was tracked on the first lap by Louis Clark, our 11th man home. Louis has been training well recently and, following his good run at the Mansfield cross country relays, continued his good form here. Exciting things lie in store for this ever improving runner. Closing our A team after an injury-plagued buildup, Donatas Tumaitis was our 12th man home in 90th spot. Having just made a return to sessions, the mileage Donatas has stored in the bank became evident as he still managed a solid run on a course where no man could hide. This was a solid team result and the winter team is entering an exciting time for a young, developing squad.
Beginning our B team, in what I believe to be his first time cracking the top 100 of the Met League was Julian Russell in 99th spot. This was a pleasing result for a real grafter who is constantly improving! 14th Woodie home, and 1st B team scorer was Joshua Entwistle. Having started a career as a teacher Josh has struggled to get in the quality training of late. This is an adjustment we have all, or will all, have to make at some point in our running careers, and we know and Josh knows what a quality runner he is. I’m sure he’ll channel his disappointment into displaying his Claybury form at the next Met in January and vastly improve on his 104th place. 3rd scorer home was Gareth Cavell. This was a good run from Gareth, in 133rd, who is returning to form, having missed some training and the first Met League. I’m sure this will be the result of the weekend he remembers as opposed to that of his beloved West Ham…! Next up was ‘Pistol’ Pete Caton in 153rd. His preference for the shorter distances is no secret, but Pete constantly turns up and puts everything on the line in the name of the club. This was another good endurance display for the 800m man who can have high hopes for the coming track season.
In next was the first V55 runner home of the day, in 217th place Tony Pamphilon. This was a pleasing result for a runner who picks, peaks and paces his races very well. Tony was closely followed by Paul Manson who made a welcome return to racing after an injury-plagued few years. Paul was positive pre and post-race and is a good squad man to welcome back. He finished in 247th place and will no doubt continue to improve as the season progresses. Up next was marathon man James Perry in 260th. A return to cross country after a good autumn marathon, this was a good result for James, who is already looking for his next race over 26.2miles, and he followed up this tough 5 mile cross country race with a 23 mile long Sunday run. No rest for James!
Alun Evans was up next in 317th, having prised himself away from consistently good parkrun results. It was good to see Alun running well in green and white again and he was our 8th B teamer home. Our next two finishers closed in quick succession with Tom Spanyol in 364th and Paul Stockings in 366th. This was solid packing from two of our ever-present vets, with Tom just getting the dip over Paul. Paul had to additionally acknowledge his son’s great run, bettering Paul’s best ever finish in roughly 10 attempts as opposed to Pauls 120+ attempts! Next up was Grant Corton, who had another solid outing for the club in 376th. He was closely followed by Trevor Powell, a minute further back in 403rd.
The B Team finished in 8th place out of the Division Two teams on the day and this is where we stay in the Division Two table. With the bottom two going down, we need to ensure a good turnout and continuations of good form to cement our place over the final two fixtures of the season.
Finally, This Manager would like to say a special thanks to Ed Messer, who came down from Ipswich to help with the on-the-day admin. This is a huge help to myself and the rest of the team, as it enables me to focus on my individual performance. The club relies on characters like Ed who always has a good word of advice and accurate assessment in addition to his organisational skills. A further commendation goes to Joe Everitt. He unfortunately just missed the start due to family commitments, but donned his spikes and ran two laps anyway! This could have been a blessing in disguise as he returns from injury, but shows the positive attitude he has!
Hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and looking forward to attacking the mud, hills and competition in the second half of the season.