On Saturday, the senior men's cross country squad made the short journey to Parliament Hill for the South of England Cross Country Championships. The course was reasonably firm by Hampstead Heath standards, but it did not make the 15K slog feel any easier. We were a little light on numbers due to various other commitments and injuries, which can be expected as a hectic two month racing schedule takes its toll, but the Men's team put in a great effort to finish in 15th place overall.
First man home was Team Manager Darren Southcott, who has enjoyed a hat trick of good performances this January. Having started the race very aggressively, he was in the top 30 after the first kilometre. However he relaxed and settled down, recovering through a bad patch on the second lap to move back through to finish in 48th, having slipped outside the top 50. Many congratulated him on a good run, but being his own harshest critic, he feels a steadier start could have potentially resulted in a higher finish! Second man home was Dan Steel, 29 seconds adrift of Darren in 65th spot. This performance once again highlights how Dan has come on this year, as he finished in 99th spot last time round. By his own admission, Dan prefers the firmer surfaces, so the drier course suited him well. In traditional fashion, he started steadily and found himself in 120th after the first lap, but enjoyed picking people off over the next 10km! Next up was a resurgent Bertie Powell, who finished in 84th place. Bertie is managing his injuries better and has been training a little more. This hard work and dedication is really beginning to show with his racing results. Bertie should be pleased with this performance and use it as a stepping stone to his next target race. Our 4th man home was Simon Beedell in 182nd. Simon is currently targeting a couple of ultra-marathons in the spring period, and is getting some extra mileage and long runs in as a result. Having run two 20+ mile runs the weekend before, he struggled a little over the challenging 15km course. The Southern Cross is a race where you can be exposed if not fully fresh, but none the less this was a good workout for the 2.33 marathon man! In 280th position, Jolyon Everitt was our next Woodie home. Joe struggled the week leading up to this race with injury, and it shows the calibre of this athlete that he was still able to get around a very challenging course. Although he may have expected a slightly higher finish, this was a great effort by Joe who will take this result in his stride, analyse it, and positively move on to the next race! Closing our scoring six was Julian Russell in 319th. This was another solid performance from Julian who had a 100-place improvement from his performance in this event two years ago. Despite his performance, much of the discussion with Julian at the finish was how he managed to get a large cut across his eye that resulted in a significant amount of claret trickling down his cheek. His story was one of branches and brambles, but I think we were all sceptical of brambles being capable of such damage!
Opening the scoring for the B team in 526th spot was Gareth Cavell. Gareth is perhaps lacking a little racing sharpness, but he stuck at the course well. It was good to have him back racing in green and white again. A minute adrift of Gareth was 2nd B team scorer home James Perry in 564th. James was determined to have a good run today as his coach had travelled all the way from Northern Spain to keep an eye on his performance. He did not disappoint, as this was another good run from James and a tough tempo workout, which will help over the long road races he has planned this summer. Our 3rd B team scorer and following James home in 841st was his coach Terry McCarthy. It was a welcome return for Terry who achieved his target of getting around and enjoying it! This was his first competitive performance as a V60 too, and will hopefully be the one of many. Team spirit was certainly high with Terry's return! Closing an incomplete B team our 10th scorer for the day was Trevor Powell in 1034th. Another excellent performance from Trevor. We were two runners short of having the 12 required for the Essex trophy, which was a shame, but it was a great to get 10 Woodies round arguably the toughest cross-country race in the domestic calendar. A big thank you goes to all those that travelled and supported the runners, despite the wintery conditions.