Saturday was always going to be difficult with the conflict of the Met League and Essex U13/15 champs on the same day. Nevertheless we enjoy great strength and depth in our junior sections and were able to be well-represented in both competitions. The Essex Cross Country Championship this year also had some added spice in that Essex vests for the Nationals in March were available for the top 6 athletes home.
Quite early on Saturday morning with the ground still wet, our U13 Boys team were the first to toe the line at the start, in the grounds of Writtle agricultural college. The 3km course, consisting of one small lap in the grounds and one large lap around, was fairly flat and fast. At the end of the small lap Jimmy Geller found himself in second behind Havering’s Blackstock, a powerful upper year U13, and close behind we had the rest of the Woodies spread out in the top 15 places. Around the lake the field spread out somewhat and Jimmy, who could not catch the leader, was our first boy home in 2nd place, 18 seconds off the lead in 11.38. Nathan Wright was our next runner home, 6th in 12:00, closely followed by Luca Gormley in 9th in 12.16. Maxwell Chinn, who was pipped in the funnel, closed the scoring team in 11th in a time of 12.21. Our 5th lad home, and very important team member, Ronan Edwards was really pleased with 22nd in 13.03, given the field of 48 of the best in Essex. As the top 12 came in it was clear that the boys (photo above) had won team gold and everyone was delighted.
With our U13 Girls preferring to focus their efforts in Uxbridge, the next race of interest was the U15 Boys, who had sent a strong team. The U15 Boys 4k course ran two large laps, the first of which saw Kai Boggon neck-and-neck with Ilford’s Aaron Samuel. Both had pulled a good 20 seconds clear from 3rd place, with a good packing of green and white in the top ten behind them. Kai was first Woodie home, just 9 seconds off Samuel, and clocking 13:52 for 2nd place. Kieran Allgood, who just missed the scoring last year, romped home next, very happy with his 5th place in 14:19. And with his best run to date, Rhys Edwards (7th) was our 3rd lad home in 14:32. Whilst writing this report we hear he has been offered a discretional Essex vest by the county team manager based on his courageous performance today. Our final scorer was Sidnie Ward, who was 13th in 14:50. Our 5th man home was Joe Morgan, who had been sick all week but still turned up and had a go. He was in 22nd place on the first lap yet was sadly unable to finish but must be commended for his determination. Like their younger team mates, the U15 Boys could see immediately that, with no less than 7 different clubs in the top 15, the team gold was in the bag (photo above).
Finally, all on her own in the U15 Girl was Wren Jackson. Interviewed before the race, she said she was feeling very nervous, but if only she had known how well she would run! Having placed 14th last year, Wren was keen to improve.
She ran a sensible race (photo above) and was 12th as the field sorted itself out after the initial sprint. Then she coolly worked through the pack, picking up a couple of places, leaving it to the last 100m where she took two more places in front of her cheering teammates and parents to clock 16:45, just 3 seconds away from that 6th place.
Our 11 Athletes all ran brilliantly. The team took away two team golds and five Essex vests and all who ran were very happy with their performances.