Last Saturday saw us take to the mud for the fifth and final edition of the Met League for the 2017/18 season. With the English winter weather conditions prolonging their stay, the attritional mud made for a traditional cross country affair. The race was won by Peter Huck from Newham, and his average pace of outside 5.30 per mile, indicates how tough conditions were. As a team we could only manage 6th on the day, but succeeded in cementing our 3rd place finish in the overall league standings. This will prove a good platform to build on for next season's foray!
Leading us home with a fine 18th place was Angus Holford. Angus (above, in action last year) confessed to training through this race, but the strength work he has put in over the winter months in preparation for the Essex 20 has paid dividends. Enjoying the tougher conditions he dug in, maintaining his high position from the starting gun. Two places further back, Tom Beedell had another solid run for 20th. Although disappointed as he clipped his own calf and struggled to get going, this was still a good day's work and Tom was our highest individual placer for the season. 10 places further adrift of Tom, Dan Steel was our third man home. Dan ploughed through the mud gaining places after a steady start to finish in 28th. This was arguably his best Met League of the season and sets him up nicely for the road races he has in mind for spring.
Another 10 places further back was Dan's old school friend Harold Wyber. The adventurous, multi-terrain, multi-distance man looked the most excited Woodie pre-race, and, revelling in the tough conditions, had a good run for 38th. Both Dan and Harold picked off team manager Darren Southcott who started a little fast and really struggled with the conditions. Perhaps returning from flu a little early, he dug in to get round in 43rd spot, relieved to put an end to the 32 minutes of relentless mud running. Simon Beedell was next up, and our 6th man home, 16 seconds adrift of Darren in 51st place. Simon originally thought he'd be absent on a school trip for this race, but fortunately for us, he became available and completed another round of great contributions for the A team outfit for the season.
7th man home was Jolyon Everitt, in 123rd and 11th V40. Joe was struggling in the build up with a calf strain but being the club man he is, decided to compete nonetheless. The soft surface probable helped keep some of the pain at bay and just to get through pain-free was an achievement. Joe can now look towards his half marathon targets he has his sights set on getting back to full fitness. Pete Caton was next up in 141st. This course was less than ideal for an 800/1500m specialist, but as we have seen week in week out, Pete is more than happy to put in the needed shift when the going gets tough. It is safe to say he'll be look forward to getting back to the track and firm and dry surfaces. Cult club hero Bertie Powell hobbled his way round for 221st. With a slipped disk and injury-ruined winter, Bertie, determined to keep his consecutive mets going, battled the elements for another scoring 12 finish. This was some achievement and he can now take a well-earned rest until the league resumes in October. 10th man home was Alistair Holford. Much like his son, Alistair enjoyed a run out on the muddy and winter conditions as he continues his come back from injury. Paul Stockings and Steve Taylor completed the scoring 12 placing 357 and 368 respectively. Paul, much like Bertie, is doing a great job of keeping his Met League count ticking, and we believe he is close to his 150th outing. Steve has had a great Met League season and been a team stalwart throughout the winter months. On his return from sunnier climbs of New Zealand, Tom Spanyol was our 13th man home, placing just outside the scoring 12 in 372nd. The Woodford contingent was rounded off with Trevor Powell who came home in 404th, to round off a solid afternoon's work by all.
This brings an end to the Met Leagues for this season, and our attention now turns to the National Cross Country Championships and the Road Relays. I'd like to say a huge thank you to all those who have turned out and ran, supported, marshalled or helped manage and distribute numbers. We have a great team ethic and good foundation and with a bit more consistency, will hopefully be challenging for the title in the not too distant future.