Ronnie Sparke and his coach Richard Thurston had been targeting one of the 6 places in GB's U20 team in Jordan since the start of the winter season and, with Southern gold and National bronze, things had gone extremely well over the last 6 weeks. The first 3 past the post plus "3 others" would gain selection.
But, as in the National when it was all-change over the last 2K, Ronnie bravely clawed his way back into the race past Lawson, Hunter and Hampshire's top man Berntsen until he was top 6. However - with Goolab a clear winner - he paid the price for the post-spiking chase and was unable to snatch one of the 3 automatic spots. With the team due to be announced on Tuesday, Ronnie must watch and wait! Even though he has another 2 years in this age group, he badly wants to run in Jordan! He won a bronze medal in the team race with Essex.
In the senior men's race, we had Hywel Care (Merseyside), Simon Plummer (Wiltshire) and Kevin Murphy (Essex). Having started too fast in the National, the wise Care did not make the same mistake twice, and was as far back as 100 early on. But, running with confidence, he worked his way steadily through the field to an excellent 34th and was 1st scorer for 7th-placed Merseyside. Care is a man who looks for year-on-year improvement, and he was 68th in 2008. Plummer, on the other hand, had an unhappy run, suffering after a strong first lap in which he sought a top 30 placing, and fading to 68th. After starting in around 100th (there were 292 finishers), Murphy held his place well and took opportunities to pass people, finishing a satisfying 89th, which made him 5th scorer for 8th-placed Essex. Ross Clarke of Basildon, who has joined us as a Higher Competition athlete with a view to running 1500m this summer, passed Care in the closing stages for a very fine 32nd place.
In the women's race, Linda Jackson was possibly slightly down on what she might have hoped for, in 56th, being 2nd scorer for 10th-placed Hertfordshire. Another Thurston athlete, Georgie-Lou Sales, in the U20 women's event, started in her usual aggressive fashion but hung on far better than she had in the National for a very, very good 24th. Jess Docking, like Sales representing 10th-placed Essex, finished 117th.
Robbie Meadows ran very well for 82nd in the U17 Men's race, which had 282 finishers. He was 4th scorer for 6th-placed Essex. And Liam Blaikie ran terrifically well in the U15 Boys race. He followed his race plan to go out easy and then attack the hill on lap two. He improved from 68th after the first lap to 44th of 304 finishers, and was Essex's 3rd scorer, just 1 second behind their 2nd. Meadows, Blaikie and Docking all train under Alistair Holford at Ashton.
Simon Plummer, angry after his disappointing performance on Saturday, won the Devizes 10K on Sunday by over 2 minutes, clocking 31.59. He did experience some tiredness, though, illustrated by the fact that he had won the same race in 31.09.
At the British Masters Indoor T&F Championship at Lea Valley, Richard Holland won 2 medals in the M50 category. Silver in the 1500m, clocking 4:32.90; and bronze in the 3000m in 9:37.69. He beat his Essex rival Michael Bridgeland, of Chelmsford, into 4th in the latter.
Locally, a small band of men supported the Michael Penman 10K in Victoria Park, Hackney. A quality German athlete, Florian Neuschwander, burned up the tarmac to clock 30.45 at the front of the race. Martin McLean, very much learning the ropes after taking up the sport 8 months ago, was a useful 4th (of 87) in 34.14. Making a 10K debut prior to focusing on track for the summer was 17-year old Darren Southcott. He ran a perfect race by holding back for the first mile and then easing his way past around 15 men to clock 36.25 and finish 13th. Photos
Others: 11, Matt Flannelly (M45) 35.52; 12, Dave Cox (M55) 36.14; 21, John Wallis (M45) 38.06; 23, Terry McCarthy (M50) 38.23; 50, Vic Wilson (M60) 44.08; 52, Steve Lambert (M40) 44.50.