We had 9 full teams and one incomplete young athlete team who travelled to Mansfield for this prestigious event. It was a mild day with the going underfoot firm, but a strong wind blew around the course.
Unfortunately for us it was a case of "if only" as, unlike the road relays a month earlier, there was no warning announcement of 5 minutes before each race. Our unlucky Under 17 men's team, victorious last year as Under 15s, were victims of this and were not on the starting line when the gun was fired. One or two other clubs were in the same boat.
U13s: Tilly Major, Molly Sherrin, Kezia Beeton, Rosemary Kelly (pic: Craig Sherrin)
Two teams started from a starting field of 100. Abigail Reid and Tilly Major got good starts and were prominent throughout, with Abigail coming through in 8th and Tilly 17th, just 10 seconds behind. With their fine showing at Birmingham, another top 10 was on the cards until poor Kezia Beeton was held in the starting pen and was not released until 40 seconds after Abigail finished. This left her with a mountain to climb and, starting out in the late thirties, she pushed through hard to come in 19th. Had Kezia's time been correct it would have been one of the fastest on leg 2. For the other team, Rosemary Kelly ran well to keep us in the low twenties. Larna Morgan battled bravely to bring the first team home in 19th, with young Molly Sherrin moving through well to claim 22nd for the other team.
Again, two teams started, with an incomplete third team with three withdrawals which were perfectly legitimate.
Reuben Fabian started the ball rolling with a fine run for 32nd from 110 starting teams and was just behind Luca Gormley, who ran really well for the B team. In the C team, Ben Savidge was never far behind these two with another fine run. Nathan Wright took charge of A team leg 2 to move through to 22nd whilst, unfortunately, Sid Cody was another to be held in the starting pen for a while, but he stuck to the task well with the B team back in the 50s. Ronan Edwards had stepped in at the last minute and he ran well on the 2nd leg for our C team. On the last leg, Jimmy Geller leg charged through the field to put bring our A team into 13th place, a fine result. Evan Johnson moved the B team through to 44th.
We had two teams from 110 starting. Credit must be given to our sprinter Shona Vincent, who stepped in at short notice to ensure we had two complete teams.
U15s: Hollie McArdell, Ellen Savidge, Miya Maeda, Zahara Malcolm, Shona Vincent (pic: Jackie Vincent)
Stepping up an age group, Miya Maeda said she was disappointed with her first leg showing. However she ran 30 seconds quicker than last year to come in 53rd. In her first race for us, Katie McKenzie got a great start and was highly placed for most of the 2k leg when she suddenly felt ill coming out the woods and had to stop. Credit to Katie as she got going to finish her leg. On the 2nd leg Hollie McArdell, running well these days, held the mid-50s position on her leg. Ellen Savidge, who Richard Thurston has been looking after carefully in recent weeks, ran nearly 40 seconds quicker than last year and passed a few runners as she started off at the back of the field. On the last leg Zahara Malcolm, another sprinter, closed our A team in 61st with Shona running 10+ minutes for a tough 2k circuit to bring our B team home in 96th.
Three wonderful club girls, Wren McLean Jackson, Siena Taylor and Georgina Handford, placed 53rd from 80 starting teams. It is really important that these three receive every bit of support we can all offer as they are a great credit to our club and sport. They all gave their best against very strong opposition.
Videsh Weerakkody had a fine opening leg over 3k to come halfway up the 90 starting field. His time was only 15 seconds slower than Canaan Solomon who ran the same leg four years ago. Liam Waldron, who is showing great improvement this season, held his own with a 10 mins 15 clocking and Rhys Edwards matched that time to bring the team home in 41st. In an incomplete team, Kieran Allgood and Kai Boggon ran really well given their circumstances.
So a mixed day of fortunes. I must thank all the parents who transported the athletes to Mansfield. The team spirit is good amongst parents and athletes, and long may this continue. To finish on a highly positive note, Canaan Solomon represented St Mary's University and ran in the Junior Men's race over 3k. Canaan had a brilliant run to place 8th on the first leg with an excellent time of 8 mins 44 secs, nearly 50 seconds quicker than last time.