We had twenty one young athletes arrive at Parliament Hill Fields for these annual championships and, although the ground underfoot was fairly dry, there were a few spots on the course which were a tad muddy. After a very cold week the weather was somewhat milder with a keen westerly wind blowing across the course.
Under 13 Girls
Leading up to the race some of the girls were getting a little nervous, but on the day they all seemed in good spirit with the nerves perhaps switching to the Team Manager who could not stand still for very long at all.
U13 squad: Larna, Kezia, Abigail, Emily, Molly, Tilly, Rosemary, Rose (photo: Nicola Morgan)
Abigail Reid and Kezia Beeton were unfortunate fallers at the start, but by the time the field had reached the top of the first hill Abigail had eased into second spot. Soon afterwards, around 40 metres before the second hill, she took the lead. By the time the runners had gone into the top part of the course Abigail was still leading, with seven runners right with her. The race then suddenly sprang into life and Abigail, tenacious as ever, hung onto the pace and pressed on to finish an excellent 8th, not far behind the winner, Vinton from Ipswich. Tilly Major, who took to the hills brilliantly, came through strongly at the end to claim 21st, a fine run. Our next scorer, Kezia Beeton, worked hard throughout and hung onto her forward position in great style to finish 38th. Next, in 77th, was Rosemary Kelly, having a good run just ahead of 11 year old Molly Sherrin, giving two years to most of her rivals in 82nd place. Larna Morgan, our talented triathlete, was pleased with 154th, and Emily Caton, who had a cold, ran bravely for 186th, with Rose Grady, who recently qualified for the ISA XC finals, in 258th.
Teamwise it was close. The pre-race favourites, Tonbridge, won easily but only 20 points covered the next five teams and we were 6th. It was a great effort indeed when you consider that most of our girls have another year in this age group. We also beat Essex Champions Chelmsford, and we were just four points off the mighty Aldershot. Around 350 started.
Under 13 Boys
U13 talent: Reuben, Nathan, Luca, Jimmy, Ben (photo: James Geller)
We had five starters but were without Evan Johnson and Sid Cody, who were both unwell, and the Team Manager insisted they needed to recover rather than risk making matters worse for the two boys.
Our newly crowned Essex Schools Junior Boys Champion, Jimmy Geller, found the hills tough on the first half of the course. This did not deter our lad who pressed on in great style to claim an excellent 16th spot. He was fast closing down on the runners just ahead of him at the end. Next home was Nathan Wright, who is so tenacious and finished in a great 58th. Next in was Reuben Fabian, who without a doubt showed improved form for 90th. Luca Gormley, who recently won his first Essex call-up, finished 98th. What a great club lad is Ben Savidge, who ran well for 162nd. Around 330 started.
Teamwise, we ended up 10th, which was a fine showing. We were again the top Essex club, and our Met League rival clubs were behind us too.
Under 17 Men
We had four lads on the start line, including two who were part of the U15s silver medal-winning team from last year. We were also hit by injuries, while Sidnie Ward is wisely concentrating on the indoor season this year.
Leading the team home was Ben Sloan, who is having a fine season and placed a solid 48th from the 250-odd starting field. Kai Boggon, who has gained selection for the English Schools for the third year in succession, placed a gutsy 73rd. Thomas Adolphus - another who has made great strides this season - was 89th and Sam Sloan finished 107th.
Teamwise, the lads did really well for 9th and, like the Under 13 girls, they will be aiming for podium positions next season. Again we were the first Essex team to finish.
Under 15 Girls
With Zahara Malcolm, like Sidnie, wisely focusing on the indoor season, and Miya Maeda completing her Duke of Edinburgh award so also not available (which could not be helped!) we only fielded two runners.
Ellen Savidge had her best championship run to date with 136th - a fine run indeed. Hollie McArdell is still, unfortunately, not injury-free just yet, but she still supported the club and placed 253rd.
Under 17 Women
Wren Maclean-Jackson has never made top 100 in a big championship race previously, so her 92nd as a bottom year athlete was a fine achievement indeed.
So as the majority of our runners are bottom year runners this was a fine showing with three teams in the top 10 which no other Essex club achieved. A fine effort indeed.