Blue skies were the order of the day following on from heavy overnight rain as nine teams travelled up to Sutton Park to challenge the best teams in England.
Our placings were excellent with three teams in the top 10 and another three teams in the top 24. Each leg, contested in all the young athlete races, was 3886 metres and included a steep climb over 6/700 metres near the start. Furthermore, four of our athletes were in the top 12 fastest individuals of the day for their respective age groups. It was evident, too, that most clubs (us included) were placing their best runners on the first leg.
The U13 Girls start: Abigail Reid is to the right behind Hillingdon AC (all photos: Sally Chapman)
Abigail Reid started out for the Woodettes on the first leg, which included five of the top 10 in the National back in February, plus the highly rated Shakira King who is a bottom year runner. Abigail gave her all, coming in 6th with 14 minutes 37 seconds, some 14 seconds quicker than last year. This time was the 8th fastest overall for this age group. On leg two Tilly Major ran a fine leg to move us up to fourth spot with 15 mins 03 secs, the second fastest on this leg and the 11th fastest overall.
Emily Caton took off on our third leg knowing the team could be highly placed and stuck to the challenge in great style but a stitch in the last 1k forced her to slow down thus conceding two places, one being the great running of Slack from Tonbridge. The other team did well too. Molly Sherrin, a bottom year runner, came in 21st with 15 minutes 57 seconds, which is just outside 20 minutes 5K pace, in 19th spot. Rosemary Kelly, the West Essex Year 7 champion, took over for the Woodettes to move up to 18th. Isabella Worwood, the Redbridge Year 7 champion, set out on the final leg for us. Isabella, still very new to our sport, only lost 3 places as she stuck to our forward position in excellent style, running 17 mins 02 (worth inside 22 minutes for 5k).
Under 15 girls
Miya Maeda leads Bedford and Nottingham
This to me was the performance of the day. Two of our girls are bottom year athletes, and also hugely encouraging was they finished ahead of Essex U15 relay XC Champions Havering.
Miya Maeda took care of the first leg, placing 22nd in 15 mins 02 secs, some 23 seconds faster than last year. Larna Morgan ran a blinder in moving us up to 11th in 15 mins 04 secs, nearly a minute quicker than last year. On the last leg Kezia Beeton, who had played in a netball tournament in Poole the day before, also ran brilliantly to move us to 8th in 14 minutes 58 secs, which was nearly 40 seconds quicker than last year.
Under 17 Women
Again, these three girls should be so proud, unafraid to take on the best as they placed 28th. Wren Jackson ran 16 minutes 12 seconds to come in 34th. Ellen Savidge kept the team in the same place in 16 mins 45 secs. On the final leg Jessica Adams moved up six places in recording 16 mins 46 seconds. It's really important that these are looked after because without doubt they are excellent club girls.
Under 13 Boys
These boys, looked after brilliantly by James Geller, did the club proud by placing 24th, well inside the top half of the field. Nate Harding ran 15 mins 30 secs to come in 42nd. Godwinner Nkebani ran brilliantly to pick off no less than 18 runners to come in 25th in 14 minutes 54. And on the final leg Gregor Samson held on really well in 15 mins 30 secs to move us to 24th.
Under 15 Boys
We had three teams in this age group. Danny Raymond (photo: left) ran brilliantly in chasing down the English Schools Junior Boys 1500metre champion Blevins from North Shields by coming in 2nd, just two seconds behind the England International. These two lads were the fastest two overall on the day, Danny running 12 mins 31 secs to Blevins' 12 mins 29 secs. Jacob Hardy took on stage two with the Hever Triathlon champion sticking to the task by coming in 7th in 13 mins 39 secs. Jimmy Geller, going through growth spurts at the present time, kept us in the top 10 in 13 mins 41 seconds to place 10th. Evan Johnson (13 mins 45 secs), Ben Savidge (15 mins 55 secs) and Luca Gormley placed 44th, which is good bearing in mind all are bottom year runners. The third team of Reuben Fabian (14 mins 18 secs), Chris Richardson (15 mins 31 secs) and Sid Cody (15 mins 03 secs) also did well with 46th. Once again, these are all bottom year runners.
Under 17 Men
Again the first leg was fully loaded with a few Internationals on the start line. Ben Sloan got away with the group and just after halfway was with the leading group of seven. As the pace intensified the group broke up, with Ben coming in 10th in an excellent time of 12 mins 10 secs, which resulted in Ben running 5 minute miling for the duration of the circuit. Ben was 11th fastest overall. New member Joel Doye, the Essex Schools 3000 metre Inter Boys silver medalist, found himself in his first race matching strides with some of the best runners in England. Despite this, Joel stepped up to the plate in fine style coming home in 13 mins 24 secs, a good time for our lad on his debut. Sam Sloan, nursing a cold, still did well to move the Woodies up to 18th at the end in 13 mins 16 secs.
So a great set of results from our athletes, all giving their best against the best in England. They now can look forward to the start of the Met League at Claybury next Saturday as we attempt to retain the overall title for the third year running. My thanks indeed to the parents who travelled to Sutton Coldfield and the great job the team managers did on the day.