For the second Saturday in succession the day started brightly with sunshine until cloud and rain replaced the weather but this time, fortunately for our runners, the races were behind us.
The course itself was undulating but with reasonably good going on parts of the circuit. Our turnout in general was good but this time we were missing some key athletes: two that had to withdraw - one through breathing difficulties and Ben Sloan making a wise decision to call it a day after he could feel a slight twinge in his right leg. Although present as a spectator Jimmy Geller is still recovering from his appendix removal just over a week ago. Another two Under 15 boys were rested as both are going through growth spurts.
The U13 Girls' race gets underway (photo: Paul Hancock)
Despite this we won the Under 13 girls race and hold a big lead in the age catorgory. We are 2nd in the Under 13 Boys - a great performance from our lads. The Junior Men lost by 20 points and are one point adrift of Shaftesbury overall, while the Junior Women, though 5th on the day, remain 4th in the table. So the Howard Williams Junior Trophy is still in our hands but Shaftesbury are just three points behind us.
Under 13 Girls
We had ten Woodettes on the line from the 45 starters. This time Abigail Reid was asked by her coach to “sit and wait” on the first lap, then moved ahead going into the second lap as she cruised home with ease 15 seconds clear. Tilly Major again ran strongly for 4th but was disappointed not to be able to stay with her team mate going into the second lap. Tilly enjoys many other sports which is great, but maybe needs to review the number of hours of sport she undertakes within a week. Nonetheless she knows she is a very talented athlete indeed. Molly Sherrin, part of that U13 Girls team that did so well at Mansfield, was 5th and Rosemary Kelly and Emily Caton came in one second apart for 8th and 9th. These girls are proving that they could do really well in the championship races that lie ahead. Lexie Gobran, a sprinter, did really well for 24th, with Lexie Bonney 32nd and looking for a good run at district level next Tuesday. This club is very fortunate to have such great club athletes such as Megan Wright (34), Maya McNelis (35) and Molly Wain (39). We lead by 90 points in this age group and the B team lie in a promising 6th spot.
Under 13 Boys
This is the start: but (l. to r.) Gregor, Godwinner and Oscar were only separated by 3" at the end! (photo: Paul Hancock)
Each performance from these lads improves on the previous one and this was one no exception. Managed by James Geller, this time the lads came 2nd and, though behind in the league to Shaftesbury they now have a big advantage over third-placed London Heathside. Our scoring four had only twenty seconds between them. Nate Harding led the team home in 7th spot and then came the charge of the other three not far behind. Godwinner Nkebani was 12th, Oscar Farthing 13th and Year 7 lad Gregor Samson 14th. In Scotland recently Gregor took a big chunk off his 5k parkrun time. It can only be a matter of time before these tenacious lads score their first win. Not to be overlooked were great runs from Max Potts (35), and newcomers Joseph Arnold (44) and Patrick Hayden (49). The starting field was 65.
We had seven on the start line but we missed Wren McLean Jackson on work experience (yes, on a Saturday). The field of 60 got underway and it was obvious that Kezia Beeton and Miya Maeda were out to repeat their great results from Claybury. Unfortunately for Kezia, she was forced to retire with breathing difficulties. Kezia is having a fine season so we hope this issue can be addressed in the coming weeks for her sake so that she can continue to shine. Miya pressed on nevertheless, and was a fine 3rd in the Under 15 race, which duplicated her performance at Claybury. After helping our U15 girls to a good result at Mansfield last Saturday, Mary Hardy had another good run for 14th. Returning from injury, Bronya Overington was not far behind Mary in 19th, while new member Olivia Howe, improving all the time, was 29th. In the Under 17 race Ellen Savidge probably had her best race over the country for an excellent 12th, which brought beaming smiles, while another highly reliable club athlete, Jessica Adams, was 21st.
We had some athletes unavailable for this fixture, but despite that we are still in contention to retain the trophy we have won for the past two seasons although I am sure Shaftesbury will make us work for it.
In the Under 15 Boys race Danny Raymond led the team home in 3rd place from 54 starters. Danny will benefit from these runs throughout the winter as he prepares to make the English Schools track finals next July, as well as possibly racing indoors after Xmas. Next home was Jacob Hardy, with another solid run for 7th. Next in, and making progress with each race, is Reuben Fabian in 14th. Reuben is gaining from attending Trent Park on a regular basis with Richard Thurston. Liam Short is another one improving all the time and he was 15th, just ahead of a superb run from Sid Cody in 18th. Sid now has the District XC next Tuesday, where he is looking for a top three. Max Richards, who is new to our sport, should be delighted with 22nd. Spare a thought for poor Evan Johnson, 5th at Claybury and looking to repeat that. The dreaded stitch slowed him to a jog for the bulk of the race and he placed 36th. Our other three runners, Chris Richardson (38), Luke Potts (43) and Jay Russell (45) also did well. This was a great turnout from this age group, with the likes of Jimmy Geller, Nathan Wright and Ben Savidge all not racing for very valid reasons.
Under 17 Men
Driving for the line: Kieran Allgood (photo: Paul Hancock)
With Ben Sloan retiring early and being sensible, Kieran Allgood took over the mantle of first man home in an excellent 8th spot. Kieran is doing really well managing his training around sixth form and working part time. Next home in 12th spot was new member Joel Doye. Last Saturday Joel had a fine debut over 10k at the Olympic Park on a windswept course in 38 minutes. Sam Sloan, so reliable, was 17th and there was a much improved run from Fred Taylor in 41st.
So the squad goes to Uxbridge with a small lead overall but with the possibility of being short of at least 10 athletes - maybe more - as the counties (Essex and Herts) name their young athlete teams for the Southern Inter Counties XC the same day. Having said that, this event will hit other leading clubs too, and I am confident our strength in depth will see us through.