No less than 22 young athletes were in action, representing either Redbridge (20) or Waltham Forest (2), in this annual event with no less than 32 London boroughs competing. Parliament Hill Fields is known to be the home of cross country running and recent rain had left many parts of the course very muddy indeed.
The first race out was the Under 15 girls with 230 starting out on their 2000 metre run through the mud, taking in two very long uphill stretches. Miya Maeda, representing Redbridge, ran her finest race to date to place 9th, first home for Redbridge and just 18 seconds off first place. Miya is showing great dedication as she trains just three days a week with coaches John Stow and Richard Thurston. Another fine run came from Mary Hardy, who was 57th and fourth home for Redbridge. Mary, too, is benefiting from getting to Trent Park weekly.
Next away was the Under 15 boys, with no fewer than 8 Woodies toeing the line. They covered the same course as the girls. Jacob Hardy was first home for Redbridge and ran strongly throughout for an excellent 13th. Next in was fast-improving Reuben Fabian, who is bottom year for this, placing 20th. Reuben, too, regularly attends Trent Park and will aim to compete in the English Schools next March. Luca Gormley, a hugely talented hockey player, made his fitness tell with a great 22nd, right behind Reuben. Our next runner, Ronan Edwards, is improving nicely all the time - he was 62nd, a fine run for our lad. Our next two runners did well too. Chris Richardson, a triathlete, was 105th. He is hard-working and such a polite lad. Jay Russell was 107th. It was good too to see William and Thomas Kok In 123rd and 130th respectively. The boys enjoy playing badminton on a regular basis and appear to be doing very well. There were about 180 starters.
Next away were our youngest members in the Under 11 races which were over two loops. Although not as testing as the longer courses it did include a climb at the beginning of both circuits. Running in her first major cross country at this level, Caitlin Hancock did really well and held onto her forward position with great determination to place an excellent 22nd, just one second behind her team mate and former WASP Natasha Wynn. In the boys race over the same course Oliver Brown, who has been prominent in the U11 Met races, did really well in his first major race for 61st. There were around 200 in these two races.
In the Under 13 girls race over 2000 metres we had four Woodettes on the start line. Abigail Reid had scored a convincing win in the big Knole schools race at Sevenoaks the day before but she hardly treated this run like a recovery run. Abigail tucked away behind the leaders early on before she got motoring. She ended up 18 seconds clear of the second runner, and her time would have won the Under 15 girls race! An awesome performance, to say the least. Emily Caton, who had placed 8th at Sevenoaks behind Abigail the previous day, did really well to place 28th. Hannah Hardy, who also is a regular at Trent Park, ran well for 63rd and is improving steadily. Isabella Worwood improved over 100 places from last year, finishing 9th. Isabella has slotted into our Under 13 girls squad with a great will to improve her performances. There were 250 starters.
The Under 13 boys race took in the same circuit as the girls and our first lad was Nate Harding in 32nd. Nate is learning all the time and is making good progress indeed in his first competitive season with us. The same can be said for Oscar Farthing-Barbero who placed 48th. The course proved challenging for our next runner, Godwinner Nkebani, who is also learning what it’s all about in his debut season. Godwinner was 123rd. James Milne also ran and it was good to see him again as he placed 148th. There were about 250 starters.
Joel Doye and Rhys Edwards were in the final race, the Under 17 men’s race over a course just under 5k. Joel, like Miya, had his finest race to date to place 18th, 80 seconds behind winner Aaron Samuel, who is a youth international. Simllar performances like this after Xmas could well land Joel with Essex callups, both schools and clubs. Rhys Edwards, now in the 6th form, is doing so well combining his training with school work plus other activities he enjoys, and his was a really fine effort to place 31st.
Our turnout seems to increase year in year out which is a great advert for our club. Many of these athletes, plus others who were ineligible, will now look forward to travelling to Sefton Park, Liverpool, next weekend for the U K Cross Challenge and European trials.