Despite athletes competing for school, unwell, recovering from injury and exams, we still had nearly thirty athletes out for our last but one Met League fixture. The course used was like a lake three weeks ago and there was doubt whether this would go ahead. Fortunately the rain eased off over Xmas which enabled London Heathside to hold the races. It was "mud, glorious mud", that was for sure, and it was equally a case of ”stay on your feet" on the sharp descent down the hill. Would the mud and wind put our runners off? Not one bit, they replied and, together with our strong Under 11 squad, we hold a 2-point lead over SBH with one match remaining, which will be like a home match for our runners as most of them train at Trent Park every Sunday morning.
L to R: Tilly, Molly and Abigail hit the hill at speed (pic: Sally Chapman)
Under 13 Girls
We had ten Woodettes on the line which was a great turnout, although poor Emily Caton and Megan Wright were unable to run due to illness. Going into the big hill our girls had three in the top four as Abigail Reid, Tilly Major and Molly Sherrin shared the lead which was a great sight for all. Coming down the hill Abigail got away with Tilly and Molly in hot pursuit of the Hillingdon girl. Whilst Abigail came home 80 metres up, a fall in the back part of the course from Tilly left her shaken but she received a welcome encouraging word from Molly to keep going. Tilly finished just two seconds ahead of an inspired Molly, who was having a brilliant run in 4th spot. Rosemary Kelly was next home in 7th spot, in hot pursuit of two VPH runners, but it was a fine run from Rosemary who had been away over the Xmas period. Amana Oguntuga, probably looking forward to the track season and slightly firmer ground underfoot, still held on well for 16th spot. Our next two girls, Isabella Worwood and Emily Millward, were always quite close to one another and showed courage in the deep mud to come in 24th and 29th. Emily showed great style going up the hill. Lexie Gobran, who is a sprinter, turned out to place 32nd, with Maya McNelis in 35th. These two are turning out to be great club athletes, always ready to give anything a go.
Lexie Bonney closed in our squad in 44th, and she too came through well after a slow start. The girls have a massive 150 point lead in the table.
With nearly 65 starters this combined race for U15/U17 gave us five girls on the starting line. Miya Maeda had her best race to date as she placed 6th overall, just over 30 seconds behind the U17 winner and two seconds behind the U15 winner, McGovern from Hillingdon, who is a highly rated athlete. Miya has gained in confidence over the Xmas period and coaches Stow and Thurston felt that Miya was capable of a top run, which she delivered. Bronya Overington was next home in the U15 race in 33rd. Bronya has been getting over an injury and she is turning out to be an outstanding club athlete, with a Essex Schools vest to her credit last year. Olivia Howe was 40th and she has the right attitude to move on a lot this year. In the Under 17 girls race Ellen Savidge was 15th and Jess Adams 17th. What is great about these two athletes is that they train hard and on a regular basis. Nothing would please me more than to see these two girls gain county schools vests next weekend at the Essex Schools CC.
Rather than a flag, the squad used James Geller's hat as a rallying point (pic: Paul Hancock)
Under 13 Boys
What a great bunch of lads: Nate Harding 5th, Oscar Farthing 10th, Godwinner Nkembani 15th and Gregor Samson 19th. It appeared our lads might have lost places during some confusion over the back of the course where some runners went off course. Their commitment to our club and their own team mates has been a joy to watch this season. They are even making the effort to get to Trent Park when they can. They must be hugely commended for their all-round attitude. Patrick Hayden (44) is taking a leaf out of the others' books. The team were 2nd on the day and they are not that far behind an awesome SBH outfit. Well done to all five runners.
In the Under 17 Men’s race we had just three runners as we lost no less than four top athletes due to events mentioned above. After an excellent 6th in the county champs last week, Kieran Allgood led the Woodies home in a solid 6th place. A huge welcome return to racing for Liam Waldron who has been out for months due to injuries, and it was great to see him in action. Despite being way off full fitness, Liam supported us in our need, or desperation, and he placed 23rd. In my eyes Fred Taylor is club athlete of the season, as he has been competing in this league for many years now. Fred was 37th with quite a few athletes behind him. What a great lad! As this is a combined race with the Under 15s we were heavily dependent on our younger lads as the scoring is combined across both age groups. They delivered splendidly for us so, once again, those that ran should be hugely congratulated as they supported their older counterparts in superb style. My congratulations to: Evan Johnson 9th, Reuben Fabian 12th, Max Richards 21st, Sid Cody 25th, Liam Short 32nd and Jay Russell 40th. There were over 50 starters in the U15 race.