The second lockdown brought a hiatus to ‘Covid-secure’ racing opportunities. Organisers of the Chingford League, led by Adrian Frost (of Eton Manor) had already allocated for a fixture to take place on the first Sunday in December and it was good fortune that it would coincide with the first weekend out of lockdown. The race license was granted by UKA on the Wednesday before so six eager Woodford athletes made their way to Hog Hill, aka Redbridge Cycling Centre. Those of you familiar with the venue and league will know it usually hosts an evening midweek fixture. However this race was in daylight and consisted of 2.5 clockwise laps that tackled the hill three times to make a total distance of just over 5k.
We were assigned to the second of four starting waves, which were then broken into several sub-waves based on runners’ expected finish time. Each wave had exclusive access to the venue for about an hour. Orion were one of the teams included in our wave and they packed out the A sub-wave. Tom and Simon Beedell were included in this wave and found themselves top and tailing their competitors after the first corner that was submerged under water was navigated. However Tom struggled up the first hill and fell back to 5th place. Simon was content to sit behind a large group of Orion men and bide his time. Tom was disappointed with his run and ended up finishing in 4th in a time of 17:28, whilst Simon surged past the white vested competitors to come 5th in 17:40. Coincidentally, they ended up with the same placings when combined with the other three waves but restricted to Division 2 runners.
Tony Pamphilon had declared a conservative time and found himself in the C sub-wave. His ‘many’ years of racing experience paid off as he was able to catch up and work through the B wave starters to finish in 19:28 and 23rd for Div 2. One of his scalps was our very own Joe Everitt, who described Tony as ‘panther-like’ in the way he cruised past him at 3km. Joe had only been able to compete after one of his son’s football matches was cancelled that morning but his presence was crucial for a full team to close. He described it as a good benchmark to build on and was followed in just 16 seconds later by new boy Scott Kyson. Scott admitted it felt strange to pin a number on his own vest as it was previously a role he had for his two daughters that race for the club in the juniors. Richard Holland made the trip all the way down from Cambridgeshire, such was his eagerness for a race. He was pleased to clock well inside 21 minutes and his journey was definitely worthwhile as it helped Woodford to place 3rd on the day. This meant we held on to a promotion spot behind Ilford, with London City in close contention.
The league organisers intend to have two more fixtures in the New Year assuming that restrictions don’t have an impact again. With racing opportunities so rare these days it would be great to seize some minor glory this winter season and aim for promotion. If we can replicate the strength of the first fixture then we should be able to secure one of the two promotion spots.