Essex Virtual Challenge: Feb 2021

Fourteen clubs and two schools, with 349 athletes competing in all, took up this challenge during the half term school holidays.

WGEL were represented in each age group, from Under 11 through to Under 17, and no less than 53 athletes from our club supported the event. It was the biggest turnout from the clubs taking part. This number was only a couple down from a year ago when we fought to retain the Howard Williams Junior Trophy for the Met League at Trent Park. This was an excellent turn out considering we had a few runners unable to compete as they are going through growth spurts, which is quite natural for a young athlete.

After a comprehensive win against Belgrave Harriers last month we kept our unbeaten record with another excellent overall win, just ahead of hosts Chelmsford. We also lost runners competing for their school in this same event.

Results: go here and click the Results button

We had two individual winners: Rudy Parker-Bayes in the U11 Boys and Jasmine Hall in the U11 Girls.

We also had 3 runner-up spots, through: Autumn Le Chevalier-Jones (U11 Girls), Jimmy Geller (U15 Boys) and an outstanding run from Jess Adams (U17 Girls), who took nearly three minutes off her 5k time from last year - an unbelievable improvement. Maisy Silverstone scooped third behind Jess in the U17 girls with a very impressive run.

The U11 Girls had eleven complete the 2k run from a field of 51, and won the team event with four runners in the top 11. The B team came 4th and the C team placed 8th. Great credit must go to Joe Everitt, the U13 team manager, for getting so many to run.

The Under 13 Boys were prominent too. Rudy Parker-Bayes topped the podium with an excellent time of 7 mins 21 secs. We had 8 boys competing with the A team finishing 2nd spot and B team 5th. Special mention goes to Daniel Arnold, who stopped after 1500m of his first run, which he thought was the 2k mark; and then, only an hour or so later, ran again to do the full 2K. This is true sportsmanship. Again, Joe Everitt played his part through encouraging our runners to have a go.

The Under 13 Girls competition was insane. If an U13 girl runs inside 12 minutes for 3k it is regarded as a excellent time at that age. The results show that an amazing 12 girls broke that 12 minute barrier, two of whom were inside 11 minutes. Poor Natasha Wynn thought she ran well, and certainly did, but the talent that was ahead was strong to say the least. Ella Edwards and Molly Sherrin were close to Natasha but such was the intensity of competition that we placed 5th, though it was close. We had twelve girls compete, our other teams finishing 7th, 12th and 15th.

The Under 13 Boys team was led home by Josh Richardson who is rapidly improving and should be pleased with his 12 minutes 24 secs. The boys placed 4th and 9th, and 8 boys started out for us in this age group.

In the U15 Girls Abigail Reid, who is in the midst of putting in some tough sessions, still supported the club and took 7th spot. Meisha Trend-Evans, who is now starting to prepare for her triathlon season, was also prominent. What was very encouraging was the great support from our other U15 girls to ensure we gained 5th spot, withthe B team 7th.

Jimmy Geller pounded out a fine 13 mins 24 secs for 4K, which we thought would see him top the podium, only to find Southend’s Beau McDonald running 13 mins 8 secs, which surprised us. Chris Richardson has improved beyond all recognition this year and finished in an excellent 4th. And what great backup we had from Oscar Farthing-Barbero and Nate Harding, putting the team in 1st place despite having key runners out through injury.

Jess Adams produced the run of the competition for WGEL. At the start of the week she ran on a hilly course and produced 20 mins 18 secs - a big PB for 5k. But at the end of the week, at a windswept Hackney Marshes, she improved to a staggering 18 mins 39 secs. Jess was 2nd overall and put some fine county athletes behind her. She has upped her training during lockdown and this was the reward for her efforts. Jess is a fine prospect indeed. Maisy Silverstone also ran brilliantly for 3rd overall with 18 mins 44 secs.

We must be very grateful for Max Richards and Jay Russell turning out over 5k in the U17 men’s event. Both are studying hard for their GCSEs but still turned out to support WGEL. Lads like this are a great credit to our club and sport. Max was 8th overall, just outside 18 minutes for his 5k run.

This has been an excellent start to 2021 and proves that, once we get our other runners back from injury, we will continue to shine and grow stronger.

Some of the athletes who missed out on the final Active Training World XC when the third race was postponed on the 10th January will now get their chance to race, as the fixture has now been pencilled in for Saturday 10th April.

Again I must hugely congratulate all 53 athletes that took part, plus the three Woodettes who competed for their school at this event. Joe Everitt must also be congratulated for his enthusiasm in getting so many of the younger athletes to compete. A tremendous all-round team performance!