The club travelled to Claybury last Saturday for the first fixture of the Met League cross country league. On a mild day, with relatively soft conditions underfoot, the senior men made a storming start to the new season, while the Under 15 girls continued their recent run of good form.
In his first race as senior men’s cross country captain, Rob Wilson fielded 22 runners, more than twice the number who turned out for the same fixture last year. Even Andy Leung was finally persuaded to make his long-awaited cross country debut. Overall, ESM’s men tied with Highgate Harriers to finish the first race at the top of Division Two. Rob led from the front, finishing 25th out of 370 in this highly competitive league. He was followed in a minute and a half later by Zephon Allen, who placed fifth in the concurrent Under 20 race. Third to score was another Under 20, Max Wells-Pestell, who finished 65th overall. Rob later voted these the two outstanding team performances in his view. Others to grab a coveted place in the top 100 were Chris Hepworth (72nd), and Under 20s Mo Hashi (88th) and Nick Landeau (90th). The fast-improving Jon Ellis will no doubt seek to join them on his next outing, having finished 101st. For the veterans, new M40 Mark Delahunty was first home in 204th, followed half a minute later by Rob Brown, with James Steel in hot pursuit. Steve Plested was the first over 60 in the race, in 276th.
By comparison, the senior women, having been promoted to Division One at the end of last season, made a disappointing start. With many of the regulars unavailable, it was left to Hannah Pollak and four veterans to fight for much-needed points. Carol Jones, Jane Ruhland, Mary Walsh and Julia Gristwood battled hard, but lacked the sixth runner needed to complete a team. They finished bottom of their division, and team captain Mary Walsh will be looking for much better support at the next meeting. There was at least a small consolation in the veteran women’s result, where the team finished fifth out of nine.
There was a much better performance from the club’s thriving Under 15 girls’ squad, who competed in a mixed race with the Under 17 girls. Three of the four in ESM’s ‘A’ team were Under 15s, yet they still finished third out of the 17 teams. Under 15 Erica Wallace put in one of the junior performances of the day fo the club, being first home for us with an outstanding 6th place overall. Nicola Ravenhill, another promising Under 15, was just half a minute behind in 14th. The girls packed in well thereafter: Under 17 Olivia Will was just 20 seconds behind Nicola in 21st, while Under 15 Roisin Lynch ran in seven seconds later to complete the ‘A’ team line-up in 23rd. For the ‘B’ team, Laura Stewart was just another five seconds behind again in 25th, with Courtney Marshall, Tara Kelly and Joanna Vale completing the score.
The Under 15 boys and Under 17 men also ran a combined race, with the field of 84 representing a significant increase on last year. Here, ESM’s ‘A’ finished 8th out of 24 teams. Newcomer Abdi Jammi (22nd) was the team’s first scorer, getting the better of Mukhtar Farah (23rd) by two seconds. Charlie Sillett, another new recruit, showed promise to finish 31st. George Kerry was the only Under 15 in the ‘A’ team, finishing 45th overall and 21st in his own age group. The incomplete ‘B’ team was led in by Under 15 Reece Farren in 56th, followed by Under 17s D’Yon Christopher in 60th and Conor McCarthy in 72nd. Some credit must be given to sprinter D’Yon for achieving a respectable position in his first cross country race – not bad for someone whose previous longest race was 400m!
The Under 13 boys and girls ‘A’ teams both finished in the middle of the ranking, the girls placing 8th out of 18. Lucy O’Brien, in her first year at that age group, put in a notable performance to finish 11th. Maryam Hussain and newcomer Anisha Ibrahim finished neck-and-neck in 28th and 29th, while Leah Kelly completed the ‘A’ team line-up. Together Elsa Stocking and Sarah Freegard scored enough to finish second of the ‘B’ teams. The boys’ team lacked a fourth scorer, but Patrick Owen did well to place 15th in his race. Backed up by Tim Wallace and William Coutts in 54th and 56th respectively, it was enough to bring the team home 13th out of 19.
Full results can be found here