Mud glorious mud! Horsenden Hill is known for it at this time of year, and we hear that the odd shoe succumbed to its gloopy powers in the course of the afternoon. But we were also blessed with sunshine for the fourth Met League Cross Country fixture.
As hosts, we were well represented in all the races, but we also notched up some great team results: by the end of the match, we had maintained or improved our League standings across all age groups.
After their gold medal exploits at the County champs last week, the U13 boys got us off to another good start with a greatly improved performance over the last fixture. Helped by promising newcomer Naoki Kanai, they lost out to Shaftesbury Barnet by just one point. Lucas Sheehan finished a fine 4th, followed by Naoki in 7th. The Japanese apparently don’t have muddy races quite like our cross country, but Naoki is clearly getting to grips with it. Patrick Owen had another solid run in 10th, with William Coutts bringing the A team home in 22nd. They were supported by Owen Griffiths (46th) and William Saunders (47th).
Like last time, the U13 girls were third on the day and remain third in the League standings. In a sprint to the finish, Cameron Thomas (14th) just pipped team-mate Anisa Ibrahim (15th), with Maryam Hussain (20th) and Leah Kelly (25th) completing the A team. Next in was Fiona Coutts (31st) who has just celebrated her 11th birthday. Having enjoyed her NWLL outings as an U11 so far this season, she didn’t disappoint in her first Met League race as an U13! The squad was completed by Elsa Stocking (41st) and Sarah Freegard (44th).
The U15/U17 boys also clocked up a better result than at Alexandra Palace. There was a stronger race from Mukhtar Farah (7th), closely followed by John Fielding (10th) who was fourth in the U15 race. Supported by Charlie Sillett (20th) and George Kerry (31st), the A team finished fifth overall. They were supported by Raunak Mainali (36th), Conor McCarthy (55th) and Alex Suntang (63rd).
The U15/U17 girls finished second on the day and have moved up to second in the League behind Herts Phoenix. This is a splendid performance from a largely U15 team. Nicola Ravenhill was second for most of the race, only dropping to third late on. She was still the first U15. Olivia Will (9th) had a particularly good race; she finished ahead of two girls who had beaten her by over a minute in last week’s County champs, in which they finished 7th & 8th. Olivia was followed closely by Laura Stewart (11th), while Roisin Lynch (20th) brought the A team home. With Tara Kelly (26th), Martha Hayward (29th), Jennie Connelly (32nd), Beth Neil (37th) and Emilia Newton Jones (40th), the club had a great turnout in this race and a full B team which finished 9th. Courtney Marshall missed the race but featured strongly in another one… more on that below!
The senior women finished fifth on the day and are finally out of the Division 1 relegation zone. With in-form Fiona Kennedy (14th) first to show, the A team score was boosted by Alison Hopkins’ continuing return to fitness (24th). Also moving up the field were Sarah Richardson (29th) and Grazina Narviliene (34th). Track specialist Kat Mertens (39th) and triathlete Shona Cowper (72nd) both made a late but impressive debut to their cross country season. Kath gave us all a lesson in positive thinking when she led the field out over the first field and through the gap in the hedge. It’s understandable that an 800m runner might run the first half mile a tad on the quick side, but hats off to Kat for maintaining form so well for the remaining 5,200m. We actually had another finisher between Kat and Shona: U15 Courtney Marshall. Having missed her own 4km race, she ran admirably over the longer distance, finishing 45th, but sadly was not able to score for the senior women. (Keep up the training, Courtney, we’re looking forward to you joining us in a few years’ time!) The tenacious Lynn Wilson (73rd) narrowly missed out on the last scoring place, just four seconds behind Shona. Less than a minute later, another two ESM vests appeared, with Pat Thomas (86th) just having the edge over triathlete Christine Meek (87th). Flying along in her new purple spikes, Carol Jones (91st) must also have had the two of them in her sights. We were represented right through the field, with Gill Morgan finishing 105th and triathlete Alex Hewett 112th. Bev Packwood (136th) coped well in her first cross country outing since last year’s Met League at Horsenden Hill.
Ater finishing first in three successive matches, the senior men were second to Serpentine RC on this occasion. However, with just one fixture to go, they retain their commanding lead in Division 2. Sam Ashcroft led the team home again in one of his highest finishes (19th), with team captain Rob Wilson in 29th around half a minute later. U20 Max Wells-Pestell was third to score with his best Met League finish to date (49th), and was also third in the U20 race. (This probably means there’s a small but no doubt welcome cheque coming your way, Max? To be confirmed!) Seb Zajaczkowski followed a minute later in 62nd, with Steve Elson hard on his heels in 68th. Angelo John (98th) returned from an extended break in Florida to grab a top 100 slot, followed by Archie Allen (116th) who seems to be making a steady return to race fitness. The A team was completed by triathlete Pete Flewitt (126th) – who had no right to run that well after a 50km time trial on his mountain bike earlier that day – James Steel in one of his highest finishes (144th) and Tom Yates (157th). Watch out Tom, Andy Dodd (160th) was just four seconds behind, and he probably fancies that last scoring slot next time. Rob Brown (172nd) got the better of Mark Delahunty (189th) on this occasion, though it might have been a more evenly-matched battle had Mark not got a bad case of man-flu. Pete Drew came in 231st but wife Mardien decided he wasn’t muddy enough and applied a little war-paint to his face – see photo.
Steve Plested finished 276th for the second time this season, which is a little spooky. The other Steve (Barrington) tracked him early on but couldn’t maintain the pace, finishing 287th. Cross country convert Andy Leung (295th) has now run seven races, but still needs lessons in tying his laces, as he had to go back afterwards to retrieve a shoe. Darren Halford (235th) was out in the mud for the second week in a row – a New Year’s resolution perhaps? Gary Stringer finished 342nd while U15 coach Graham French (346th) took time out from supporting his squad to run only his second cross country race this season. John Falvey (358th) struggled with lack of training and was just pleased to get round.
Senior men (8k): 19 Sam Ashcroft 31:38 ; 29 Robert Wilson 32:17 ; 49 Max Wells-Pestell 33:44 ; 62 Sebastian Zajaczkowski 34:46 ; 68 Steve Elson 34:54 ; 98 Angelo John 36:01 ; 116 Archie Allen 36:37 ; 126 Peter Flewitt 37:03 ; 144 James Steel 37:45 ; 157 Tom Yates 38:11 ; 160 Andrew Dodd 38:15 ; 172 Robert Brown 38:33 ; 189 Mark Delahunty 39:35 ; 231 Peter Drew 41:10 ; 276 Steve Plested 43:14 ; 287 Steve Barrington 44:16 ; 295 Andy Leung 45:24 ; 325 Darren Halford 48:36 ; 342 Gary Stringer 50:21 ; 346 Graham French 51:22 ; 358 John Falvey 52:53 U17/U15 (4k): 7 Mukhtar Farah 13:24 ; 10 John Fielding 13:31 ; 22 Charlie Sillett 14:23 ; 31 George Kerry 14:44 ; 36 Raunak Mainali 15:02 ; 55 Conor McCarthy 16:20 ; 63 Alex Suntang 18:22 U13 (3k): 4 Lucas Sheehan 11:18 ; 7 Naoki Kanai 11:35 ; 10 Patrick Owen 11:45 ; 22 William Coutts 12:40 ; 46 Owen Griffiths 19:21 ; 47 William Saunders 19:24
Senior women (6k): 14 Fiona Kennedy 25:01 ; 24 Alison Hopkins 25:44 ; 29 Sarah Richardson 26:03 ; 34 Grazina Narviliene 26:32 ; 36 Kat Mertens 26:41 ; 45 Courtney Marshall (U15, guest) 27:11 ; 72 Shona Cowper 28:45 ; 73 Lynn Wilson 28:49 ; 86 Patricia Thomas 29:31 ; 87 Christine Meek 29:33 ; 91 Carol Jones 29:45 ; 105 Gillian Morgan 31:00 ; 112 Alexandra Hewett 31:24 ; 136 Beverley Packwood 35:46 U17/U15 (4k): 3 Nicola Ravenhill 15:27 ; 9 Olivia Will 16:03 ; 11 Laura Stewart 16:07 ; 20 Roisin Lynch 16:57 ; 26 Tara Kelly 17:33 ; 29 Martha Hayward 18:02 ; 32 Jennifer Connelly 18:18 ; 37 Beth Neil 19:08 ; 40 Emilia Newton Jones 19:47 ; U13 (3k): 14 Cameron Thomas 13:44 ; 15 Anisa Ibrahim 13:45 ; 20 Maryam Hussain 13:58 ; 25 Leah Kelly 14:38 ; 31 Fiona Coutts 14:54 ; 41 Elsa Stocking 16:30 ; 44 Sarah Freegard 17:22
Full results here.