We spent a largely successful Saturday afternoon in Stevenage, competing in the second cross country fixture of the Met League. With guest club Cambridge University sending a competitive squad of 20 men and 14 women to the race, the senior fields hit record numbers of 400 men and 165 women. There were some great performances by club members across all the races, but the senior men once again took centre stage with a second successive victory in Division Two – helped along by a significant contribution from the Under 20s. The club’s girls also had good reason to feel proud, with a third place for the Under 13s and a fourth place for the combined Under 15/Under 17 squad.
On this occasion, the men’s team had the benefit of in-form Sam Ashcroft, who led them home with a rare top-20 finish for the club. Thereafter, there were echoes of the previous fixture: six of the men were placed inside the top 100, and the five who followed in after Sam were in the same order as last time. Second to score for the club was team captain Rob Wilson in 43rd, defying a heavy cold and consequently a little further down the field than before. Three men then followed in close succession. Once again, Under 20s Zephon Allen and Max Wells-Pestell (the Bolton Bullet) put in fine performances to finish 65th and 70th in the race. In 72nd, Chris Hepworth matched his previous League placing, but closed the time gap on the team-mates ahead of him. Under 20 Mo Hashi pronounced himself disappointed with his race, but his performance was only marginally down on the previous fixture, and his top 100 finish scored valuable points for the club.
From that point on, it was the largely a battle of the club veterans, Angelo John crossing the line in 135th, just a minute behind Mo. A minute and a half later, in 190th place, Tom Yates led a trio of men in Ealing colours, as Mark Delahunty (196th), Rob Brown (199th) and James Steel (216th) resumed their rivalry. Once again, there little over half a minute between them, but the pecking order remained the same. Pete Drew made a special request to be mentioned in this report, and it is worth noting that he and Ian Leslie (288th and 303rd respectively) were among the few to finish higher up the field than last time, their times reflecting much stronger performances. Steve Barrington (305th), Rob Howells (337th) and Gary Stringer (386th) all found themselves with lower placings, but mainly due to the larger field. John Falvey made his first appearance in the League this season, finishing 381st. Gary managed to knock over two minutes from his previous time, despite falling in the wooded section of the course. Unfortunately, our ace photographers Andy Dodd and Jean King were not there to capture the moment on film, but we do have photos of the aftermath.
For the senior women, it was a case of making amends for a poor start to the League. Some progress was made, but the absence of some of the club’s stronger runners means the squad still has to raise its game to remain in Division One. W55 Fiona Kennedy led the team home in 28th, with her best Met League performance for some years. The next four women finished within 20 seconds of each other, having jockeyed for position throughout the race. W45 Jane Ruhland made the early running, but it was W55 Lynn Wilson who emerged from the woods first for the last 400 metres, with an outstanding run that brought her home in 83rd. She was followed almost immediately by Claudia Manera (86th), Jane Ruhland (87th), and Carol Jones (89th). Patricia Thomas should have been in the mix here too but unfortunately had to drop out feeling unwell. Gillian Morgan was the final scorer (133rd), closely followed by team captain Mary Walsh (135th). Julia Gristwood completed the line-up in 148th.
In the junior races, the Under 15/Under 17 girls’ squad finished fourth on the day, but second overall in the cumulative League standing. Promising Under 15 Nicola Ravenhill made a strong start and kept with the two Under 15 leaders for the first half of the race, though she lost some ground in the second half. She was outsprinted in the home straight, finishing sixth overall in the combined race and third among the Under 15s, which represents her best performance to date. Only three seconds separated the next three club members, with Roisin Lynch winning the dash for the line in 19th, Olivia Will in 20th and Laura Stewart in 21st. Tara Kelly completed the line-up in 32nd. Jasmine Loh made a good start to her race but was unable to complete it, having fallen and sprained her ankle at around 3k.
The Under 13 girls finished third overall, up from eighth last time, and they now lie fifth in the League. Lucy O’Brien made an aggressive start for the club, and stayed with the leading group for the first half of the race. She lost a little ground later on, but finished eighth, three places higher than last time. As with the older girls’ race, the club’s first runner home was followed by a trio fighting for the line. Maryam Hussain put in a strong finish to be the second scorer in 23rd, just over a minute after Lucy. Cameron Thomas pipped Anisa Ibrahim to the line by two seconds, though Anisa’s performance was commendable for an athlete who has only been running with the club for two months. The other three team members followed just half a minute later: Leah Kelly (30th), Shiva Basu (31st), and Rosie Cox (33rd).
The junior men were not well represented on this occasion, with only four in the combined Under 15/Under 17 race, and none in the Under 13s. The Under 15/Under 17 team managed to finish eleventh on the day nonetheless, and lie tenth in the League standing. For the Under 17s, Mukhtar Farah improved on his first League outing, finishing six places higher. Charlie Sillett followed half a minute later in 29th, with Under 15 George Kerry hot on his heels just three seconds behind in 31st. George’s performance was significantly better than his first League appearance last month. Luke Adar completed the line-up in 74th.
The following morning, three of our senior athletes competed at the Hillingdon Autumn Duathlon at Minet Park in Hayes, which comprises a two mile run, followed by a 10 mile cycle ride, then a one mile run. Claudia Manera finished third in the 40+ veteran category, and Gill Morgan won the 50+ supervet race. Phil Manly made his duathlon debut and acquitted himself well, the sixty-two year old placing 45th overall out of 62 men.
Full Met League results here