Another fabulous day for cross country: cold and still frosty underfoot in places, but glorious winter sunshine in Trent Park for this long-established cross country race. It’s a popular course, being, as Louise put it “nicely challenging, but not overly so”, and many of the women enjoy the chance to run with the men and over a slightly longer distance than usual.
The undulating 8km course starts with a lap-and-a-half of the upper field, which is lumpy underfoot, with an annoying camber along one edge. At least this year the field was quite dry, compared with the quagmire that usually develops in the course of the season. After that, it gets more interesting, with a steep plunge down through the woods to the fields beyond.
Nine men from ESM made the trip to Cockfosters to compete in the Fraternity Cup, writes Phil York. However, only eight athletes were on the start line. How come? Just before the gun went off, John Falvey and Phil York did a quick count, compared notes and established that they would not be finishing as part of the all-important scoring six. Ian Leslie arrived late but still managed to overtake several back markers to come home in a creditable 111th position, with Phil (86th) seizing the opportunity to finish ahead of Ian for once. John was just behind Ian in 113th place.
At the business end of the competition, club 5000m record holder Jamie Taylor-Caldwell eventually wound up in the bronze medal position after leading the race at one point. Luke Nicholas, who is enjoying a consistent cross country season, was 10th, with Santosh Rai close behind in 15th. Angelo John and Mark Kencroft made the most of the firm underfoot conditions to finish 31st and 35th respectively. The scoring team, which finished third overall, was completed by James Steel.
The women’s team in the Sorority Cup comprised six golden oldies, writes Fiona Kennedy – who can get away with saying that, as she’s one of them! Fiona, Jane and Carol have all run this event quite a few times previously, but it was a new experience for Barbro, Annick and Louise (as a mere W45, the “baby” of the team). From their enthusiastic post-race comments, it seems they may also be back next year.
Fiona led the women’s team from an early stage, tracking Karen Murphy of the host team Barnet, but never quite closing the gap. Jane was next home, having led Carol throughout the race. Carol did close the gap on the uphill sections, but noticed Jane was faster than her on the downhills. She found the same again when chasing two Ealing Eagle runners: Carol overtook on the uphill sections, only to lose her place on the downhills. She eventually used the last uphill to make sure she pulled away.
Despite arriving slightly too close to the start time, Louise enjoyed her race, and many of us will understand what she means when she said: “cross country is one of those things where I inevitably get a ‘why am I doing this?’ moment, immediately followed by ‘THIS is why!’ I love cross country“.
Barbro was running in spikes for the first time, and had a nervous moment heading downhill for the first time into the woods: “When I had run down that first stony bit, I thought my spikes were all gone!” However, she too concluded: “I liked the course, bring on more XC!!”
It was another milestone for new runner Annick, as she tackled her first five mile cross country. Having pushed too hard early on at the last fixture, Annick commented “this time round I made sure that I understood the course. I went round with some of the juniors when we were doing a warm-up”. She too loved the race – including the mud – though suffered a little from the cold, having been on the course for some hours previously, supervising her Under 11s during the North West London League.
The women’s report couldn’t be complete without a reference to the delicious post-race cookies baked by new Team Manager Philip Prince. That’s one way to boost attendance!
ESM results summary:
Women: 11 Fiona Kennedy (V60) 35:07; 24 Jane Ruhland (V50) 39:28; 25 Carol Jones (V60) 39:43; 35 Louise Prince (V45) 41:42; 43 Barbro Julin (V55) 44:49; 50 Annick Hooge (V60) 50:43
Men: 3 Jamie Taylor-Caldwell 26:55; 10 Luke Nicholas 28:54; 15 Santosh Rai 29:33; 31 Angelo John (V45) 30:58; 35 Mark Kencroft (V50) 31:14; 53 James Steel (V45) 33:01; 86 Phil York (V55) 36:19; 111 Ian Leslie (V60) 42:11; 113 John Falvey (V60) 42:22
Full results on powerof10