The 2017/18 cross country season is now well under way, and last Saturday saw ESM’s seniors make the short journey to Kingsbury to take part in the combined Liddiard Trophy and North of the Thames Championships, hosted by Queens Park Harriers.
The men’s team finished seventh (8-to-score) in the long established Liddiard Trophy, writes Phil York, and sixth (6-to-score) in the North of the Thames race. Without wishing to complicate matters, the North of the Thames also has an 8-to-score competition, in which we finished eighth. I had never heard of the Booth Cup, a 4-to-score masters team award, but ESM finished second in this. This year was in fact the 71st running of the Liddiard event! Not so many years ago we used to take part in several of these local inter-club races, and there is always a nice atmosphere. In recent times the cross country calendar has become more crowded and these events have gradually disappeared from the fixture list.
On a mild autumn afternoon, the undulating three-lap course at Fryent Country Park was almost completely devoid of mud, and the runners duly took advantage of the favourable conditions to record fast times.
Simon Shaw was first home for ESM, finishing 18th overall in the 160-strong field and winning the V45 age group. Simon really enjoyed his return to cross country after a lengthy lay-off, and felt that he engaged well with the course, risking a fast start before passing fellow competitors on the hills but losing ground on the descents. Simon gives the impression that he prefers the hills to the downhill sections! Although he found it difficult to overtake people through the narrow paths in the wooded section, Simon was thoroughly delighted with his performance and to be back racing for ESM.
Mark Kencroft was pleased to keep Simon in view for the first lap, and enjoyed his third appearance in this fixture. Mark was grateful for advance information from ESM’s women about the course, and knew the exact location of the small muddy patch towards the end of each long lap. Mark felt that his tactics could have been better, but hung on well after losing places on the last lap.
Nick Steel, lacking a little fitness at present, crossed the finish line with Mark after getting stuck behind other runners on the narrow sections of the course. In his opening cross country race of the winter, Nick was relieved that it was relatively dry underfoot.
Elliot Jones was very happy with his race, and showed a marked improvement on his performance in the Met League at Claybury. He went off fast and faded a bit in the middle, but finished strongly, managing to overtake a couple of runners on the final stretch. Elliot was only a few seconds behind Mark and Nick, so it should be interesting to watch this rivalry over the coming months.
Angelo John and Manish Kunwar were next to finish, with Manish making his debut over this course. Manish was unhappy with his performance as he had to stop twice to do up his laces and struggled towards the end of the race due to lack of training. Tom Yates and James Steel made up the rest of the scoring team in the Liddiard Trophy.
Further down the field, Phil York and Steve Plested again finished one place apart, with Phil regretting trying a little too hard at Northala Fields parkrun that morning. It was good to see Ladies Team Manager John Falvey taking part.
Our squad of seven women included three cross country novices, writes Fiona Kennedy: Sophie, Breege and Annick. Everyone appears to be smiling in the post-run team photo, though, so let’s hope they’ll all be back for more.
Under 20 Jessica Leane was first to finish for the club. She started the race in determined pursuit of leader and eventual winner Molly Renfer, ultimately conceding a couple of places to finish fifth, but winning the Under 20 trophy.
Sarah Richardson was home another minute later. Having overtaken a couple of the U17 boys who were in the same race, she caught a Heathside runner, overtaking her at the start of the big lap and pulling away. However, she then found herself on her own and as she put it “ended up battling with my own mind and body rather than anyone else! I ran hard and reminded myself how much it hurts but how enjoyable it is at the same time”.
Fiona Kennedy was a further minute behind, enjoying her first cross country in the V60 category, and pleased to find the pace to outsprint Sarah Bailey of Highgate at the end. Fourth scorer Carol Jones was slightly disappointed with her race, but would have been amused at the reflections of Breege Leane, half a minute behind: “Carol overtook me in the second half of the race and very soon we were not in the same postcode.”
Breege made an assertive start which she later regretted: “I went out far too strong – thought that I’d keep steer clear of the melee at the start … a more considered start might have given me a slightly more comfortable trip round. You do everything you tell the kids not to”. Yes, we’ve all done that, Breege!
Sophie and Annick both coped well with their first cross country outing, Sophie picking up a few battle scars from the brambles and Annick enjoying a battle with Angela Duncan of Hillingdon.
The women’s team just missed out on bronze medals, having the same points tally as Heathside but losing on countback. We just needed one of our scorers to overtake one more person!
ESM results summary
Men: 18 Simon Shaw (V45) 27:27, 42 Mark Kencroft (V50) 29:03, 43 Nick Steel 29:03, 50 Elliot Jones 29:34, 55 Angelo John (V45) 29:49, 60 Manish Kunwar 30:01, 71 Tom Yates 30:39, 91 James Steel (V45) 31:44, 120 Phil York (V55) 34:35, 122 Steve Plested (V65) 34:40, 148 John Falvey (V60) 40:43
Women: 5 Jessica Leane (U20) 18:00, 9 Sarah Richardson (V40) 19:06, 15 Fiona Kennedy (V60) 20:06, 37 Carol Jones (V60) 22:16, 40 Breege Leane (V55) 22:42, 51 Sophie Pesticcio (V45) 24:12, 69 Annick Hooge (V60) 29:10
Full results on powerof10