Met League – Alexandra Palace – Sat 11 Feb 2017

It was a rather “slimmed-down” squad that travelled to Alexandra Palace for the final Met League fixture of the 2016/17 winter season, report Phil York & Fiona Kennedy. There was a good turnout from the juniors, but neither the men nor the women fielded a complete team. Luckily, we weren’t the only club struggling for numbers, and the men managed to secure promotion back to Division One by the smallest of margins.

The senior men’s race was won by Richard Goodman of Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers, so no surprise there as he’s won all five of them. However, behind him there were some heroic performances by ESM athletes. Manish Kunwar has turned out at every Met League and was first scorer in 47th place, showing real determination throughout the race as he achieved his highest ever placing. The same was true of Nick Steel in 76th position, his first ever finish in the top hundred. The previous weekend Manish, representing his university, produced a solid run in the BUCS Championships in Sheffield.

Compared to his other races this season, Mo Hashi was a little below par in 124th, but he’s been mixing cross country with indoor track racing. Veteran Mark Kencroft, another Met League “ever present” this season, was the fourth ESM scorer in 156th, looking very strong as he attacked the steep hill which faced the competitors on each of the three laps. (The downhills were no easier either: these photos of Nick and Mark, kindly taken by Simon Turrell’s son Robert, clearly show them struggling to stay upright!)

Behind Mark, Tom Yates, Dave Foley and Ian Leslie packed well in the middle of the field, finishing in that order. Dave had tracked Ian for most of the race but managed to sneak in front in the closing stages. Simon Turrell enjoyed his best ever league performance, easing his way round the challenging ‘Ally Pally’ course in 346th place. Team Manager Phil York knows that the competition will be much tougher next season in Division One.

The club was well represented in the junior men’s race, with seven athletes. George Kerry and John Fielding took sixth and seventh places again, turning the tables on the finishing order at the last match. It’s a great rivalry and with both turning 17 next month, they will be be a huge asset to the senior men’s team next season. Under 15s Sudeys Hersi and Chauncey Edwards once again made a valuable contribution to the team result, with the support of Mikey Kouwiloyan, Matteo Lamagna and Davide Lamagna – Davide making a tentative return following a broken bone in his foot.

The Under 13 boys were also out in force, with Najiib Hersi leading them home this time. He was chased in as usual by Finn Combe, and supported by Mohammed Ibrahim, Maxi Steel and Marco Lamagna. The team finished sixth, which concludes its good progression throughout the five matches.

The two veterans Jane Ruhland and Carol Jones led the way for the depleted senior women’s squad, supported by Helena French in her first cross country for a year. Jane achieved her first top 100 placing this season, tracked the whole way round by Carol. (Carol deserves a special mention as the only ESM woman to have turned out at all five matches!) Helena coped well with the course, especially the tricky downhill section at the end of each lap. Like the men, the women had stood a good chance of promotion but with only three athletes this time, there was no chance of gaining the requisite points.

In the junior women’s race, Nicola Ravenhill led the club home as usual. Placed third initially and in good contact with the leaders early on, she dropped to fourth and then suffered the frustration of being overhauled right at the finish by the athlete behind her. Under 15 Anisa Ibrahim ran a competitive race, finishing just half a minute behind Nicola. With Maryam Hussain and Roisin Lynch also competing, the club also fielded a complete team in this age group. Nicola and Roisin also turn 17 later this year and the senior women’s squad will give them a great welcome next season.

Lucy Henson was the club’s only Under 13 representative but she continues to show great promise in her first season, finishing 14th.

Well done to all athletes who represented the club, and to their coaches and team managers for getting them there. This Sunday the club are promoting the Middlesex County Masters Championships at Berkeley Fields, Horsenden Hill, with the first of two races starting at 10:30am.

ESM results summary

Men (8km): 47 Manish Kunwar (U20) 30:07; 76 Nick Steel 31:29; 124 Mo Hashi 32:46; 156 Mark Kencroft (V45) 33:56; 227 Tom Yates 36:27; 248 Dave Foley (V55) 37:33; 249 Ian Leslie (V55) 37:35; 346 Simon Turrell (V45) 45:38

U15/17 Boys (4km): 6 George Kerry 15:12; 7 John Fielding 15:26; 14 Sudeys Hersi (U15) 16:23; 45 Chauncey Edwards (U15) 18:34; 53 Mikey Kouwiloyan (U15) 19:41; 56 Matteo Lamagna (U15) 19:49; 60 Davide Lamagna 22:58

U13 Boys (3km): 16 Najiib Hersi 14:05; 23 Finn Combe 14:36; 29 Mohammed Ibrahim 15:02; 30 Maxi Steel 15:03; 35 Marco Lamagna 16:21

Women (6km): 95 Jane Ruhland (V50) 27:29; 106 Carol Jones (V55) 28:03; 121 Helena French 29:41

U15/17 Girls (4km): 5 Nicola Ravenhill 18:13; 8 Anisa Ibrahim (U15) 18:42; 31 Maryam Hussain 21:17; 33 Roisin Lynch 23:04

U13 Girls (3km): 14 Lucy Henson 14:59

Full results here