Soaring temperatures and rock hard ground made for a challenging start to the cross country season, writes John Falvey. Runners had to meet the twin challenges of staying cool and staying on their feet as they traversed the sometimes rutted course.
In the senior women’s race, Kat Mertens opted for the soft shoes in her first cross country race in nearly three years and was never headed by any of her team mates. She finished 45th in a field of 233. Shona Cowper followed in 60th with Fiona Kennedy moving through the field as the race progressed to finish 82nd and first V60. Patricia Thomas headed Carol Jones by a minute as the pair completed the scoring team in 135th and 152nd. If there had been a V60 team race then Lynn Wilson would have completed the winning team in 160th. Barbro Julin opted for the long leggings despite the temperature and stayed cool enough to finish 190th with Louise Prince in 205th.
The men’s team made a good start to their 2018/19 cross country campaign, continues Phil York, enjoying a second successive season in Division One of the Metropolitan Cross Country League. Due to a casualty in the ladies’ race beforehand, the start of the men’s race was delayed by nearly one hour, and athletes were seen chatting and basking in the sunshine as the organisers facilitated ambulance access to the course.
Moe Hashi achieved his best ever Met League finish, coming home in 14th position on the undulating 8km course. Chris Hepworth and junior George Kerry also featured in the top 100. When 800m specialist Ben Waterman was allocated number 119 ahead of the race, he declared ‘That’s probably about where I’ll finish!’ but in fact he bettered that position by 22 places. Poor Peter Flewitt was omitted from the provisional results, but team manager’s photographic evidence suggests that he actually finished in 100th position.
Five athletes in the top 100 would usually point towards a strong overall team score, but thereafter we developed big gaps in the running order. Oxford-based John Robertson has not been seen in club colours for many a year, so it was great to welcome him back. Sporting compression socks, John finished 149th and has promised to turn out in the remaining four league fixtures. John was chased home by Mark Kencroft, who was rewarded with third place in the M50 age category. Archie Allen made the long journey from Manchester to come home 260th in the 466 strong field.
Ian Leslie and Martin Shelley were our next scorers, and were never far apart throughout the three-lap race. Steve Plested was third in the M65 age category and Ealing triathlete Keith Freegard took a break from ‘plogging’ to complete the twelve man team.
It is imperative that we take a strong squad to Welwyn on 10th November if the men are to avoid relegation to Division Two, concludes Phil.
In the Under 11 boys’ race Finlay Vadon ran a terrific race to finish fifth, reports Graham French. Team mate Roger Robles, running only his second cross-country for the club, also ran strongly coming in 17th. Despite being short of a full team, those excellent performances gave ESM seventh place out of 12 teams. U11 coach Annick Hooge adds that she was delighted with the way the two boys ran: “Both said it was too hot but had smiles on their faces. Finlay is getting strong now. Roger is new to running and cross country, but works hard during the weekly session, and is already finishing in the top 20”.
Our sole Under 13 boy was Alec Edgar, Graham continues. He also had an excellent race on the hilly and sometimes difficult course. Unfortunately at the time of going to press his exact position has not yet been confirmed by the league and we will update.
In the combined Under 15 girls’/Under 17 women’s race under 17s Lucy O’Brien and Charlie Cooney-Quinn lined up with Under 15s Lauren Beale and Nynke Rumley. Lucy got a good start and was running strongly on the second lap when disaster – in the form of an accident involving a fall and a nasty spike injury to the leg – put paid to her race. Lauren and Charlie worked together, finally claiming 43rd and 44th positions respectively. New to the Under 15 age group, Nynke was racing over 4K for the first time, but she rose to the challenge. Despite finding it hard, there was no way she was not going to complete the race, which she did in style, in 53rd place, gaining valuable points for the team and the club. The girls finished 13th out of 19 teams.
Our strongest showing of the day was in the Under 15 boys’/Under 17 men’s team. Mohammed Ali was elsewhere, claiming honours in the U17 men’s race at the Cardiff Cross Challenge, so it was left to training partner Elias Ahmed to make the running, which he duly did, staying in the leading pack of five for three-quarters of the race. By the closing stages of the race he had broken clear together with a Hillingdon athlete, and it was neck and neck until close to the end when Elias’ Hillingdon rival kicked to claim an advantage of a few seconds. Elias claimed a comfortable second place. The scoring team was completed by Under 15 Seweryn Czapka, with a very strong run on his first Met League outing, finishing 17th, and Under 17s Arun Manget and Chauncey Edwards in 30th and 41st place respectively. They were backed up by Under 15s Vitaly Bender in 47th place and Thomas Edgar in 54th. For both athletes this was their first Met League race and they put in strong performances. The B team was completed by first year Under 15 Hussein Zaaiter in 90th place, finishing strongly to overhaul several rivals in the closing quarter of the race. The team finished fifth, with the B team 20th out of a total 27 teams.
Editor’s note: Our under 13 squad was largely absent, as they’re focusing this season on the North West London League (next fixture: Saturday 27th October at Fryent Country Park in Kingsbury).
Well done to all ESM athletes, team managers, coaches and officials who turned out to support the club at this event.
ESM results summary:
Senior women (6K): 45 Katherine Mertens 26:29.2; 60 Shona Cowper 27:20.1; 82 Fiona Kennedy (V60) 28:40.0; 135 Patricia Thomas (V50) 31:06.7; 152 Carol Jones (V60) 32:12.1; 168 Lynn Wilson (V60) 33:22.1; 190 Barbro Julin (V55) 35:26.7; 205 Louise Prince (V45) 36:56.8
Senior men (8K): 14 Mohamed Hashi 26:50.0; 84 Christopher Hepworth 29:44.3; 89 George Kerry (U20) 29:58.6; 103 Ben Waterman 30:27.3; 107 Peter Flewitt (V45) 30:32.3; 161 John Robertson 31:44.2; 166 Mark Kencroft (V50) 31:59.5; 278 Archie Allen 35:08.0; 350 Ian Leslie (V60) 37:18.4; 366 Martin Shelley 37:43.3; 424 Steve Plested (V65) 40:35.4; 428 Keith Freegard (V55) 40:46.0
U15B/U17M (4K): 2 Elias Ahmed 13:48.1; 17 Seweryn Czapka (U15) 15:15.2; 30 Arun Manget 15:52.9; 41 Chauncey Edwards 16:18.0; 48 Vitaly Bender (U15) 16:36.2; 54 Thomas Edgar (U15) 16:50.1; 90 Hussein Zaaiter (U15) 20:29.8
U15G/U17W (4K): 43 Lauren Beale (U15) 21:26.8; 44 Charlotte Cooney-Quinn 21:45.9; 53 Nynke Rumley (U15) nt
U13B (3K): Alec Edgar (place & time tbc)
U11 (1.5K): 5 Finley Vadon 5:47.1; 17 Roger Robles 6:14.5
Full results on power of 10