Phil York and Fiona Kennedy report on the weekend’s cross country races:
Last Saturday ESM made the short trip along the A40 to Uxbridge, the venue for the third fixture of this winter’s Metropolitan League series. This was a proper cross country course, with senior runners facing on each lap the double challenge of a steep climb up the old ski slope, followed by the water splash crossing of the River Pinn. After the race, Hillingdon AC’s Clerk of the Course Martin Bateman made no apologies for the second of these two obstacles, claiming that the water was only a foot deep. The river was, however, fast flowing and a decision was made for some of the younger age group races to bypass the crossing. As if to prove a point, Bateman not only designed and marked out the course, but also took part in the race.
The highlight of the day was the continuing success of our junior men, led home by U17 Elias Ahmed. Placed second in the last two matches, he had to settle for third this time, easing ahead of Ben Sloan in the last field. From the time and position, U15 Seweryn Czapka appeared to have a slightly below par race but was yet again second to score, with club stalwart Arun Manget within shouting distance. James Steel’s photo captures the determination on the face of fourth finisher Thomas Edgar as he battles for position against a St Mary’s runner at the finish! (With most of our younger athletes focusing on the North West London League this season, younger brother Alec had been our only representative in the U13 races).
It was good to see Maxi Steel make his first Met League outing of the season, while 13 year old Mohamed Ibrahim completed the line-up. The team now lie sixth in the league.
Yet again our junior women were one short of a full team, but Anisa Ibrahim, Lauren Beale and Charlotte Cooney Quinn have all turned out regularly in club colours this season, whether for the Met League or the NWLL, and the squad are holding a mid-table position despite lacking in numbers.
We also fielded small numbers for the women’s race, reports Fiona Kennedy, but it was our best team result yet, as we finished fifth of the Division Two teams on the day. A fast start from 18 year old Jessica Leane saw her chasing race leader Yasmin Goater through the first few fields. She admitted afterwards to finding the race tough, and was one of the many who came a bit of a cropper at the river crossing. (Having already fallen in on her way to the race, the unscheduled practice run sadly didn’t gain her any advantage!) However, she finished a fine 25th, one of her best Met League placings since she started racing with the senior women. Team Manager Shona Cowper was second home with another very consistent performance. Fiona Kennedy showed consistency in another way by being third finisher (yet again) despite feeling a little lacklustre on the day. She was second W60 home, with her namesake Christine Kennedy of Serpentine just five seconds ahead. Cameron Thomas was next home for ESM, showing further improvement on her last Met League outing; recent changes to her training regime have increased both strength and confidence, and she found herself overtaking runners on the uphill section. Shona, Fiona and Cameron all resorted to hand contact with the ground during the river crossing, but on lap two Patricia fell victim to the runner behind falling into her. Her knee took a bad knock on some stones under the water and she had to seek medical attention after the race, but fortunately she managed to finish, taking the final scoring place.
A minute behind her, Carol Jones hoped she might have finally got the better of her nemesis Avril Riddell as she negotiated the water feature for the second time, but the Serpentine runner pulled out her usual strong finish to gain a three-place advantage. Annette Galloway described her first cross country outing of the season as “exhilarating”, and her knees appreciated the soft ground. A little daunted by pre-race talk of the river crossing, she was relieved to find it was only knee-high rather than up to the neck: “just right for that cross country feeling”. She managed to get across both times with dignity intact, leaving other less fortunate runners to entertain the onlookers! Ten year old Roger Robles found himself spectating with his dad on this occasion, rather than racing, as mum Carmen donned an ESM vest to join the women’s race as a guest. Hopefully, Carmen enjoyed the experience and will join us again.
The senior men again finished last in the Division One competition and remain rooted to the bottom of the table, Phil York observes. The squad now face an uphill battle to avoid relegation.
The writing was on the wall for ESM as Moe Hashi was our only athlete to place inside the top one hundred. There are many videos now available on social media showing runners negotiating the river crossing, and Moe is seen to attack the obstacle in swashbuckling fashion. Unfortunately, he hurt his knee in the process, but limped home valiantly in a very respectable 30th position.
Mukhtar Farah, Santosh Rai, new member Reece Asik and Nick Steel were the club’s next scorers. They packed well, with just seventeen places covering the quartet. It’s always good to welcome new members – Reece previously represented Chelmsford AC and studies at the same university as Mukhtar.
Mark Kencroft is always prominent in the M50 age group, and this time finished second in his age category. The returning Sam Ashcroft was close behind, chased hard by Elliot Jones. Martin Shelley is an ever present for ESM in the Met League this season, and is consistently one of our ‘middle order’ counters in this twelve-to-score competition. Sean Hill just squeezed ahead of M60 Ian Leslie near the finish, but Ian finished third in his age category.
Steve Plested was the team’s final scorer, finishing third in the M65 age category. Simon Turrell and John Falvey were the other runners in the ESM squad.
Since last winter, the Met League organisers have worked hard to perfect and fine tune the processing of results. The scanning of barcodes displayed on competitors’ race numbers is central to the new system, and draft results are available on a Saturday evening. On this occasion the ESM men’s team result made grim reading, but at least we were able to read it soon after the race!
ESM results summary:
U13B (3K): 10 Alec Edgar 14:20
U17Men/U15B (4K): 3 Elias Ahmed 14:58, 30 Seweryn Czapka (U15) 16:15, 37 Arun Manget 16:23, 58 Thomas Edgar (U15) 17:11, 82 Maximilian Steel (U15) 18:23, 96 Mohamed Ibrahim (U15) 19:56
U17W/U15G (4K): 38 Anisa Ibrahim 20:24, 48 Lauren Beale (U15) 21:34, 52 Charlotte Cooney-Quinn 22:16
SW/U20W (6K): 25 Jessica Leane (U20) 27:57, 53 Shona Cowper 29:23, 71 Fiona Kennedy (W60) 30:27, 109 Cameron Thomas (U20) 32:50, 132 Patricia Thomas (W50) 34:19, 142 Carol Jones (W60) 35:03, 184 Annette Galloway (W50) 39:02
SM/U20M (8k): 30 Mohamed Hashi 29:14, 113 Mukhtar Farah 32:28, 124 Santosh Rai 32:40, 129 Reece Asik 32:46, 130 Nick Steel 32:47, 171 Mark Kencroft (M50) 33:50, 182 Sam Ashcroft 34:08, 215 Elliot Jones 34:56, 269 Martin Shelley 36:54, 293 Sean Hill 37:52, 294 Ian Leslie (M60) 37:53, 338 Steve Plested (M65) 40:30, 360 Simon Turrell (M50) 42:26, 391 John Falvey (M60) 45:25
Full results on power of 10