Met League – Hillingdon – Sat 02 Dec 2017

There was lots of positive feedback about the course that hosts Hillingdon AC devised for the third Met League match. It included the usual testing little hill over the old ski slope, but this year also had a stream in the lower section of the course – amusing to watch afterwards on video but a challenge when confronted with it mid-race!

With the event being held just down the road, ESM not surprisingly had its best turnout yet, with 55 athletes toeing the line. There was a great showing from the U13 boys in particular, and the men produced a strong performance, though the senior women were a little down on the numbers at Welwyn, some opting for the Perivale 5 the next day instead.

Finlay Vadon

The afternoon kicked off with the Under 11 races, and it was great to see Finlay, Evan and Oscar take part, Finlay having a superb race to finish tenth. New volunteer Annick has been doing a great job assisting with this age group, writes Bridie Lebdiri.

We have a great squad of Under 13 boys, who packed well. Sam Bonnet was first home, showing great strength to place ninth in his first race with us. His school rugby and athletics coaches also play a role in his development. Maxi Steel has been racing regularly this season and has shown steady improvement. The team spirit is boosted by the good turnout; new recruit Taaj Ojha has turned out for all three matches, as has Marco Lamagna.

The U13 boys doing their strides before the race: Marco (out of shot), Louis, Sam, Taaj, Arun & Thomas

Lucy Henson was our only Under 13 girl but she made it count, with an impressive fifth place, her best position to date. She kept a cool head despite a last minute number mix-up and a frantic scramble in her bag – luckily she had kept her number from the previous race.

The U11 and U13 age groups are making steady progress, which augurs well for the future.

The junior races saw a rare defeat for prodigious talent Mohamed Ali, who finished third in the U15/U17 race. Still an U15, he had two U17 men for company during the race and may have suffered from forcing the pace too early. He was followed in by league stalwarts Arun Manget and Chauncey Edwards. Felix Mountford was a welcome addition to the team this season, possibly inspired by his recent appearance at the London Youth Games, while Matteo Lamagna completed the squad.

Anisa Ibrahim and Lucy O’Brien represented the club in the corresponding junior women’s race. They were only separated by half a minute at the end: Anisa improved twelve places on her opening run at Claybury, while Lucy put in a very consistent performance.

Nicola Ravenhill

The senior women gained Nicola Ravenhill for this match, but lost Jessica Leane, who had been racing in Ireland, writes Fiona Kennedy. Nicola finished a couple of places higher than at Claybury, with a very welcome 22nd place.

Shona Cowper and Fiona Kennedy have turned out at all three matches and improved their placing each time. Shona was battling with Ealing Eagle (and second claim ESM member) Hannah Copeland throughout, but proved to have the strength to hold her off in the closing stages. Fiona had the satisfaction of being first W60 on this occasion, having lost out to her namesake Christine Kennedy of Serpentine on the two previous outings.

Pat Thomas had a good race, getting ahead of Carol Jones for the first time this season and producing a storming finish. Louise Prince is known to love a bit of mud, so the “water feature” was very much to her taste; she would probably have been happy to cross it a few more times, in fact! Cath Gunnewicht and Annette Galloway have been quite closely matched this season, and Annette has even taken a leaf out of Cath’s book by sporting shorts and long socks. Cath commented: “I had to walk up the steep hill and the only thing that kept me focused was trying not to lose sight of Annette’s bright green socks… I never lost sight of them so that was a mini achievement for me”. [See team photo for the socks in question!] We also welcomed guest Lindsay Donoghue, a regular at Northala Fields parkrun, who enjoyed her first taste of cross country in a club vest. Annick Hooge continues to make great progress, closing the gap on Annette and Cath, while Estelle McLaughlin made a welcome return to racing.

The senior women’s team result was slightly weaker than last time, with third place in Division Two. This means we’ve slipped to third overall and therefore currently lie outside the promotion zone. However, it’s not a done deal, so we have every incentive to turn out in strength for the remaining two matches.

Annette, Lindsay, Louise, Fiona, Annick, Cath, Estelle, Carol, Team Manager Philip, Jane, & (in front) Shona

By contrast, the men achieved their best result of the season, writes Phil York, finishing fifth in the Division One competition. With two fixtures remaining, the club have consolidated their position in the table, and now sit comfortably clear of the relegation zone. The Metropolitan League has been the main focus this season, and there is a quiet determination within the squad as we punch above our weight against the likes of Highgate Harriers, Serpentine and Hillingdon. It is a good sign when our athletes get frustrated at just missing out on making the scoring twelve.

At Claybury and Welwyn we fielded 18 and 22 runners respectively, but at Uxbridge we topped those figures with 23 finishers. Unlike the first two fixtures, when we had five athletes in the top 100, this time we managed a total of eight. Club members come from far and wide, and from different training groups, to represent ESM in the Met League. None more so than James Hughes, who was in London for a weekend of racing. James hasn’t raced for the club in a quite a while, but just squeezed in to the top 100 in this race, as did Peter Flewitt, who was third in the V45 age category.

Pete Flewitt finding his cross country legs again

Team manager Phil York really enjoys seeing the squad come together on these occasions, and some members need a bit of introducing – Elliot Jones always appears bemused as he lines up against Martin Shelley and the returning Sam Ashcroft, for example, people he wouldn’t ordinarily see! After Luke Nicholas, Elliot has been our biggest improver this season, and will surely make the top 100 before long. Luke has progressed from 186th in the opening fixture to 84th here. Wilton Grey made his cross country debut, making an impact in the V60 age category – Wilton demonstrated that he is a ‘polite’ racer, inviting his team manager to move ahead of him on the first bend.

We are accustomed to seeing Jamie Taylor-Caldwell lead us home, but on this occasion Moe Hashi took the honours, achieving his best ever placing of 15th. In a race inevitably won by Shaftesbury’s Richard Goodman, Moe was just over a minute behind, having worked his way through the field – to say he was thrilled with his run would be an understatement – I must have heard his account at least five times in the car on the way home! But that was a fine effort Moe, and just reward for a guy that trains hard and takes his running seriously.

Mukhtar is first across the stream, tracked by Jamie

Jamie, however, was close behind and still took a place in the top 20. He admitted to being slightly spooked when Mukhtar Farah led the team out in the early stages. Mukhtar was the third U20 finisher, with seniors Chris Hepworth and Sam Ashcroft not far behind. That’s all of our top 100 finishers taken care of, and that’s kind of a benchmark in the Met League. The next fixture is at Wormwood Scrubs in January, and wouldn’t it be great to welcome back all of the runners who featured in the first two fixtures?

Further down the field, we had Elliot Jones, Mark Kencroft and Angelo John slugging it out for a place in the scoring twelve, with Martin Shelley edging out James Steel for the final spot.

In the 300s, there was little to choose between Ian Leslie and those ‘ever presents’ Tom Yates and Akira Anzai-Jackson, but behind them there was ‘a right old ding-dong’ involving Clive Richardson, Steve Plested and Phil York. Clive prevailed on this occasion, with Steve having the satisfaction of finishing second in the V65 category. Ian Leslie was second in the V60 category.

Simon Turrell, John Falvey and Ian McNally all bettered their positions from the previous fixture, Ian still shaking off a heavy cold.

More photos can be found on our Facebook page.

ESM results summary:

U11B (1.5K): 10 Finley Vadon 7:05; 33 Evan Thomson 8:52; 39 Oscar Ojha 10:35

U13B (3K): 9 Sam Bonnett 11:15; 26 Maximilian Steel 11:53; 27 Arun Smith 11:55; 29 Mohamed Ibrahim 11:59; 38 Jonah Mezey 12:11; 40 Taaj Ojha 12:15; 44 Louis Saint 12:31; 56 Thomas Bass 13:29; 58 Marco Lamagna 13:44; 61 Thomas Musie 15:57

U13G (3K): 5 Lucy Henson 12:14

U15/U17M (4K): 3 Mohamed Ali (U15) 12:07; 43 Arun Manget (U15) 14:16; 57 Chauncey Edwards 14:47; 68 Felix Mountford (U15) 15:08; 88 Matteo Lamagna (U15) 16:42

U15/U17W (4K): 13 Anisa Ibrahim 15:30; 22 Lucy O’Brien 16:03

SW (6K): 22 Nicola Ravenhill (U20) 22:01; 49 Shona Cowper 23:23; 65 Fiona Kennedy (V60) 23:53; 113 Patricia Thomas (V50) 25:51; 136 Carol Jones (V60) 26:51; 144 Louise Prince (V45) 27:32; 159 Jane Ruhland (V50) 28:21; 188 Annette Galloway (V45) 31:10; 190 Catherine Gunnewicht (V45) 31:22; 207 Lindsay Donoghue (V45) 32:48; 211 Annick Hooge (V60) 33:23; 218 Estelle McLaughlin 37:22

SM (8k): 15 Mohamed Hashi 24:58; 20 Jamie Taylor-Caldwell 25:10; 39 Mukhtar Farah (U20) 25:42; 62 Christopher Hepworth 26:29; 65 Sam Ashcroft 26:33; 84 Luke Nicholas 27:05; 96 Peter Flewitt (V45) 27:24; 98 James Hughes 27:27; 155 Elliot Jones 28:41; 182 Mark Kencroft (V50) 29:16; 202 Angelo John (V45) 29:40; 277 Martin Shelley 31:22; 281 James Steel (V45) 31:27; 313 Tom Yates 32:16; 344 Ian Leslie (V60) 33:25; 367 Akira Anzai-Jackson 34:15; 377 Clive Richardson (V40) 34:38; 379 Steve Plested (V65) 34:38; 386 Philip York (V55) 34:48; 411 Wilton Grey (V60) 35:36; 443 Simon Turrell (V45) 37:11; 464 John Falvey (V60) 39:29; 476 Ian McNally 42:40

Full results on powerof10