Following the opening Metropolitan League fixture at Claybury in October, the outlook was pretty good for ESM senior men in Division One, reports Phil York. Sitting just above Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers and Trent Park Running Club, we found ourselves out of the relegation zone. Happy days!
However, after Saturday’s trip to Welwyn Garden City, the club now face an uphill battle to avoid the drop. This is disappointing, given that we fielded fifteen runners, three more than at Claybury. Team manager Phil York realised the writing was on the wall when, as he was completing his second lap, four Shaftesbury Barnet athletes flew past on their way to the finish. Phil, never one to grab the headlines, had advised his squad to wear trail shoes rather than spikes. However, that proved to be bad advice, since foul weather set in as runners made their way to the start of the undulating, wooded course. Luckily, most of the ESM men chose to ignore this advice, as Phil slipped and slithered his way round, trying to ignore the worst of the Hertfordshire weather. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Phil was under the impression that he was the twelfth and final scorer for the ESM ‘A’ team, unaware that he had miscounted his team mates and was in fact thirteenth (unlucky for some!)
The men’s race saw a record field of 531 finishers, with numbers swelled by a large contingent from Cambridge University, who were using the fixture as a selection race for the annual ‘Cuppers’ competition against Oxford University. This could explain why Moe Hashi finished in a lower than expected 45th position. It is tough to finish in the top 100 of any Met League, and it was good to see Jamie Taylor-Caldwell, recovering from injury, claim 81st place. Had it not been for the presence of the Cambridge students, Chris Hepworth and Peter Flewitt would surely have been knocking on the door of the top one hundred. John Robertson, who travels in from Oxford to represent ESM, was next to finish, closely pursued by Mukhtar Farah and Eliott Jones. Mukhtar and Elliott were appearing in their first Met League of this winter season.
Mark Kencroft is a very consistent performer in this league, and finished third in the M50 age category. Joe Gilbert was close behind. Joe is a Cambridge University student, but thankfully chose to run for ESM this time. A good job too, as our ‘middle order’ didn’t pack too well, and there was quite a gap until Martin Shelley stormed home in 324th place. Ian Leslie finished some way behind Martin, and may have regretted his choice of footwear. However, Ian finished a creditable fifth in the M60 age category. It was great to welcome Ricky Grimes into the squad, making his cross country debut for the club. Ricky completed the scoring twelve, with Phil York, Steve Plested and John Falvey the other ESM runners to finish.
After sampling dry, firm conditions in our first three cross country races, the rain and mud served up at Welwyn at least provided a traditional cross country experience!
The rain only set in halfway through the women’s race, continues Fiona Kennedy, (who feels Phil has slightly understated the weather conditions faced by the men in the race that followed – the rain was torrential!)
The women’s field of 266 may well also be a record. ESM had a small turnout but a largely young team, which was encouraging to see. Eight lined up and seven got round, led home by Jessica Leane, who made a characteristically strong start. Kat Mertens was happy to be back running in spikes for the first time in three years, but took the race cautiously as a result. Veteran Fiona Kennedy enjoyed the course, moving up the field as the race progressed, to finish third for the club and first in the W60 category. 18 year old Angel Grimes McTavish and 17 year old Cameron Thomas are welcome new additions to the senior team this season, but have the extra challenges of racing with the seniors and getting used to the longer distance. Angel is coming back from a hamstring injury and Cameron is right at the bottom end of the age scale, but both stuck to the task well, and boosted our team result considerably. Veterans Carol Jones and Louise Prince completed our line-up. Like most of us, Carol felt the course was confusing, (even the course map was hard to follow), and I know I wasn’t the only one whose heart sank mid-race when I realised I had more left to run than I’d thought! Louise is a great cross country fan – the muddier and wetter the better, as far as she’s concerned – and she completed the race despite nursing a cold. We finished fourth in our division and are lying fifth after two matches.
Tim Hannah reports on the young athlete races: A clear blue sky on the way up to Welwyn on Saturday gave no idea of the heavy rain and hail that was to follow during the afternoon. The Welwyn course is picturesque and offers plenty of chance for spectators to follow the race. However for runners the situation is quite different. A tight course with a lot of running along the steep sides of the hills, and if you happen to be leading the race, not an easy course to follow.
We had another great performance by our U17 men and U15 boys, who came fifth as a team. U17 Elias Ahmed was leading the race half way round, but a mistake taking him off course lost him a few seconds by which time he had been overtaken. Elias nevertheless stuck with the leader and finished second. Next home was Seweryn Czapka who came 18th overall but the fifth U15 boy to finish. Arun Manget came in 29th and Chauncey Edwards 43rd. U15 Thomas Edgar was right behind Chauncey in 44th, and U15 Mohamed Ibrahim was 79th.
Our U17 women/U15 girls finished 14th as a team. We only had three runners; our leader Lucy O’Brien was 23rd, Anisa Ibrahim came in 30th and Charlie Cooney-Quinn was 50th.
Next Saturday will be the London Youth Games at Parliament Hill, and a full turnout of ESM young athletes is expected, where they will be representing Ealing.
ESM results summary:
U17M/U15B: 2 Elias Ahmed 14:23; 18 Seweryn Czapka (U15) 15:27; 29 Arun Manget 16:03; 43 Chauncey Edwards 16:26; 44 Thomas Edgar (U15) 16:27; 79 Mohamed Ibrahim (U15) 18:18; 95 Hussein Zaaiter (U15) 20:34
U17W/U15G: 23 Lucy O’Brien 18:47; 30 Anisa Ibrahim 19:21; 50 Charlotte Cooney Quinn 21:04
SW/U20W: 46 Jessica Leane (U20) 24:54; 51 Katherine Mertens 25:08; 91 Fiona Kennedy (V60) 26:31; 100 Angel Grimes-Mctavish (U20) 27:05; 165 Cameron Thomas (U20) 30:12; 171 Carol Jones (V60) 30:32; 222 Louise Prince (V45) 33:10
SM/U20M: 45 Mohamed Hashi 28:02; 81 Jamie Taylor-Caldwell 29:15; 120 Christopher Hepworth 30:07; 139 Peter Flewitt (V45) 30:35; 172 John Robertson 31:21; 199 Mukhtar Farah 32:00; 219 Elliot Jones 32:17; 225 Mark Kencroft (V50) 32:24; 241 Joe Gilbert 32:41; 324 Martin Shelley 35:08; 389 Ian Leslie (V60) 36:52; 396 Ricky Grimes (V55) 37:02; 466 Philip York (V55) 40:24; 467 Steve Plested (V65) 40:37; 498 John Falvey (V60) 43:08
Full results on power of 10