The fourth Met League at Wormwood Scrubs on Saturday saw record fields in the senior races, with 544 men and 262 women – a total of 1,174 athletes including the younger age groups. ESM played its part with its best turnout so far of over 60 athletes.
I was delighted to declare an ESM team sheet comprising twenty-eight athletes, writes Men’s Team Manager Phil York. This was surprising, given that several regulars were missing. Never before have the club fielded so many runners in a senior men’s Met League race.
We welcomed newcomers Jonathan Horan and Malcolm Daoud from Northala Fields parkrun, and both said that they really enjoyed their first experience of cross-country since school days. However, there was little time for introductions as the tension mounted and the squad concentrated on warming up ahead of the 2:35pm race start time.
Once again Moe Hashi was the club’s first scorer with a second successive top twenty finish. Jamie Taylor-Caldwell, with half an eye on the indoor track season, was not far behind. One of the great things about the ESM team is the spread of people across the various age-groups, and the next three runners to finish were Mukhtar Farah (U20), Simon Shaw (V45) and Sam Ashcroft (SM). It was Simon’s first league race of the season, whereas Mukhtar is an ever-present, finishing in the top 100 in each of the four races so far. Luke Nicholas has improved throughout the season, and just crept into the top 100 at the Scrubs. A club can often measure its success in a Met League by how many finishers break this particular barrier – the figures are as follows: Claybury (5), Welwyn (5), Uxbridge (8), Wormwood Scrubs (6). About average then! Peter Flewitt and George Kerry, however, only just missed this standard. Elliot Jones, the ever-consistent Mark Kencroft, long-distance commuter Archie Jones, and Jonathan Horan completed the scoring twelve for Division One purposes.
Rob Brown and marathon-exponent Mark Delahunty combined with Tom Yates, Akira Anzai-Jackson and James Steel to form ESM’s middle-order, while Ian Leslie had a strong run to head the club’s V60 contingent. Dave Foley made a season’s debut following long-standing injury problems, overtaking team manager Phil York midway through the race. Phil, who first ran this course nearly forty years ago, only just held off a fast finishing Sean Hill and Steve Plested. Wilton Grey, Keith Freegard, Andy Leung and Martin Daoud finished within a few seconds of one another. Simon Turrell and John Falvey completed the impressive ESM showing.
The men finished eighth in Division One, so they remain eighth overall and sit comfortably above the relegation zone with one fixture remaining.
The senior women had mixed experiences, writes Fiona Kennedy. The course at Wormwood Scrubs is known to be flat: “a bowling green by comparison to Stanborough Park” according to Breege Leane. Yet for some reason it still feels like a hard slog – even though it was pretty dry underfoot by the standards of recent years. The narrow path through the woods is often seen as a welcome respite from the bleak open grassland, but this year, many of the women were brought to a standstill during the initial small loop, where the larger than normal field created a bottleneck. Some found it frustrating, while others confessed to making the most of the enforced stop to catch their breath! There was at least great support at the end of that first loop, as the field made its way past the team bases around the start and finish.
The women’s team result was boosted by the presence for the first time in the League of both our talented under 20s, Nicola Ravenhill and Jessica Leane. Nicola has been finishing consistently in the top 25, and got ahead of a few who had beaten her at Uxbridge. Jessica has been returning to form and was inside the top 50.
Shona Cowper has been an ever-present at the League this season, but found the course less to her liking than others: “my least favourite course of the league due to its flatness. I feel this may be where my lack of concentration comes from…” Patricia Thomas has been finding her form again and had a good run, though Breege was less than a minute behind, possibly benefitting from their shared Sunday morning sessions. Beverley Packwood was delighted finally to get ahead of Hillingdon’s Lucy Duncan (nothing personal, just a marker!) Having forgotten her watch, she was left wondering if this had actually improved her focus.
The women finished fifth in Division Two, so they remain third overall. Promotion to Division One isn’t impossible, but with only one race left, it’s looking as though another season in Division two is on the cards. Team Manager Philip Prince is encouraged however by the increase in participation levels this season.
Young athletes team of the day was the under 13 boys, writes Team Manager Graham French, with a superb turn out of 11 athletes. The A Team came home in third position, and the B team were 10th, the highest B team placing out of the total 25 A and B teams. Leading the boys in was Finn Combe in 10th place, with Maxi Steel, Sam Bonnett and Jonah Mezey packing well in 16th, 20th and 29th positions.
This was a very closely fought race and only 43 seconds separated Finn and Jonah. The B team of Mohammed Ibrahim, Arun Smith, Louis Saint and Marco Lamagna also fought hard, coming in 32nd, 33rd, 43rd and 53rd. We nearly closed a full C team, with Thomas Bass 57th, Thomas Musie in 65th place, and Husein Zaaiter 66th.
For the junior men, our only under 17, Chauncey Edwards, ran a solid race to finish 45th. Under 15 Arun Manget, who is gaining more experience of Met League races, ran steadily and strongly to finish 25th. Under 15s Thomas Edgar (57th) and Rafa Davidson (64th), both running their first Met League, and in the younger under 15 category ran strongly against much older opposition. Both said they enjoyed the experience! Between them was Matteo Lamagna fast becoming a Met League regular, in 63rd, with Michael Gavin completing the ESM contingent in 68th. The team finished in 12th position.
We continue to have very few cross country/middle distance athletes in the under 13 girls category and were not able to field any starters on this occasion. The junior women, however, put in an excellent performance matching the under 13 boys with a strong third-place finish, out of a possible 33 A and B teams. Angel Grimes-McTavish led the charge home in eighth place. Anisa Ibrahim had one of her best races of the season coming in 15th, closely followed by Lucy O’Brien in 17th, with ever improving under 15 Anna Ilchenko in 22nd completing the team. Having lost a spike the previous week, Anna was taking no chances, and came equipped with gaffer tape! Under 15 Charlie Cooney-Quinn completed the strong ESM showing in 51st.
Many thanks as always to the Team Managers for their work in getting our athletes out at these events. The final Met League match is at Trent Park on February 10th.
More photos are available here.
ESM results summary
Under 13 boys: 10 Finn Combe 12:45.52; 16 Maximilian Steel 12:58.95; 20 Sam Bonnet 13:06.05; 29 Jonah Mezey 13:28.39; 32 Mohamed Ibrahim 13:33.70; 33 Arun Smith 13:36.58; 43 Louis Saint 14:20.77; 53 Marco Lamagna 15:00.45; 57 Thomas Bass 15:16.30; 65 Thomas Musie 16:17.39; 66 Husein Zaaiter 16:49.92; 25 Arun Manget 15:13.05
Junior men: 45 Chauncey Edwards 16:28.67; 57 Thomas Edgar (U15) 17:05.27; 63 Matteo Lamagna (U15) 17:43.61; 64 Rafa Davison (U15) 17:47.80; 68 Michael Gavin (U15) 18:10.08
Junior women: 8 Angel Grimes-McTavish 16:31.77; 15 Anisa Ibrahim 17:02.39; 17 Lucy O’Brien 17:11.67; 22 Anna Ilchenko (U15) 17:32.05; 51 Charlotte Cooney-Quinn (U15) 20:02.86
Senior women: 20 Nicola Ravenhill (U20) 24:29.11; 45 Jessica Leane (U20) 26:05.11; 58 Shona Cowper 26:49.61; 130 Patricia Thomas (V50) 29:13.99; 146 Breege Leane (V55) 30:09.55; 169 Carol Jones (V60) 31:12.64; 175 Louise Prince (V45) 31:49.14; 189 Beverley Packwood (V45) 32:39.86; 208 Barbro Julin (V55) 33:54.58; 210 Annette Galloway (V45) 34:30.05; 233 Kristina Wilton (V45) 35:46.74
Senior men: 17 Mohamed Hashi 27:18.61; 29 Jamie Taylor-Caldwell 27:53.21; 57 Mukhtar Farah (U20) 29:00.27; 67 Simon Shaw (V45) 29:16.74; 69 Sam Ashcroft 29:17.86; 99 Luke Nicholas 29:48.67; 109 Peter Flewitt (V45) 30:03.55; 129 George Kerry (U20) 30:38.58; 167 Elliot Jones 31:28.36; 197 Mark Kencroft (V50) 32:11.55; 207 Archie Jones 32:18.86; 234 Jonathan Horan 32:50.77; 268 Robert Brown (V50) 33:32.83; 288 Mark Delahunty (V40) 33:56.11; 330 Tom Yates 35:03.42; 338 Akira Anzai-Jackson 35:12.45; 341 James Steel (V45) 35:15.70; 376 Ian Leslie (V60) 36:25.70; 411 David Foley (V60) 37:16.99; 441 Philip York (V55) 38:13.14; 450 Sean Hill 38:20.64; 453 Steve Plested (V65) 38:28.83; 473 Wilton Grey (V60) 39:29.83; 475 Keith Freegard (V55) 39:32.33; 479 Andy Leung (V45) 39:38.45; 481 Martin Daoud (V55) 39:44.02; 500 Simon Turrell (V45) 40:52.61; 523 John Falvey (V60) 42:57.49
Full results on powerof10