ESM enjoyed a successful afternoon at the Middlesex Masters Cross Country Champs at Wormwood Scrubs on Saturday. With a squad of 17 veterans taking part, we were the best represented club at the event, and were rewarded with two sets of team medals and five individual medals. (Photo of Grazina, Carol, Fiona & Lynn courtesy of Jeremy Hemming).
In a marked change from most races this year, mild and sunny conditions prevailed. Some of the quagmire seen at the County Champs and the final Met League had abated, but many large, shoe-sucking puddles remained, all exuding that unique Eau de Scrubs. Whether ‘tis nobler to plunge through the middle or mince round the edges? That was the question. Pete Flewitt opted for “a delightful dance round the foot of the thorn-bushes”, and has the scratches to prove it. (Gill Morgan was observed adopting a similar strategy, but was feeling under the weather and probably oblivious to scratches).
The club’s women have an especially fine record at these championships, going back to the first time they were held in 1999. Fiona Kennedy won the race outright and took gold in the W55 category. Placed third for the early part of the race, she overhauled West 4’s Anna Critchlow halfway round the first lap and finally reeled in Maggie Cooper of Shaftesbury Barnet on the second circuit of the copse. Backed up by fellow W55s Lynn Wilson (10th overall) and Carol Jones (13th overall), the club took a clean sweep of medals in this age group. Fifth-placed Sarah Richardson won silver in the W35 category, with many of her family there to cheer her on. With W45 Grazine Narviliene finishing 7th overall, ESM’s women won the overall team event by a wide margin, and for the sixth successive year. (But we couldn’t help noticing that second-placed Queen’s Park Harriers put out the strongest women’s squad we’ve seen from them for some time). Mary Walsh (12th), in her final cross country race as team manager, kept a bit of energy in hand as the whole of the ESM squad set off in front of her. She reeled in Gill (who finished 16th) fairly early on lap one; on lap two, she overtook first Gary, then Patricia (15th) and finally – urged on by Mark – nipped in ahead of Carol in a final dash for the finish.
Our men took silver in the M40-49 team event, conceding outright victory to Hillingdon AC by just one point. Pete Flewitt (4th) led them home with a storming finish, missing out on an individual bronze medal by an agonising three seconds. Maybe you should have just gone straight through those puddles, Pete? Angelo John (7th) crossed the line less than half a minute later, with James Steel (14th) continuing his fine run of form to complete the scoring team. James was in fact the first slice of an ESM sandwich, with Mark Delahunty (15th) in the middle, followed by Rob Brown (16th). James was probably pretty pleased to go home with a medal, but Mark’s back was yet again “giving him jip”, to use the technical term. Rob’s verdict on his race is unknown at this stage.
Steve Morris (22nd) was next in, suddenly finding an extra gear at the end, when he realised Fiona was a little too close for comfort. “I nearly got chicked” was the expression he used – distinctly non-pc, but Fiona was just delighted to think anyone could still refer to her as a chick. In 33rd, Ian Leslie was “chicked” by Sarah Richardson, but he’s far too gallant to mind about that. Steve Plested (37th) was the only individual male medallist from the club, taking gold in the M60 category, to add to the many others he’s won at this event over the years. Gary Stringer (46th) formed the back half of a second ESM sandwich, following in hard on the heels of Mary and Carol – though from what we know of Gary’s cake preferences, he’d probably rather think of it as a Victoria Sandwich!
Well done to all, a great finish to a memorably wet and muddy cross-country season, but one with many positive highlights.
Men: 4 Peter Flewitt M40 28:38; 7 Angelo John M40 29:04; 14 James Steel M40 30:26; 15 Mark Delahunty M40 30:58; 16 Rob Brown M40 31:14; 22 Steve Morris M40 31:54; 33 Ian Leslie M50 33:51; 37 Steve Plested M60 35:0;4 46 Gary Stringer M50 38:41
Women: 1 Fiona Kennedy W55 32:12; 5 Sarah Richardson W35 33:47; 7 Grazina Narviliene W35 34:41; 10 Lynn Wilson W55 36:53; 12 Mary Walsh W35 38:17; 13 Carol Jones W55 38:20; 15 Patricia Thomas W45 39:21; 16 Gillian Morgan W45 40:58