Weather-wise, it felt like Groundhog Day – the report on last year’s Middlesex Road Relays began “conditions once again felt warm and humid”… And so it proved again, though as Breege pointed out, we only had 3K to tackle, unlike our team-mates who’d competed in the Harrow Half that morning.
It’s the fourth year that the County event has included senior races, and it’s well-timed to whet the appetite and prepare the legs for the South of England relay champs next week at Crystal Palace. Once again ESM was well represented, with three men’s and three women’s teams. Our young athletes were a little thinner on the ground than usual, but we had an Under 15 boys’ team and an Under 17 men’s team.
The men did us proud. Mo Hashi set off on a mission on leg one and led throughout, despite a good challenge from Matt Kitching of QPH. Chris Hepworth took over on leg two, where QPH narrowed the gap slightly, but the lead had stretched again to well over a minute once Jamie Taylor-Caldwell came home at the end of the final leg.
So the men took gold in the team competition, but Mo Hashi also ran the fastest leg of the day ( a few seconds faster than Jamie had the previous year!) Jamie ran the second-fastest leg of the day and Chris was fifth-fastest.
Our B team finished mid-field. Nick Steel led them off with ESM’s fourth-quickest leg, followed by Akira Anzai-Jackson and Santosh Rai, a late stand-in. Rob Brown, Sean Hanrahan and Sam Ashcroft made up the C team.
It’s fair to say that our women’s squad were a mixed bunch, from Lucy O’Brien and Cameron Thomas at one end of the age spectrum, to 60-somethings Carol Jones, Fiona Kennedy and Lynn Wilson at the other end. It’s always hard to gauge fitness levels in this strange period ‘twixt the end of track & field and the start of cross country, and to prove the point, our B team finished slightly ahead of our A team.
On leg one for the Bs, Breege Leane made her usual positive start, but Sarah Harris hauled her in and finished 50 metres ahead for the As. Sarah was fifth woman across the line, but with the U20 women in the same race, what was less clear is that she was third senior woman at this stage. On leg two, Cameron Thomas set off for the A team, with mum Pat just 50m behind for the Bs… awkward!
Cameron started quickly but Pat halved the lead to around 25m. This left Lucy O’Brien on final leg for the As with Fiona Kennedy in hot pursuit for the Bs. They changed positions halfway through the first lap and the gap grew from then onwards.
We still hadn’t realised that two of the teams ahead of us were Under 20s, and that we were the second senior women’s team to cross the line, so we were delighted – if a little nonplussed – to be called forward during the medal presentations!
For the C team, Lynn Wilson was characteristically cautious over the first lap, but picked up the pace on lap two. We nearly didn’t have a third team, with Daisy Lund feeling under the weather, but she actually ran a good leg – all the more surprising as it turned out later that she had a temperature and has been in bed since. (Thank you Daisy, but that was going beyond the call of duty!) Carol Jones completed the team.
The first ESM athletes in action were our Under 15 boys’ team, comprising Finn Coombe, Arun Smith and Jonah Mezey. Finn put up a good show against Sonny Maund of St Mary’s, but had to settle for second place – also the second-fastest leg in that age group. Arun and Jonah ran almost identical times, bringing the team home in fourth. There was no team B for Hussein Zaaiter but he joined in leg one.
Arun Manget was relieved of his photography duties to lead off for the Under 17 men, finishing in seventh. Vitaly Bender took over on leg two, passing the Highgate and St Mary’s runners to bring the team in on fourth. However, TVH were now a minute in front, with Hillingdon in second, and Heathside in the lead. Seweryn Czapka ran a competitive final leg to overhaul TVH and secure bronze medals for the team. However, he was still an unassailable minute and half behind when Hillingdon and Heathside battled across the line for first and second respectively.
So, gold for the senior men, silver for the senior women and bronze for the Under 17 men, as well as a fastest lap medal. Not a bad day’s haul, and a really enjoyable team event. Thanks to the team managers for the unglamorous task of recruiting teams and filling in forms.
Good luck to those representing ESM at the SEAA Relay Champs at Crystal Palace this coming Sunday. If this has given you a taste for relay competition, don’t forget the SEAA cross country relays at Wormwood Scrubs on Saturday 19th October – all welcome, talk to your team managers. More details are on page 2 of the SEAA prospectus.
And finally… Cameron is off to university soon to study psychology, and here she is saying farewell to her training group. She’ll be joining Nicola Ravenhill in Nottingham, so let’s hope they’ll encourage each other to find time for a little bit of training! Thanks to Bridie for sending in this photo.
ESM results summary:
Under 15 Boys: A14 Finn Combe 09:54, B14 Arun Smith 11:26, C14 Jonah Mezey 11:27; A15 Hussein Zaaiter 12:16
Under 17 Men: C29 Seweryn Czapka 09:35, A29 Arun Mangat 10:21, B29 Vitaly Bender 10:37
Senior Women: A89 Breege Leane (W55) 12:05, B89 Patricia Thomas (W55) 12:54; C89 Fiona Kennedy (W60) 12:13; A88 Sarah Harris (W40) 11:52, B88 Cameron Thomas (U20) 13:01, C88 Lucy O’Brien (U20) 13:03; A90 Lynn Wilson (W60) 13:12, B90 Daisy Lund (W40) 13:16, C90 Carol Jones (W60) 14:09
Senior Men: A40 Mo Hashi 09:02, B40 Chris Hepworth 09:40, C40 Jamie Taylor-Caldwell 09:17; A41 Nick Steel 10:04, B41 Akira Anzai-Jackson 10:18, C41 Santosh Rai 10:32; A42 Rob Brown (M50) 11:17, B42 Sean Hanrahan 10:44, C42 Sam Ashcroft 10:06