Middx Cross Country Champs – Wormwood Scrubs – Sat 04 Jan 2014

We brought back four sets of team medals and two individual silver medals from the Middlesex Cross Country Champs at Wormwood Scrubs on Saturday – a good haul, but perhaps not one of our better years. More remarkable was the amount of surface water on this normally flat and fast course – in over 20 years of running in Ealing, I don’t think I’ve seen it quite that wet before. Everyone was faced with testing conditions, but in addition, the younger athletes who ran earlier in the day had to cope with torrential rain. As some of you may have seen, all the young athletes wore yellow ribbons in memory of Shannon Powell, to mark the third anniversary of her untimely death at Trent Park.

Starting with our star performers, the U13 boys took gold in the team competition. Runners up last year, they went one better this time. It was a convincing win courtesy of Lucas Sheehan (4th), Patrick Owen (6th) and newcomer Naoki Kanai (7th). Lucas, Patrick and Naoki all pushed each other during the race, Lucas’ 800m speed giving him the edge at the end. It was pleasing to see that ESM was one of the best represented clubs in this age group, with eight members participating – see the summary below for full positions and times.

The U13 girls also had a good turnout of eight but unfortunately two did not complete the race, and they finished seventh overall. Lucy O’Brien was in a good position early on but dropped out with a recurring knee problem. Anisa Ibrahim (21st) produced a strong run to lead the team home, followed by Cameron Thomas (24th), and Maryam Hussein (27th). Cameron ran 20 seconds quicker than last year whereas most runners found their times slower because of the exceptionally wet conditions. There was an especially good run also from Leah Kelly in 31st.

The six-strong squad of U15 girls continued their excellent season with a hard-fought battle against rivals Thames Valley Harriers. They gave it their all, but in the end, TVH proved too strong, and they had to settle for silver. However, this represents a huge advance over the club’s sixth place last year. It was Nicola Ravenhill’s first year as an U15, but she took it in her stride, claiming an individual silver medal. Erica Wallace (4th) and Laura Stewart (9th) completed the scoring team, Laura being tied on time for 8th after a gripping fight to the line over the last 200m.

For the U15 boys, John Fielding (8th) produced an impressive run in his first year in the age group, gaining a lot of ground towards the end of his race. Fortunately, he was backed up by two others, Eliot Stewart (41st) and Luke Adar (42nd) ensuring the club completed a scoring team.

The club’s U17 women also had cause to celebrate. In an age group where many clubs struggle to field a full team, four runners toed the line, though Emilia Newton Jones twisted an ankle and could not complete the race. The team took bronze nonetheless and were just three points shy of the silver medal spot. Olivia Will ran well off limited training to finish 12th, backed up by Tara Kelly (16th) and the returning Rosie Bell (20th). Olivia ran over a minute quicker than last year, despite the muddy conditions.

The U17 men were not at full strength, with Mukhtar Farah (13th) struggling of late with an injury. He was backed up by Raunak Mainali (24th) and Conor McCarthy (28th), which again ensured the club completed a team. This was only Raunak’s second club race and a marked improvement on his first outing.

The second individual medal went to the fast-improving U20 Max Wells-Pestell. Akira Anzai-Jackson (15th) was our only other competitor, and indeed St Mary’s was the only club to field a full team in this age group. Like most clubs, ESM sadly had no representatives at all in the U20 women’s event which fielded a paltry five runners. How do we get more of this age group involved? Suggestions on a postcard please!!

The final set of team medals came from the senior women who took bronze – a satisfying outcome after last year’s fourth place. The scoring team was led in by Fiona Kennedy (8th), followed by a strong run from Alison Hopkins (15th), Sarah Richardson (20th) and a fast-finishing Grazina Narviliene (25th). Alison, Sarah and Grazina all join the W40 veteran ranks this year, so we should have some good team performances to look forward to in that arena. Other performances of note, given the longer-than-average course and the tough conditions were Lynn Wilson, who was 36th on minimal training, while team captain Mary Walsh showed a resounding return to form in finishing 39th.

Some of our faster men were away on a training weekend in preparation for the indoor track season. However, there were some fine individual efforts in a field that was somewhat larger than last year. Sam Ashcroft (8th) and Rob Wilson (11th) both ran to form, Rob running almost the same time as last year, despite the much tougher conditions. Steve Elson (40th), Mark Delahunty (75th), Tom Yates (84th) and Andy Dodd (89th) completed the scoring team, Andy coping particularly well given his relatively recent return from injury. Mark was another to run almost as fast as last year, despite the puddle-hopping required. Pete Drew actually ran a half minute quicker, which might raise suspicions of corner-cutting, were it not compatible with the road PBs he has clocked up this year. (Tom Yates chopped a  remarkable three and a half minutes from last year’s time, but that was, by his own admission, more a reflection of poor form last year).

Next week we have the joys of a Met League at Horsenden Hill. No doubt the hill is busy producing a mud-bath for our pleasure, and this weekend will seem like child’s play by comparison. But let’s try and use our home advantage. See you all there!

Results summary

Men Senior (12km): 8 Sam Ashcroft 42:26; 11 Robert Wilson 42:48; 40 Stephen Elson 47:23; 75 Mark Delahunty 49:59; 84 Tom Yates 50:30; 89 Andrew Dodd 50:53; 97 Rob Brown 51:46; 115 Peter Drew 54:28; 140 Rob Howells 60:41; 145 Andy Leung 61:08. U20 (8km): 2 Max Wells-Pestell 31:08; 15 Akira Anzai-Jackson 40:36. U17 (6km): 13 Mukhtar Farah 21:18; 24 Raunak Mainali 23:50; 28 Conor McCarthy 25:30. U15 (4km): 8 John Fielding 16:15; 41 Eliot Stewart 20:09; 42 Luke Adar 20:11. U13 (3km): 4 Lucas Sheehan 11:19; 6 Patrick Owen 11:30; 7 Naoki Kanai 11:32; 22 Freddie Scarborough 12:33; 23 William Coutts 12:37; 49 Robbie Connelly 13:33; 50 Matteo Vao 13:44; 55 Timothy Wallace 14:42.

Women Senior (8km): 8 Fiona Kennedy 36:08; 15 Alison Hopkins 37:21; 20 Sarah Richardson 38:30; 25 Grazina Narviliene 39:51; 36 Lynn Wilson 42:22; 37 Christine Meek 43:21; 39 Mary Walsh 43:33; 42 Patricia Thomas 43:48; 45 Carol Jones 44:20. U17 (5km): 12 Olivia Will 24:10; 16 Tara Kelly 25:57; 20 Rosanna Bell 29:46. U15 (4km): 2 Nicola Ravenhill 17:50; 4 Erica Wallace 18:09; 9 Laura Stewart 18:44; 19 Courtney Marshall 19:45; 27 Jasmine Loh 20:33; 31 Roisin Lynch 21:12; 32 Jennie Connelly 21:14. U13 (3km): 21 Anisa Ibrahim 13:45; 24 Cameron Thomas 13:53; 27 Maryam Hussein 14:17; 31 Leah Kelly 14:26; 52 Elsa Stocking 16:12; 55 Sarah Freegard 16:54.

Full results here.