Phil York reports from a muddy Trent Park:
Last Sunday a small group of ESM athletes travelled over to Trent Park, Cockfosters to take part in the Middlesex Masters Cross Country Championships. The event organisers had devised a new course for this annual event, which had a very early start (10:30am) for cross country racing. The problem with Trent Park is that wherever you run, you are bound to encounter hills and mud, and the new circuit did not disappoint.
Patricia Thomas and Lynn Wilson looked strong on the hills, finishing 19th and 21st respectively in the ladies’ race. Fortunately the main uphill drag towards the end of each lap was reasonably firm underfoot, enabling the runners to pick up speed on this section before entering the rather boggy start/finish field. It was a shame that the club were unable to field a scoring team.
The ladies and the over-60 men ran together over a two-lap 7.2km course, and the overall men’s winner and therefore M60 gold medallist was Chris Finill of Harrow AC. Chris has become something of a celebrity in recent years, as he is now the youngest of the London Marathon ever-presents. He has completed all bar two of these races in under three hours. The sub-3 streak was interrupted for only the second time when Chris fell and broke his arm just after the start of last year’s race.
At Trent Park, a solid outing from Ian Leslie secured the bronze medal in the M60 age category as London Heathside’s Pete Crockford took silver, just a few seconds behind Finill. Ian was delighted with his medal, but didn’t hear his name called out at the awards ceremony, although he had stayed on after the race. Team manager Phil York took all the glory when he stepped up to collect the medal on Ian’s behalf. Just for a change Ian chose not to cycle to the venue, letting the train take the strain but who knows whether this decision improved his chances of making the rostrum. Dave Foley continued his comeback from long term injury as he finished eighth in the race, simply devouring the hills of Trent Park. Oh what memories were stirred as Martin Wilson, who helps organise Monday night hill training sessions, tackled everything that the course threw at him and closed the ESM M60 scoring team in 20th place. The trio combined to bring home hard earned silver medals in the Middlesex M60 team competition, finishing just one point behind hosts Trent Park.
The men in the M40-49 and M50-59 age groups competed over a longer 9.6km course, and ESM had three runners in the latter category. Mark Kencroft was the first finisher in 16th place overall, but a solid sixth in his age category. After a successful Metropolitan League campaign in 2018/19, Mark had come here looking for a medal, but in his post-race interview he confessed to finding the conditions “unbelievably tough” as he tried hard to close down the leaders. Ricky Grimes was next home for ESM. Ricky lives locally and regularly trains in Trent Park. However, he always uses the opposite side of the park, and found the Middlesex course tougher than he imagined! Simon Turrell in 50th place enjoyed having the opportunity to take part in another county championships but, as with the ladies, it was disappointing not to be able to close a scoring team. Actually we did a have a fourth runner in Tom Yates, but he is in a younger masters age-group so couldn’t be part of an ESM quartet. Tom admitted to having “forgotten quite how tough cross country is”. It had been over a year since Tom lined up for a cross country race, and at just before midnight on the eve of this event, had to rush over to a self-storage unit to retrieve his running spikes! There was actually a slight communication error with regard to Tom’s participation. He’s 36 and believed the men’s event was M35+, as opposed to M40. The organisers kindly allowed him to take part as a guest, which explains why he doesn’t appear in the results. Time for the M35s to stand up and demand parity with the women! (Or for race organisers to stop including W35s…)
ESM results summary:
M60 & Women (7.2K): 15 Ian Leslie (M60) 35:11, 36 Dave Foley (M60) 38:01, 46 Patricia Thomas (W50) 38:57, 52 Lynn Wilson (W60) 39:29, 109 Martin Wilson (M65) 46:41
M40/M50 (9.6K): 29 Mark Kencroft (M50) 41:41, 80 Ricky Grimes (M55) 48:28, 107 Simon Turrell (M50) 54:04
Full results on power of 10