We had a successful afternoon at Saturday’s Middlesex Cross Country Champs in Hillingdon, (writes Fiona Kennedy), winning five individual medals and three sets of team medals. In addition to the rude shock of returning to cross country after the Christmas break, most age groups had to step up a gear, running a longer distance than usual. However, the weather was benign and the course a judicious blend of uphill challenges, turns and slippery sections, and club members seemed to feel they had had a good afternoon out.
The afternoon got off to a great start with the opening U11 races. With many of ESM’s younger U11s not favouring the rough and tumble of cross country, it was left to three athletes to fly the flag, and fly the flag they did! A bleary-eyed George Simpson (on the right of the photo) shook off the effects of a sleepover as he toed the line with the ever-enthusiastic Otto Lawrence (left of the picture). Both athletes are gaining in confidence with every race, and they got off to a flying start, running right up with the leaders. George looked effortless and he soon took the lead, sprinting home to an emphatic victory. Otto had the misfortune of falling with 600m to go but picked himself up and hung on for sixth place.
In the equivalent girls’ race, ESM only fielded one athlete, but Nicole Bartlett always gives it her all. As on every outing this season, Nicole (centre of the photo above) ran an intelligent race in what was a very competitive field. She worked her way steadily past other runners, settling in behind the third placed athlete. Nicole displayed great technique and speed, sprinting the last 200m to third place.
Both the women and the men collected medals in the U17 races. George Kerry took individual bronze in the men’s race and the squad also won team bronze, with John Fielding just half a minute adrift in sixth and Luke Adar closing the team. Just one point separated them from Highgate in silver.
U17 Nicola Ravenhill (far left in the photo) is never far from the front of the field and finished third in her race too, while new member Jessica Leane (far right) once again made a valuable contribution in 10th. Maryam Hussain (second from right) helped the team to silver medals, and declared herself satisfied with her race – though her strong finish left her with a nagging doubt that she may have left too much in the tank! Cameron Thomas (second from left) has her sights firmly set on the track season to come but took the opportunity to get in a tough endurance run, finishing not far behind Maryam.
The U20 men’s race was another success story. Mukhtar Farah was placed fourth in the first lap but moved into third to claim bronze. Mukhtar has another year in this age group, so can contest medals again next year. Manish Kunwar was placed sixth in the early stages and managed to gain a place, though he ceded that advantage after losing out in a sprint to the finish. Third ESM finisher Conor McCarthy was a welcome sight, having not been seen in competition since the end of last season; Mukhtar and Manish needed his efforts to secure the silver medals. Triathlete Kirill Kondrasin was only making his second outing on the country this season, and he lost contact with Conor in the latter part of the race.
With some of the senior men now turning their attention to the indoor track season, there were just twelve representing the club on this occasion, but those who took part were enthusiastic about the experience. Triathlete Simon Shaw led them home in 39th and his comment afterwards was amusing but impressive:
“Really enjoyed the course - killer climb, the few twists, turns and obstacles to leap over. I was actually treating the race as a hard duathlon training session as I'd already biked 50k, cycled to the event, starting the race fatigued, then cycled home. So was truly conked out Saturday evening but pleased with how well I was able to run when already tired”.
Improving athletes Nick Steel and Santosh Rai were also across the line a couple of minutes later, and Nick was pleased to gain quite a few places in the sprint finish. Like many people, Nick enjoyed the course, though it was the muddiest he had experienced so far, and he’s planning to buy some longer spikes for the next time it rains on the eve of a race. (Good move Nick, it’s been a relatively dry winter, and it can get a LOT worse than that!) Veterans Rob Brown and Mark Kencroft were running together for the first two laps, but Rob is known for his competitive spirit and pulled away at the foot of the third ascent. By the finish he’d gained a 100m advantage, turning the tables on their last encounter. Angelo John was not pleased with his run, but took the last scoring position, just half a minute later. Krishna Garbuja crossed the line just ahead of veteran Ian Leslie, while Sean Hill continued his injury comeback with a solid run. The squad was completed by the normally mud-shy trio of Andy Leung, Gary Stringer and Ian McNally, and the team placed eighth.
As last year, the women’s team finished fourth, led home by Lucy Ellis (second from the left in the photo) in 17th. Veterans Fiona Kennedy, Patricia Thomas and Jane Ruhland completed the scoring team, Jane getting across the line just a few seconds ahead of Carol Jones. Carol herself was frustrated to be overtaken towards the end by Avril Riddell of Mornington Chasers, who has been making a habit of doing that to her recently! Nikki Baker continued her successful comeback with a solid performance. The proceedings were enlivened slightly by a few women turning left instead of right on a section of the lower course. This included Jane Ruhland, who lost a few places as a result, as well as Sue Dyke and Catherine Gunnewicht. It seems some took longer than others to realise their error: Sue declared she’d run at least an extra mile while Cath’s Garmin evidence suggests she overshot by around 200m, running a small loop of the lower course three times rather than twice.
There were no medals for the club’s U13s and U15s this year, but they were well represented. The U13 races boasted the largest fields, (outside the seniors), and five boys and five girls from the club tackled the races.
ESM has seen a steady influx of new U13 girls in particular over the past few months, and five relatively inexperienced athletes – some of whom had never run the distance before – tackled the 3000m race (photo above). They kept to their game plan, which was to help each other get round. Lucy Henson, in only her second race for the club, showed great determination finishing in 19th position out of a field of 62 runners. Josie Booker and Athena Fremantle ran together but put friendship aside for the final 100m, with Josie pipping Athena. Likewise Sadie Lawrence and Lauren Beale ran together with Sadie getting the better of Lauren in the final stretch. The most pleasing aspect of their performance was the smiles on their faces when they crossed the finishing line.
For the U13 boys, Mahiis Hersi led the team home in 12th, with younger brother Najiib some 75m behind, while Finn Combe took the final scoring place. Mohamed Ibrahim and Louis Wild completed the team which finished seventh.
There were six U15 boys representing the club, and the team finished sixth. Kane Foster crossed the line first in 18th place, with Sudeys Hersi hard on his heels in 20th and Felix Mountford 24th. Half a minute later, Chauncey Edwards just got the better of Louis Rodericks with Mikey Kouwiloyan completing the squad.
For the girls, Anisa Ibrahim ran her best race of the season with 7th place. Fiona Coutts followed in 27th place, but there was no third finisher to close the team.
Well done to everyone who took part. This will have been good experience for those planning to run in the South of England Championships at Parliament Hill on January 28th, as well as those wanting to run in the Nationals in Nottingham on February 25th.
Next week we have the Met League at Trent Park. If we are to get back into Division One – which is where we belong – we really do need you all out there battling for places. There’s a link to all the details on the front page of the website, and there’s an event page in the Facebook Group. You don’t need to enter in advance, you can just turn up on the day, though it’s helpful if you let the Team Managers know your intentions.
ESM Results summary
SM (12k): 39 Simon Shaw 43:54; 52 Nick Steel 45:33; 64 Santosh Rai 46:26; 81 Robert Brown 48:34; 82 Mark Kencroft 48:57; 84 Angelo John 49:26; 101 Nar (Krishna) Garbuja 51:22; 103 Ian Leslie 51:28; 132 Sean Hill 55:21; 151 Andy Leung 60:40; 160 Gary Stringer 65:03; 163 Ian McNally 66:37
U20M (8k): 3 Mukhtar Farah 27:24; 6 Manish Kunwar 28:09; 17 Conor McCarthy 31:15; 20 Kirill Kondrasin 34:13
U17M (6k): 3 George Kerry 21:15; 6 John Fielding 21:46; 20 Luke Adar 25:08
U15B (4k): 18 Kane Foster 15:21; 20 Sudeys Hersi 15:30; 24 Felix Mountford 15:56; 31 Chauncey Edwards 16:22; 33 Louis Rodericks 16:27; 38 Mikey Kouwiloyan 18:35
U13B (3k): 12 Mahiis Hersi 11:49; 22 Najiib Hersi 12:12; 37 Finn Combe 12:56; 47 Mohamed Ibrahim 13:45; 53 Louis Wild 14:34
U11B (1.5k): 1 George Simpson 6:59; 6 Otto Lawrence 7:19
SW (8k): 17 Lucy Ellis 33:56; 22 Fiona Kennedy 34:14; 35 Patricia Thomas 36:25; 42 Jane Ruhland 37:29; 43 Carol Jones 37:36; 58 Nikki Baker 39:50; 64 Sue Dyke 42:07; 72 Catherine Gunnewicht 44:04
U17W (5k): 3 Nicola Ravenhill 18:47; 10 Jessica Leane 20:35; 19 Maryam Hussain 22:35; 20 Cameron Thomas 22:44
U15G (4k): 7 Anisa Ibrahim 16:16; 27 Fiona Coutts 17:34
U13G (3k): 19 Lucy Henson 13:08; 49 Josie Booker 15:18; 50 Athena Fremantle 15:20; 54 Sadie Lawrence 15:58; 55 Lauren Beale 15:59
U11G (1.5k): 3 Nicole Bartlett 7:22
Full results here.