Middx XC Champs – Wormwood Scrubs – Sat 04 Jan 2020

The weather at cross country races normally seems to start relatively benign then rustle up a storm for the concluding senior men’s race. Not so this weekend, where the young athletes had to contend with the chillier, breezier conditions, while the senior women even enjoyed a few rays of sunshine. However, no-one escaped the mud which was encountered at regular intervals all around the traditional routes at Wormwood Scrubs. According to Nick Steel, it was “special energy-sapping mud disguised as regular mud”, and it certainly did seem to adhere to the base of your shoes.

Our squad of four U11 boys were first to take the plunge, as the field of 28 tackled a 1500m circuit of the main playing field. Mika Stripp led our team home in 12th, followed by Bilal Yusuf and then – in close succession – Noah Levy & Ashley Thomson. Nine clubs were represented but we were one of only four to close a full team, so well done boys. Matilda Allan was our only athlete in the corresponding girls’ race, but she did well, finishing mid-field.

U11s Matilde, Bilal, Noah, Ashley & Mika, with coach Annick

Meantime, U11 Sammy Gibson was in action at the Bucks County Champs, finishing fourth over a 1.6K course. He was unlucky not to medal: he was only 3 seconds behind the winner, and was given the same time as the boys placed second and third. (Time to practise your dip finish, Sammy!)

The U13 boys’ race gets under way, with Ed, Evan, Kevin & Finlay all visible. (Isaac is in front of Evan, but obscured from view).

We saw our first medal success in the U13 boys’ race, which took in the main perimeter loop without the copse (3000m). Ed Flewitt finished sixth, gaining automatic selection to represent Middlesex in the Inter-County Championships. Isaac Mezey and Finlay Vadon were also well-placed, finishing 12th & 13th in the field of 42, supported by Kevin Prempeh & Evan Thomson. Ed, Isaac & Finlay were rewarded with bronze team medals.

U13s Ed (at the course), Finlay & Isaac (above, at the club) with their team bronze medals

Our eight U13 girls were our largest young athlete squad, (and it was also the largest field apart from the senior races). The Hewitt twins Nicola & Rosie led the team home in 16th & 23rd, while Mia De Vivenot completed the scoring team, close on Rosie’s heels. Immi Van Der Graaf was next across the line, while there was little to separate Isabela Dussaillant, Reha Siyani & Flora Allan. Reha’s younger sister Diya rounded off the action.

U13s Isaac, Kevin, Finlay, Evan, Reya, Mia, Rosie, Nicola, Tilly, Isabela & Diya

The U15s tackled the full 4000m lap, including the dog-leg around the copse. Finn Combe was first home in the boys’ race, placing 10th. Jonah Mezey & Hussein Zaaiter completed the squad.

Lucy Henson delivered another great performance, with 9th place – her best finish yet in a County Champs. Catherine Gallagher was our only other representative in the U15 girls’ race.

The U17 & U20 women’s races were run together over a large lap followed by a short lap (6000m). It was good to see Nicola Ravenhill, on a break from Nottingham University, back in an ESM vest. She was first across the line for the club, placing sixth in the U20 race, while Katie Hay had a great run to finish less than a minute later, placing 13th in the U17 race. Lauren Beale & Fiona Coutts completed the U17 team, while Amira Nuseibeh also contested the U20 race.

U17/U20 women: Fiona, Amira, Bridie (coach), Lauren, Katie, Denise (coach), Angel, Cameron, Nicola & Lucy

The combined men’s U17/U20 followed, with our next medal-winners. Mo Ali successfully defended his U17 title, while Seweryn Czapka had a great run to claim bronze in the same race, edging out Jake Evans of London Heathside by just one second. Thomas Barry completed the U17 squad, which placed fourth. For the U20 men, Elias Ahmed finished 42 seconds ahead of Seweryn, which also earned him a bronze medal. Chauncey Edwards was our only other U20 representative – but in fact no club closed a team in this age group. All three medallists gained selection for the Inter-County Champs.

U17 Mo Ali a convincing winner

Great bronze medal-winning performances from U17 Seweryn & U20 Elias

The senior women were next up. With Met League races now up to 8K for senior women, the post-Xmas championship distance should (in theory anyway!) come as less of a shock. Sarah Harris led for ESM all the way, though Fiona Kennedy managed to keep her company for two-thirds of the race. Fiona lost contact after a fall, but kept Sarah in her sights. However, Sarah always finishes strongly and pulled out a gap of half a minute by the end, overtaking several athletes in the final half kilometre. Illness reduced the team to three on the day, so Carol Jones was the only other finisher.

Sarah, Fiona & Carol in the early stages of the senior women’s race

Unlike the women, the senior men did have to step up a distance, tackling three sapping laps (12000m). According to Phil York “it seemed like a very long seven and a half miles”. It wasn’t just you, Phil – Garmin readings suggest it was indeed slightly over-distance!

The winner by some margin was Nick Goolab of Belgrave. Longer-serving members of the club will remember the days when he sported an ESM vest. On this occasion, the first ESM man home was – as so often this season – Mo Hashi, in 15th place. Having missed a little training recently, he was happy he’d given his best on the day, though he admitted to struggling with the heavy mud in the back section of the course.

Mo Hashi, first senior man home for ESM

Some minutes ensued before the club vest was spotted again, but Nick Steel headed in a group of five, each separated by a minute or so: Santosh Rai, Sean Hanrahan, Akira Anzai-Jackson and Rob Brown. A quartet of supervets followed: Ian Leslie, Phil York and Steve Plested, with Simon Turrell wrapping up proceedings.

Phil had travelled up from his new home in Dorset to join the fray. “I went off too fast, trying to keep up with Ian Leslie, and had had enough by about two miles. Throughout the remaining two laps I entertained myself by trying to avoid being lapped.” TVH’s Barrie Saunders was the marshal at the last turn before the finish, and Phil wasn’t the only ESM-er given an encouraging word as they headed up that long, lumpy home straight!

ESM numbers were slightly down on the last two years – just 45 finishers compared with close to 60. Granted, we had the luxury of home fixtures at Horsenden Hill in 2018-19, but it’s hardly a long trek down to Wormwood Scrubs! No doubt we weren’t the only club with teams depleted by winter colds & flu, and the after-effects of illness also accounted for some of the DNFs.

Thanks to Arun Manget as ever for his handy work with the camera. His photos of the junior men’s race can be found here, and the senior men’s race here. Thanks also to Bridie for the photos of the young athletes and the start of the senior women’s race.

ESM results summary:

U11B (1.5K): 12 Mika Stripp 6:18, 22 Bilal Yusuf 6:49, 25 Noah Levy 7:02, 26 Ashley Thompson 7:04

U13B (3K): 6 Ed Flewitt 12:10, 12 Isaac Mezey 12:32, 13 Finlay Vadon 12:45, 34 Kevin Prempeh 14:15, 41 Evan Thomson 16:19

U15B (4K): 10 Finn Combe 15:52, 23 Jonah Mezey 17:32, 29 Hussein Zaaiter 20:54

U17M (6K): 1 Mohamed Ali 20:47, 3 Seweryn Czapka 22:05, 32 Thomas Barry 28:27

U20M (6K): 3 Elias Ahmed 21:23, 9 Chauncey Edwards 26:16

SM (12K): 15 Mohamed Hashi 46:19, 50 Nick Steel 50:28, 62 Santosh Rai (V35) 51:06, 70 Sean Hanrahan (V35) 52:10, 85 Akira Anzai-Jackson 53:53, 93 Rob Brown (V50) 54:35, 120 Ian Leslie (V60) 58:52, 137 Philip York (V55) 62:43, 140 Steve Plested (V65) 63:03, 158 Simon Turrell (V50) 71:14

U11G (1.5K): 16 Matilda Allan 6:56

U13G (3K): 16 Nicola Hewitt 13:38, 23 Rosie Hewitt 14:08, 25 Mia De Vivenot 14:14, 43 Immi Van der Graaf 16:44, 44 Isabela Dussaillant 16:56, 45 Reha Siyani 16:56, 46 Flora Allan 16:58, 48 Diya Siyani 21:50

U15G (4K): 9 Lucy Henson 18:23, 39 Catherine Gallagher 24:42

U17W (6K): 13 Katie Hay 28:50, 19 Lauren Beale 31:11, 21 Fiona Coutts 35:10

U20W (6K): 6 Nicola Ravenhill 28:03, 10 Amira Nuseibeh 32:31

SW (8K): 25 Sarah Harris (V40) 37:33, 29 Fiona Kennedy (V60) 38:04, 78 Carol Jones (V60) 46:43

Full results on power of 10.