National XC Champs – Sunderland – Sat 23 Feb 2013

More than thirty ESM athletes travelled up to Herrington Country Park where the conditions were very different from six years ago when the National was last held there.  Ealing again finished teams in five of the ten races and there were outstanding individual performances in the under-13 boys, under-15 boys and senior men’s races.

Akira Anzai-Jackson with local landmark, the Penshaw Monument, in the background

All the young athletes had made the journey north the day before with nearly all of them staying in a youth hostel on the North Yorkshire moors.  An early start was made with the snow falling heavily, and as the athletes travelled the last 35 miles north the snow fell more heavily and steadily.  Herrington Park was a carpet of snow and the first three or four races were run with the snow still sweeping down.  Undeterred, spikes were tied on even more firmly than usual and many donned gloves and hats.

The day’s star team and individual performance came from the under-13 boys.  John Fielding, George Kerry, Patrick Owen and Bradley Payne all had their season’s best race, with strong backing from Freddie Scarborough and Maateo Vao.  John finished a superb 20th and was less than twenty seconds off a top ten place.  George blazed round the course to finish 79th and Patrick (with a further year still to go in this age group) only narrowly missed the top hundred, finishing 103rd.  Bradley completed the scoring team in 139th with Freddie and Maateo (also with another year to go in this age group) improving the team’s overall position by pushing runners from other clubs further down the field. The team finished tenth, our best position in this age group for many years.

The under-15 boys produced another great team performance and two outstanding individual results.  Mukhtar Farah led the team home in 22nd with Rashid Riyad (in his first year in this age group) finishing 43rd.  The scoring was completed by Reece Farren in 190th and Conor McCarthy 200th. Karolis Narvilas, who was 219th, completed a fine team performance.  This was the second race of the day and all the athletes had to compete with driving snow.  The team were 14th.

In the under-17 women’s race, Olivia Will ran strongly throughout, picking off several rivals in the final 200 metres, to finish in 69th place.  Josie Elliott was next home in 113th with Joanna Vale and Emelia Newton-Jones completing the scoring in 143rd and 144th to give a team placing of 12th.

Next up were the under-13 girls.  117 clubs fielded teams and the race again took place with the snow coming down, although starting to ease off.  The scoring team packed closely in the middle of the field with Nicola Ravenhill, continuing her excellent form, leading them home in 134th place, followed by Roisin Lynch 153rd,  Laura Stewart 160th and Emma Purcell 178th.  The overall team was completed by Shiva Basu in 225th, Leah Kelly 235th and Sarah Freegard 247th. The team placed 17th.  Emma, Shiva, Leah and Sarah all have a further year in this age group.

The under-15 girls were missing several key members, but great performances from three of our athletes resulted in a team placing of 23rd. Courtney Marshall led them home in 115th, with strong backing from Millie Atherton in 159th.  Bravest runner of the day was Abigail Brown, who doggedly fought through the tough conditions to finish 205th.

The under-20 men were one short of a full team.  Mo Hashi led ESM’s athletes in, finishing 96th round the very tough 10 km course. Mark Cameron was 116th and Akira Anzai-Jackson 140th.   Our only runner in the under-17 men’s race was Malik Ouzia, who made up for the lack of team mates in his age group with a creditable 153rd.

The Club’s strength in depth meant a quite superb all round result for the young athletes. Of the 35+ clubs from London and the home counties, only one – Herne Hill Harriers – outperformed ESM when all the results were considered together. Nationally, the combined results put Ealing in the top five or six clubs, since only a handful were able to field strong teams, and have consistent results, across nearly all the age groups.

With no runners in the women’s race, it was left to just two men to represent the Club’s senior section. Sam Ashcroft had an outstanding run through the mud to come home in 116th place, one of our best performances of recent times in the senior men’s 12 km race. Finding the conditions a lot less to his liking was veteran Alan Keeler who finished 1055th.

Sam Ashcroft seen here with Jordan Scott – Morpeth’s tenth man across the finish line!

Results hereYoung athletes report by Graham French. First two photos by Jean King. Sam Ashcroft pic by Adrian Royle.