North London Champs – Ruislip – Sat 23 Nov 2013

ESM women enjoyed yet more success at the North London Cross Country Championships in Mad Bess Woods (Ruislip) last Saturday. The team won gold team medals and a silver individual medal in the veteran competition, and silver team medals overall.

The sunlit woods were resplendent in autumn colours as delighted Team Manager Mary Walsh fielded ESM’s strongest women’s team of the season so far. Alison Hopkins was welcomed back after a long layoff, and Sarah Gerrie made a splendid debut for the club over the mud. Fiona Kennedy was sixth overall and first scorer for the club, just a minute behind the leader. This was enough to win her the silver medal in the veteran race. Alison Hopkins, Sarah Richardson and Sarah Gerrie all made a positive start. Positions changed between them as the race progressed, but it was Sarah Richardson who emerged first onto the finishing field, to place 18th. Sarah Gerrie (20th) was only 14 seconds behind, showing great promise. Fourth scorer Alison Hopkins (23rd) crossed the line just 20 seconds later. Frustrated by her lack of fitness, she was nonetheless a key player in the team’s medal haul. Three runners later, the fast-improving Jane Ruhland had also completed her race. With Sarah Gerrie a late entrant and unable to score, Jane was the final member of the medal-winning team. Having suffered injury on the course last year, Christine Meek (34th) ran a cautious race. She kept Jane in her sights but finished seven places further back. She did well to hold off a fast-finishing Lynn Wilson, who had gone past Patricia Thomas and crossed the line just six seconds and two places behind Christine. Within the next minute, Patricia Thomas and Carol Jones were across the line in 44th and 48th. Gill Morgan (58th) put in a gutsy performance but was overhauled by Carol as the race progressed.

The men finished fourth in the veteran competition and sixth overall. Steve Elson led ESM home, finishing 21st, and never challenged by other club members. A minute and a half later, after a relatively cautious start, Tom Yates (50th) won this week’s battle with Rob Brown (53rd). Rob was witnessed taking a fall on a tight downhill turn, while Tom was seen afterwards with spike marks on his legs. However, these two facts are thought to be unrelated. Andy Dodd made a solid start to his cross country season, completing the scoring team just a minute behind Rob in 65th. The injury-prone but also somewhat erratic Mark Delahunty (76th) ran what can best be termed an oddly-paced race. He was nonetheless second scorer behind Rob in the veteran team. Ian Leslie (88th) and Steve Plested (89th) completed the veteran team, resuming their rivalry from previous fixtures. Steve got within a second of Ian on this occasion, leaving Ian to vow that he would not let him “hover on his shoulder” at the next outing. The gauntlet has been thrown down and the next race should make for exciting viewing. In 105th, Darren Halford made a solid cross country debut, pleased his legs were still turning over after his two-PB week at the Gosport Half and the Wednesday 5k. The line-up was completed by Rob Howells (110th), closely followed by Andy Leung (111th) and a few minutes later Gary Stringer (122nd). Once again, one was left with the impression that Andy put more energy into the photo opportunities than the race. However, he was at least there, unlike Pete Drew.