Southern XC Champs – Parliament Hill – Sat 26 Jan 2019

Parliament Hill is a notoriously testing course. However, despite rain later in the day, underfoot conditions at this year’s SEAA Championships were among the most benign in recent years. We were well represented in the senior races but numbers were a little down in the junior ranks, with many having competed in the Middlesex Schools Championships two days earlier.

Coach Graham French was watching the young athlete races, so thanks to him for some of the following observations, which cover the races in chronological order. In the U15 boys’ race, Finn Combe finished first for the team, with Marcus West close behind. Rafa Davidson has been improving and finished strongly, while Hussein completed a good team effort.

In the U17 men’s race, Mo Ali was in the lead coming down the final hill but appeared to trip or slip, injuring his ankle, and was unable to recover the lost ground. Most of us would be delighted at an eighth place finish but Mo’s recent racing form would have predicted a podium place at the very least. As we all know, the occasional setback just makes us stronger, and he’ll no doubt bounce back from the disappointment. Elias Ahmed’s 22nd place was another noteworthy performance.

In the corresponding women’s race, Amira Nuseibeh and Charlotte Cooney-Quinn both produced a very strong finish. Alec Edgar had a good solid run in the U13 boys’ race. Lauren Beale was in a good position in the early stages of the U15 girls’ race, lost some ground in the middle stages – it was her third race in a week! – but finished well.

Oliver Way was our only representative in the U20 men’s race but acquitted himself well with 43rd place in a field that is always competitive.

Women’s Team Manager Shona Cowper takes up the report: Nine women lined up for what Patricia Thomas correctly summed up as “a battle of the mind”. We were all wisely forewarned by Fiona before setting off that the aim of Parliament Hill is survival – a mantra I’m sure all of us came back to many a time throughout the race. Unfortunately Sarah Harris had to pull out before the start due to an injury caused by a couple of dogs running about in the field where she was doing a warm up. We’re sure Sarah would have been a great addition to the race so it was a shame not to have her join us.

About five or so years ago I ran the Southerns as one of my first ever XC races, and I recall reading the race report and seeing something along the lines of “Shona went off too fast up the hill and paid for it” (harsh but true). Thankfully for Kat Mertens, going off too fast up the hill didn’t seem to scupper her chances at a good race as she was first ESM lady home. Kat recalls: “I seriously wanted to drop out after the first 1000 metres to get to the top of the hill. I was up with the front pack and totally out of my depth”. However, she used her 800m experience to put in a good sprint at the end. As did Patricia who, spurred on by shouts from daughter Cameron and others, pulled back about five places in the last 100m. It was great to watch!

Sarah Gerrie also put in a strong performance despite feeling anxious on arrival at Parliament Hill. Sarah has an ongoing battle with a Hillingdon lady, fondly known by a few of us as ‘ribbon girl’ (she’s very nice, by the way). Sarah reported: “she didn’t spring up until the second lap where we approach the hill again (although at least half way up) and there she goes again past me and all I could think was ‘surely those ribbons will get mud on them and will have to go in the washing machine’”. Whatever thoughts get you through the race, Sarah! Sarah was second ESM lady home, followed by me and then Leanne Smith. We don’t see Leanne often so it was a treat to have her join us. Leanne says the race “seems like a blur of mud and hills to me!” At the 6km point, while racing along with another woman, the woman turned to her and said “shoot me now”. Strong words. Leanne didn’t action the request and we believe she finished safely.

Leanne Smith

Bev claims to not be race fit at the moment but finished the race and seems to be smiling in some of the mid race photos?! She’s going to work on her downhill skills which is where she loses speed. Considering Bev has been out of action until only recently, coming back to Parliament Hill shows the mind is willing and the body will follow soon after!

Lynn Wilson says she took the hills with caution not having done the hill session training and tried to push on and make a bigger effort on the flat and down hill sections of the course. She battled with some familiar faces from other clubs and also ran alongside Aneta from ESM (who had done a 20-miler the day before may I add?!) On reaching the last downhill, she took the opportunity to push on and gained a few places. Always a satisfying way to finish the race.

I’d like to thank the women for joining in – Parliament Hill is always a mental battle but is so rewarding to race. The Southerns is such a big race as well that it attracts lots of support. That wall of sound at the top of the hill is a fantastic experience for a runner and a great motivator to get moving! I’m actually sad that the season is almost finished – feels like it’s just getting started. At least we’ve still got Ally Pally to go! See you there!

Bev, Aneta, Lynn, Pat, Fiona, Shona, Leanne, Carol & Sarah G

The women finished 29th out of 71 teams, while the men were also 29th… out of 77 teams! With the women’s team being four-to-score, Leanne grabbed the last scoring place.

Nick Steel, Pete Flewitt & Moe Hashi

Moe Hashi led our senior men home, as he has all season, despite struggling with the after effects of a cold and low iron levels. He started very cautiously and worked his way past his team-mates as the race progressed. Despite feeling afterwards that he had under-cooked his start slightly, he was pleased with his efforts in the circumstances.

Pete Flewitt was next across the line, and had the extra satisfaction of being the third V45 in the field. With six to score in the men’s team, the efforts of Nick Steel, Reece Asik, Sam Ashcroft and Mukhtar Farah were also key to the club’s ranking. However,  we all know that completing 15K around Parliament Hill is an achievement wherever you finish, so congratulations to all our men!

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ESM results summary:

U15 Boys (4.5K): 153 Finn Combe 17:51, 157 Marcus West 17:56, 246 Rafa Davison 19:27, 288 Hussein Zaaiter 21:45

U13 Boys (3K): 200 Alec Edgar 13:31

U15 Girls (4K): 262 Lauren Beale 22:01

U17 Women (5K): 162 Amira Nuseibeh 26:01, 169 Charlotte Cooney-Quinn 28:00

U17 Men (6K): 8 Mohamed Ali 21:31, 22 Elias Ahmed 22:30, 137 Arun Manget 25:24

U20 Women (6K): 55 Angel Grimes-McTavish 30:19, 64 Cameron Thomas 33:30

U20 Men (8K): 43 Oliver Way 27:49

Senior women (8K): 100 Katherine Mertens 33:03, 164 Sarah Gerrie (V35) 34:36, 191 Shona Cowper 35:16, 239 Leanne Smith 36:22, 379 Patricia Thomas (V50) 39:13, 429 Lynn Wilson (V60) 40:16, 434 Aneta Neumann (V45) 40:22, 540 Carol Jones (V60) 43:18, 63 Beverley Packwood (V45) 50:33

Senior men (15K): 116 Mohamed Hashi 52:06, 181 Peter Flewitt (V45) 53:40, 285 Nick Steel 56:02, 405 Reece Asik 58:31, 458 Sam Ashcroft 59:16, 538 Mukhtar Farah (U23) 60:45, 569 Rob Brown (V50) 61:11, 716 Elliot Jones 63:52, 908 Sean Hill 68:02, 947 Ian Leslie (V60) 69:10, 1005 Ricky Grimes (V55) 71:20

Full results on power of 10