It was another change of venue for this year’s Middlesex Cross Country Championships which took place at Greenford on Saturday, though the men’s and ladies medal winners had a familiar Valley ring to them.
Once again TVH athletes won a full set of medals, with gold for India Weir in the junior U20 ladies race, silver for the TVH senior ladies team, silver for Sarah Johnson in the senior ladies race, silver for Chris Smith in the senior men’s race and bronze for Jake Hooley in the junior U20 men’s race.
Congratulations to all the Valley athletes on such an impressive medal haul!
For the first race of the new year conditions were cold but not bitterly cold and thankfully the threat of rain never appeared, though a cold wind did gather strength as the day progressed.
It was a challenging course of laps around Horsenden Hill fields, which for the most part ran across undulating grassland but also included a long drag uphill in each lap.
The senior men’s 12k race presented the challenge of 4 large 3k laps, while the senior ladies and junior men’s 8k races consisted of 2 large 3k laps plus 1 medium 2k lap, and the junior ladies 5k race was made up of 1 large 3k lap plus 1 medium 2k lap.
The course will be familiar to anyone who has ever raced around Horsenden Hill fields in a Met League race, as each lap around the fields was similar to a lap in a Met League race, except that the start and finish point was about halfway around the fields alongside the gaelic football clubhouse.
There was plenty of mud around the course, as is always the case at Horsenden Hill fields, with the worst of the mud managing to catch some people out as they skidded around the sharp corner on the turn into the long uphill stretch.
Race numbers were slightly higher for this year’s senior ladies race which saw an increase in the numbers from 90 last year to 99 this year, while the senior men’s race amazingly recorded 165 finishers to equal the number from last year’s race.
Senior & Junior Ladies Race Report
It was a cold, bright day for the 99 senior and 9 U20 ladies who competed for the Middlesex championships on Horsenden Hill. The 8km senior course was undulating and muddy in most parts. The Under 20 ladies ran a shorter 5km version of the same course.
India Weir and Alice Harray competed for TVH in the U20 ladies race. An outstanding performance from India secured her a gold medal (20:38) with Alice finishing in 6th place (22:48), many congratulations India!
Eight TVH senior ladies completed the 8km course with the first 4 scoring to win silver medals overall. In addition to the team medals an outstanding performance from Sarah Johnson secured her a silver individual medal. Sarah finished just 10 seconds behind the winner in 31minutes 58 seconds, very well done Sarah!
Second to score for the seniors was Steph Ainley with a great run, finishing in 11th position (33:25) followed closely by Lisa da Silva in 15th (34:35). Lara Scerri, who continues to have an excellent winter season, completed the 4 to score team in 19th (36:01). Siana Jones made hard work of the course to finish 32nd (37:38) and Lauren Morris finished 48th (40:13). Frankie Lynch, a dedicated and redoubtable cross-country runner, finished 91st (50:03) and Christine Munden, despite coming straight from her night shift, finished the course in 98th (54:02).
Senior & Junior Men’s Race Report
There was a good turnout from the Valley men in the senior men’s race, with a team of 15 men racing in a field of 165 on the day, including 4 men making their Middlesex Cross Country debut.
With a number of Middlesex medals including some gold already in his collection Chris Smith wasted no time in taking an early lead in the race, and it soon became clear that it was going to be a 2 man race for gold and silver as Chris and one other athlete had drawn clear after the first of the 4 laps.
Chris continued to lead and set the pace for the next 2 laps and it wasn’t until the 4th and final lap that the eventual winner made a move with about a mile to go, as he took a small lead ahead of Chris which he managed to hold until the finish, with Chris close behind and finishing just 3s away for 2nd place and a silver medal in a time of 40m 10s.
This was a repeat of Chris’ silver medal performance from last year’s race and with so many other County medals already in Chris’ possession his success over the years should never be taken for granted and is even more noteworthy given that he maintains such high standards in racing and training while continuing to defy the passing of time, many congratulations Chris!
Another Valley man coming into the race in good form was James Ellis, who ran a very strong race to make the top 10 and earn his highest ever finish in the County Champs as he crossed the line as 2nd Valley man home in 9th place in a time of 42m 43s, a great race for James who looks set for his best cross country season to date.
After missing the early part of the season Matt Douthwaite has made a welcome return to the team and showed a good sense of pace to move through the field to finish in 43rd place in 47m 16s, and he will no doubt get stronger as the season goes on.
Making his Middlesex Cross Country debut Ryan Keane showed good form over the longer 12k distance to finish in 46th place in a time of 47m 39s, as he continues to gain cross country experience and improve race by race.
It was a difficult Middlesex debut for Naol Abagibe, who having left his spikes at home in his rush to make the race, was forced to borrow an oversized pair of spikes which meant he kept on slipping in the mud and he did well to finish in 53rd place in a time of 48m 08s.
The 6th and final scorer for the team was Manuel da Silva, who despite not being fully fit was able to navigate the 12k course in 50m 29s to finish in 68th place and bring the team home in 6th place out of 11 finishing teams.
It proved to be a very frustrating Middlesex debut for Todd Oates, who after a good start and having established himself well inside the top third of the field, was very unlucky to pick-up an injury which forced him to slow down, though despite this he was determined to finish and crossed the line in 79th place in 51m 15s, and we wish him well for a swift recovery.
With plenty of experience in the Middlesex Champs and the Met League, Matt Ponting was no stranger to the course and the longer 12k distance, and a measured race saw him finish in 90th place in a time of 52m 38s.
Another Middlesex veteran, Steve Norris, wasn’t at his best having only just recovered from a bad case of flu, and he did well to stay on course to finish in 100th place in 53m 17s, and hopefully he will regain some good form for the rest of the season.
Once again supporting the team well James Malcolm was ready to race over the longer distance and a determined performance brought him home in 114th place in a time of 55m 28s.
Having last raced in the Middlesex Champs 2 years ago, Peter Keane coped well with the 12k course and was only 2 places behind James to produce his best ever finish in the County Champs in 116th place in a time of 56m 18s.
An ever-present on the team this season, David Ford gave another consistent performance around the Horsenden Hill course to come home in 136th place in a time of 60m 14s.
Also ever-present on the team this season, Richard Bell has been a reliable member of the team and he was only 3 places behind David to finish in 139th place in a time of 60m 50s.
Having suffered an injury last month Richard Hooley continued his comeback around Horsenden Hill to produce the closest Valley finish of the day, as he finished in 140th place, just 1 place and 6s behind Richard, in 60m 56s.
The final man home for the Valley and making his Middlesex debut was Lawrence Tse, who continues to make good progress throughout the season, to come home in 148th place in a time of 64m 00s.
It was only a small field of 12 athletes that lined-up for the junior U20 men’s race just 50 minutes ahead of the senior men’s race.
The junior men’s race has always been a good source of medals for Valley athletes over the past few years and this year’s race was no different.
In his first season as an U20 athlete Jake Hooley didn’t find the step up in age group a problem, as he started well and looked comfortable in a leading group of 5 athletes who were clear of the rest of the field after the first lap.
With the eventual race winner breaking away over the next 2 laps, Jake remained in contention with 2 other athletes in the race for medals, and a constant acceleration from Jake over the final 400m saw him finish in 3rd place to win a bronze medal, just 1s away from 2nd place and a silver medal in a time of 30m 03s.
It was a great performance by Jake to win a Middlesex medal in his first year as an U20 athlete, and with another 2 years to go in this age group he can look forward to hopefully winning further medals in the future, congratulations Jake!
Jake was well supported in the junior men’s race by Valley team mate Max Buckley, it’s also Max’s first year as an U20 athlete and both he and Jake have made good progress through the Valley junior ranks together.
Despite finding himself running on his own for most of the race Max had a good race to finish in 8th place in a time of 32m 19s for the 8k race distance.
With 3 to score for the U20 men’s team race, it was unfortunate that with only Jake and Max racing they were a man short of winning a team medal which could have been gold.
It was great to see all the medal success for the Valley men and ladies in the first cross country championship race of the year, and looking ahead to the next championship race at the end of this month it’s the South of England Cross Country Championships at Stanmer Park, Brighton, on Saturday January 27th.
Good luck to all those racing and to some more great Valley performances!
Up The Valley!
Men’s Middlesex Cross Country Champs Results, 06-01-18.
Senior Men’s Race Results – 12k
|2 Chris Smith||40:10|
|9 James Ellis||42:43|
|43 Matt Douthwaite||47:16|
|46 Ryan Keane||47:39|
|53 Naol Abagibe||48:08|
|68 Manuel Da Silva||50:29|
|79 Todd Oates||51:15|
|90 Matt Ponting||52:38|
|100 Steve Norris||53:17|
|114 James Malcolm||55:28|
|116 Peter Keane||56:18|
|136 David Ford||60:14|
|139 Richard Bell||60:50|
|140 Richard Hooley||60:56|
|148 Lawrence Tse||64:00|
165 Finishing Athletes
Senior Men’s Team Results – 6 to score
|Team Position||Race Points|
|2 London Heathside||146|
|3 Victoria Park||170|
|4 Ealing & Southall||201|
11 Finishing Teams
Junior U20 Men’s Race Results – 8k
|3 Jake Hooley||30:03|
|8 Max Buckley||32:19|
12 Finishing Athletes
Junior U20 Men’s Team Results – 3 to score
|Team Position||Race Points|
TVH – Incomplete Team
1 Finishing Team
Women’s Middlesex Cross Country Champs Results, 06-01-18.
Senior Women’s Race Results – 8k
|2 Sarah Johnson||31:58|
|11 Stephanie Ainley||33:25|
|15 Lisa Da Silva||34:35|
|19 Lara Scerri||36:01|
|32 Siana Jones||37:38|
|48 Lauren Morris||40:13|
|91 Frankie Lynch||50:03|
|98 Christine Munden||54:02|
99 Finishing Athletes
Senior Women’s Team Results – 4 to score
|Team Position||Race Points|
|1 London Heathside||33|
10 Finishing Teams
Junior U20 Women’s Race Results – 5k
|1 India Weir||20:38|
|6 Alice Harray||22:48|
9 Finishing Athletes
Junior U20 Women’s Team Results – 3 to score
TVH – Incomplete Team
No Finishing Teams