Despite the change in weather from Indian Summer at the beginning of the week, a drop in temperature, and waves of showers coming through the past 3 days, it turned into a lovely mild autumn day for the first Met League race at Claybury. And although the clouds loomed ominously for a while, the sun came out for the senior races and graciously shone for the rest of the afternoon. The rain of the previous days left sparkling droplets on the grass, and a little veneer of mud on the first breakneck decent, but otherwise the going was firm and fast throughout.
The women started with a very short lap, followed by two full long loops out to the short, sharp and very steep climb into the woods at the far end. Imogen Simmonds ran an excellent race finishing 15th in a close packed field, followed by Siana Jones running solidly at 35, and Maire Gorman taking a steady pace at 62. Lauren Morris at 73 had been level pegging with Jess Bass until the hills of the latter stages took their toll and Jess came in just over 30 seconds later at 83, and a further 2 minutes later Lizzy Sisley at 115. Christine Munden found the going very hard, but slogged it out to finish at 169. The team finished 7th overall with 108 points, in division 1.
In the men’s race, of a full three laps, the start proved challenging as ever. Funnelling rapidly as it does when the path drops some 50m after the start, a section of the field seemed loth to run over the unmown part of the meadow with its 1ft high grass and sprinkling of weeds and thistles, and to the surprise of the runners behind came to a grinding halt, “Come on guys, this is CROSS COUNTRY after all!!!”.
Sutton Park was at its best for the National Road Relay Championships on Sunday. Expectations were high for the Thames Valley young athletes with teams in all the girls races and under 15 and under 17 boys events. After running the fastest lap in the Southern Relay, Charlotte Buckley was hoping to improve on her 10th fastest under 13 lap last year. With 57 girls competing on the first lap of the 3.8km course it took Charlotte about 1k to get to the front. She then broke away from the opposition to win the first stage of the race by seven seconds. Her time of 14:06 won her the medal for the fastest lap. Naturally Freja Schaap was unable to hold this position but didn’t panic and did incredibly well to only drop back to 11th. Zakia Mossi came to the club’s rescue to make up the team at the last moment. She only had her 11th birthday in September and had never run more than 1500m in a race. After winning the Ealing Schools cross country race on Thursday she was keen to give it a go. She only dropped back to 24th out of the 49 finishing teams and we were all well pleased.
The ladies middle distance quartet of Kirsty Addy, Imogen Simmonds, Lisa da Silva and Siana Jones took to the paths of Sutton Park on Saturday, to compete in the English National Road Relays. The weather was grim but this did not put a dampner on the team spirit – the new team tent also helped. Kirsty kicked things off on the highly competitive opening leg and ran to form to bring the team back in 27th place in a personal best time of 15:40 over the 2.69 mile course – it’s great seeing Kirsty improving with every race having overcome her injury troubles from last year. Next off was course debuant Imogen who also had a cracking run to pick up three places (16:12) – Imogen is another new up and coming talent. On the third leg was team manager Lisa da Silva who fought all the way round and picked up yet another place (16:03). Siana, who had been promoted to the A team following a strong run at the South of England Road Relays, smashed her previous best around the course, to clock 17:07 and crossed the line in 23rd place out of 60 teams. Understandably, it was smiles all round from the team!