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!!!”.
Of course this was of no consequence to the faster elements of the field, although the first section of woods where the path narrows right down also produced a traffic jam worthy of the nearby North Circular even for the back markers.
Mo Aadan ran extremely strongly, in close contention for second place through the race to finish just 16 seconds behind the leader in 2 a second ahead of no.3. Second claimer James Ellis turned in a very welcome performance to finish at 57, followed by junior Lucillo Burrell 37 seconds later at 76, showing how close the field was. Lucillo missed the junior race, but joined in to show the seniors how it should be done, regrettably though his points were not allowed to count. Kieron Sexton was next at 117, with Peter Scannell just 19 seconds later at 136. Manual da Silva paced with Christian Nielsen finishing at 153 with Christian just 2 seconds and 3 places behind. Simon Baptist followed at 184, and Greg Bennett at 208, also the first veteran man, with stalwart Richard Bell at 277 and last scorer Guy Bowles making a very welcome return to the Cross Country team at 285. Guy just edged out Richard Weir at 287 just 2 seconds behind. A bearded Peter Hill also made a very welcome return to the team as part of his training for London next April at 307, just a few seconds ahead of Mervyn Walker at 310 making up the Vet men scorers. Jason Seward followed at 325 with Paul Woodgate making it round at 338 and newcomer Scott Brewer at 358, and Simon Maddison struggling around at the rear to finish at 416.
With a team very light through marathon and other commitments the men’s senior team result of 6th in Divison 2 was disappointing if not surprising, and the Veteran men’s Division 1 result of 9th puts it immediately in the relegation zone, so lots of work to be done there!!
Next Met League race will be at Stevenage on Saturday 8th November and the third at Hillingdon House Farm on Saturday 20th December as a nice run in for Christmas!
15 Imogen Simmonds 23.16; 35 Siana Jones 24.37; 62 Maire Gorman 26.08; 73 Lauren Morris 26.56; 83 Jessica Bass 27.29; 115 Lizzy Sisley 29.33; 169 Christine Munden; 169 finishers
Division 1: 7 Thames Valley Harriers 108
2 Mohamud Aadan 24.51; 57 James Ellis* 28.10; 76 Lucillo Burrell 28.47; 117 Kieron Sexton 30.09; 136 Peter Scannell 30.28; 153 Manuel da Silva 31.00; 156 Christian Nielsen 31.02; 184 Simon Baptist 31.47; 208 Greg Bennett 32.28; 277 Richard Bell 34.27; 285 Guy Bowles 34.52; 287 Richard Weir 34.54; 307 Peter Hill 35.47; 310 Mervyn Walker 35.52; 325 Jason Sewards 36.29; 338 Paul Woodgate 37.28; 358 Scott Brewer 38.27; 416 Simon Maddison 47.09; 417 finishers
Division 2: 6 Thames Valley Harriers 1006
Veteran Men Division 1: 9 Thames Valley Harriers 132