It was a grey and extremely windy day at the Scrubs with high winds forecast. Despite the intermittent showers of the previous week, we seemed to have missed the heavy rains that are burdening Britain further north, and the going was firm most of the way around. Perhaps those winds had a dessicating effect on the ground.
With both men and women running two full laps of the Scrubs, with the addition of a loop around the copse for the men, the wind actually had either mostly a supportive following effect, or came in from sideways, apart from the leg from the last corner to the prison turn, and did not therefore seem to adversely affect the pace.
First off were the ladies, with Tracy Barlow establishing herself in the leading bunch from the off, and quickly settling into a secure fourth place as the field stretched out, maintaining it assuredly to the finish. Next in was Alex Mundell at 22 followed by Siana Jones at 41 comfortably better placed than at Stevenage. Charlotte Hykura, despite never having raced cross-country and just recently returning from injury, headed up a bunch of Valley ladies at 148 followed by Barbara Maddison at 154, also much improved from Stevenage. Kirstie Tew, after having also competed in that morning’s parkrun, followed a close two places behind Barbara. Charlotte and Kirstie are the most recent additions to the team and both new to cross-country at this standard, both fresh with enthusiasm we are really looking forward to seeing them improve over the remainder of the XC season. Lizzy Sisley ran a valiant race having arrived late at the start and had to work her way through to 164, with Christine Munden working hard to follow in at 172.
The men were off as the last of the ladies came in. James Ellis turned in an excellent performance in his first Met League race at 43, with Rob Russell, still bleary eyed from an all-night coach ride down from Scotland at 49. Andrew Mitchell could not quite match his Stevenage result ran well nonetheless to finish at 72, followed by 2 Imperial students making an impressive debut in a TVH vest, Chris Thomas at 80 and Alex Warnakulasuriya at 84. Kieron Sexton came in at 100, followed by Ali Yahye, running in a Met League for the first time for a couple of years at 113, accompanied by Fahad Abdi at 114, well down on his previous race. 2nd claim runner Matt Douthwaite made a welcome return to the team just three places later, with a gap to Christian Nielsen at 175. A sprint finish from 400m hurdler Caspar Donnison on his Met League debut saw him lead in a close group of 3 Valley men at 184, with another Met League newcomer from Hungary Botond Safar snapping at his heels just one place behind, and Nathan Egan just two places back in 187 to greatly improve on his last race position. Greg Bennett put in a welcome appearance to finish at 212 and Manuel da Silva a disappointing 246, followed by Richard Hooley at 281, Peter Keane at 290 and Scott Brewer at 295 with Richard Bell just four places back. David Ford made his debut cross country and Valley run in 349, thoroughly enjoying himself, with U20 athlete Joe Cooper making his senior race debut at 359, Bernie Robbins having a tough time at 365 and Mervyn Walker at 374. Newcomer and parkrunner William Paynter took in the familiar territory at 417 with Nick Michael making a very welcome appearance at 431, with Simon Maddison bringing up the rear.
With the largest turnout for this home match, it was a fitting way to start the Christmas season with an excellent evening at the Queen’s Head in Brook Green with a very large gathering that socialised well into the night. Many thanks to Siana in particular for organising this event, which hopefully will become a regular fixture in the Valley calendar. Many thanks also to Phil and Barrie for their indefatigable support.
4 Tracy Barlow 24:38; 22 Alex Mundell* 26:54 (2nd U20); 41 Siana Jones 28:10; 148 Charlotte Hykura 35:36; 154 Barbara Maddison 36:17; 156 Kirstie Tew 36:24; 164 Lizzy Isley 37:12; 172 Christine Munden 41:35; 175 finishers
Team Ladies, Division 1
6 Thames Valley Harriers 134
League, Division 1
9 Thames Valley Harriers
Veteran, Division 2
5 Thames Valley Harriers 7
League, Division 2
5 Thames Valley Harriers
43 James Ellis* 26:14; 49 Robert Russell* 26:27; 72 Andrew Mitchell 27:07 (2nd V45); 80 Christopher Thomas 27:27; 84 Alexander Warnakulasuriya 27:32; 100 Kieron Sexton 27:56; 113 Ali Yahye 28:15; 114 Fahad Abdi 28:16; 117 Matt Douthwaite* 28:18; 175 Christian Nielsen 29:32; 184 Caspar Donnison 29:42; 185 Botond Safar 29:44; 187 Nathan Egan 29:46; 212 Greg Bennett 30:24; 246 Manuel da Silva 31:21; 281 Richard Hooley 32:25; 290 Peter Keane 32:48; 295 Scott Brewer 32:55; 299 Richard Bell 32:58; 349 David Ford 34:44; 359 Joe Cooper 35:13; 365 Bernard Robbins 35:34; 374 Mervyn Walker 35:59; 417 William Paynter 39:12; 431 Nick Michael 40:59; 440 Simon Maddison 44:23; 443 finishers
Team, Division 2
1 Thames Valley Harriers 1,261 points
League, Division 2
4 Thames Valley Harriers
Vets, Division 2
3 Thames Valley Harriers 151
League, Division 2
6 Thames Valley Harriers