Thrilling finish by TVH Seniors at Alexandra Park as ladies win promotion

It was an exciting end to the Met League season as events unfolded in the 5th and final race at Alexandra Palace on Saturday February 11th. Both TVH senior teams experienced the agony and the ecstasy of racing. The ecstasy was experienced by the ladies team, that celebrated finishing 2nd in Division 2 to win promotion to Division 1 next season. While the TVH men suffered the agony of coming so close to a 2nd place finish in men’s Division 2, as they eventually finished the season in 4th place, just 51 points away from 2nd place and promotion. Both teams deserve praise for how well they performed on the day and it was only a very small margin that denied the men’s team joining the ladies team in Division 1 next season.

Met League Alexandra Palace 2017 TVH Ladies: Stephanie Ainley; Gemma Fairhurst; Siana Jones; Lauren Morris; Shania Lorenz and Kirstie Tew

Phil Wetton reports:

Arctic winter weather with overnight sub-zero temperatures had held London in it’s icy grasp all week ahead of Saturday’s race, and as race day arrived the cold snap was refusing to go away. A light dusting of morning snow gave way to sleet and cold drizzle by the time the senior races were due for the off. Thankfully the cold winds which had been forecast were not in evidence, as conditions were already cold enough with the thermometer struggling to get above 5C. Despite this the ground was not frozen and the going was quite good, with soft and wet ground underfoot for most of the course and the worst of the mud at the bottom of the infamous Alexandra Palace hill, awaiting those making the steep and perilous descent down the hill. It was 2 large laps around the fields of Alexandra Park for the ladies 6k race, while the men’s 8k race was made up of 3 laps. This meant that the ladies had 2 hill climbs and descents up and down the daunting hill, while the men could look forward to taking on the hill 3 times. However the inclusion of a dog leg turn halfway up the hill did help to break-up both the hill climb and descent, though it still took it’s toll on tired legs.

The senior ladies turned out on form for what proved to be a very close finish to the season in the final Met League race on Saturday. Despite snow, rain and cold conditions there was excitement within the team over the very close positions at the top of the Met League Division 2, with the TVH ladies holding 3rd position and just 45 points away from 2nd and a promotion place to Division 1 next season. It was a long wait until the final results on Sunday and great to hear the good news that the TVH ladies hard work had paid off and they had finished the season in 2nd place to win promotion to Division 1 next season. There was also much excitement concerning the very close positions at the top of the TVH Met League Cup competition, the final results are below and congratulations to this season’s cup winner, Stephanie Ainley.

There were 170 finishers in the senior women’s race on Saturday. Conditions under foot were mild-moderately muddy for the two large laps. The first TVH lady to cross the line was Stephanie Ainley in 12th position; Steph ran a brilliant race to claim her best ever Met League finishing time and position. Next was Lauren Morris, who has shown great improvement across the whole season, finishing 42nd Lauren with her highest yet position in the series. Siana followed Lauren in 55th place. Gemma Fairhurst was the 4th scoring member of the team. Gemma was new to the team this season and has completed 4 of the 5 Met leagues with a steady improvement on each one, she enjoyed the course on Saturday and ran a strong race to finish 99th. U20 athlete, Shania Lorenz, was 5th scorer, with an impressive sprint finish, she came 124th. Kirstie Tew was next in 135th position, an improvement from Januarys Met League.

The senior ladies team finished 2nd in Division 2 on race day, which moved them up to the all-important 2nd place overall in the table to win promotion to Division 1 next season. 6th place in the veteran’s race meant the ladies veteran team finished the season in 4th place in Veteran Division 2. It was a great finish to the season for the senior ladies and they can look forward to racing in the top Division of the Met League next season.

The TVH men’s team found themselves in a similar position to the TVH ladies team as they approached the final race in 3rd place in Division 2, and facing over a 200 point gap to overhaul the team in 2nd place to secure promotion to Division 1 next season. The final race saw a much smaller field for the men of just 359, almost 100 less than the average turnout for this season. This was also reflected by a smaller than usual Met League turnout for the Valley men, which had been adversely affected by a number of athletes missing through injuries and a clash with the Hyde Park university relays taking place on the same day. Despite this the 13 strong men’s team were determined to do their best to close the gap to 2nd place and given the smaller numbers in the field it was always going to be a close finish. As it turned out it was an agonisingly close finish, as the strong efforts of the Valley men closed the gap to 2nd place to just 51 points, a great performance which unfortunately just missed out on a promotion place in one of the closest Met League finishes for many years. In the men’s TVH Met League Cup competition congratulations go to Andrew Mitchell on retaining the cup for the 2nd successive season, full results are below and the presentation of the men’s cup and 2nd and 3rd place medals will be made alongside the women’s presentations at the track.

First home in Saturday’s race for the men and in inspired form was Calum Nicol in 64th place, his highest finish this season he has been on an upward curve all winter and looks set to do well in his spring marathon. Next in 75th place was TVH cup winner Andrew Mitchell, who has been performing consistently well all season and has been an ever-present member of the team racing in every Met League race this winter. Rob Russell made the trip down from Scotland to support the team in his second appearance of the season and earned some good points for the team in 81st place. Manuel Da Silva has also been ever present in all 5 races and he weighed-in with his best performance of the season with a 137th place finish. Greg Bennett has matched Manuel in racing all 5 races and saving his best to last, with a top 200 finish in 178th place. James Malcolm and Hugo Dias have both been working hard and improving throughout the winter and were rewarded with their highest Met League finish this season, with James in 217th and Hugo in 231st. Just a few places back and another ever present in the Met League Scott Brewer was working hard to record his best finish this season in 237th place, while Richard Hooley chased hard and found himself inside the top 250 for the first time this season in 247th. Ultra marathon runner Michal Masnik was a welcome addition to the team as he made his Valley debut at Alexandra Palace, not an easy course to start with and he did well in 250th place. Richard Bell has been the 5th ever present in the Met League this winter and his 267th place was his best finish of the season. Bernie Robbins had a good end to the season with his highest Met League position this winter in 288th, as did the final man home for the Valley, David Ford, who recorded his best Met League performance in 307th place.

Met League Alexandra Palace 2017 TVH Men

A 5th place finish in Division 2 for the senior men’s team in Saturday’s race saw them drop one place to finish the season in 4th place overall in Division 2, even though the gap to 2nd place was lowered to just 51 points. In the Veteran Division 2 the men’s veteran team were placed 3rd on Saturday and finished the season in 4th place in Veteran Division 2.

With the current cross country season coming to a close, looking ahead to next winter the TVH ladies team is well positioned to make their mark in Met League Division 1, and a determined men’s team can win promotion up to Met League Division 1.

Women’s Division Two Team Result

1 London City 279
2 Thames Valley Harriers 221

Women’s Division Two Final Positions

1 London City 1361
2 Thames Valley Harriers 1189

Veteran Women’s Division Two Team Result

1 Serpentine B 66
2 Woodford Green & Essex Ladies 61
3 London Heathside ‘C’ 44
4 Serpentine C 36
5 Herts Phoenix 27
6 Thames Valley Harriers 23

Veteran Women Division Two Final Positions

1 Woodford Green & Essex Ladies 354
2 London Heathside ‘C’ 248
3 Serpentine RC ‘B’ 241
4 Thames Valley Harriers 185

Women’s Race Results

12 Stephanie Ainley 22:12
42 Lauren Morris 24:44
55 Siana Jones 25:27
99 Gemma Fairhurst 27:36
124 Shania Lorenz 29:53
135 Kirstie Tew 30:31

170 finishers

Women’s TVH Met League Cup Final Positions after 5 races

1 Stephanie Ainley 67
2 Lauren Morris 60
3 Gemma Fairhurst 52
4 Barbara Maddison 47
4 Kirstie Tew 47
6 Siana Jones 43
7 Chloe Beckett 35
7 Shania Lorenz 35
9 Lisa da Silva 32
10 Jess Bass 30
11 Christine Munden 22
12 Tracy Barlow 20
13 Alex Mundell 19
14 Anna Critchlow 18
15 Leanne Lyons 16
16 Lara Scerri 14
17 Marion Brydson 11

Men’s Division Two Team Result

1 Highgate Harriers ‘B’ 936
2 Trent Park RC 809
3 London Front Runners 794
4 London Heathside C 764
5 Thames Valley Harriers 641

Men’s Division Two Final Positions

1 Highgate Harriers B 5384
2 Ealing, Southall & Middlesex 4939
3 Trent Park RC 4924
4 Thames Valley Harriers 4888

Veteran Men’s Division Two Team Result

1 Trent Park RC 221
2 London Heathside C 212
3 Thames Valley Harriers 157

Veteran Men Division Two Final Positions

1 Trent Park RC 1355
2 London Heathside ‘C’ 1271
3 Serpentine RC ‘B’ 1011
4 Thames Valley Harriers 969

Men’s Race Results

64 Calum Nicol 31:00
75 Andrew Mitchell 31:28
81 Rob Russell 31:43
137 Manuel da Silva 33:19
178 Greg Bennett 34:36
217 James Malcolm 36:02
231 Hugo Dias 36:31
237 Scott Brewer 37:09
247 Richard Hooley 37:32
250 Michal Masnik 37:37
267 Richard Bell 38:23
288 Bernie Robbins 39:23
307 David Ford 40:32

359 finishers

Men’s TVH Met League Cup Final Positions after 5 races

1 Andrew Mitchell 120
2 Manuel Caeiro 106
3 Calum Nicol 92
4 Greg Bennett 85
5 Kieron Sexton 84
6 Richard Bell 83
7 Will Jones 80
8 Manuel Da Silva 72
8 Fergus Johnson 72
10 James Malcolm 71
11 Mervyn Walker 67
12 Richard Hooley 65
13 James Ellis 60
14 Hugo Dias 59
14 David Ford 59
16 Simon Maddison 55
17 Rob Russell 54
18 Simon Prigent 53
18 Bernie Robbins 53
20 Scott Brewer 50
21 Daniel Garcia-Rasines 49
22 Joe Cooper 43
23 Christian Nielsen 39
24 Mohamud Aadan 35
25 Kevin Seaward 30
26 Conor Kissane-Wood 29
26 Louis Willam 29
28 Matt Douthwaite 27
29 Peter Hill 26
30 Steve Norris 25
31 Will Paynter 22
32 Paul Woodgate 21
33 Matt Ponting 17
34 Nick Michael 14
35 Michal Masnik 11