We started our campaign in the Chiltern League well at Oxford a month ago. Last year we struggled a bit at Teardrop Lakes, Milton Keynes in the 2nd match and it was a similar affair this year. However, we retain our 3rd place overall in the League.
This fixture also incorporates the UK cross challenge which brings some of the best runners in the country to the event. Pippa Woolven has had a difficult year but has been gradually increasing her training over the last couple of months. She prevailed against some good local competition in the first match and has run well in the relays but this was her first ‘real test’. It took 3 former European cross country medallists to beat her. 4th place in the cross challenge and a 50sec plus victory in the League was a great run.
Two months ago, Zoe Doyle was racing 800m in World Masters Champs. Only 2 weeks ago Alex Cook was racing a 50km race. On Saturday, over 5.6km, there was only 2secs between them; 6th and 7th were great runs. Jenny Roberts continued her steady progress with a 13th place finish. It won’t be long until she’s in the top 10.
Jess Gray and Laura Street completed the team in the top 22% of the race. However, we were, up against a very strong Milton Keynes team and they edged us by 1 point. We still maintain our overall lead. The next match will be crucial.
The senior men got off to a good start at Oxford, with a 3rd place finish. We knew we were a little weaker for this one and we ended up 6th on the day and are now 4th overall. There were a lot of positives though. The return to form of Joe Branch was great to see. Down in the 40s at Oxford, a 17th place finish was a lot better. A top 10 surely beckons.
At 10.30am Sean Wilson was on family duty, however, by 1.30 he had arrived in Milton Keynes. His spike falling apart 10mins before the start did not deter him and he was our 4th man home. A special mention also to Tim Hogbin. It’s easy to talk about the guys at the front. Tim has run and scored in every Chiltern League match, Southern and National for the last two years. Despite his best efforts he was unable to run at Oxford, but dependable as ever, Tim was our 6th man home.
The Junior section of the club was affected by the English Schools Cross Country Cup falling on the same weekend. So we were missing some of our key athletes, but we also welcomed back some of our most experienced athletes who hadn’t been available for the first match, including; Ana Montgomery, Cerys Vico, Megan Harris, Maddie Wood, Olivia Brown and Tilly Firth. This meant we were able to put out full teams in both the U17/20 Women and U15 Girls races. The strong U15 girls team finished 3rd and were led home by Olivia Brown who had a great run. The U17/20 Women finished 4th and will hopefully get stronger as the season progresses. The U13 girls team had a good turnout, being led home by Libby Sutton for the second time in two matches.
We weren’t able to field full teams in the boys races, but we did have probably the best performance of the day from Myles Caddell in the U17 race. He had finished 7th at Oxford, but on Saturday he beat many of his rivals to finish a fantastic 3rd. This is a testament to consistency and hard work in training.
The U15 boys were short of numbers due to the Schools Cross Country Cup, but it was good to see Alex Mitchell returning to form with a solid run.
The U13 boys were also down in numbers, with only 2 runners, Casper Chillingworth and William Alexander, but despite this the team still managed to finish 9th out of 14 teams. Well done boys.
We had another good turnout in the U11s age group, with total of 14 athletes running. Chloe Fossel and Daniel Cogan were our first runners to finish and both improved on their runs at Oxford.
Athletes making their debut on Saturday were; Yasmin Drummond, Josephine Crockett, Bea Montgomery. Well done and we look forward to seeing you in Luton.
Photos by Barry Cornelius