South of England XC Champs
The senior men had another good turn out at the Southerns, 16 of us at the start. Chris Loudon had a storming run to be first finisher for the club in 78th. Tom Brooke out-sprinted James MacDonald in the finishing straight but unfortunately is not shown in the official results. Timing here is done with a chip attached to your ankle with velcro; having runners missing from the results happens from time to time (forgot to put my chip on, it fell off half way round, lost it before the start, etc.) but this was a new one: Tom decided to wear his on his wrist rather than his ankle, surely that will still work he reasoned, well, we now know that it doesn't!
Next home and a warm welcome to new boy Babaker Mohammed, just turned 20, who showed a lot of potential, with a bit more experience and a lot more training there will surely be plenty more from him in the future.
Scoring is for teams of six in this one: there were consistent runs from David Worden and Peter Reynolds and in Tom's absence from the results it was left to Luke Ford, just holding off Mark Penny, to complete the team for 20th place (for what it is worth it would have been 16th with Tom included).
We had another new face in the squad: James Pitts finishing just behind training partner Christian Poulton. James has been training in Ron Allison's group for a while and had finally been persuaded to get his feet dirty (he is the one in the red shorts in the group photo).
It was great to see Holly Dixon, Kate Curran and Megan Marchant coming back into form after Covid. All three took advantage of the firm dry conditions to produce another set of impressive performances. Holly went out hard from the gun and took an excellent fifth place in 29:36. Kate too was up with the lead. She looked strong throughout and came a well deserved eighth (29:48) that had never looked in doubt. Megan started steadily and picked off runners on each hill. She eventually finished in 24th place in 31:16.
It was a pity that only three Cambridge women entered as we needed 4 for a team and could have been in with a chance of troubling the medal positions. Maybe next year!
Young age groups
All of the young age groups were represented with the exception of the under 20 women.
All who who turned out on the day put in fantastic performances and did the club proud.
In the under 13 girls race, Iris Williams, was first to finish for the club when placing 21st of 195. Sam Scrase-Field, under 15 boys, had a top 50 finish when coming home in 48th place of 189.
Aniket Iyengar showed continued improvement in his performances when finishing 58th in the under 13 boys race.
In the under 15 girls race, Amelia Lawrence comfortably finished inside the top half of the field, 73rd of 187.
Evie Ravenscroft spent the morning moving house with her family but was still able to represent her club in the under 17 women's race, placing 84th in her race.
As this was a championship race 17 year old Angus Vosper doesn't get the choice to run as a senior, he had a good run in the shorter (8k) U20s race for 45th.
Chris Loudon shortly after the start
New boy Babaker Mohammed, Peter Reynolds and Graham Maynard also in the frame
James MacDonald towards the finish, Tom Brooke closing in
Luke Ford and Mark Penny
Holly Dixon (Peter Hamilton in the background)
Since Lewisham Council decided to rip out the golf course that used to cover much of Beckenham Place Park we have had the pleasure of racing here a number of times when it has hosted South of the Thames fixtures, but they are just single races with a smaller field running over a shorter distance. How would the venue cope with the Southerns with it's ten race programme culminating in the 15k senior men's race? Well, not too badly, although there were a couple of quibbles: the long stretch of trail in the woods is quite stony and not at all spike friendly and when a race is of four laps rather than three there will inevitably be some difficulties; almost all of the top half of the field will have been frustrated with having to weave in and out of back-markers on their last lap whereas many in the second half of the field will not have enjoyed their third lap as much as they would have if they had not been looking over their shoulder to try to ensure that they were not getting in the way.
There was plenty of Cambridge support on the course, thank you to all who came out, it was particularly good to see club legend Keith Penny out and about after a period of ill-health.
There had been virtually no rain in London in the fortnight leading up to the event which made for firm running conditions and although there were strong winds much of the course was well sheltered from it. There was even the possibility of a bit of sunbathing prior to the start:
Under 13 girls, 3000m
21 Iris Williams 12:21
98 Celia Allen 13:34
121 Sophia Pawa 13:52
145 Celia Yeatman 14:08
Under 13 boys, 3000m
58 Aniket Iyengar 12:08
157 Oliver Hill 14:30
Under 15 girls, 4000m