After an injury ravaged Surrey cross country championship, the Herne Hill veteran team were obliged to reprove their mettle and status on the bigger stage at the South of England Masters Cross Country Championships at Shuttleworth Park, Biggleswade Bedfordshire this Saturday 12/12/2015. Both M40 and M50 squads did not disappoint!
The course was firm though soft underfoot and able to take a good spike throughout which favoured speedy running over the three lap course, following an initial loop of the flat field. One hill, with a long ascent and descent, and one incline per lap gave the course technical credibility to being a proper cross country course. Light intermittent rain for the M50/M60 race set the scene on the windy and cloudy day, though the M40’s afternoon race avoided the cold rain but had to persevere with a warm increasingly forceful westerly wind.
Precedence has to go to the M50 age category, though all three competing athletes were in their comeback preparations rather than race fit (and another three athletes remain injured). Despite those constraints Graeme Moyse, Mike Boyle and Gary Ironmonger struck a glorious team gold for HHH for the second year running. Respectively, they placed 10th, 14th and 21st to take a 7 point victory over the mighty Bedford with London Heathside making 3rd place. A much tighter finish than last year but hard fought and much deserved gold team medals were well earned. All three athletes started conservatively and intelligently placed and paced their runs to survive the course. Though Gary suffered on the last lap he made up for it with his ever consistent competitive determination. This must establish us as an M50 team which can challenge for anything (as long as we turn up) and will put fear into all our age group rivals. Valdis Pauzers closed out this race as the only M60 athlete in 27th place despite recent injury, being happy that he finished the course without further discomfort and did not slow over the latter stages of the race.
Now, I actually observed the M40 race as opposed to trailing the magnificent M50/M60 race, and each of the Harriers had a real fight for their final score placings. Bronze team medals last year was the minimum aspiration for the men who won these here last year. A squad enhanced by Fergus Power was expected to deliver medals of some sort for the team and they did not disappoint. Simon Coombes started prudently letting the leaders run off their exuberance in the field loop and first lap. The outstanding Chris Greenwood (Kent) was already well away with Brighton’s Howard Bristow also firmly staking out his right for second place early on. Simon was out to defend his bronze medal 3rd place of last year amongst the rest. Simon chased and harried, as the following pack declined to three athletes for that individual bronze medal. No quarter was given but Simon took the break coming off the hill on the last lap. Still a kilometre to go and the bronze medal place was not won without a blood and thunder effort all the way to the line, well done Simon! Robin Jones took the race with controlled determination, breaking the group he was first racing with and sealed a fine 13th place. Joffah Radcliffe, easing down to a mere 87 training miles this week, was focussed and had a similarly exciting battle with a group of six athletes, depleted to four in the final sprint to the finish (which proved to be determining for the team placings). Surrey M40 XC champion Fergus Power ran gamely but never felt comfortable after a high spirited start and with his selection of a studded shoe as opposed to the preferable spike. Fortunately his enthusiasm remains and is much appreciated. Ben Hallifax enjoyed a second run out at this event with a solid supporting role and improving on his position of last year.
Great to see a Womens’ HHH Veteran team out at these championships, too. Well done, ladies, onward and upward !
Well, we had the required team appraisal at the White Hart Biggleswade, despite not knowing the success of our M40 team. At that time we were happy with our team’s demonstration of quality, though thin in quantity.
Returning to London there was a further meet with the ‘I was/am a runner facebook group’ in Wimbledon. A great evening but I suspect, had we known the M40 team result too, we may have been even a little more exuberant!
M40-49 Teams: 1st Kent 21, 2nd HHH 41, Brighton 43.
Simon Coombes 3rd (34-30), Robin Jones 13th (35-57) and Jonathan (Joffah) Radcliffe 27th (38-00). Fergus Power 35th (38-36), Ben Hallifax 75th (45-11).
M50-59 Teams: 1st HHH 45, 2nd Bedford 52, 3rd London Heathside 58
Graeme Moyse 10th (37-29), Mike Boyle 14th (37-51) and Gary Ironmonger 21st (38-49).
M60 Valdis Pauzers 26th (46-55).
Full results link : http://www.race-results.co.uk/results/2015/seaam.pdf