At this great venue in the Midlands on what turned out to be a cold and wet morning, which then improved for the U17 and adult races, our U13 boys’ team produced the star performance. The use of the same traffic free course over many years, and the fact that all young athletes complete the same distance, enables comparison between performances.
In 2016 our U13B’s team famously set a course record of 40mins 14; Ben Harrison 13.50, Jaden Kennedy 13.02 and Jacob Harrison 13.22. This year our U13 team followed in this tradition and were led off by Zachery Crowther who ran a superb opening leg, always competitive and fighting until the end, charging up the final hill. His 13.40, which turned out to be the 10th fastest U13B time of the day, brought him home in excellent fourth position. On second was newcomer Fabien Whitelock, who ran a very good leg for someone so new to the sport, dropping just 5 places to 9th position. This set the stage perfectly for Christo Chilton, with runners lined up ahead of him, and he duly tore round the course to take 6 others to bring the team home in third, two positions higher than in the Southern Championships. Christo’s time of 13.29 placed him fourth overall, an outstanding performance in a National Championships. Our B team all ran between 15.21 and 15.43 to finish a solid 42nd, and C team were 52nd.
Our U13G’s team also performed very well. Annabella Bailey ran a very strong opening leg which was to prove the fastest in the team, 15.20 for 18th place. Johanna Nicholson ran a very well judged second leg to take the team up nine positions to 9th place after leg two, leaving Rosalie Laban to drop just two places, 16.13, to a final position of 11th. This time was equalled by Eva O’hanlan running for an incomplete B team.
Our U15G’s and U17W’s team were both lacking a number of the Club’s quicker athletes, but it was great to still field teams in these age groups. Sophie Williams was the fastest of our U15s on the lead off leg, running 15.27 for 39th position, with the team then dropping to 54th, Imogen Fenner Scally, 17.12, and Jess Butland, 17.36 for 57th. For the U17W, Isobel Penniceard demonstrated improved fitness since her southern run with a 15.15 opening leg for 31st position. This set the race up nicely for Lily Newton who produced another excellent run, taking 15 runners, 14.33 for 16th, a time that was just outside top 20 fastest U17W of the day. Madeline Smith-Londono completed the team with a final leg of 18.43, for 29th position.
Two of our runners who were in the U13B course record team contested the U15B’s race. Ben Harrison brought the team home in 36th on the opening leg with a 13.41 clocking, followed by Joe Roberts who gained 9 places, 13.33, and Jacob Harrison moving up a further 10 positions with an excellent final leg, 13.03. Backing up the A team’s 17th placing were the B team in 52nd, with Jacob Taylor’s 13.56 being the stand out performance.
Our Senior Women produced an excellent team performance, 13th, the highest ever placing at these championships. Twenty one year old (literally on the day of the race) Swann Phelippeau made her debut for the Club as she embarks on a four year degree programme in London. Early training sessions indicated good form following an end of season break, and her 15.28 opening leg demonstrated what a great addition Swann will surely be for the Club. Thank you for travelling up to the race on your birthday! Ella Newton, the first of our 18 year olds came over from Nottingham to run the second leg, and produced a decent 16.00 to take the team from 18th to 16th. Our second 18 year old, Zoe Tompkins, delivered another performance which demonstrated a step up from last winter, when she ran 16.40 at this venue. This year Zoe produced an excellent run, taking the team to 13th with a 16.02 clocking. Steph McCall is starting to get into good shape, and looked very strong on the final leg, holding the team’s 13th position, clocking 15.38. Steph was passed on the final leg by Jess Judd, demonstrating the quality of this event, and the team’s success will hopefully be a foretaste of things to come for our strong U20 and SW squads.
Our Senior Men were considerably weaker than we were at the Southern Championships, not a recipe for success on the national stage. Nevertheless, unlike many of our London neighbours, we did turn out a team and were led off by Chris Busaileh, whose 18.10 opening leg brought the team home in 31st. Although missing the sub 18 target, this was a strong run from Chris on a less than perfect day. The ever reliable Simon Coombes produced a decent 19.22 in dropping to 43rd, followed by Lewis Laylee, who’d made the short trip over from the University of Birmingham, making his debut for the Club. Lewis ran 19.13 for 47th, followed by Jeff Cunnigham, 20.12, 52nd, Deron Fagan, 21.45, 58th and Andrew Warburton, 19.23, 55th.
Whilst a number of our teams were not at their strongest, there won’t have been too many clubs who fielded teams in all but one of the day’s races. Well done too all who made the journey to Birmingham. We now turn to the cross country season where bumper turnouts should be the order of the day. For those with bigger targets, please do run the Surrey Leagues, even if they are treated as hard training efforts.
Keith Newton 8 October 2018