National Champs

National Cross Country Champs

The sun shone on the Saucony National Cross Country Championships on Saturday. Held on Parliament Hill, with central London emerging out of the mist on the skyline, Leamington C&AC athletes congregated underneath their flag amongst hundreds of other clubs doing the same.

The course has become iconic for the start of the race which sees runners charging up a hill like something reminiscent of a battle charge, with the ground literally shaking underfoot.

Performances

First up for the club was Melanie Gould (U13) who ran a strong race and, having got slightly confused with the twisting course, found herself heading into the final field before she knew it and used some stored energy to take a number of girls in the final few metres to finish in 155th position out of 467 runners.

Sam Morrey ran in the U13 boy’s race, the race being Morrey’s first national event since moving up to the U13 category this season. Running the same course as Gould, Morrey fared well and finished the 3k course in 16:36.

The U15 girls ran a 4k course, with Rosie Cale being first home for the club in 19:00, Rositsa Gugutkova not far behind in 19:14. Lucy Green ran well to finish in 20:16.

Greg West found himself in the junior race, a 10k two lap course that made the most of the hills of Hampstead Heath. Despite the fact that he was at the bottom of the 17-20 age group West finished in the club’s highest position of the day in 94th in a time of 37:01.

Ladies Race

When the ladies’ race started at 2.20pm, the course had been significantly churned up by the thousands of runners that had raced earlier in the day. With a record 1,113 ladies running, the fight for the race line was desperate. The runners found themselves not only fighting for places but in some places fighting to stay upright. Jenny Jeeves made it look easy, running the 8k course in a time of 35:07 and coming 173rd overall.

Zara Blower was next in for Leamington in a time of 37 minutes and 267th place. Courtney Thornberry ran well to finish in 41:16 (552) with Laura Gould (45:58) and Carol Blower (48:00) finishing in the top 900. The ladies team finished 53rd on the day out of 112 scoring teams.

Mens Race

The start of the men’s race saw 2,328 charging up the hill to get to the top and avoid the notorious bottleneck on the first bend before entering into a crowded 12k race. Callum Hanlon ran a strong race, fighting for his top 100 position in the fast downhill finish, Hanlon managed to come in in 96th place in a time of 43:23. Phil Gould, who had been struggling with illness during the week, was determined to race what would be his 11th national event.

An improvement in race fitness over the current season was frustratingly lost due to his symptoms but nevertheless he ran well and was able to enter into a sprint finish with ex club-mate Kev Hope (which Hope won). Gould finished in 47:43 and 390th place. Johnathon Brown was next in (52:43) with Charlie Staveley not far behind in 54:50; although only 2 minutes apart, the level of this race meant they were separated by 227 places. Marc Curtis was 5th counter crossing the line in 55:14 with Simon Perkin close behind in 55:50. The 6 men scored for the team which came 72nd out of 162 scoring clubs. Paolo Foglino came in at just under the hour in 59:53 with Sagar Depala finishing in 1:14:35.

MELs going to London!

West Midlands Trials for Leamington C&AC athlete

Saturday saw the West Midland trials for the London Mini Marathon take place at Stourport Cycleway where young athletes competed for selection to represent the West Midlands in a race which uses the last 3 miles of the London Marathon course on 22 April. Leamington C&AC’s Melanie Gould had been unable to secure a place last year so was back with determination to claim her place in the under 13 category and she did not disappoint.

Settling into the course in 6th position, Gould knew that she would have to dig deep and move up to 5th position to ensure her “call up”, a difficult feat when the girls competing were all after the same prize.

With unusually sunny conditions and a hard uphill on each of the 4 laps of the 3-mile course, Gould ran strong and determined.  She was able to move up one place on her third lap which she managed to hold to cross the line in 5th place in a personal best time of 19:45.

Gould will now head to London to represent the West Midlands on 22 April. Gould’s teammate, Rositsa Gugutkova, who is relatively new to running having joined the club last summer, also tried out. Running a strong race, Gugutkova was met with some exceptionally strong competition, which meant that despite her time of 20:56, she was 13th overall.

Gloucester League

Pittville Park in Cheltenham was the venue for the third Gloucester League Cross Country on Saturday. An emergency change to the course had to be arranged due to the lake overflowing and the usual stream crossing was considered not safe so runners were taken off the usual course to make the crossing. Leamington C&AC athlete, Jenny Jeeves was overjoyed with her run, finishing in 9th place overall in a time of 28:21. Jeeves started the race meaning business and was able to use her strength to push through the field to claim the 9th spot. Accompanying Jeeves in the ladies’ race was Carol Blower, who has been on fine form this season, finishing in 36:07.

Leamington athletics member

Leamington C&AC Athlete

Graham Roberts ran as part of the MV65 race and was pleased to finish 7th in the category in a time of 35:10. The men’s race saw Marc Curtis first over the line for the club in 39:35 with Steve Howes next in a time of 41:14. Steve Roberts was next home in 44:21. In the mens team Alex Montgomery started the race at a faster pace than he was used to.  Montgomery was pleased that he was able to stick to this pace and was happy with his finish of 47:47. The men finished 9th on the day for the masters team.

A Master Class Season!

Midlands Cross Country League

Women

Leamington C&AC Masters Ladies maintained their first position spot at the weekend taking the gold medal in the Midlands Ladies Cross Country League, with Kelly Edwards also taking the medal for first master and Monica Williamson taking bronze.

The final race of the league was held at Aldersley Stadium in Wolverhampton and, with the men joining them for their final in the Birmingham Cross Country League, the day saw the club out in full support. 18 ladies from LCAC ran the muddy and slightly confusing course which snaked round the fields and a disused railway around the sports facility.

Edwards ran a strong race and finished 13th overall (22:54) with Williamson not far behind in 16th (24:04). Jenny Jeeves was next home in 20th position (24:25) meaning that, as has been usual this season, Leamington’s top three runners also counted for the masters’ team points. With Zara Blower next home in 26th place (24:50) the ladies team finished an impressive 3rd on the day.

The team finished 5th overall in the league just 3 points behind 4th position. Wendy Daniels made up the masters’ team finishing in 34th position (25:23). An excess of traffic on the motorway saw Saffia del Torre arrive after the gun had been fired which led to her having to race down to the start only to turn around and race back up the hill chasing the tail runner.

With official’s commenting at the honesty of the athlete, del Torre managed to fight her way through the pack to finish in a respectable time of 27:13 just behind team mate Courtney Thornberry (27:09) Shortly afterwards teammates Eve Walpole and Faye Barr fought each other to the finish line both crossing the line in 28:04.

Other runners: Elaine Sherwin (25:27), Shamira Naidu-Young (26:51), Charlie Mitchell (29:04); Judith Hanlon (30:34); Carol Blower (31:19); Laura Gould (31:26), Tara Fagge (31:40), Mary Donaldson (32:57), Louise Marsh (34:11).

Men

The action-packed women’s race seemed to be mirrored in the men’s race with Steve Roberts again arriving late and having to run downhill to the start to turn around to begin the race. Starting the race after the main pack had left the field it was a challenge for Roberts to make up the lost time, but the runner managed to pick off several runners to finish in a time of 44:05.

The club was led out by solid cross-country runner Callum Hanlon who eventually finished 14th in a time of 29:42. Phil Gould was next home in a time of 32:23 with the rising star Kieran Chahal hot on his heels finishing in 32:45. Tom Foulterton was, in turn, chasing Chahal and finished just 3 seconds behind him in 31:48 making for some closely placed scoring for the A team (51,59 and 62). Paul Andrew, back from injury finished in 85th place (32:24) with Richard Merrell making up the A team in 91st position (32:38).

The A team has scored consistently this season and remain in 7th place in the league at the end of the final race. The B team also ran well and secured their 5th place position with Greg West being their first scorer. West, battling through a cramp during the race, finished in a time of 33:31, crossing the line at the same time as clubmate Vassilis Andreoulakis. Jack Savage (34:02); Gavin Fowler (34:52) and Dean Mawby (35:15) had been closely packed throughout the race with Marc Curtis also running well to finish in 35:59 to make up the B team.

Close packing seemed the order of the day and the number of runners now in red shorts seemed to dominate certain parts of the pack. Ben Rajaan (36:35) was next in with Steve Hundal and Alex Ibbs, having chased each other around the course, both finishing in 36:40. James Joyce finished just 4 seconds later. Christian Ibbs made his debut for the club and, despite being out if his comfort zone, was seen to be smiling most of the way round finishing in a time of 48:54.

Others runners: Craig Bower (36:54); Peter Stockbridge (37:24); Simon Perkins (37:36); Nick Tawney (38:18); Rob Wilson (38:23); Andrew Higgins (38:29); Paolo Foglino (39:17); Brain Miller (39:27); Paul Caruana (40:09); Philip Pavey (40:53) Alex Montgomery (43:33); Sagar Depala (43:39); Rupe Chahal (44:53)

Leamington C&AC Masters XC team