Best Team Performance of the day was the under-13 boys. Some good tactical running saw the lads start quite conservatively giving the conditions due respect as Team Bath set off with four athletes at the front. Hugh Sadler led the charge as he fought through to fifth place and finished strongly only 15 seconds behind the winner (John Howorth (Team Bath) 11.00) and 10 seconds off a medal. Hugh’s time was 11.15. Behind him Kyle Haynes finished twelfth in 11.37 showing good speed up a very slippery finishing straight which included a semi-ditch half way along that was particularly challenging. Anton Mills concentrated mid-race to come home seventeenth in 11.48 and Reuben Wimshurst (22nd in 12.00) and Tom Snell (23rd in 12.07) were the next two home. Luke Garner Greene finished 77th in 13.43 and Otis Harding Hill was 81st in 13.55 – there were 98 finishers. Team Bath finished 1, 2, 3 and 6 to score an amazing 12 points. Bristol & West were again runners-up scoring 56 points but taking silver medals in the South-West and Midland Championships in the same year is a great achievement.
The individual performance of the day came in the Under-20 Ladies Race where Annabel Gummow continued her comeback from injury. Her first race back in Cardiff last week obviously brought her on and she made light of the underfoot conditions. Hitting the front from the off Annabel moved majestically away to win in 18.52 well clear of Chloe Richardson the runner-up from Birchfield in 20.05.
In the Senior Women’s race after a bit of negotiation newcomer Helen Sharpe was able to run as an individual (she was born in Derbyshire) but couldn’t score for the team. A couple of late withdrawals saw Team Manager Keith Brackstone frustrated but the performances of those who were there were outstanding and it was a disappointment that they couldn’t come away with any medals to show for their efforts. Helen Sharpe was never out of the top ten and finished strongly to take seventh place in 26.13. Behind her first scorer was Annabel Granger who finished seventeenth in 27.21. Marie Kirton was next home finishing twenty-sixth in 28.11. Clare Stevinson then led a whole flurry of club finishers with Clare 34th in 28.39, Charlotte Green 36th in 28.43, Julia Belyavin 41st in 29.06 and Kim Whitlock 42nd in 29.15. Behind them another group was led in by Clare Jolliffe (47th in 29.45), Sarah Everitt (52nd in 29.55) and Georgie Salmon (53rd in 30.00). Henrietta Anstey went to manage the under-13 girls but decided that wasn’t enough exercise for the day and finished eightieth in 32.09. It was great to see 11 senior ladies finishing. The ‘A’ team finished fourth with 113 points and the ‘B’ team seventh with 182 points. Birchfield and Tipton both scored 94 points with the former taking the title by virtue of their last scorer finishing 44th to Tipton’s 45th place (thus the gold and silver medals were decided by one second!). We had six scorers in before Birchfield or Tipton’s fourth scorer – and that doesn’t include Helen Sharpe – had Helen scored we would have scored 84 points and won by 10 points (and the ‘B’ team would have scored 126 points and finished fifth)! Well done ladies – a great team effort in a field of 169 finishers and 26 scoring teams.
By the end of the day the course which had been challenging at best was almost unrunable for the Senior Men. Owain Jones showed he is getting fitter by starting faster than he had done in his earlier races this winter but at this level it is hard to push through the field. Owain’s fifteenth place (35.19) showed what a great cross-country runner he is – given the limited amount of training he can physically cope with these days due to a succession of injuries. Next home was Oli Mott (45th in 38.22); Oli is not fully fit and is certainly more at home on the road but Oli will never give up and battled throughout to secure his place in the top 50. Not far behind him in 57th place Daniel Edmund surely made the transition from US Collegiate 800 metre runner to English cross-country runner. Andy Cooke gave a really gutsy display and his finish in 75th place in 39.53 was testament to his commitment. The day’s running for the club was completed when Daryl Beggs came home in 187th place in 46.16 just two weeks after joining the club – something of a baptism of fire.