This has been another difficult week to evaluate the many fine performances by our runners, hence please excuse the occasional fence-sitting!
1 STEVE MITCHELL – Steve makes it to the top of the pile this week with perhaps his best ever cross-country race, certainly as a senior, in finishing 4th in the Gwent League race at Bath University. Not only was he a clear 4th in a good field, b ut not that far behind internationals Ben Tickner and Tom Russell on a hilly course that was hardly ideal for a specialist 1500m runner.
2= TOM RUSSELL and CLAIRE HALLISSEY – Both finished a close second in their respective Gwent League races despite only using the event as a hard training run. Tom in particular had completed a 100mile week including three interval sessions and admitted to feeling a bit “leggy” when Ben Tickner put the boot in. Claire for her part never gave up her battle with Irish international Anne-Marie Hutchinson. She just needed a couple more laps!
3= DAVE GREEN and PHIL LUCKER – Both would admit that at present they are only B team runners, but they still managed to beat all the other 1033 finishers in the Sodbury Slog bar one: triathlete Matt Newman. Dave finished a close runner-up to prove he is getting back to form, while Phil, reaping the benefit of the harder training sessions since he joined the club last year, continues his recent progress.
Both REBEKAH RANDELL and CHARLIE COFFEY, 3rd and 8th respectively , behind Claire in the Gwent just miss out, but could feel well pleased with their efforts, Rebekah consolidating her fine recent form in the relays and Charlie, despite being isolated for much of the way, proving she is on the comeback trail.
1 ELLIE WIMSHURST – What a run to finish 4th in her first senior Gwent League race, and what’s more she was a very close 4th right behind Rebekah and perhaps surprisingly for the first time ahead of her junior international clubmate Katie Knowles, though Katie admittedly has still not fully shaken off the effects of a recent severe chest infection. The pair of them are surely both top ten contenders for next year’s National.
2 RICH PETERS – If not finishing quite as high position-wise as Ellie, Rich too was making his senior Gwent League debut and on a course that like Steve was hardly suited to his short middle distance talent did exceptionally well to make the top ten ahead of Tim Wallis, who took a long time to get into his running and did not quite match his 8th place in the opening race at Bridgend.
3 EMILY MERRICK – Emily too opted for the senior event, and pacing her race much better than usual also just made the top ten to underline what might have been in the National X-C relays at Mansfield and what surely can be in the championship races after Christmas.
NATHAN YOUNG just misses out this week, but could feel well pleased with his 3rd place in the U20 race, while SEAN HAZELL, in 6th position, could feel well pleased with his first race back after the severe calf muscle tear he suffered in last month’s race at Bridgend.
1 JON GOODLAND – Jon certainly gets around and spent his extended weekend taking on the Druid Ultra Distance Challenge, a mere 82 mile spin along the whole length of the Ridgeway. Not bad you say for a 50 plus, not bad indeed as he finished a remarkable 5th overall and obviously first V50 in 11 hours 31mins. No, he didn’t do it straight off – just a marathon plus a day in three stages.
2 MICK O’DOHERTY – Another vet who always punches his weight, Mick only found four runners too quick for him in Bath’s annual Victoria Park 4M road race, and these were all current internationals – Michael Johnson, Martin Cox, James Thie and pentahlete Russell North. North in fact only beat him by 4 seconds, and he also finished in front of Tom Fisher, who has been blazing a winning trail around the local circuit in Somerset and Wiltshire.
3 CLARE JOLLIFFE – Clare distinguished herself in two ways. First by making the top 50 in the high standard women’s event that our runners dominated, but perhaps more significantly by beating all the Westbury Harriers contingent even though she was our last finisher! Enough said.
PHIL PARRY just misses out on this week’s roll of honour as he was only using the Gwent race to check if he had got the New York marathon out of his legs and would be fit enough to run this week’s Vets international for the England V45 team. Though down on his usual form, he ran well enough to finish 28th and and satisfy himself that he had recovered sufficiently to give this weekend’s event a go. We wish him and HELEN FINES, who runs for the England V35 team, the best of luck.