1 TOM MERSON – Tom underlined what an asset he is going to be to the senior team with a real show of strength on his debut in the popular Clevedon Boxing Day 4M road race. He left his effort till the grind up Holly Lane and soon dispatched the opposition to win going away by some forty seconds in 19:23, which notably was two seconds quicker than South West champion Kevin Heywood managed in winning last year.
2 REBEKAH RANDELL – Becky made it a B&W double in the women’s race at Clevedon. Adopting the same tactics as Tom, she made her superior strength tell on the long drag up Holly Lane to finish an impressive 22nd of the record 857 strong field, clocking an impressive winning time of 21:55.
3 STEVE MITCHELL – Steve, at home for Christmas, must have been shocked by the standard of the opposition in the Ribble Valley 10K, and while naturally disappointed to find himself back in 34th position – a race like they used to be I hear Nick say! – still hacked 50 seconds off his previous best with a time of 31:41.
A special mention too for KIM DYER, who despite having done very little training due to her manifold family commitments, finished an unexpected 11th overall (25:45) in the women’s race just behind former clubmates Helen Hinsley (25:33) and Viv McConnell (25:41).
1 HARRY WEBB – Before anyone complains I am being sexist in relegating our women stars to second ranking this week, Harry’s exalted position is the result of a spectacular return to his best form after an autumn beset with illness. He put his problems well behind him at Clevedon, finishing a very close 4th on the heels of Julian Hatcher and Ian Gillespie (yes it really was Ian, not his ghost!)
2 ELLIE WIMSHURST – The superlatives never stop for young Ellie this winter. She followed up her fine medal-winning performance in the European cross-country championships by giving Rebekah a run for her money in the women’s race at Clevedon, only wilting on the main climb to finish within half a minute of her senior clubmate in the fine time for a junior of 22:19.
3 LUKE JACOBS – Although this report does not cover the younger age groups, it would be remiss not to mention the remarkable effort of young Luke in finishing in front of two of our first choice junior team Sean Hazell and Matt Peters in 15th place. His time 21:31 must surely qualify as an U15 best time for the course. I imagine Dad Mike will have checked that out if such records exist, but coach Dave Bedwell is not that surprised as he feels the course was ideally suited to Luke’s undoubted natural strength.
1 IAN GILLESPIE – Although strictly speaking Ian does not turn vet till next May, as his ex-coach and to many of his peers, he is already part of the Masters scene as he has not competed seriously for many years, principally due to a chronic achilles tendon problem. But the international class that produced personal bests of 3:39 (1500m), 7:49 (3000m) and 13:18 (5000m) during his heyday is still there, and he actually took the race to Tom until the top of the hill. By his own admission the wheels then began to come off – he has forgotten what speedwork felt like! – which eventually ennabled Julian to catch him on the run-in. Even so it was still an impressive effort to take third place, albeit some 100 seconds shy of his course record of 18:28, which he lowered on three consecutive occasions in the 90’s. Depending on the exact date of the National Vets road relay champs, we may just twist his arm to come over from the States to help us regain the title next year.
2 MICK O’DOHERTY – In actual fact Mick’s 11th place finish in 21:04 to take the V40 title in 11th place at Clevedon was arguably every bit as good an effort’s as Ian’s as he too is about to graduate, but in his case to the V50 group in February! Could we possibly go for a V40/V50 double at Sutton Park in May?
3= JON GOODLAND and ALISON HURFORD – Both found one too good for them in their respective age groups at Clevedon, Jon (23:14) losing out to former county track champion Bob Creed (22:36), who was visiting for Christmas, in the V50 class, and Ali (26:21), who was actually 13th woman overall, to former clubmate Helen Hinsley in the V40 category.
PS For a variety of reasons, including runners’ availability and not least the prevailing weather conditions, it has been decided to reschedule the annual Downs Fitness Christmas Handicap to the Spring. The proposed new date is Sunday, April 11, which clashes with no major local road races and will act as a final blow out for the following weekend’s National 12 and 6-stage road relay champs.
In conclusion may I wish you all a happy and medal-winning New Year.