Mike Down’s Performances of the Week – 11th to 18th October 2010

1 JON WILLS – Jon is becoming a first leg icon after again giving the club the sort of start that every team craves in the National Road Relay championships. Refusing to lose contact with the leading group he hung on tenaciously to finish a very close 5th in a time of 17:23, which was among the top 20 fastest of the day. This too despite the fact that his training has inevitably been compromised by his recent return to student life at Leeds University.
2 ROBBIE BUGDEN – A true clubman Robbie was at Sutton Park to support us at the National road relay and to stand in if needed as he had unfortunately missed the selection deadline. Undeterred he decided to do the Cardiff half marathon next day, but only as an easy training run due to the groin strain that he has been nursing for the past couple of weeks. If he felt it was no more than a training spin, he looks set for a major step up this winter as he finished a remarkable 6th in 65:46. It would have been a huge personal best, if the course had not been a couple of hundred metres short, though anyway he would still have finished in not much over 66mins. 
3=STEVE MITCHELL and TOM MERSON – Steve and Tom’s performances in the National 6-stage relay were relatively the next best after Jon’s. Having only been back in training for a fortnight following the best part of a month’s break after his arduous track season, Steve improved his best for the course to a more than respectable 18:08, while Tom’s 18:11 slashed nearly half a minute off his run in the Midland championship only three weeks previously.
Although the men’s team were naturally disappointed not to hit our top ten target, ending up 11th, they still manged to run nearly four minutes faster than at the Midland championship and finished only 40 secs down on Midland champions Notts AC and ahead of the Northern champions Derby. Such too was the depth in standard this year that the time gaps between the top 12 clubs were the tightest for some years. The 12-stage next April must be our big target!  
1 CLAIRE HALLISSEY – Claire continued the relentless progress she has made this last year or so by achieving her target of a top 20 place in the World Half Marathon championship in China. Carrying the UK flag on her own as the UK’s male representative Andrew Lemoncello had visa problems, Claire shrugged off the hot and humid conditions to end up the second European finisher only a minute down on her personal best in a time of just over 73mins.
2 KATE GOODHEAD – Standing in for Claire, Kate produced a storming last leg of 14:39 to anchor our team to the bronze medals in the National 4-stage road relay championship. She closed a 40 second plus gap to rob Southern hot shots Shaftesbury-Barnet of a podium place behind Aldershot, who retained the title, and our Midland title conquerors Charnwood.
3=IMOGEN AINSWORTH and KATIE KNOWLES – Both clocked PBs for the course of 14:53 in the National 4-stage relay, albeit in very different circumstances. Imo did the spade work on the third stage that gave Kate a competitive chance on the last leg to put us in the medals. She had a thankless task, running most of the way blind with no one in sight most of the way. Katie, for her part on the comeback trail from the injuries and illness that hampered her track season, gave us more than a glimpse of her true form as she pulled back runner after runner to bring the ‘B’ team into the top ten and inspire our eventual 7th place. Yes just five clubs in the UK could beat our second string! Fantastic girls, and a mention here too for Charlie Coffey-Wills and Vicky Tester, who both ran sterling legs for that ‘B’ team.
1 HOBIE MARTIN – Hobie underlined his burgeoning talent by repeating the fine opening leg he ran in the Midland U17 relay championship. Stepping up to the National final made no difference, his time of 11:47 proving the 5th fastest time of the whole event and laying the foundation for a medal challenge that was only narrowly frustrated on the final stage. 
2 ZAK TOBIAS – Zak too shaved the best part of ten seconds off his Midland run to keep us in front on the second of the three stage race, his time of 12:08 again putting him among the day’s frontrunners.
3 = ADAM SPEAKE and THE YOUNG BROTHERS – Running for the U17 ‘B’ team in the National U17 relay, Adam slashed some half minute off his effort in the Midland championship with an opening leg time of 12:26, while Nathan and Kieran Young made light of their senior rivals to finish first and third respectively in the latest race of the Street 5K series after between them dominating the previous weekend’s multi-terrain 10K at Shepton Mallet.
1 ANNABEL GUMMOW – Annabel’s anchor leg of 13:05 that clinched the silver medals for our Midland title-winning team in the National U17 road relay championship proved to be the third fastest time of the day behind English Schools 1,500m champion Jessica Judd, who clocked a remarkable 12:38 and National cross-country champion Emily Gorecka, who only just dipped under 13mins herself.  These three look likely to dominate the junior scene this winter, with Annabel surely destined for more international honours.
2 HANNAH ALDERSON – Despite harbouring a cold Hannah again showed her competitive mettle by running a fine opening leg for the senior team at the National 4-stage road relay. She clung on at the back of the leading group to keep us in the top ten and very much in the medal hunt, her time in the prevailing circumstances an outstanding 14:58 and more than 10 secs faster than she had run at the Midlands.
3 OLIVIA SADLER – Olivia underlined her steady progress up the National pecking order by finishing an impressive 4th on the opening leg of the National U17 relay championship in 13:46 to put us in contention for one of the medal positions, which Naomi Speake made sure of before passing over to Annabel.
Unfortunately there were no performances of note from our male vet stars this week.
1 NICKY BROOKLAND – Nicky continued her comeback by keeping the ‘B’ team only just over a minute off the pace on the first leg in the Natioanal road relay, her time a more than respectable 15:48.
2 CAMILLA BRIGGS – Camilla followed up her fine 4th place in the BMAF 10K championship by finishing just six seconds down on Nicky for the ‘C’ team in the National relay, a start that went some way to ensuring they beat, yes they did, champions Aldershot’s ‘B’ team. 
3=SIAN DAVIES and CLARE STEVINSON – Demonstrating their indomitable club spirit Sian and Clare came to the C team’s rescue at less than 24 hours notice, Sian taking the place of Rebekah Randell, who only pulled out the night before, and Clare only learning she was needed on the day! Both performed heroically, Sian only just failing to break 17mins and Clare, despite still being unable to do any serious training due to her back problems, touring round bravely in 17:15. Between them they kept the ailing Shots at bay!
NB Just a point worth recording. We come out second best club in the country behind only Aldershot when the men’s and women’s times are combined, a position maintained when the U17 teams times are included!! 
MIKE DOWN (21-10-10) 

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