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

30 Oct
1 TOM RUSSELL – In only his second ever half marathon Tom improved his time from last year in his local Stroud club’s annual Half by a minute with a time of 67:08. More significantly he finished only 17 seconds down on Kenyan winner Edwin Kipkorir, though that was still only good enough for 5th place behind the now customary posse of East Africans. He admitted that Kipkorir, who had won the previous week’s Cardiff Half, was clearly intent on doing no more than needed to take the spoils, but as a consequence he enjoyed being able to sit in with such a distinguished group for much of the way.
2= TOM MERSON and MIKE WILSMORE – I can’t split them nor could the timekeepers as our two Devon-based stars handed over together to give our two teams a head start in the South West cross-country relays at Taunton.
Not that there was any agreement at the start between the pair of them, for Tom, despite having a 16 mile training run the previous day in his legs, as ever was out for a burn-up and duly cut out the pace on the fast parkland style course in the grounds of Kings College. Relishing the conditions Mike, who himself has only been back training for four weeks after a break following his busy track season, hung on till halfway round the second lap when Tom eventually got away, but the gap was never more than 20 metres and on the final run-in Mike used his greater track speed to close it down right on the line as both of them almost went headlong as they touched off their second lap runners. Hardly surprisingly their joint time of 9:36 for the 2 mile leg  was the fastest of the day. If that wasn’t ideal preparation for next weekend’s National cross relays, I would like to know what would be!
3=  DAN WOOLFORD and ANDY CHAMBERS – I make no excuse for more fence-sitting for Dan and Andy both produced fine efforts. Dan, despite having been unable to do any harder group sessions recently due to work commitments, set the third fastest time overall of 9:50 as he set off in pursuit of Andy on the third of the four legs, while Andy – who? you may well ask – clocked a very respectable 10:15 in what was virtually his first competitive race for the best part of three years. He joined us that long ago, but ever since has been plagued by injury problems that have necessitated surgery on both hips as well as a trip to Australia to seek physio help! Yet all that time I have kept in touch with him and he has never thown in the towel. If any guy deserves success Andy does and fingers crossed he could yet figure in our top team for the championships after Christmas once he has a few more weeks training behind him.
1 KATE GOODHEAD – Like Tom in the men’s race Kate had to concede line honours to her two Kenyan rivals in the Stroud half, but was similarly rewarded in third place with a new personal best of 76:16. She certainly has a wide range of talents, for her latest effort followed her fine run at the previous weekend’s National road relay and not long before that a top Mountain running event, for which she is a full GB international.
2 DEBBIE NICCOL – B&W athletes are certainly plying thier trade far and wide for Debbie popped up as a guest in the traditional Liddiard trophy cross-country event at Kingsbury, and proceeded to upset the apple-cart by winning the race in a sprint finish. This must rank as one of her best performances over the country and suggests she could be a valuable member of our team for the championships in the new year.
3 ALICE HECTOR – Alice, who has recently moved to Bristol and joined us from Wells City, celebrated her debut by clocking the fastest women’s time of 11:24 in the South West relays. Running for a scatch team that included her brave mum, she proved that she too is going to add real depth to our women’s team.
1 NATHAN YOUNG – Nathan admits he has not been training as hard as usual for the past six months, but he still posted a respectable time of 10:13 in the South West cross relays- the 4th fastest discounting Tom’s second effort of 9:53 for the Hectors’ team!  He knew he had to pull something out to preserve bragging rights over younger brother Kieran, who set off alongside him on the second leg.
2 MATT PETERS – Matt has missed several sessions recently due to a niggling achilles strain and hard as he tried failed to close a 10 second gap on Phil Parry on the anchor leg of the South West cross relay. He had been two seconds quicker than Phil in the Gloucestershire relay a month ago, but here his 10:21 – the second fastest junior time behind Nathan’s – was just one second slower.
3 KIERAN YOUNG – Kieran would have loved to have held on to his elder brother, but hard as he tried he had to let him go, but was still rewarded with the best U17 time of 10:48 in the South West relay.
No performances of note, other than in training (!), were recorded this week.
1 PHIL PARRY – Phil took over with a narrow lead on the last leg for one of our two teams in the South West relay, and though Matt Peters closed marginally on the first mile circuit, Phil’s experience and greater stamina told on the final lap as he brought his team home 11 seconds clear with the fastest vets time of 10:20, this too despite still struggling to shake off a niggling ankle strain that has seriously compromised his training for the last few months.
1 CAMILLA BRIGGS – Two miles is a bit on the short side for a runner with marathon aspirations like Camilla, and she had to let her young student rival from Exeter University go on the opening lap of the South West cross relays. Even so she never gave up the chase and closed the gap significantly on the second lap to post the fastest vets time of 12:03 as she works to improve her speed before her debut for England in next month’s Vets international.
2 CLARE STEVINSON – Preceding Debbie Niccol’s victory in the Liddiard Trophy, Clare had missed my radar when she followed up her run in the National road relay by taking third place overall next day in one of the country’s oldest open cross-country events – second only to our own Mike Sully races? – the annual Ampthill Trophy in Bedfordshire.
3= ALISON HURFORD and SIAN DAVIES – Ali and Sian completed our vets team that finished second overall to Exeter University in the South West cross relay, both finishing the two mile stage in under 13 mins – no mean performance for anyone in the V45 age goup. Sian’s 12:50 was just two seconds quicker than Alison’s 12:52.
MIKE DOWN (29-10-10)
PS Keith and I will be selecting the teams for next weekend’s National Cross-country relay championships at Mansfield early next week. Please let us know asap if you are not available. There will be two senior men’s and women’s teams and one U20 men’s and women’s  team. MD/KB