1 DAN WOOLFORD – Dan produced what was surely the best performance of his fledgling senior career in the second Gwent League race of the season at Blaise Castle. Revelling in the freezing wet and slippery conditions, he threw down the gauntlet from the start to all-comers, including Welsh internationals Nat Lane, Ieuan Thomas, Phil Matthews and our most recent recruit Michael Johnson. Always in the lead group he kept forcing the pace at the front and setting out onto the final kilometre loop he had shelled out everyone apart from triathlete Matthews. Yet what might have been a landmark victory ended dramatically when he suffered a crippling stitch that virtually stopped him in his tracks in the final woodland section with the result that he had to concede defeat not only to the dogged Matthews, but also the fast-finishing UK U23 1500m silver medallist Thomas, who eventually caught and passed Matthews himself. It’s a problem Dan has encountered before and was almost certainly triggered by the sheer sustained intensity of his effort in the bitterly cold conditions. Although obviously disappointed by having to settle for third place, it was easily his best ever finishing position in the Gwent and will have done much to boost his confidence for the championship races after Christmas.
2 MIKE WILSMORE – Unlike Dan Mike is anything but a cross-country specialist and is preparing for the coming indoor season. Even so he too produced arguably his best ever effort over the country by taking the silver medal in the Devon championships behind Bideford favourite Mark Jenkin. After setting off cautiously to make sure he lasted the distance, he proved his increased winter mileage is beginning to pay off as he felt full of running in the second half of the race and finished so strongly that he had not only halved the gap Jenkin had opened up by the line but also comfortably seen off the rest of the Westward League field. He even admitted afterwards that he regretted not going off harder at the start.
3 STEVE FRANCIS – Steve was the third of our runners last week to surpass anything he had achieved before over the country, surprising everyone, including himself, by working his way through the field to finish an impressive 6th in the Gwent League and underline that he could become a real force for the club in this side of the sport. In the end he was not that far behind road-running specialist Michael Johnson, who was unable to keep a firm footing on sections of the course and after yo-yoing backwards and forwards decided to treat it as no more than a training workout.
1 REBEKAH RANDELL – Rebekah duly repeated her victory last year in Weston’s Christmas Cracker M-T 10K,beating all bar seven of the huge field that was dominated by fun runners. She finished nearly a minute and a half ahead of Westbury’s Robyn Goulding, covering the testing course in 36:18, but ended up with sore calves for her pains due to the frozen ground.
2 AMY CHALK – Amy made her now almost annual winning trip to Barbados for the Bridgetown marathon and did well in the sweltering conditions to finish the 26.2M distance in only a couple of minutes over 3hrs. It’s all mileage in the bank as she builds up her fitness for the New Year.
3 ERICA GOLLAND – Erica continued her quest to regain race fitness after missing the whole of the summer season due to injury and was encouraged by her 15th place finish in the Gwent League race.
1 MATT PETERS – Matt opted to run the senior rather than junior event in the Gwent League and repeated his 11th position at the opening race in Bridgend. He only lost a top ten place on the closing lap and in a tight finish ended up only 5secs behind Westbury’s leading runner Matt Ellis, who went on to win the Weston Christmas Cracker 10k the following day.
2 RHYS PARK – Rhys knew he was in for a tough race against Avon and Somerset champions Greg Halliwell and Blair Brown and so it proved. He held on well for the first half of the race, but his rivals’ age and greater strength then told and in the end he had to be satisfied with a well deserved third place.
3= ZAK TOBIAS, SAM BEDWELL and KIERAN YOUNG – These three are bracketed together as they all ran relatively true to known form behind Rhys, Zak finishing a clear 5th, Sam 9th and Kieran 12th to complete an impressive show of strength for our talented U17 team, of whom Zak and Kieran are both bottom year in the age group.
1 VICTORIA KENNY – Victoria scored her first major cross-country success when she was a surprise and jubilant winner of the U17/U20 race at the Gwent League. She certainly looks to be reaping the benefit of her recent training tie-up under coach Dave Taylor with the talented Sadler sisters and her schoolmate Lily Owsley. This latest performance followed her bronze medal in the BMC U17 championship and second place to Miranda Sadler in the Bristol Schools Inter Girls event to earn her the Evening Post/Easy Runner Athlete of the Month award.
2 NO OTHER PERFORMANCES NOTED
1 HEATH BAMPTON – Heath was not only the top vet in the latest Oxford Mail League race at Abingdon, but finished as high as 5th overall less than half a minute away from a top three place.
2 JON GOODLAND – Jon put his recent injury problems aside to finish 36th in Weston’s popular Christmas Cracker 10K, but clearly not fully race fit he had to settle for 4th place among the V50 contingent in what for him was a modest time of 39:31.
3 NO OTHER CANDIDATES
1 ANNABEL GRAINGER – Annabel Who many of you might ask? Well Annabel’s situation almost mirrors that of Andy Chambers, whose story has regaled this column recently. Like Andy Annabel, previously a valuable member of our championship winning women’s team, has been out injured for three years and made her comeback in the low key Christmas Cracker 10K. Yet if intended to be low key, her result was anything but as she came storming back to finish a close third just 12 secs behind Robyn Goulding in 17th place overall in what was a remarkable 37:54. Hopefully now she can pick up whjere she left off and challenge for a place in our first team again.
2 SIAN DAVIES – Sian continued the recent progress she has made in her racing comeback by making the top 50 in the Christmas Cracker 10K. Her 48th position overall gave her the V50 prize as well as 3rd vet overall in a more than respectable 40:31.
3 ALISON HURFORD – Ali may have been disappointed with her run in the Gwent League, but still finished only just outside the top 30, her 31st position also being good enough to give her third place in the V45 class.
MIKE DOWN (11-12-10)