Performances of the Christmas Weeks – 13 to 27 December 2010

30 Dec
1 DAVE BISHOP – Dave underlined the form he has been showing on the US Collegiate cross-country circuit this autumn by outsprinting new clubmate Michael Johnson to win Clevedon’s popular Boxing Day road race. Looking more streamlined than ever, Dave puts his recent progress and improved endurance down to regular training in Mexico with international cross-country specialist Keith Gerrard, who is now a student colleague. His winning time of 18:11, impressive in the freezing conditions, did not however better Ian Gillespie’s now legendary course record of 18:28 for the 4M course as the icy condition of the normal finish area forced the organisers to start and finish the race at the race HQ – the Little Harp pub. This effectively cut out the usual finishing stretch from the pub to the inlet road on the Salthouse car park, but even so it would surely have been a sub-19 minute time on the normal course and indicates what an asset Dave is going to be to the men’s team when he finally completes his studies and returns to the UK in June 2011.
2 MICHAEL JOHNSON – Using the race virtually as a speed session, Mike, who finished only six seconds down in 18:17, made Dave work every yard of the way for his victory, though he readily acknowledged that he had no answer to middle distance runner Dave’s change of pace on the run to the finish after the pair of them had breasted the final climb from the pier shoulder to shoulder.
3 HARRY WEBB – Nursing the onset of a cold, Harry still opted to race as he felt in need of a hard session following the difficulty all runners have been experiencing in training during the recent snowbound conditions. Clearly not feeling himself, he had to be content with 8th place overall in 19:34.
1 ANNABEL GRANGER – Annabel wasted no time in proving that her recent comeback run behind Rebekah Randell in Weston’s Christmas Cracker 10K was no flash in the pan by finishing third only 14 secs behind recent Tri-Counties cross-country champion Laura Parker in the Boxing Day race. What’s more her time of 21:41 was only just over a minute down on defending title-holder Emma Pallant (20:37), who took the bronze medal in the under-23 age group at the recent European cross championships in Portugal.
2 NIKKI BROOKLAND – Nikki too continued her successful return to competition, following her recent Avon cross-country victory, by taking 4th place in 22:01 just 20 secs down on Annabel over a distance that she admits feels like a sprint for her.
3 DEBBIE NICCOL – Debbie too proved she is regaining her race fitness by chasing Nikki all the way to the finish in 5th place. She closed the gap between them to no more than 11secs at the line. Encouraged by her effort Deb now intends to turn her attention to the indoor season, while Nikki reverts to the country.
1 LUKE JACOBS – Young Luke’s prodigious effort to make the top ten overall in 9th place (19:36)  – he is only a bottom year U17 – was arguably the outstanding run of the Boxing Day race as he has been unable to do any specific training of late due to a combination of chronic asthma and other growth-related problems. He certainly surprised everybody, including himself, as he just went for it and survived to finish right on Harry Webb’s heels and ahead of ace vets such as Mick O’Doherty and Julian Emery.
2 NATHAN YOUNG – Nathan continued his bid to regain race fitness by clocking a time just 2secs outside 20 mins, which gave him 14th place overall. It is still some way short of where he belongs, but he is sensibly taking his time so as to be back to something like his true form come the cross-country championships in the new year.
3 KIERAN YOUNG – Nathan’s kid brother Kieran, who like Luke is a first year U17, also opted for the longer 4M race and more than held his own to finish just over a minute behind Nathan and inside the top 20 of the 600 strong field in 19th place in 21:07. This followed his unexpected victory in the latest Street 5K road race in 16:58.
No notable performances recorded.
1 MICK O’DOHERTY – Mick has finally shrugged off the calf muscle strain that has been plaguing him for the past few months and produced a classic effort over the sort of distance he relishes to finish as high as 13th overall in the Boxing day race just ahead of the fast-finishing Nathan Young: his time too was an outstanding 20:01 for a V50 runner and well within a minute of the winning V40 runner fellow international vet Jon James.
2 HEATH BAMPTON – Heath opted for the Berkshire cross-country championships – rather than the Tri-Counties event under the Wiltshire banner – and was rewarded with 5th place overall and the silver medal in the vets event.
3 JON GOODLAND – Though some way short of his true race fitness Jon capitalised on a prize structure that gives due recognition to the huge number of veteran runners that annually do the event to pick up the 4th V50 award in 55th place overall (22:31) 
1 CAMILLA BRIGGS – Strictly speaking Camilla, like Annabel and Nikki, does not classify as a vet for the Clevedon race as they start their awards at V40, but she deserves a mention as though she was no match for her two clubmates, she still clocked the very creditable time of 22:44 to finish within sight of Jon and in the top ten women overall.
2 SIAN DAVIES – Sian is yet another of our vets on the comeback trail and she too ran well to finish as high as 12th in the women’s race in 23:51. This left her as second veteran overall and clear winner of the V50 prize.
3 ALISON HURFORD – Ali was not too happy with her run as she finished in over 25mins, but it was still more than good enough to take the second V50 award behind Sian.  
MIKE DOWN (29-12-10)