1 RICH PETERS – Rich showed that he is benefitting from the higher mileage he knows he needed and has been carrying out during his first semester at Boston University by notching a spectacular double over the New Year weekend. He began by outsprinting GB 1,500m international James Thie and Welsh 10,000m champion Matt Janes in a cliff-hanger finish to the prestigious Nos Galan New Year’s Eve 5K race at Mountain Ash and followed up 48 hours later by clocking the fastest time by nearly a minute in the traditional Downs Fitness Christmas Handicap. Unfortunately due to the marker cone at the turning point of the near one mile lap being misplaced the Nos Galan distance was nearer 3M than 5K, so his winning time of 14:10 was not a new course record. Even so that would have been unlikely anyway in what turned out to be a tactical race with a last lap burn-up. He followed this up by starting off scratch in the Handicap on Sunday and duly caught all bar five of the 35 runners ahead of him. In this sort of form and with the extra mileage he has done this autumn he can now look forward to the US Collegiate indoor season.
2 MICHAEL JOHNSON – Mike is something of a running machine and certainly matched Rich’s workload over the weekend. He started by breaking the course record to win the Weston Hangover 10K on New year’s Day in the impressive time for the far from flat Kewstoke course of 31:04 and followed up next morning by using the Downs Handicap as the last three miles of a 13 mile training run! It’s all part of his build-up to his marathon debut later in the year or in next year’s London Marathon .
3= MIKE WILSMORE, OWAIN JONES, PHIL PARRY & STEVE McGUIGAN – Mike earns his inclusion after smashing his previous best with an unexpected 4th place in the Exeter First Chance 10K in 32:20. It’s a fair time for an 800/1500m specialist and bodes well for the forthcoming indoor season. Owain, Phil and Steve were all making their comebacks in the Christmas handicap after an autumn ravaged by lower limb injury problems, and all three could feel well pleased with their respective times for the close on 3M parkland course: Owain 15:02; Phil 15:47; Steve 15:49. Owain, who only enrolled in the club recently, is clearly fitter than he thinks and made the most of his generous handicap to win the event, while all three were pleased to come through unscathed and can now prepare for a more auspicious second half of the winter season.
1 ANNABEL GRANGER – Annabel continued her remarkable return to competition after three years lost due to a blocked artery in her lower leg by clocking the fastest women’s time of 17:09 in the Downs Handicap. She was actually five seconds quicker than her international clubmate Amy Chalk, and this following her fine efforts in the Weston Christmas Cracker 10K and Clevedon Boxing Day race suggests she could soon be back to her previous best.
2 AMY CHALK – Amy too is on the comeback trail following the birth of her second child and wanted a low key fitness test following her annual training marathon race in Bermuda. She too finished well satisfied with her run (17:14) and can now get down to the harder training she feels is required before racing seriously again.
3 CAMILLA BRIGGS – Camilla, like Annabel and Amy, is a V35 and clocked the only other sub 18 minute women’s time in the Handicap (17:55). These three, plus Nikki Brookland and Helen Fines, could well prove an unstoppable force in the British masters cross champs in March.
1 LUKE JACOBS – Luke picked up where he left off at Clevedon in the Boxing Day road race by setting the third fastest time overall in the Christmas Handicap – just four seconds slower than Harry Webb, who admittedly is still struggling with an upper respiratory infection. Luke clocked 15:01 as he just held off the late charge of Rich Peters, a time which was only three secs outside Ben Robinson’s U17 record of 14:58 and suggests that he has at last shrugged off the problems that curtailed his autumn training and racing programme.
2 ZAK TOBIAS – Zak was handicapped to chase Luke, but having only just returned overnight from a holiday in Israel he also ran exceptionally well to lose only six seconds to his training partner, his time of 15:07 being the 5th fastest overall and likewise within ten seconds of Robinson’s record. Clearly as both of them are bottom year U17’s, the record will be under serious threat next year, weather permitting.
3 MATT PETERS – While unable to match his early season winter form, Matt still ran creditably in both the Nos Galan and Christmas Handicap races. He clocked a reasonable 15:16 for 18th place (third junior) at Nos Galan, though he admitted he never really got going and complained similarly on Sunday when he had to be satisfied with a time of 15:45.
1 GRACE COPPLESTONE – Grace produced arguably her best performance ever – and certainly in the Downs Fitness event – to come back second runner in the Handicap, and but for Owain, who was just put in to start where there was a convenient gap among the faster runners, would have been the outright winner. Her time of 19:26 was also a personal best for the event.
2 ROSEMARY HURFORD – Unlikely as it might have seemed a couple of years ago, Rosemary is rapidly emerging as the number one runner in the Hurford household. Admittedly she has not caught George yet, but was faster than Mum and Dad. She certainly more than lived up to her handicap position by finishing 4th overall with a time of 19:22, which was four seconds faster than Grace and made her the fastest junior woman on the day.
3 NO OTHER PERFORMANCE OF NOTE
1 DAVE BEDWELL – It seems that Dave’s need to keep pace with his proteges is proving time well spent as none of his coaching group could catch him in the Christmas Handicap. What’s more not only did he come back an impressive third, but also set the only course record of the day with a new V55 mark of 16:57.
2 JERRY HOGAN – Despite many pre-race warnings Jerry still managed to miss his start time in the Handicap. He has developed something of a reputation for this, which is why we always put him on the first leg in relays! Perhaps in the spirit of the event he was determined to live up to his reputation, but he certainly made a meal of it wrestling with the laces on his spikes and eventually setting off 1:40 after his allotted time. It meant he was inevitably tailed off and was the last finisher, but in the circumstances his time of 17:31 – the second fastest V50 behind Dave – was commendable, especially as he had only just returned from holidaying in warmer climes.
3 JON GOODLAND – Jon is gradually racing his way back to fitness following his gruelling experience in completing the famed Marathon des Sables and was fourth fastest V50 in 18:10, and perhaps more importantly still faster than his female counterparts!
1 HELEN FINES – Helen is included as a vet here as she finished 5th woman overall and first V35 in the Nos Galan race. Short of faster work due to her busy fell-running programme, she was happy enough with her finishing time of 17:28 and no doubt she felt she could have gone round at the same pace again.
2 SIAN DAVIES – Sian is another of our runners who is rebuilding her fitness following a period on the sidelines and maintained her recent progress with a more than respectable V50 time of 18:25, some 14 secs faster than Viv McConnell who we are hoping will shortly be rejoining us to ensure a strong V50 team for the Masters cross championships in March.
3 ALISON HURFORD – Ali managed to find time to run round between preparing with Jonathan to receive us all back at Hurford “Towers” for the refreshments and prize presentation afterwards, so could feel well satisfied to get round in the third fastest V50 time of 19:27, though no doubt frustrated to be just five seconds slower than daughter Rosemay who I imagine was more than pleased to avenge her defeat by mum at Clevedon.
MIKE DOWN (5-12-10)