1 ROBBIE BUGDEN – Against his own limited expectations Robbie overcame the twin handicap of a heavily strapped ankle that is going to need surgical intervention in the spring and the after effects of a heavy cold that had curtailed his training in the preceding fortnight to push the favourite Kairn Stone all the way in the South West cross-country championships at Bicton Park. To sweeten the pill even more he was actually again declared South West champion as Stone was a late addition to the field as a guest competitor. To underline his clubmanship Robbie has also postponed his forthcoming operation till after the National 12-stage.
2 PHIL WYLIE – Phil is rapidly regaining his best form after recovering from the horrific bike accident he suffered in the autumn and showed his current form by edging out his international clubmate Tom Russell in the Gloucestershire cross-country championships This followed his runaway victory in the tough Chard Flyer 10K on New Year’s Day.
3= TOM RUSSELL and TOM MERSON – The two Toms both made encouraging comebacks from their recent travails at the weekend. Tom Russell, finally back in action after a nasty fall while out training that sidelined him for several weeks, was duly crowned Gloucestershire champion again despite having to concede defeat to non-counting clubmate Phil Wylie after a keen tussle that proved both of them should be real contenders in the Midland championships at the end of the month. Our other Tom made a similarly encouraging return to racing by finishing only ten seconds outside the medals in 6th place at the South West championships following a traumatic December that saw him contract a bad dose of swine flu and subsequent pneumonia!
1 HOBIE MARTIN – Hobie yet again underlined his class by scoring a convincing victory in the South West U17 championship, and while he may be only in his first year in the age group looks well capable of mounting a serious challenge in the major championships that lie ahead.
2 ZAK TOBIAS – Like Hobie, Zak is also a bottom year U17 and he too revelled in the testing hilly course at Bicton to finish a clear runner-up to his clubmate and take the South West silver medal. On this showing he will be chasing his clubmate all the way in the forthcoming championships.
3= ADAM SPEAKE and KIERAN YOUNG – Adam and Kieran both ran up to their recent form to finish 8th and 11th respectively to ensure we scored an overwhelming victory in the South West team contest. Their target now must be to add the Midland title at the end of the month.
1 ALEC WOODS – Alec answered a late call to arms to help our depleted men’s team retain the South West title. As reliable as ever he finished well inside the top 20 in 16th place and only narrowly missed copping the Masters title into the bargain. He was only 11 secs down on the winner and hot favourite Jon James and four less on former marathon star Stuart Hall, but did at least salvage the bronze medal.
2 HEATH BAMPTON – Following in Alec’s footsteps Heath too came to our rescue and completed the men’s scoring team. He also ran well to finish in the top 20 in 19th position, which ultimately left us with a convincing victory over Somerset rivals Wells City. Unfortunately in what proved to be a high standard vets race he had to be satisfied with 4th place in the V40 category.
3 MARK SCRUTTON – Although our men’s team lost the servicess of Dan Woolford, Harry Webb, Andy Chambers and Steve Goss, all with chest infections, Mark perhaps unwisely soldiered round with his and performed heroically to survive the gruelling contours of the Bicton Park terrain, eventually coming in only just outside the top 50, but like Heath he too just missed out on the V50 medals by less than 20 secs in 4th place.
1 KATE GOODHEAD – Kate continued her globetrotting travels by finishing an impressive 4th in Barcelona’s New Year’s Eve 10K road race. Her spanking time of 34:01 – her second best ever – duly earned her selection for the England team to compete in the Elgoibar international cross-country race in Spain on Sunday week.
2 IMOGEN AINSWORTH – Imo had a ding-dong battle with eventual winner Laura Parker in the South West cross-country championships, but sufferring from a leg injury that deteriorated on the tough Bicton course eventually had to settle for the bronze medal behind Parker and Commonwealth Games marathon representative Holly Rush.
3 NIKKI BROOKLAND – Nursing an injured thigh muscle Nikki had problems on the steep climbs at Bicton, but still stuck resolutely to her task and finished less than 20 secs away from the medals in 7th place.
1 HANNAH ALDERSON – Hannah not only won the South West U20 title, but beat all bar four of the seniors at Bicton, including Olympic modern pentathlon silver medallist Heather Fell. Finishing 5th, she was only 21 secs behind the winner Laura Parker, and as a result of her impressive early season form has also been selected to make her debut for the England U20 team in the Elgoibar international in Spain next week.
2 VANESSA BRANN – In one of her first outings of the winter Vanessa did well to finish as high as 7th in the Gloucestershire senior cross-country championship and duly landed the U20 county title held in conjunction.
3 VICTORIA KENNY – Although not in action at Bicton, Vicky warrants a belated mention for winning the Clevedon Young Athletes race on Boxing Day.
1 VIV McCONNELL – Viv celebrated her return to the club by contributing to what was at least a Pyrrhic victory for our women’s team in the South West team championship. With our three other runners all in the top seven, we seemed certain to retain the team title, but with Alice Hector failing to turn up we had no fourth counter. However with Viv, who belied her years to finish in the top 20 in 18th place, we would have won with something to spare. From her own point of view she was giving up to the best part of ten years to her rivals, yet revelling in the tough terrain ended up only 40 seconds behind the V45 winner Revis Crowle from Cornwall.
2 NO OTHER PERFORMANCES OF NOTE
MIKE DOWN (13-01-11)