1 TOM RUSSELL – Tom continued his cautiously measured comeback after his accidental fall that prevented him doing any serious training for nearly a month before Christmas with a confidence-restoring 7th place in the McCains Cardiff Cross Challenge. Though evidently still by no means race fit, he still finished only a minute off a podium position despite running the second half of the race almost in isolation. This race is sure to have brought him on and should pay off in next weekend’s Midland championships.
2 ROBBIE BUGDEN – Robbie had to be satisfied with 11th place at Cardiff and was disappointed not to have matched his fine effort the previous week in the South West championships, though by his own admission his performance there had surprised him. Although he was only 16 seconds down on Tom he was realistic enough in his post race assessment to acknowledge that he still has work to do to regain his international form of two years ago.
3 DAN WOOLFORD – How one might ask can you nominate an athlete here who has dropped out of a race? The simple answer is that when you are in the throes of recovering from a viral infection discretion can very much be the better part of valour, and Dan, who is no quitter, to his credit reluctantly realised that he was likely to set himself back even further by struggling to finish, especially with the major championships on the horizon.
1 HOBIE MARTIN – Hobie continues to look a star in the making, and in a repeat of last year’s Cardiff Cross Challenge when he dominated the U15 race, he always looked in control of this year’s U17 event and unstretched as he pulled away from English Schools 1500m silver medallist Richard Charles when the heat was turned up in the final kilometre.
2 LUKE JACOBS – Luke maintained the startling progress he has made in recent weeks by mixing it at the elite end of the same U17 race and did more than hang on to finish an encouraging sixth little more than half a minute down on clubmate Hobie.
3 MATT DEACON – Matt may not have made a major impact in the under-20 event, but he was up against a very select high class junior field and kept plugging away, as he had in the previous week’s South West championship race, to finish less than a minute outside the top 20 in 27th place.
1 PHIL PARRY – Phil looks to be getting back to his old conveyor belt best following the ankle problem that decimated the first half of his winter season. Yet he was surprised to score such an emphatic victory in the special vets race at the Cardiff Cross Challenge. What’s more had he been able to trace any Welsh blood in his ancestry he would have been crowned Welsh champion!
2&3 – NO OTHER PERFORMANCES OF NOTE
1 LUCY MACALISTER – Lucy seems to be improving with every race this winter and duly won the latest Surrey Women’s League cross-country fixture at Ham. Setting the pace virtually from pillar to post she still had the legs in the closing stages to shake off former international and fellow young mum Natalie Harvey, who had shadowed her throughout. Unfortunately she has decided to concentrate on the road now for the rest of the winter season so will not be available for the major cross-country championships.
2&3 – NO OTHER PERFORMANCES OF NOTE
1 ANNABEL GUMMOW – Unlike Lucy, Annabel had to settle for second place after leading virtually all the way in the U20 race at Cardiff. Her conqueror was Aldershot’s fast improving fellow junior international Louise Small, who shadowed her constantly and just had the faster legs on the run-in. But it was no major upset for Annabel, who had not eased up on her training for the race, and she could take heart form the fierce pace she set, which left the pair of them seemingly in a different race to the rest of the field who trailed home some minute and a half adrift!
2 VICTORIA KENNY – Victoria is one of the fastest improving young runners in the club and demonstrated so again by finishing a very creditable 7th in the U17 event at Cardiff less than a minute down on her Schools international clubmate and training partner Olivia Sadler.
3 OLIVIA SADLER – With her long stride our English Schools intermediate girls 1500m silver medallist never looks at home on the mud, which is hardly surprising for a middle distance track specialist, and this certainly looked the case at Cardiff where she had to be satisfied with 5th position more than a minute behind the winner of the U17 race. Nevertheless it’s all capital in the bank in terms of developing her strength for the next track season.
1 VIV McCONNELL – Unlike Olivia, Viv is a real mudlark and positively relished the deteriorating underfoot conditions in Bute Park. Even so she surprised herself by not only running out a clear winner of the V50 prize in the Masters race, but only losing second place overall in the closing stages to an athlete some ten years younger. It was a super effort to celebrate her return to the club from Clevedon.
2 ALISON HURFORD – Ali is certainly no mudlark, yet she too continued the steady return to form she has been showing this winter by following Viv home in 7th place less than a minute down on her recently restored clubmate.
3 SIAN DAVIES – Sian failed to consolidate the progress she has been making on her recent comeback after her long break from competition and finished behind Ali this time in 9th place, though in fairness to her she was not feeling well and was content to use the race as a workout and just get round.
MIKE DOWN (21-01-11)