1 MICHAEL JOHNSON – Mike zoomed straight to the top of the 2011 UK Half-marathon rankings after leading the Welsh representative team home in 7th place at the Barcelona International Half. His time – an impressive 65:20 – was also a new personal best and might have been under 65 minutes had he not first been left detached on his own after bravely going with the five strong African contingent through the first 5K in 15:02 and then subsequently gone left round the final roundabout instead of taking the first exit to the right, which cost him 6th place by just one second.
2= ROBBIE BUGDEN and PHIL WYLIE – It would be invidious to split these two who did us proud by mixing it at the sharp end of what was a high class Midland cross-country championship field headed by internationals James Walsh, Bruce Raeside and Matt O’Dowd. Both of them held their postions well to finish 7th and 8th respectively ahead of Birchfield’s Kenyan road running star Jean Ndaysenga. It was certainly Robbie’s best run of the season, while international duathlete Phil continues to underline his running ability. With another three weeks training behind them both will be targeting a top 20 place in the National.
3= JON WILLS and MATT CRANE – Jon, who openly admits to a strong aversion to soft muddy ground, surprised himself by producing what was probably his best ever cross-country performance to finish as our third runner home in 14th place and only around a minute behind our leading pair. He is clearly benefiting from the tough off-road weekend sessions he is doing with Britain’s top two triathletes the Brownlee brothers in Leeds. Matt for his part may have been 20 places behind Jon in 34th position, but his was a specacular effort for what was a first attempt at a cross-country event of this standard. An international orienteer himself, his running has already progressed significantly since joining the club and it was some achievement to finish only a couple of places and seconds behind Westbury’s Matt Ellis, whose recent fine road race performances make him arguably the most improved runner on the local distance running scene this winter.
1 RHYS PARK – Rhys produced his best run of the season so far to take the bronze medal in the Midland U17 championship and lead our squad to what was an overwhelming victory in the team race. Always in the leading group Rhys only missed out on the silver medal in a desperate final sprint and can now look forward to challenging for a top ten place in the National.
2= LUKE JACOBS and ZAK TOBIAS – Luke and Zak, who have both only just moved up this season from the U15 category, ran for most of the way chasing Rhys and the leaders in the second group, with Luke eventually using his superior strength at the finish to pull clear of his clubmate, though both did well to make the top ten in their first year at this leval.
3 ADAM SPEAKE – It takes four to make a team, and with Hobie Martin taking a well deserved rest it was left to Adam to make sure of the gold medals and he made no mistake. Timing his race perfectly he moved through strongly on the final climb to get into the top 20 and make sure of what proved a commanding victory. It remains to be seen now with Hobie back in the line-up whether they can mount a serious medal challenge in the National.
1 ALEC WOODS – We missed Alec’s second place finish in last week’s Bath multi-terrain 10K behind Bitton’s Rob Farley, which continued his preparations for next month’s National Vets championship.
2/3 NO OTHER PERFORMANCES NOTED.
1 KATE GOODHEAD – Kate achieved the medal she has long coveted in these championships. It was a well deserved reward for the progress she has been showing all winter both on road and country. She chased the winner Hannah Whitmore from the outset, and though eventually collared by Whitmore’s international clubmate Jane Potter, she held on well to secure the bronze medal. This followed a fine 14th place for an England representative team in the Elgoibar international in Spain the previous weekend.
2 REBEKAH RANDELL – After a break from racing since winning Weston’s Christmas Cracker 10K due to injury and illness Rebekah proved she has been working hard in the interim by making an impressive start to her New Year’s racing programme as she followed Kate home in 4th place. With these two sure to benefit from the race they must both be shooting for a top ten place in the National later this month.
3 CHARLEY COFFEY – Taking time out from her new doctor’s duties Charley proved that, despite lack of time for training properly, she still has what it takes and made sure we took the silver medals behind perennial rivals Charnwood by closing our team score out in what was a very respectable 18th place.
1 ELLIE WIMSHURST – Ellie underlined her international cross-country pedigree by making a spectacular return to racing in the U20 championship. Always a good judge of pace she took her time to join the group forcing the pace at the front, but once there showed why she is one of the country’s leading junior runners over this sort of terrain to move into the silver medal position behind a none the less impressive winner in Rowena Cole.
2 HANNAH ALDERSON – Hannah maintained the progress she has been making this winter by following Ellie home in the bronze medal position. Running positively from the start on the sort of ground that is not her favourite and hardly suited to her running stride, she stuck doggedly to the task and should be pleased to have secured a podium place.
3 ANNIKA JARMAN – With Ellie and Hannah leading the way Annika only had to get round safely to make sure we took the U20 team title, but she did much better than that by making the top ten in 8th place. This trio now must surely be in with a great chance of matching their medal-winning performance in the English cross relay championships in the National at Alton Towers on February 19.
1 CAMILLA BRIGGS – Camilla is proving to be the backbone of our women’s team. Whoever else is not available, rest assured Camilla is there to come to the rescue and she did it again at Leamington by ending up as our third scorer in 17th place just ahead of Charley. It was another fine effort and suggests that she is sure to make her presence felt in next month’s Masters championships.
2 HELEN FINES – Helen could clearly have done with another climb or two to take the sting out of the leading runners, but though short of pace due to her concentration on the fell-running season she only just failed to make a top 20 position and was not far adrift of Camilla and Charley in 21st place.
3 ALISON HURFORD – Rather like Camilla Ali can always be relied on to support the women’s team, and despite giving away more than ten years at least to the rest of her clubmates still held her own to finish 71st just ahead of Lisa Newing, who it was good to see back in action again.
MIKE DOWN (2-02-11)