Gwent League at Bath University – Saturday 9th February 2013

Bristol & West Senior Women’s Team Manager Keith Brackstone found a new role this weekend as assistant to Dave Saker of Bath University who were staging the Gwent League – thus he saw most of the races from the marshal’s view point where the course divided into short and long laps. However, he took a quick break to cheer on the Senior Women as they tried to close the 24 point gap on Westbury Harriers. A great race ensued with three runners getting away early on as new signing Helen Beggs (Sharpe) tried to shake off Emma D’Alton of Westbury Harriers and Flo Dannah of North Somerset. Up the last hill and Helen had a narrow lead but a slight error heading out as if to run another loop gave Emma just the impetus she needed to take the individual win in 20.21 with Helen two seconds back and Flo third in 20.40. Lucy Richens was next in for Westbury Harriers (21.12) before Marie Kirton led Bristol & West in finishing sixth in 21.30.

Early on in the race a large number of the team were together prompting that well rehearsed cry of Great packing ladies – and with Helen running as a guest and no shows from Rebekah Randell, Kate Goodhead and Jenny Jagger (Rebekah and Jenny due to illness) great packing was what was needed. Viv McConnell showed that she has managed to ignore the sands of time as she spent most of the race just inside the top 10 before an inspired Charlotte Green just caught her on the line as they finished Charlotte tenth and Viv eleventh both in 21.49. Georgie Salmon in eighteenth (22.21) and Sarah Everitt (22.38) saw the club with sixth in the first 20. Not far behind Claire Jolliffe finished 23rd in 22.45 and the timings show how close a race it was. Tracy Allan was next in for the club in 36th place (24.00) having worked her way through the field. Henrietta Anstey finished 43rd in 24.27 before Aimee Davies (66th in 26.01) and Ali Hurford 67th in 26.05 came home. Becci Colquhoun took a break from training for the London Marathon to finish 84th in 27.00 and Marie Lakin just missed the first 100 – finishing 101st in 28.44. Great to see thirteen ladies racing – let’s hope we can get even more out for the final Gwent League Race in Brecon on Saturday 2nd March 2013.

In the team event Westbury Harriers and Bristol & West both scored 630 points on the day to share top spot. Overall Westbury have 3,012 points and Bristol & West have 2,988 its mighty close – could we pull it out of the bag in the last race? In the ‘B’ team competition Westbury ‘B; finished fifth overall (532 points for a running total of 2,352) while our ladies were seventh overall and second ‘B’ Team (464 on the day and 1,954 overall). I doubt we will be able to pull 398 points back on the last fixture.

In the Senior Men’s Race Team Manager Chris Elson faced a similar problem – good numbers and great team spirit but a lack of a couple of stars to lead the team home, although in this regard there was another great effort from Phil Parry who finished tenth in 35.49 and first M45 (although Phil is actually now over 50). Andy Cooke finished nineteenth in 37.01– despite arriving only 12 minutes before the start. Andy looked strong throughout and a top twenty finish was well deserved. Martin Lucass finished fortieth in 38.51 – made his debut for the club (although as an individual as he is not yet clear to run for us in a team) – hopefully he will be cleared to run by the next Gwent League race. Peter Gandon was 49th in 39.23, not far in front of Paul Jefferson 53rd in 39.31 and Andy Malloy 57th in 39.40, great packing by the trio who kept each other going right throughout the race. Dave Bedwell finished 64th in 40.01 – 1st M55 (although Steve Hollier the first V60 was a little way in front). Colin Traer finished 85th in 40.48, Jack Loveday was 102nd in 41.50,  Mark Grace finished 117th in 42.35, Mo Osman was 140th in 44.12 and Daryl Begg was 142nd in 44.22 – cheered on throughout by wife Helen who was not short of a few tips as to how he might run faster!  Great to see eleven finishers from the club in the Senior Men’s Race. On the day the Men finished fifth with 917 points to remain third overall with 4,935 points. The league leaders are Les Croupiers on 5,268 and are away and clear but it is possible with a strong last race that we could still overhaul Cardiff University the current occupiers of the runners-up slot with 4,978 so only 43 points clear.

As usual only the senior results are currently on the league web site  but other results of note  are the victory of Victoria Kenny in the Women’s Under-20/Under-17 race which she won by 37 seconds. In the equivalent Men’s race Keiran Young finished a fine fifth.

Ali Hurford reports that her trio of under-11 boys all enjoyed themselves and it was great to see Stan in action for the first time. All three ran as expected and they will offer great support to the under-13 team next year. Their finishing positions were Nathan Merchant in eleventh place, Stan Harding Hill finished nineteenth and Robert Kiekuth was 36th.

The under-13 team was a little depleted due to half-term holidays and illness but all seven rose to the occasion and it was great to see Hugh Sadler at the front of the field and setting a great example to the younger lads. The run by Luke Garner Greene was the performance of the day for Ali. He was so keen to be in the scoring four and is a year young in the age group. Finally Dylan Quibell ran his first race for the club and Ali expects that he will make a great contribution to the under-13 team next season. Their finishing positions were Hugh Sadler (3), Anton Mills (10), Kyle Haynes (19), Luke Garner Greene (27), Otis Harding Hill (35), Daniel Marshall (37) and Dylan Quibell (41). As ever Steve Burley was there with his camera and a selection of shots can be found at: http://www.bristolandwestac.org/cross-country-running-photos/

Full junior results will be added as soon as they are available.

Looking back, 2 years ago the men were demoted to Division 3 in about twenty-fifth place and the women were ninth with only half the number of points of a certain other club. Some improvement – but still someway to go! The same was true of the young athletes but thanks to Ali and the two Daves their fortunes are also on the rise.