South-West Cross-Country – Sunday 8th January 2017 – Exeter Racecourse

The club concentrated on senior competitors at the South-West Cross-Country with Alan Thomas’ group providing all bar one of the young athletes who ran. The Club has such a strong tradition at this event that the Senior Team Managers are always keen to see a strong club display which is becoming harder to achieve with fewer of our top seniors wishing to compete over the Country. Nevertheless those who do turn out and compete always enjoy the event and produce great team spirit and this Sunday was no exception. Exeter Racecourse was a new venue to almost all of us and the general feedback was enormously positive.

The first race with a club interest was the Senior Men’s Race where Owain JONES was defending the individual title and Bristol & West the club title. For two and a half laps of the three lap course Owain and young Tom Mortimer of Stroud & District swapped the lead before Owain stepped on the gas to pull away for a comfortable win in 27:22 for the 8.5 kilometre course. Behind him Pete LE GRICE ran a solid race to finish sixth in 28:20 with Jack MILLAR in close attendance in seventh place in 28:34. Luke EVANS makes it clear that cross-country is his least favourite surface but give him someone to chase and a firm bit of grass and he will finish like a train – just ask Josh DAVIES of North Somerset. I think he was robbed to be given tenth place and to make the gap one second was rubbing salt in the wounds. On paper Luke was tenth in 28:55.

Andy SALMON and Maciej BIALOGONSKI were our next two finishers with Andy another who produced a strong finish as he was twenty-second in 30:13 with Maciej twenty-third in 30:18. Their performances gave the team the required team win with 55 points clear of Wells City who scored 97 points.

Great backing for the first team came in the shape of strong runs from Henry SLY (thirty-eighth in 31:47), Gary STANDINGER (fortieth in 31:52), Tom DOBRA (fiftieth in 32:35), Tony ROPER (fifty-fifth in 33:01), Steve GRANT (eighty-fourth in 36:35), Peter MOUNTAIN (ninety-second in 37:56) and Jon GOODLAND (ninety-fourth in 38:10). It was great to see our ladies team out giving the men such vocal support.

With the addition of Josh Davies (North Somerset) and Dan Jones (Team Bath) the Senior Men took the inter-county title for Avon.

In the Senior Ladies race which concluded the events several of the Senior Men returned the compliment and gave the Ladies rousing support at various points on the course. Fiona MARKS heeded her coach’s advice to start a little more conservatively than in her first ever cross-country race and moved through nicely to finish fourth in the race and take the bronze in the Senior Race in the process as she clocked 22:01. Behind her there was great packing from Julia BELYAVIN (thirteenth in 22:48), Clare JOLLIFFE (sixteenth in 22:55), Imogen PECK (seventeenth in 22:57) and Sarah EVERETT (eighteenth in 22:58). At this stage we all felt the ladies had done enough as Bristol & West seemed to be the only team competing in Club vests – so imagine the disappointment when the team results were announced and the team finished second with  50 points just one point behind Cornwall AC who scored 49 points. Two seconds made the difference!! Avon made up entirely of Bristol & West ladies finished second behind Cornwall in the Inter-Counties results.

Fiona Marks – Queen of Bling

As with the senior men there was great support for the first team with several new club members making strong debuts for the club. Polly AINSLEY finished twenty-second in 23:08 – just four seconds behind Cornwall AC’s last scorer. Behind Polly Rosey MUSHENS finished forty-first (eighth F45) in 25:06 and hardly got her new spikes dirty! Nicola OLDROYD finished in forty-seventh place ( 25:25), just one place in front of Emma JOLLIFFE (forty-eighth in 25:34) with Molly CHILTON last lady home for the club in fifty-third place in 25:58.

A Happy Senior Ladies Team After The Race

One of the things that stood out was how strongly all the seniors finished with many gaining places in the last 100 metres so we must be doing something right.

In the younger age groups Aiden OSCROFT finished twentieth in the under-13 Boy’s race in 8:09 but just 9 seconds would have seen him finish in twelfth place in a very competitive race. In the under-13 girls race Grace ASHCROFT was first club finisher in fourteenth place (8:41) with Alice BRIDGER MORALES in seventeenth place in 8:45. In the Under-15 girl’s race Rosie WHITEHEAD finished twentieth in 10:45 with Nelly BRIDGER MORALES forty-second in 11:16. In the under-17 Ladies race Olivia BURTON was the first club athlete home in fourteenth place in 15:41 with Elizabeth PLEWS twenty-third in 16:34. Olivia helped Avon to second place in the County Competition behind Cornwall.

Keith Brackstone reports.

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