National XC Champs 2019: junior boys

27 Feb

The young athletes in the club had a brilliant weekend of it at the English National Cross Country Championships at Harewood House on Saturday 23rd February. Here, Ali Hurford reports on the efforts of the u13 boys, and Emma Withers on the u15 and u17s.

Under 13 boys end of half term week with sun, a run, plus lots of fun.
Personally speaking I felt this was one of the finest venues I have been to in the last 25 years. The weather certainly helped, as did the easy parking and plenty of toilets. The going was perfect and the course enabled us to cheer on all eight lads several times.Most of the team had not run at this level before but thankfully everyone heeded my advice & arrived in excellent time. Due to the new banner kindly donated by one of the grand parents we were easy to spot amongst the numerous club tents. Before long there was quite a crowd around the tent consisting of not just Ali’s Army but many parents, grand parents and friends who had come along to support.Once I had explained the start procedure, as well as watching proceeding races gallop up the hill, the squad warmed up really professionally together. After a little team chat ie ‘run with confidence’ I could do no more as they joined the flock to enter the start area. I always admire the start officials who try and control the u13 lads which is possibly the most competitive race in the junior section in terms of numbers & teams finishing.
The first to show at the top of the hill was Tomek Czerepinski (108) who ran his best race all season. It must of been the lasagne I watched him consume the night before. Not far behind came Jay Hunt (136) also running well   & using this race for a warm up for the inter counties as he has been selected to represent Avon & Somerset in a couple of weeks time. A real battle was developing just behind as Ishmael Bradley (163) & Nicholas Pestell (165) closed in the scoring team who all finished within 21 seconds of one another. I had no time to blink. Fred Cummins (257) who has been a consistent member of the group for many years especially in the Gwent league so he is looking forward to receiving his team silver next weekend. New to the team Vijay Bakrani (322) who is also young in the age group will have certainly learnt a lot from this experience and he will go from strength to strength over the next year hopefully. Looking much more comfortable these days Alex Robertson (369) is quietly getting on with it and is a great advert for just having a go. Sticking to my advice due to illness last weekend Ben Pocock (376) ran a very sensible race and should be proud of his achievement especially as has next year in the same age group.

After the race it was quite a party atmosphere. The lads were spotted by a professional photographer who took several wacky shots. Due to the weather no one was in a hurry to rush off so once the cake was consumed we awaited the team results. My original thoughts of a top 20 result were dashed when two days before Misha Evans had an unfortunate accident on a climbing wall, plus half term commitments  meant Eoin O’Halloran was unable to commit to the race. However both Misha and Eoin have run consistently all season and will be back in action at Blaise this weekend. So I was really delighted for all eight runners when I looked at the results to see we had finished 22nd out of 43 teams. This was a very rewarding performance as a result of a genuine desire to be the best you can be on the day.
So all looking forward to the finale at Blaise this Saturday. The plan is to have an abundance of cake and lots of laughter.

Ali Hurford

The very impressive flag, and beautiful sunshine at Harewood

Smoked salmon and scrambled eggs – the ‘champion’s breakfast’?
9 boys made the long journey to Leeds on Friday night. Carb
loading in the Brown Cow pub next door and a good night’s rest in
the Premier Inn we were fighting fit the next morning for the 20-
minute drive to Harewood House. What a stunning location for a
race, the mist lifted and the sun shone.
Our two hero’s in the u15 race, Jay Akbar and Amos Kingston lined
up in a field of 344 runners, a great pen position, 83, they got off
to a good uphill start. Perfect running conditions for Jay, he
worked his way through the athletes to finish in 211th position in a
time of 15.59, over three minutes faster than at Parliament Hill
last year. Amos Kingston, bounded to the finish in 306th position in
a time of 17.37. Exhausted, both said that it was a tough race.

The u17 boys warmed up in the sunshine and lined up in pen 73 in
a field of 272 runners. First home in position 71 (21.01), Fred
Hawker, who ran a competitive race and delighted in being in the
first 100 finishers. Smoked salmon and scrambled eggs clearly a
champions breakfast. Ollie Harper followed in 139th place (22.17),
having run a fast first lap, a leg injury slowed him up on the
second lap and he hobbled into the first aid tent at the end. Ollie
was still smiling when we caught up with him having to accept
that today was not his day. Ollie has vowed to be back next year
for his second year in the u17 team. 3rd home, Luke Iles 153th
(22.35) made good headway through the field, finishing in style
along the home stretch. Nathan Marchant showed strength and
stamina finishing in 175th position (22.59). Lewis Adamson, who
has been struggling with injury, 227th (24.16) finishing without
pain and still smiling and the ever-reliable Robert Kiekuth 260th
(26.33) completed the team. The u17 team were cheered on by
team-mate Otto Kingston who continues to struggle with knee
pain and made the tough, but right, decision not to run on the
day. The u17’s were 13th team overall.

Emma Withers