The club’s Annual General Meeting for 2020 will be held on 17-APR at the Kings Head near the Whitehall track, all club members are invited to attend, please come along and find out more about what is going on in the club. Further details to follow closer to the time.
A reminder that applications are now open for the Peter Hargreaves Performance Awards & the Peter Hargreaves Scholarships for young athletes and close on 14-JAN.
Application forms can be downloaded here:
Completed forms should be returned to Mike Down – firstname.lastname@example.org by 14th January 2020.
CHAMPS AGAIN IT’S SMASH ‘N GRAB ON ALDON HILL!
One can only say well done guys (and gals) for once again doing the club proud in the South West cross country championships at Aldon Hill, Yeovil. However you look at the results – four in the first six, including the individual silver and bronze medals for FELIX MCGRATH and KURT TAYLOR, our five counters all in the top ten, and the score of our second five finishers bettered only by the overall silver medallists Cornwall AC – this was as good a smash ‘n grab raid as we have made on these championships in recent years.
When one considers too that arguably our four top cross country runners PETE LE GRICE, JACK MILLAR, WILL CHRISTOFI and ANDY CHAMBERS were not in our line-up, the results here was another outstanding display of the team’s growing strength in depth as we launch another assault on the country’s major winter cross and road championships.
Call it the taming of Aldon Hill if you like, though a pound to a penny more than a few runners’ sore limbs on Monday morning would agree to a score draw! Not Felix however, for when it comes to horses for courses our good doctor knows how to pick ’em. He gave us a first glimpse of how to speed up and down slopes when winning the Tri-Counties title at Bath University last month, but the leg-sapping ramp and fast downhill stretch though the Aldon Hill valley that had to be encountered four times in less than half an hour provided an altogether stronger dose of his fell running expertise. The inscrutable expression on his face each time he appeared to breeze up the brutal climb while others’ legs were clearly screaming for mercy suggests that he has vaccinated himself against such moments of fleeting torture!
In the circumstances it was predictable that it was Felix who led the chase of the fierce early pace set by experienced Wiltshire hardman ED KNUDSEN, who himself was soon joined by the pre-race favourite Cardiff’s international road runner JAKE SMITH on the preliminary hilly loop before the main lap was re-joined that had to be covered four times. At this point Kurt, BEN WESTHENRY and ANDY WATT were grouped together no more than 10m down on Felix., with HARRY ALLEN duly making sure we already had our scoring quintet well to the fore.
Knudsen, apparently unaware of Smith’s pedigree, perhaps unwisely tried to keep forcing the pace on the second lap, but by the third time round Smith had duly made his class tell forging ahead on his own, while Felix with Kurt still in his slipstream, began to close the gap on Knudsen, with Andy and Ben now well clear of the rest in 5th and 6th positions respectively.
Not much actually changed from there to the finish, other than that Knudsen, having looked as if he was weakening third time up the hill with Felix and Kurt by then in relatively close attendance, seemed to find an extra gear on the last long run along the valley in a final effort to drop our pair before the final decisive climb. But though he managed to open a small gap on his two rivals, Felix soon reeled him in up the long drag with Kurt struggling desperately to limit the damage before the long run down to the finish. Off the crest of the climb Felix, as unperturbed as ever by the ascent, wasted no time in stealing the initiative on the Wiltshire man and went headfirst for home to secure the silver medal. Kurt meanwhile, having agonisingly limited his loss on the two of them to no more than 20 metres at the top of the ramp, used his superior natural speed on the final 500m run-in to overhaul Knudsen within sight of the line and finish just two seconds down on his clubmate and take the bronze medal in what was undoubtedly the best cross country race of his career to date.
Behind our leading pair Andy and Ben were never in danger of losing their top six positions, with Andy once again underlining the remarkable progress he has made during the past six months and Ben proving indisputably that he is on the way back after more than two years in the wilderness created by his chronic shin problem. Harry meanwhile, despite his well advertised dislike not only of cross country but even more so of hills, did all that was necessary to close our score in 10th place not that far ahead of team captain OWAIN JONES and JED BARTLETT, who had progressively worked their way through the chasing pack to provide ideal back up in 11th and 13th positions respectively. Owain, who was actually defending the title he won last year, was happy enough to have got round as well as he did after missing so much training last year due to a niggling knee injury, while Jed again demonstrated the continued improvement he has made over the last 12 months. Further back DAVE EAGON in 30th, PETE BAINS 45th and ROB FARLEY 68th completed our second five with a score that would have been good enough for the bronze medals.
Interestingly the team results produced the unusual stat that our club team, thanks to Ben who was representing Dorset, ended up with a lower score than the winner of the accompanying inter county championship Avon, of which we provided all six counters. Finally though we failed to produce the individual winner, we did have a champion on the day in JON GOODLAND, who took the V60 gold, while stalwart trouper TONY ROPER added the bronze in the V50 category.
So begins the countdown to next month’s National cross country championships, the first stepstone for which looks to be Chepstow’s Speedway 10K on Sunday week that on the face of it promises to be the club’s unofficial club championship! The Midland cross championships follow two weeks later, for which anyone wanting to run who hasn’t already told us – and that includes the National as well – should let Chris know urgently as the entries close midweek.
PS News of a fine run by ANDY CHAMBERS, who must surely must be the fittest unfit man in the club. Having declined to enter the South west champs on the grounds that he was not fit enough to do himself justice, Andy proved what he might achieve when fully fit by pushing former clubmate TOM MERSON (24:22) all the way in Exeter’s inaugural CityRuns New Year 5 mile road race to smash his previous best by more than half a minute with a time of 24:33 that takes him to the top of the club rankings for the distance.
Bristol and West South West XC results
|5||635||Isabelle||Talbot Price||Bristol & West AC||Avon||SW||22.04|
|6||582||Natalie||Griffiths||Bristol & West AC||Avon||SW||22.12|
|7||580||Annabel||Granger||Bristol & West AC||Avon||F45||22.19|
|18||614||Catie||O’Donoghue||Bristol & West AC||Avon||SW||23.10|
|22||578||Elaina||Gard||Bristol & West AC||Avon||SW||23.30|
|31||570||Sarah||Everitt||Bristol & West AC||Avon||F45||24.20|
|50||558||Emma||Clarke||Bristol & West AC||Avon||SW||26.09|
|56||594||Georgina||Holt||Bristol & West AC||Avon||SW||27.38|
|2||774||Felix||McGrath||Bristol & West AC||Avon||SM||27.30|
|3||819||Kurt||Taylor||Bristol & West AC||Avon||SM||27.32|
|5||828||Andy||Watt||Bristol & West AC||Avon||SM||27.54|
|6||831||Benedict||Westhenry||Bristol & West AC||Dorset||SM||28.01|
|10||685||Harry||Allen||Bristol & West AC||Avon||SM||28.41|
|11||763||Owain||Jones||Bristol & West AC||Avon||SM||28.47|
|13||693||Jed||Bartlett||Bristol & West AC||Avon||SM||28.51|
|30||729||David||Eagon||Bristol & West AC||Avon||SM||29.37|
|45||691||Peter||Bains||Bristol & West AC||Avon||SM||30.32|
|68||734||Robert||Farley||Bristol & West AC||Gloucestershire||SM||31.55|
|74||686||Aled||Anderson||Bristol & West AC||Not SW||SM||32.11|
|76||697||Samuel||Bentley||Bristol & West AC||Avon||SM||32.17|
|88||805||Anthony||Roper||Bristol & West AC||Somerset||M50||33.25|
|122||738||Jonathan||Goodland||Bristol & West AC||Avon||M60||36.05|
|124||768||Nathan||Lomax Cooke||Bristol & West AC||Avon||SM||36.31|
|4||266||Megan||Hornung||Bristol & West AC||Avon||U15G||14.38|
|15||279||Amy||Nicholls||Bristol & West AC||Avon||U15G||15.59|
|23||262||Fleur||Hayden||Bristol & West AC||Avon||U15G||16.35|
|42||353||Jay||Hunt||Bristol & West AC||Avon||U15B||18.29|
|50||351||Joseph||Hull||Bristol & West AC||Avon||U15B||19.17|
Bristol & West Athletic Club will be hosting the fourth round of the Gwent Cross-Country League at Chepstow Race Course on Saturday 8 February 2020 and we urgently need volunteer marshals to mark the course on the day. Keith Brackstone and Steve Grant are leading on the club’s preparations for the event so please contact one of them to let them know if you are available to help.
We will need a minimum of 12 marshals but the more the merrier as we will be able to split the day if we get more than 8 volunteers. Please spread the word. This will be the first time in several years that the club has hosted a Gwent League fixture so we want the event to go off really smoothly and with no complaints.
Although coaching, training & racing can be tricky during the Christmas holidays it failed to deter this keen squad of endurance runners who certainly did not let the grass grow under their feet throughout the festive season.
Making the most of some fun training during the day light hours plus a well supported tinsel run on Christmas eve kept many lads plus their parents, dogs & siblings busy & enjoying all that Ashton Court has to offer especially the café at the end of training.
There were numerous Parkrun PBs as listed below.
What better way to start Christmas day so well done Ronnie Wilmott who took part at Windmill Hill 2k running 7mins 25sec PB
Boxing day was the turn of u11 Eddie Bent who raced really well over 3k in the junior race at Clevedon. He was supported by Barney Thomas & Alfie England.
Another Parkrun PB on 29th Dec was always on the cards & again Eddie Bent gave it his all finishing first in 8min exactly. So sub 8 is the aim for 2020.
Several boys plus parents held back on the New Eve Year celebrations & as the photo suggests were all smiles at the Eastville Parkrun & both Felix Pearson (22.53) & Alfie England (26.06) kicked of the New Year in style recording PBs.
We are all looking forward to a busy January with school races shortly plus the Midland champs which on paper suggests we have a competitive team. Everyone just has to stay well & in one piece, which with such a lively bunch is quite a challenge for their coach.
Title not on offer!
If anyone thought the recent Weston Prom 5 and our Xmas handicap race two days later would be a call for easing up for the Christmas festivities, you would be underestimating the competitive focus of our runners, many of whom have been in action since in the build up to the first major championship of the winter season – Sunday’s South West cross championships at Aldon Hill, Yeovil.
Our new Tri-Counties champion FELIX MCGRATH (19:34) led the way at Clevedon on Boxing Day. Exploiting his well known love for running up and down hills, he stamped his authority on the annual festive 4 mile race just after halfway on the long drag up Holly Lane to the top of the course. Once clear he was never headed, yet he was never able to ease off as clubmate ANDY CHAMBERS (19:46) never gave up the chase and lost no further ground on the long run back down into the town and finish, Felix’s eventual winning margin being around 60 metres. Behind our leading pair, recent recruit JOE CONNORS (20:23) was just outsprinted for 4th place by fellow BTC member ALEX CROSSLAND (20:22), while ROB FARLEY (21:08) and SAM COTTERELL (21:10) both ran well to finish 12th and 13th
respectively in what was a huge field.
This past weekend it was KURT TAYLOR who stole the honours. Primed by what was his best ever mile rep session in near gale force conditions at Aztec West on Christmas Eve morning, he slashed no less than 80 seconds off his previous best time in the popular Ribble Valley 10K with a ground breaking effort of 30:15. Further back his track training partner JOSH MOODY proved he is regaining fitness following a troublesome groin strain that has restricted his training this autumn by also breaking new ground with a new pb of 32:04, but ADAM STOKES was presumably less happy with his time, though he has been nursing an achilles problem for the last month or so.
Meanwhile closer home, but also breaking new ground PETE BAINS chose the Cardiff Parkrun to dip under 16 mins for the first time, his new 5K pb of 15:52 well and truly earning his BTC spurs!
Sunday too saw another spate of pb’s in the Gloucester 10 mile road race. ANDY DRAKE was the pacesetter here, his 55:55 for 6th place carving a massive four minutes plus off his previous best for the distance, while not far behind him JAMIE HINTON (56:38) 8th, ALEX
WHITTAKER (57:31) 11th and GARETH HUGHES (58:55) 15th also broke new ground.
Finally with the testing climbs at Aldon Hill on Sunday in mind our home based members of the team put the old year to sleep with a gruelling mudfest workout on Horfield Common on New Year’s Eve in final preparation for what will be our 15th consecutive defence of the South West cross country title! As intimated we have never lost the men’s team race since the championships were restructured as a stand-alone event in 2005 and inevitably we are hoping to continue this domination for the 16th time on Sunday. Once again the team will be headed by our team captain and defending individual champion OWAIN JONES, but by his own
admission following an injury ravaged summer and autumn, he is anticipating a support role rather than the blazing trail he set at the front last year.
Although our two South West cross specialists PETE LE GRICE and ANDY CHAMBERS will be missing, they are replaced by two others of our South West born athletes CALLUM JONES and BEN WESTHENRY, both of whom are on the comeback trail themselves from long suffered chronic injuries, Ben having only just returned to racing after two years on the side lines. With our two other cross specialists internationals WILL CHRISTOFI and
JACK MILLAR also unavailable, it will be left to our new Tri-Counties champion FELIX MCGRATH, who should relish the contours of the course and in form road men HARRY ALLEN, KURT TAYLOR and ANDY WATT along with Ben, Callum and Owain to provide what we trust will be a winning platform.
The main challenge is likely to come from Devon’s top team Bideford led by RONNIE RICHMOND, but the growing strength in depth of our squad should prove decisive, and with only five to count it will be interesting to see how our second five score, especially as JED
BARTLETT, JOE CONNORS, FELIX RUSBY, DAVE EAGON, ANDY COOKE and PETE BAINS will be providing impressive back up to those already named.
So it’s time to get serious guys. Let’s set a real marker down for what’s to come in 2020!
PS Anyone with transport needs please contact Kurt (BTC group) or Chris (other) who are coordinating transport arrangements.
ORIENTEERS ROCK THE BOAT
The scene was set. The weather gods for once in recent days were smiling and there was even a rare glimpse of winter sunshine as our own bunch of elite runners – perish the word, but in reality an even stronger line-up that had graced the Weston Prom race some 40 hours earlier – prowled around the start area primed for action in the BTC’s race of the year. Nervous glances were exchanged between the major contenders as they adjusted their watches convinced that this year one of them near the back would finally make their superiority pay and make a mockery of the handicapping.
Sad to say their hopes were once again to be thwarted and the status quo to prevail. But how on earth could a couple of orienteers dominate the proceedings that followed? I’d even overheard one runner comment when told that there were a couple of international orienteers competing that they would only have a chance if there were no markers and nobody knew which way to go! Nothing however could have been further from the mark. Even so I wondered how they could possibly end up dominating the race until it finally dawned on me that freed from the shackles of navigating their way round, and with only a few cones to spot and follow this was really chicken feed for them. For heaven’s sake they didn’t have to think about where they were going, but just run fast. Come on handicapper you were giving it to them on a plate!
Perhaps in retrospect we should have realised that our two stars of the day MEGAN CARTER-DAVIES and BEN MITCHELL, who away from the world of map
and compass actually happen to be partners are used to chasing each other, let alone their opponents, and that’s just what they did!
So how did it all happen? The early action concerned a race within a race as our supervet and coach DAVE BEDWELL set off determined to avenge his recent defeat by KATRINA ENTWHISTLE, who had just outsprinted him in a Gwent League race. In due deference to his age Dave had been given a ten second start on Katrina, but though there was never more than a handful of seconds between them, the 40 or so years age difference told in the end and Katrina just managed to overhaul him.
Both of them however were to be caught by Megan, the first off of our two flying orienteers , who not only made up the minute she gave them, but as she came up the avenue of trees way in front with no more than half a mile to go, it seemed only an orienteering control to visit would give any of those leading the chase behind her a chance. Little however did she realise that hot in pursuit was partner Ben, who was having a rare old tussle with fellow orienteer and cross-country master OWAIN JONES, who despite his lack of any significant training over the past couple of months due to a chronic knee strain was determined to finish near the front to give himself time to warm up the mince pies for the post race feast. Who in fact could have had a better adviser than our cross captain, and as the pair of them
rounded the final football field he told Ben ther was still time to catch Megan and urged him to have a go. It was the prompt any stalker needs and with his confidence no doubt boosted by his recent participation for GB in the World championship sprint relay in China, he took his cue and tore after his girl friend sprint. Yet just as it looked as if he would reel her in, she suddenly produced her own explosive burst of speed to hold him off and leave him literally speechless. One can only counsel Ben to never let Megan off the leash, or maybe even with speed like that to suggest she might be a middle distance runner in the making.
While the orienteers ended up having the race to themselves at the front, there had been plenty of incident behind them. First casualty had been ADAM WILSON, who renowned for his pacemaking exploits, clearly felt his job had been done after blasting the opening mile and simply pulled up before literally vanishing into thin air, though apparently there was no truth to the rumour that he had headed home for fear of a dope test on account of his fantastic early pace.
With Adam out of contention and the three orienteers already away and gone, it was left to CALLUM JONES, BEN WESTHENRY and KURT TAYLOR, who had all started among the backmarkers to fight out the minor positions behind them rather than the original scratchmen JOHNNY THEWLIS and HARRY ALLEN, who unsurprisingly were feeling the effects of their spectacular runs at Weston.
Johnny, in characteristic style, had set off as if his life depended on it and had hauled Harry in within half a mile of the start. Harry did briefly try to go with him, but to his credit he stuck at it and ironically was to finish no more than the same 11 second margin behind him that he had been at Weston, though of course Johnny had bridged the 10 second start he had given him.
If those two were suffering an energy hangover, spare a thought for ANDY WATT, who never fails to surprise and once again here was no exception as he was suffering from a more conventional hangover, though there was no truth apparently to the suspicion that his late arrival at the finish was due to an enforced toilet stop.
How fortunes can change in 40 hours, for in the end it was Kurt Taylor, our third finisher at the Prom, who stole the bragging rights as the fastest on the day. Yet this too was only after a protracted chase of his 10 second man Ben Westhenry, whose stunning return to form after nearly two years out with a niggling shin injury was surely the performance of the race. Ben simply refused to be reeled in, while for his own part he too just failed in his own pursuit of his frequent training partner Callum Jones. In the end no catch was made, though just ten seconds separated them at the finish in 4th, 5th and 6th positions, while their frenzied chase left Callum just two seconds away from Owain and only a couple more from our triumphant orienteers. Kurt’s 14:37, Ben’s 14:42 and Callum’s 14:52 proved to be the first, second and fourth fastest actual times, with Johnny Thewlis’ 14:46 third best and no one else under 15mins.
So back to our orienteering stars. Nobody could claim they had deceived the handicapper as both of them finished within a quarter of a minute of their predicted times, while overall it was one of the closest finishes ever. Just 15 seconds separated the top six, while 14 of the 18 finishers were within half a minute of their handicap marks with only poor suffering Andy and JOSH MOODY, who purposely eased off due to a tightened adductor muscle, more than a minute adrift. Finally a word of thanks to Ricard Ford at Easy Runner for sponsoring this epic race again that dates back to the 1980’s!
HANDICAP (predicted times: faster – slower+) 1 Megan Carter-Davies 18:07 (-0.13); 2 Ben Mitchell 18:08 (-0.12); 3 Owain Jones 18:10 (-0.10); 4 Callum Jones 18:12 (-0.08); 5 Ben Westhenry 18:17 (-0.03); 6 Kurt Taylor 18:22 (-0.02); 7 Johnny Suttle 18:28 (+0.08); 8 Pete Bains 18:30 (+0.10); 9 Katrina Entwhistle 18:37 (+0.17); 10 Dave Bedwell (+0.22); 11 Maciej Bialogonski 18:44 (+0.24); 12 Tony Roper 18:48 (+0.28); 13 Johnny Thewlis 18:51 (+0.31); 14 David Awde 18:51 (+0.31); 15 Harry Allen 19:02 (+0.42); 16 Alex Crossland 19:14 (+0.54); 17 Josh Moody 19:27 (+1.07); 18 Andy Watt 20:57 (+2.37).
Fastest – Men: 1 Taylor 14:37; 2 Westhenry 14:42; 3 Thewlis 14:46; 4 C Jones 14:52; 5 Allen 15:07; 6 O Jones 15:20; 7= Mitchell, Suttle 15:23; 9= Bialogonski, Crossland 15:49; 11 Bains 16:15; 12 Awde 16:16; 13 Moody 16:17; 14 Watt 17:27; 15 Roper 17:28 (V50); 16 Bedwell 18:42 (V65).
IT’S A BTC CAKEWALK ON THE PROM!
The club’s progressive BTC training group could have chosen a more clement night for their Christmas social burnup, but with the rain fortunately relenting at just the right time, our runners defied the blustery conditions to take the race by their own storm and produce the fastest race for years in the Weston Prom 5M series.
Led by Notts’ former Midland champion and current UK marathon squad member JOHNNY THEWLIS, the group ended up with seven of the first eight to finish and four others in the top 20, while there were fine performances too from three other club members DAVE EAGON, ANDY COOKE and ALEX WHITTAKER who all made the top 20 of the huge field that snaked its way up and down the Prom in a veritable charge of the light brigade.
Johnny was having his first race since his sub 2:16 clocking in the Berlin marathon, but characteristically was in no mood to be sat on and took the pace on aggressively from the start, shadowed at first by HARRY ALLEN and KURT TAYLOR for the opening of the three out and back laps, with CALLUM JONES, ANDY WATT and ALEX CROSSLAND leading the chase.
Kurt perhaps wisely decided the pace being set at the front was beyond him on the second switchback, but Harry, undeterred and with the confidence of his recent altitude training stint behind him, hung on doggedly until the final lap when Johnny’s career-honed stamina took its toll. Yet he certainly knew he’d been in a race as his winning time of 24:39 testified – the fastest time recorded here for many years.
Behind him Harry never gave up the chase, finishing no more than 60m back and rewarded with a spectacular personal best of 24:50 for his pains. Kurt meanwhile was tracked all the way by the tenacious Andy Watt, who never fails to surprise these days, but he seemed to find another gear on the last switchback and pull right away from his clubmate to finish a clear third in a time only just short of his best of 25:12. Andy for his part may have tired in the closing stages, but still posted another significant personal best of 25:33 to add to the remarkable 10K time he clocked in the Leeds Abbey Dash.
Further back Alex kept plugging away to finish only just over 10 seconds behind Andy in a more encouraging time of 25:44, while Callum, who by his own admission is still only half fit due to his chronic groin strain, tired percepibly in the closing stages following his fast start but still had enough in the tank to sneak under 26mins in 25:59 and hold off the fast-finishing David Eagon (26:04) and Josh Moody (26:06) who has been suffering with a remarkably similar pelvic problem to Callum and finished well satisfied in his first race for months. As for Dave’s effort he merely emphasised that he is one of the most improved runners
in the club this autumn.
Much the same could be said about Andy Cooke, who is up to the V40 category now and looked well chuffed to have made the top 10 in yet another lifetime best of 26:20, while immediately behind him the club’s latest recruit young ALEX MALE also confirmed his undoubted promise with a more than useful time for a junior of 26:26. ADAM STOKES, who has been nursing a niggling achilles, had to settle for 14th position in 27:09 just ahead of PETE BAINS, who was another to post a big pb of 27:13. The two others to make the top 20 were ANDY DRAKE 17th in 27:32 and ALEX WHITTAKER 18th in 27:58.
Any assessment of the times recorded for the race must take into account both the windy conditions on the day and the five stop ‘n’ start turns demanded by the switchback course, so everyone can clearly go faster which just underlines the on-going progress of our current crop. Let’s keep it rolling!
NEXT CHAPTER – THE RACE OF THE YEAR!