Mud glorious mud: junior boys at the National XC

Muddy legs
26 Feb

Our u13, u15 and u17 boys were out in force last weekend. Many thanks to team managers Ali and Emma for all their efforts supporting the lads!

U13 boys: Ali Hurford reports…

Having fond memories of three years ago when the u13 lads finished in a very creditable twelfth position  I was looking forward to another exciting day in Wollaton Park.

Arriving on site with plenty of time after an uneventful journey the fun began. Much to the boys amusement our car clearly did not like the mud so with the help of Zac, Joey & Ronnie pushing we eventually managed to park.

After warming up around the course it was clearly going to be a case of when the going gets tough the tough get going. This was the first national event for most of the group & they were clearly excited to be on the start line with around 400 other eager boys. This must be the most difficult race for the starter to control & also extremely competitive.

Once the race had finished I had hoped for some down time but this was not to be as I needed to find Zac who due to illness earlier in the week had to pull up, Walter lost both his spikes in the mud & Ben had mislaid his wallet and wished to buy a hoodie.

The day did improve once Zac left the first aid tent and ate his picnic, Ben found his wallet in the car and Walter thought he had rescued  his spikes but unfortunately I have now discovered he does not have a matching pair.

Going into the race I had predicted a team position of around 22nd which would have been possible if Zac had been 100% fit but these things happen, so hopefully he will be fully recovered for the final Gwent league where he is in a top 10 position.

The best race of the day came from Alex Auton Green (126) who is young in the age group so will be top 100 next year. Ronnie Wilmott (160) used this race well as a warm up for the intercounties later in March. Joey Taylor (238) has really committed to the winter season & will certainly improve next year along with Vijay Bakrania (273) who closed the scoring team in.

Ben Pocock (324) continues to chip away at each race & is all smiles at the end so clearly enjoys the challenge. Max Finning (351) was certainly aqua-plaining around the course & I admired his run into the finish looking for the best ground. Walter Davies ( 367) showed real grit after losing both
spikes halfway round he continued to finish showing such determination.

384 boys finished & we were 29th out of 42 teams. Next year I very much hope to be further up the leaderboard & already many of the group have saved the date when we will descend on Hampstead Heath.

u15 and u17 boys: Emma Withers reports…

The road to the National XC champs in Nottingham had a bumpy start.  With a half hour delay in Bristol our arrival at Wollaton Park was less than easy.  Hampered by storm Dennis the previous week, the long queue saw us disembark before the car park with 7 u15 boys and run to the start of the race, this was not how we had planned the day.  With the help of one of our Senior Ladies, spikes were tied tightly, numbers pinned, chip timing secured, warm up (dynamic stretching) whilst we waited at the crossing point, we went into the pens with a whole 3 minutes to spare and a few more grey hairs for me. The boys took it all in their stride and dealt admirably with the exceptionally wet and muddy conditions underfoot.  Sinking into a very large puddle just a few 100 metres in, took its toll on Fred Cummins, who took the decision that it was too strenuous on his knees and enough was enough.  Ishmael Bradley continued with his good form and fresh from the South West Schools in Bournemouth, leading the boys home in 204th position (20.03). Nick Pestell, who appeared at the finish covered head to toe in mud, was next in 246thposition, (20.38).  Joseph Hull, managed to remain upright, 326th position (22.39) and completing the team, with a steady return to form and over taking several competitors in the last 100m, Tomek Czerepinski, position 332 (22.53).  Ollie Robertson Kurd, with support from Dad, Tariq, looked relatively clean at the finish, his height being an advantage with the mud splashing from other runners, position 351 (24.08) and completing the Bristol and West u15 team, Alex Robertson, who had been quite nervous at the start, took the advice to not worry about anyone else and just keeping going, finished in position 362 (27.05).

Our three u17 boys headed out at 12.05, having viewed the course in all its glory before warming up.  Ollie Harper made steady work through the pack and should be delighted with his top 100 finish (helpfully counted through by the spectator next to me!), position 96 (25.48) and glad to be injury free this year and not needing the services of the medical tent as he had done in Leeds last year.  Jay Akbar, who was clearly not enjoying the mud and water, fought through to 245th position (29.26), with no smiles at the end but very relieved to have made it to the finish line.  Otto Kingston, started off well, but pulled up on the downhill stretch and limped to the finish line to cheer the others through.

After cheering the Senior Ladies around we made our way back to the coach and headed back to Bristol with half of Wollaton Park stuck to our shoes and legs.  Our last fixture is the Gwent League in Swansea on Sunday, lets hope the weather in Wales is kinder, fingers crossed! 

Gwent League #4 – Chepstow: u15 and u17 boys

12 Feb

Emma Withers reports…
With several of our team away at the South West Schools in Bournemouth we needed a good turnout to keep our team ranked positions and the u15 and u17 boys did not disappoint.  14 boys turned out for the Bristol and West hosted Gwent League at Chepstow.

Leading our u15 boys home, Amos Kingston had his best run to date, enjoying the undulating course and realising that with a little more effort in training that he could be a top 10 contender.  Finishing in 12th position, (13.53).  Misha Evans made a determined effort, particularly on the tough uphill home stretch, finishing in 22nd place (14.37).  Joseph Hull, went out with gusto, but perhaps a little too fast, was third home for B&W in 33rd place (15.13) and completing the first team, Ollie Robertson Kurd, a little distracted by his watch, showing he has a lot more to give in these competitions, 37th (15.32).  Leading our second team in, a battle between team mates Ismail Rashid and Tomek Czerepinski, gave an entertaining finish with Ismail only just pipping Tomek over the line, 40th (15.49) and 42nd place (15.53) respectively.   Zac Roe who had already completed football training that morning, in 49th position (16.38) and our most consistent runner, Joe McNamara, completed the second team in 57th position, (18.04).  Our 9th runner, Fred Cummins, was unable to complete the course due to painful knees, but did a sterling job cheering and encouraging his team mates around. 

The u15 squad

The u15 boys have moved up to 5th position overall. 

The u17 boys had a long wait until 2.10pm and plenty of time to study the course.  Starting out strongly Jay Akbar, glad that there was no mud this week, glided around and finished in 14th place, (18.13).  The battle for 2nd in the team between good friends, Otto Kingston and James Casling, made for another exciting finish, with James putting in his fast sprint on the hilly home stretch.  The hills were on Otto’s side this time and he maintained his lead, 26th place (19.34), James in 27th place (19.38).  Jacob Roe,  hot on their heels, finishing only 2 seconds behind in 38th place (19.40).   A debut run for newcomer Dylan Peters showed a fantastic start to cross country competition, in 40th place (20.12).   Dylan said he enjoyed it and we hope he will be back for our last fixture in Swansea.

The u17 boys were very pleased to hold their 2nd position overall. 

The u17s – currently 2nd!

Massive thank you to Steve Grant, Keith Brackstone and Roger Brocklesby for setting up the course and providing us with a great cross country run and brilliant facilities.  No complaints from the junior boys, particularly as the teenagers got an unusual and much appreciated lie in!!

Gwent League #3 – u15 boys and u17 men in buoyant form at Blaise

11 Dec

Travelling in the daylight can only mean one thing, a local match. 20 u15 boys and u17 men made the journey to Blaise Castle, the home of Westbury Harriers.  With two almost full squads the mood was buoyant.  With club tent set up, warm ups commenced.

Eoin O Halloran led the u15 boys out, maintaining a good position throughout the race, 15th (15.07), Ishmael Bradley showed great strength and determination in 24th position, (15.31), Ishmaels regular training is certainly starting to pay off, improving with each race.  Misha Evans and Amos Kingston battled out the next two positions, coming across the line with only 6 seconds between them, Misha (15.49) 30th and Amos 31st (15.55.) completed our first team home.  Misha feeling that this had been his best race so far this season.  Jay Hunt lead the second team home in style, 39th place (16.21).  The ever reliable Joseph Hull took 45th position, (16.39) cheered on by Dad, Bill and brother, Rufus.  Behind him relative new comer, Ollie Robertson Kurd who despite being nervous at the start, showed no nerves on the course, 48th (17.08).  Jacob Franklin, who is easy to spot in the crowd with his fluorescent shorts and socks, only 10 seconds behind Ollie in 50th place (17.18) completing the second team.  Alex Robertson, whose last visit to Blaise had resulted in a broken ankle, did not let this deter him, finishing strongly in 56th place, (18.58) and in 62nd place, Joe Mcnamara who continues to improve with every competition (19.54) completed our teams.  The u15 team held their 7th position in the table. Second team 12th and third team 28th.  

Next up, the u17 men.  With almost a full squad, 9 boys set off at 2.05pm running their longest race distance yet of 5500m.  Leading the boys out, Ollie Harper, Rufus Thomas and Fred Hawker packed together tightly,  keeping a good pace for the first medium lap.  Ollie, with the lure of a Gwent League T Shirt in his mind, finished in the top 10%, 5th overall (18.54), just 4 seconds behind, Rufus Thomas secured 7th place, (18.58).  Next in with a solid performance, Fred Hawker, 12th place (19.35) and completing the first team, Jay Akbar who looked relaxed in what where good conditions for Jay, no wind, no rain in 26th place, (20.55).  First home for the second team, Cole Edmonds in 32nd place (21.38), closely followed by Otto Kingston, just 10 seconds separating them, in 34th place (21.48).  James Casling, with his signature 100m sprint into the finish, 46th (23.05) and Jacob Roe, only 4 seconds behind him, 47th (23.09), completing the second team.  Lewis Adamson, who ran through gritted teeth having twisted his ankle early on, was determined to start and finish, in 49th position (24.11).  The u17 boys move up to 2nd place in the table, second team 11th place and third team 27th.

All watched on by Steve Grant, there to get tips for the next Gwent League in Chepstow, which will be hosted by Bristol and West on Saturday 8th February.  

Gwent League #2: Pembrey Park – u15 and u17 boys

16 Nov

Emma Withers reports…

The journey to Pembrey Country Park on Saturday felt like a repeat performance of last weeks trip to Mansfield with torrential rain making challenging driving conditions.  Fortunately when we arrived the sun came out and stayed (mostly) dry for the races.

10 u15 boys set off on the 3.6k route around the park, including sand dune!  Leading us home, becoming a reliable fixture in this team, Eoin O Halloran in 14th place (12.46).  It was so pleasing to see Amos Kingston enjoying the undulating terrain and knocking a whole minute off last years performance, in 27th place (13.14).  Ishmael Bradley, who got caught in a traffic jam on the way, arrived just in time for a quick warm up and was 3rd Bristol and West boy home in 33rd position (13.31).  Next up, Fred Cummins, who had a much more positive race this time following advice from his physio, in 37th place, (13.42), completing the A team.  Leading the B team in, Joseph Hull, having had an extra early start in order for younger brother, Rufus to compete in the u13 race came in at 48th place, (14.02) with Jacob Franklin hot on his heels in 49th position, (14.05) even having time for a thumbs up for his photo.  52nd place, saw Misha Evans, wrestling with a stitch half way round 14.12 and Tomek Czerepinski running steadily into 66th place 14.58, completed the Bristol and West B team.  Alex Robertson in 72nd place, looked more at home this week not slipping and sliding in the mud (15.25) and Joe McNamara working hard in 77th place,16.30 completed our C team.  The u15 boys remain in 7th position overall.

The u17 boys had a long wait to race at 14.10 and used their time productively cheering on their u15 team mates.  With both coaches, Dave Bedwell and Dave Hart racing with the Senior Ladies, the boys led their own comprehensive warm up.  Oliver Harper, first home in 7th place 16.02, putting on an exciting sprint finish with team mate, Rufus Thomas in the last 200m and pipping Rufus to the line by 1 second, Rufus in 8th place, 16.03.  Jay Akbar glided into 26th place, 17.46  and completing the team, James Casling 32nd place 18.23,  just 7 seconds in front of team mate, Otto Kingston in 34th place, 18.30.  James showing us an impressive fast finish in the home straight.

The u17 boys have moved into 3rd position overall.


We are hoping to have all our boys out on the start line at Blaise Castle in 4 weeks time so we can improve/retain those positions.  We would also like to take the time to remember the Junior Boys team mate Jack Bannister, who we sadly lost in a road traffic accident in May 2018 and who would have been 17 on the 10th November.  Our thoughts as always go out to his family.