Gwent League #4 – Pontypool

10 Feb

Gwent League Cross-Country Pontypool 9.2.19

Chris Elson, stalwart Gwent League team manager, reports on the action.

The women star again on a somewhat undulating course! Charlotte T-G, despite taking a small off course detour, majestically led the field home, followed by Amy Partridge 3rd, Issy Talbot-Price 5th, Catie O’Donaghoe 6th & Ellen Harrison 9th. This result is their 2nd best in the League in the last 10 or more years. Super-vets Sarah Everitt & Clare Jolliffe were 15th & 17th , with Sorrell Walsh 28th, Emma Jolliffe 34th & Nicky Hodges (W45) 55th. Tracy Allen (W55) led the C team home in 70th, Jenny Anderson had a good run in 72nd while Haley Bennett was pleased with her best run in the league for a while in 80th , Fleur Cockley (W45) was 87th & Debbie Hunt (W40) was 95th. Anna Ford finished 106, & Ali Hurford (W55) 132.

Smiley ladies post race… #girlpower

The blokes too look likely to be first team. The race started with a bit of a downer with Owain having to pull out with a tendon popping (don’t panic Mike he was walking afterwards). However, Andy Watt had a stormer in 6th, Jed Barlett making his B&W AC debut was 9th, Maciej Bialogonski returning after illness was 13th, Joe Ballard produced another impressive run in 16th & M40 Graham Breen made up the A team in 29th. Alberto Beltran led the B team home in 30th followed by Dave Eagon 50th, M45 Darren Garmen 56th, M45 Andy Molloy 70th & Sam Bentley with his best league finish in 72nd. Brad Pontin led the C team home in 81st, Kieran Batty was 84th, Jon Bennett 89th, M40 steeplechaser Tim White 98th & Dan Titheradge 117th. For the D team M45 Mark Taylor was 118th, Sokol Duli 124th, M40 Paul Jefferson 126th, M45 Bill Hull 153 & Kryszstof Wanat, who warmed up at the Eastville Parkrun with a 23 min clocking, 240th.

Andy Watt led the men home

A Nintendo Switch, a go-faster haircut and a bus stuck in the mud…

31 Jan

Emma Withers reports on the u15 and u17 boys’ efforts at the Midland XC Champs on Saturday 26th January.

7 u15’s and 7 u17’s travelled to the Spa town of Leamington to take part in the Midlands XC. The Nintendo Switch kept them amused on the way up and arriving in good time gave all the boys the opportunity to walk around and familiarise themselves with the ditches and hills on this challenging cross country course.  Spikes on, numbers pinned, timing chips on ankles and warmed up the u15 boys were first on.  Leading the pack out was Beck Harding-Hill, back on racing form, finishing in 24th place (15.40), enjoying better conditions, Jay Akbar, 39th place (16.14), Cole Edmonds, just managing to keep upright through the first ditch 56th(16.49), closely followed by Joseph Hull 59th completing the first four home (16.50).  Next up, continuing to improve at every race, Tom Beech 69th (17.39), Amos Kingston 74th, complete with smile and new haircut (18.08) and Will Chapman taking on this distance for the first time 80th (19.43).  7th Team overall. 

The u17 men were next up, having cheered round their younger team mates.  Oliver Harper, 29th, Fred Hawker 31st and Luke Iles, 36th led the team out with excellent packing on the first lap, 23.35, 23.59 and 24.19 respectively.  Fred gave a most impressive sprint along the home stretch to the finish.  Otto Kingston 60th (26.52) and Nathan Marchant 61st (26.53) battled out the last 200m, spurring each other on to the finish, followed closely by Robert Kiekuth 62nd (27.06). Lewis Adamson completed our team, running a steady but cautious race as he continues to come back to running form following issues with his knees.  He was pleased to complete the course in 65th position (29.46).

Our biggest challenge of the day was yet to come when our bus got stuck in the mud trying to leave the venue.  All hands on deck, digging out the wheels, borrowing bark chippings from the course and getting a tow from one of the wonderful marshals we managed to free the bus and head home, just a little delayed.  Thank you to the Senior Ladies who were travelling with us for their patience and understanding.  I hope the delay didn’t interfere with their evening plans!!  Please also give a thought to our poor tent, which met its demise yesterday, just when the boys were so expert at putting it up!!  It has served us well.  We are looking forward to a nice new one for the Gwent League.


12 Jan


In my final countout to the road and cross-country relay season back in November I jokingly challenged our guys to target a hat-trick of cross-country titles in the New Year: South West, Midland and English National!

Well tall order as that might be, our team made a spectacular start to the trilogy by smashing the opposition in Sunday’s South West championships held on ground round Aldon Hill at Yeovil that made full use of the contours that gives the venue its name.

The course, more suited to mountain goats with two brutal, leg-sapping climbs on each of the three large lap 8500m race, proved no problem for our team, who literally took the opposition to the cleaners, while to complete a perfect day our team captain OWAIN JONES regained the title he last won in 2015 at the Devon and Exeter racecourse.

Once again underlining his pedigree over the country Owain judged his precision to take the lead on the second lap from Wells’ junior international LUKE PRIOR and hold off a determined late charge from former B&W stalwart PHIL WYLIE that looked likely to succeed as they approached the last two gruelling climbs. But Phil appeared to run out of fuel on the penultimate climb, and while Owain admitted he had to dig deep he had enough left in his tank to pull clear again on the final run-in to the finish.

Owain was accompanied early on by Wylie plus JACK MILLAR, who is still not fully race fit after a knee injury had restricted his training for several weeks since finishing a close 4th in the annual Varsity match back in early December. Although Jack could not match Phil’s late surge, he still finished strongly in 4th place to take the senior bronze medal after being passed in the closing stages by brilliant Cornish youngster FINN BIRNNIE who took the U20 title.

I While Owain and Jack by their own admission are both cross specialists, it was the support behind them from HARRY ALLEN 7th, JOSH MOODY 9th, ANDY WATT 12th and newcomer JOE BALLARD 16th that underlines the ever growing strength in depth of the team. Harry was no less than two minutes faster than when 11th last year, while Josh is even beginning to wonder whether he might just be much more than a middle distance specialist. Both admittedly are much happier on the road and track, but gave due credence to the old school dictum that when you are fit enough you can run more than respectably on any surface. Andy too is working his way back to full fitness after recent training interruptions, whil Joe is clearly a first team prospect in waiting on this exceptional performance in his first major championship event.

The net result was a virtual whitewash of the opposition, winning by nearly 150 points from Team Bath and Cornwall AC, with our team not only providing Avon with an equally overwhelming victory in the accompanying South West inter-county championship, but also having the satisfaction of beating all the other county teams on their own. My fellow team manager CHRIS ELSON must have enjoyed his packed lunch with extra relish, while reflecting with me that that all our scoring runners, if we include Jack, who is back on vacation from Oxford, are training together in an elite group based in Bristol that has not been the case for some years and which could be the foundation in our quest for further National success.

Nor it must be added is the team we fielded at Yeovil anything like as strong as the one we are hoping to turn out for our major target of the season the National at Leeds at the end of next month. Of those missing PETE LE GRICE is the most notable. Pete has made a dramatic breakthrough this autumn, following his spectacular African-splitting second place in the Guernsey marathon that lifted him to 15th in the UK rankings – despite a course that is described as testing – by smashing the course record in winning the Great West Run in another huge new personal best and then being the first South West finisher in the European cross trial race at Liverpool. Not content Pete has continued his new found form, opening the New Year by clocking the fastest ever Parkrun in the South West with yet another personal best of 14:38. at Penrose in Cornwall.

Our first finisher and star turn in last year’s National WILL CHRISTOFI has still not fully recovered from the foot problem that wrecked his summer racing programme. It is thought his problem is Haglund’s syndrome, but it has not stopped him racing altogether and he still managed to finish in the top 20 in the second UK Cross Challenge race at Milton Keynes behind Jack, but just ahead of Owain, as well as finishing 5th only a few seconds behind Jack again in the Varsity match. Looking forward, he is still hoping to get into top shape for the British Students championship at the beginning of February and our subsequent National challenge.

Meanwhile another of last year’s National heroes JARLATH MCKENNA has spent the autumn settling into his new surroundings in Newcastle, and though competing sparingly has still shown enough to suggest he will once again be a valuable member of the team. He reports recent I-T band trouble, but still hopes to have a run out in the Midland champs, a race in which he has a fine record of making the top ten on several occasions.

ANDY CHAMBERS is another of last year’s silver medal-winning team who has been suffering with a niggling injury problem, in his case a hip strain,  but he too has raced well enough a couple of times, finishing our second best behind Owain in the opening UK Cross challenge race at Cardiff followed by a solid 5th in the Devon champs not far behind TOM MERSON. He is also hoping to warm up for Leeds by boosting our team for the Midlands.

However our other medallist last year BEN ROBINSON has not been so lucky, and although successfully retaining his European dog racing title has since been forced to rest due to a chronic foot problem that unfortunately has forced him to abandon the rest of the winter season.

Back on the roads there have been a string of personal bests from HARRY ALLEN (31:16), KURT TAYLOR  (31:32), ANDY WATT (32:13), JOSH MOODY (32:24) and ADAM WILSON (33:20) in the Telford 10K, while Kurt (15:05) followed that up with another in the Nos Galan New Year’s Eve 5K, finishing 7th in a high class field just ahead of training partners Owain (15:10), Jack (15:16), Josh (15:32) and Adam (16:20). Harry and Kurt are two of our most promising younger runners who are both improving in leaps and bounds and look sure to feature prominently in our road relay teams this year.

Other autumn highlights have included MACIEJ BIALOGONSKI’S unexpected triumph in the Abingdon marathon in a time inside 2:27 that suggests he may have found his event, and DAN STUDLEY’S outstanding run in Clevedon’s popular Boxing Day 4M road race. His winning time of 18:50 was the fastest for ten years and is testament to what an asset he is going to be in the spring 12-stage relay championships.

Two other missing faces this autumn LUKE EVANS and RICH PETERS have not thrown the towel in despite both being plagued by achilles and calf problems. After a 10 week enforced lay-off Luke is on the comeback trail and shedding pounds en route to a return sometime next month, so he could be fit for the relays, while Rich, despite having to drop out of a recent Chiltern League race due to a cramp in one of his calves, is back running again and determined to run in the National. Some race to make a comeback in, but who would put it past him!


U13 Lads Turn Out En Mass at Tri Counties Cross Country: Bath, Dec 9th.

15 Dec

Ali Hurford reports…

After thirteen years of coaching I am well aware of what a difficult fixture this can be to get reasonable numbers out. However despite injuries, illness & many other Christmas events all wishing for a bit of our time I was delighted to have 10 lads on the start line. This was a real credit to the commitment of the athletes & their supportive parents, also the lure of the festive tent, cakes & the usual lucky dip afterwards played its part.
Unlike last year when it snowed the weather made for good racing conditions & once I has suggested there were medals for the taking many of the lads took this to heart.This year I had a very mixed ability in the race & full marks to the slower boys who ran with conviction towards the back of the field but they continue to improve with every race.
As expected at the front was Misha Evans who ran a very well paced race along with a fine finish & he was delighted to receive Avon silver medal. Not far behind was Nick Pestell running his first cross country race for the club.Our third counter for the team was Tomek Czerepinski  . So as in previous years we also came home with the team gold medal.
Once everyone was accounted for we all headed back to the tent for well deserved cake & chocolates. Some mulled wine would of gone down well, perhaps next year.

The festive tent and a supportive parent and hound! 

Gwent League #3 – Bryn Bach Park: u15 and u17 boys

12 Dec

11 boys, u15 and u17, headed off from Bristol on a grey ‪Sunday morning‬. Grateful for a fixture a little nearer to home they took on the challenge of Parc Bryn Bach (small hill in Welsh!) and the driving wind and rain.

Cole Edmonds showed his previous sore heel was not going to stop him as he battled his way to 9th position in a time of 16.31, ever reliable Joseph Hull followed in 20th position in 17.05, Joe Mead, gritted his teeth and showed his resilience in 25th position, his first Gwent League of the season, in 17.19, just seven seconds behind was Tom Beech, 26th position, 17.26 earning his place in the A team. Just one second shy of Tom, was Jay Akbar, who found the conditions particularly trying, in 27th place, 17.27. Amos Kingston, embracing the elements, just 10 seconds behind Jay, in 31st position, 17.37 and completing the u15 team, Will Chapman, showing great determination, in 49th position, 20.13. The u15 boys have retained their 6th position overall. 

The u17’s, again combined with the u20 age group, followed the Senior Ladies and a certain, Dave Bedwell, making his debut in this race. The course was pretty churned up at this stage and the weather seemed to take a turn for the worse. 4 boys took to the start line, determined to stay on their feet, they knew this would not be a fast course. First home Fred Hawker, 14th position in 24.09, Nathan Marchant followed in 30th position, 26.14, James Casling in 41st position, 27.33 and completing the team, in 43rd place, 28.07 having lost his spike in the mud on every lap, Otto Kingston. Courageous boys, if they can run in those conditions they can run in anything. The u17’s are currently in 8th place overall. Everyone enjoyed a well deserved piece of Nathans birthday cake back at the tent.  Our next race is the Midlands Champs on the 26th Jan.

Gwent League #3 – Bryn Bach Park: Seniors

09 Dec

Chris Elson reflects on last week’s performances:

The ladies (some of whom are pictured above) were stars again, with overall out of the 78 teams competing, the A team 1st, B team 3rd, C team 8th, D team 15th and E team 26th. In the reserve division the B,C,and D teams are 1st, 2nd & 3rd and the E team 7th out of the 38 teams in the division!

Results 6 Catie O’Donaghue, 7 Issy Talbot-Price, 9 Natalie Griffiths, 13 Hannah Pollak, 15 Ellen Harrison, 21 Ana Duran-Mingo (8th W35), 23 Sarah Everitt (1st W50), 26 Naomi Aylwin, 27 Katrina Entwistle, 37 Clare Jolliffe (3rd W50), 43 Emma Jolliffe, 51 Alice Doggrell, 62 Charlotte Bermingham, 69 Nicky Hodge (10th W45), 75 Tracy Allen (2nd W55), 87 Kate Druett (14th W45), 96 Lisa Newing, 97 Hayley Bennett, 98 Jenny Anderson, 117 Anna Ford, 126 Debbie Hunt (W40), 149 Andrea Goude (43rd W45), 185 Fliss Russell (5th W60), 225 Anne Dockery (1st W70). 300 women finished.

M65 Dave Bedwell 1st Tom Burgess 9th, 2nd team on the day and 4th overall.

With Owain Jones, Kurt Taylor, Jack Bancroft and Joe Ballard nursing injuries, Maciej Bialogonski working and others of our top men saving themselves for next week’s Telford 10k, it was always going to be tough for the team places. Nevertheless the club’s increasing strength in depth was evident. On the day out of 107 teams, the A team was 9th, B team 16th, C team 18th, D team 27th and E team 48th. Taking the 3 events so far the A team is 3rd, 56 points behind the leaders, Micky Morris Racing team, the B team is 1st in the B division and in the reserve division the C, D & E team are all 1st in their catagory.

Men 13 Andy Watt, 57 Otis Mondir, 59 Pete Baines, 75 Josh Habgoode-Coote, 77 Nick Hall, 87 Brad Pontin, 88 Darren Garmen (10th M45), 100 David Eagon, 103 Alberto Beltran, 104 Andy Drake, 111 Jon Bennett, 114 Cameron Grayley, 120 Ciaran McQuaide (M40) 124 Sam Bentley, 125 Keiran Batty, 135 Dan Titheradge, 144 Michael Chandler, 152 Tom Newman, 156 Mark Taylor (22nd M45), 173 Bill Hull (28th M45), 238 Andy Hunt, 269 Andy Dunn (M40) 258 Graham Grout (M60), 306 JackLongstaff.

A real X-Country Course. Very muddy with wind and rain, now voted 8 out of 10 on the Brecon scale! A great venue nevertheless, and lots of people should be very pleased with how they ran.

Gwent League #3 – Bryn Bach Park: Junior Girls

09 Dec

Bryn Bach 2018
Team managers Paul and Debbie report: 

On a sunny summer’s day this would have been a beautiful race to both watch and take part in, however, it was not.

U11 Girls

The weather conditions posed a tough race for our U11 girls team. Both girls setting off to a strong start into an even stronger wind. Holly Massey-Jones (13) ran a determined race and stormed her way around the boggy course. Zoe Hunt (56) also running a gutsy race, pushing hard for that final sprint finish.


U13 Girls

Fleur Hayden with a plan to run a more paced race did exactly that today and was a very impressive 6th. Katie Beech ran well in 41st  place, and we wonder what she’d do if she actually ate and drank something before running!? Ruby ‘have a go’ Claridge was our third runner coming in at 71st  All ran well in very challenging conditions battling the wind to the end. Unfortunately, no 4th runner today to make a team.


U15 Girls

I’d like to say the conditions had improved by the time of their race, it hadn’t. Not to be perturbed Megan Hornung ran a very impressive 3rd place looking strong throughout and continues to improve race by race. Next in was Danni Sinclair who’s not a great fan of the cold and rain but credit to her stuck at it and did well for a 7th place. 3rd in was Grace Claridge who does not love the cross country but never gives in and always treats us to a cracking sprint at the end to finish 27th   Again in some awful conditions all the girls put in fantastic determined efforts. Sadly no 4th runner to complete a team.

Gwent League #3 – Bryn Bach Park: u11 and u13 boys

09 Dec

Ali Hurford reports on the teams’ efforts at Bryn Bach, and looks forward to the County Champs today!

Ali’s Army Battle Through The Mud

This was never going to be an easy fixture at which to team manage 15 lads due to the toilets, tent and course being somewhat miles apart. However, thanks to several parents somehow all lads were eventually herded in the right direction and everyone made the start line.

The under 11 pair consisted of Oisin O’Halloran (30) in his second race & Rufus Hull(78). Full credit to both these lads who despite the cold hung around to cheer their older brothers on.

For the under 13 lads the motto of the day was ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going’, and this was reflected in our best team score – just ten points off winning the fixture.
As is usual with such a large group you have to expect the unexpected and I was not disappointed. Firstly there was a stunning performance from Eoin O’Halloran(2) proving his recent 18.52 park run was no fluke.
He was well backed up by Jay Hunt(8) followed by a vastly improved performance from Tomek Czerepinski(12). Our final counter for the A team was Misha Evans(24) who struggled round with frozen feet. His spikes were well glued on! Both Jay and Misha are in the top 10 overall with just 2 races remaining.

For me the surprise result was new recruit Vijay Bakrania(25) competing for the first time in club colours. This was an encouraging race off very little training – plus he still has another year in the age group.
Rapidly improving Jacob Franklin(34) along with William Brown(38) and the ever consistent Ronnie Wilmott(45) completed the B team which is now in 7th position overall.

Alex Robertson(50) did well to stay on his feet as his spikes somehow failed to make the journey across the bridge. Ben Pocock(51) who has recently truly committed to training finished like a real trouper and not far behind Felix Pearson(56) who is gaining confidence and Joseph Mc Namara(65) (who is new to competition at this level) closed in the C team.
Sadly Fred Cummins found the conditions not to his liking and he wisely stopped before he further damaged his knees. So hopefully he will be back later in January for the Midland champs.

Overall it was a good day’s work. We have further consolidated the team silver position. It is now all about keeping everyone healthy and injury free which is quite a task with this young energetic age group.
The next challenge thankfully is only in Bath at the County Champs on Sun 9th Dec. We have a large contingent competing so will need a lot of cakes afterwards as is usual.

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

18 Nov

Emma Withers reports…

running like Jack

14 boys headed down to Pembrey with their parents on Saturday.  The weather certainly tested our driving skills, but luckily seemed to hold off for each race.  With remembrance Sunday the following day, we had our own moment of reflection as we gathered to remember Jack Bannister.  Jack was a promising cross country runner and competed for Bristol and West u13 and u15 boys.  Jack sadly died in a road traffic accident in May this year. It would have been Jack’s 16th birthday on Saturday and we ‘ran like Jack’ to remember him.  

Our u15 boys headed out at 12.40.  Leading the pack was Rufus Thomas (6) in 12.09 earning a new Gwent League t-shirt, followed by the ever-reliable Jay Akbar (25) in 13.21. Not far behind Joseph Hull (34) 13.46 with support from Dad, Bill. Daniel Beech returning to running after a break (37) 13.56 sprinted to the finish and was not letting sibling, Tom Beech, 38th 13.59 beat him across the line!  Tightly packed Jacob Roe (41) 14.11 and Amos Kingston (43) 14.14 had only three seconds separating them.  Will Chapman (61) 15.54 showing increased confidence the more he races, completed our u15 team.

The u17 boy’s race was combined with the u20 men and proved difficult to pace due to this.  Fred Hawker led the team home in 14th place, 16.44 followed by Luke Iles 27th, 17.28.  Nathan Marchant seemed to find his running mojo again, 35th, 18.06 and completing the A team, Otto Kingston 45th, 19.06. James Casling and Robert Kiekuth battled it out in the home straight (we all noted the slight ‘kink’ in the course at the end) for positions 50 and 51, 19.46 and 19.51 respectively.

Due to a computer glitch at Gwent League HQ, no team positions are available yet.

Next fixture is at Bryn Bach Park, Sunday 2nd December and we are looking forward to exploring a new course.

Gwent League #2 – Pembrey Park: u11 and u13 boys

18 Nov

Ali Hurford reports…

Ali’s army turn out in large numbers despite another long journey.

Nothing seems to stop this ambitious group of lads from travelling to races especially when there is cake & medals at stake. The new tent was only just big enough to accommodate all the athletes & parents from the occasional deluge but thankfully on the whole the weather behaved itself.
The team of u11 lads consisted of Alex Auton- Green (17)  Oisin O’ Halloran (32)  Rufus Hull (69)  Barnaby Thomas (88). Run of the day was Oisin in his first xc fixture for the club & next year at the top of the age group will be a force to contend with.
The U13 Lads all gave the race their best shot & as a result we appear to have consolidated our silver position in this very competitive age group plus the Welsh teams were at home.
All 13 lads who started, finished the race in fine style as follows.
Jay Hunt (7)  Misha Evans (10)  Ishmael Bradley (20)  Fred Cummins (23)  Josh lewis (28)   Tomek Czerepinski (34)  Jacob Frankin (45)  Ronnie Wilmott (47)  Zachary Roe (62)  Alex Robertson (74)  Ben Pocock (75) Felix Pearson (77) Joseph Mc Namara (84)
Once the racing was finished the fun started & by this time the tent resembled a rather grand patisserie. So thank to all the parents for tables, chairs & cake. All we need now is a loo tent!
Looking forward to the next fixture on Sat 2nd Dec & no doubt lots of Christmas fayre.