The cross-country action started early on a very icy Saturday morning as the club were hosting the second fixture of the season for the men’s Birmingham & District Cross Country League and the ladies West Midlands Senior League around the familiar fields at Aldersley Stadium.
A team were out roping the course, cutting back trees, laying down mats over concrete paths, pitching tents and arranging paperwork to ensure the races went ahead without a hitch before some of the organising team donned marshals’ jackets, some event pulling on vests and tying spikes tight, for the afternoon’s entertainment. The leagues were very complimentary about the way the event was managed which made all the hard work that went on behind the scenes worthwhile.
The racing got under way at 1.30 with the ladies first off, covering a two lap 4-mile course with Beth Tabor bringing the club home in a borrowed vest in 18th place in 26.33, Lorna Hulme was 31st in 27.33, Lucy Calrow placed 48thin 28.12 and Hannah Creamer 73rd in 29.06 to bring home the four counters for the A team. Sabrina Thomas was 87th in 29.51, Emily Simmonds 112th in 32.10, Vanessa Landreau Barnes 125th in 33.25, Maddie Hart 137th in 35.41, Imogen Harley 160th in 42.08 and Julia Condon 161st in 42.10. This placed the ladies 8th on the day, a massive jump up the league from the previous fixture, and they are already climbing the table.
In the men’s competition over three laps and 6 miles Jamie Ward led the club home covering the frozen surface in 34.23 to take 44th place, Louie Lambeth was not far behind in 34.36 to take 49th position, Harry Dyall was 60th in 34.52, Dan Turner placed 73rd in 35.17, Luke Maskew was 82nd in 35.42 and Ben Foster was 6th counter for the club in 116th in 37.10 to place the club 12th on the day. Joe St Quinton was 123rd in 37.26, Dylan Illidge 147th in 38.44, with Dan Vaughan a place and just 2 seconds behind, Tom Pryor was 155th in 39.10 and Garry Palmer placed 160th in 39.19. Paul Marson was 170th in 39.51, just holding off Derrick Milligan a place adrift in 39.54. Dave Newport was 191st in 41.39, Tony Cheema 193rd in 41.46, Jay Patel 206th in 43.09, Dave Norman 208th in 43.49, Mark Illidge 219th in 45.40, Lee Partridge 232nd in 48.09 and Russ Blair got the better of Andy Bentley of Tipton Harriers coming home in 53.14 to take 243rd place. Andy Dyall had started but was unable to finish as an ankle sprain put paid to his race. Again, the team were missing 3 or 4 of the big guns but had another solid day placing 12th on the day, if they can get the big guns firing together at Warley Woods in the next fixture they should move up the league and a top 10 finish is not an unrealistic target.
A handful of club members were in action at the English Schools Athletics Association Cross Country Cup Final. In the Junior Boys race Jonathan Yang placed 37th in 12.33, in the Intermediate Boys event Sam Southall placed 124th in 17.39 and in the Senior Girls race Scarlett Willoughby placed 72nd in 17.19. I apologise if I’ve missed anyone, but I was looking for familiar names and local schools across pages of results, if I have failed to spot one of ours it certainly wasn’t intentional.
It was on to Warley Woods on Sunday for race number 3 of the West Midlands Young Athletes Cross Country League, where the freezing conditions and icy rain made the whole event a trial for athletes, coaches, official and parents alike. There was a 1-2 finish in the U17 Women’s race with Isobelle Jones crossing the line 1st in 17.16, from Megan White who took the runners up spot in 18.07, Jessica Yang was 15th in 20.08, Zena Asbury was 29th in 21.45 and Ruby Buggins placed 32nd in 22.07. This put the club 1st in the age group.
There was a win in the U11 Boys race for Seb Palmer who maintained his stunning winter form with 1st place in 7.02, George Nicholls made his club debut taking 3rd place in 7.24, Edison Bowden was 33rd in 8.27, Cameron Guest took 52nd in 8.45, Evan Nash was 77th in 9.21, Frankie Mason 80th in 9.25 and George Hines 88th in 9.40, to place the club 4th in the age group. Kane Carrington was 40th in the U17 Mens race. There was another 1st place finish in the U11 Girls race with Lila Pearce claiming victory in 7.19, from Alba Jones who was runner up in 7.30. Biba Guest was 17th in 8.35, Chloe Cashmore-Jones placed 19th in 8.36, Hero Johnson- Woods was 91st in 10.25, with the club taking 3rd in the age group.
In the U15 Boys race Sam Thursfield was 5th in 12.37, Jack Stockton 7th in 12.45, Will Hughes 12th in 13.08, Jayden Burdish 36th in 14.17, Aryan Kumar Pal 49th in 15.03, Joshua Hill 64th in 16.06, to bring the club home in 2nd place. And in the U13 Girls events there was a 4th place finish for Kiki Guest in 11.28, Heidi Hayes was 19th in 12.29, Erin-Mia Nash was 24th in 12.48, Phoebe Bridgen was 35th in 13.11, Alice Cattell was 44th in 13.28, Evelyn Haines was 48th in 13.32, Clara Butler-Montero was 66th in 14.22, Amiyah Kumar Pal was 68th in 14.26, Beatrice Simpson was 87th in 15.32, with the club in 4th.
In the U13 Boys race Rocco Hawley was 4th in 10.40, Theo Ulfig was 11th in 11.10. In the U15 Girls race Grace Hendy placed 17th in 15.40, Lucy Horton was 22nd in 16.02, Ronni Read was a place behind in 23rd in 16.03, Eleanor Simpson was 36th in 16.51, Esther Smith 45th in 17.29, with the club in 4th.
Overall, the club finished 4th on the day which places the club in 3rd place overall after 3 fixtures, behind Rugby & Northampton AC and Royal Sutton Coldfield AC.
Elsewhere James Wright placed 4th in the 22-mile Worcester Ring Run covering the muddy circular one lap course in 2.54.35, Holly Baddeley went three places better winning the ladies race in a time of 2.55.49. And further afield Darren Owen Jones took part in the Font Vella Lanzarote Half Marathon finishing an undulating race in 148th place in 1.44.39 (and to place 18th Veterano D Masculino, apparently).