This time of year is when middle distance athletes would usually be focusing on the annual road relays and the start of the cross country season but sadly COVID-19 regulations are preventing most races from taking part. It is therefore fantastic to see local sports journalist Peta Bee, organising a series of COVID-19 secure cross country races for young athletes across the U13 to U20 age groups from clubs within Berkshire, Bucks, Oxon and Middlesex.
The series consists of 3 races (October 3, 2020 at Beeching Grove Farm, Maidenhead (thanks to the Copas Partnership), November 7, 2020 At Braywick Park, Maidenhead (thanks to Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Sports Development) and the final one on December 5, 2020 at Marsh Meadow, Cookham (thanks to Copas Farms).
The slightly unusual format (designed to meet government guidelines for COVID but also to enable good quality competition), consisted of a series of one or two races per age group for both girls and boys, with a maximum of 12 athletes per race covering 3000m or 4500m according to the age group. Final results for each group were based on time taken to complete the course. Whilst athletes couldn’t walk round the courses in advance, they could watch a series of videos posted on Twitter and view each stage of their route.
The first competition of the series took place at Beeching Gove on Sunday 3rd October in the pouring rain which didn’t seem to deter any of the runners! The U13 girls (including 5 representatives from WSEH, all competing in their first cross country race for the club) were the first to start. Stephanie Massie had a great run and was the highest placed Windsor athlete, coming 3rd in her wave (5th overall) with a time of 13:10. She was closely followed by Ana Passos and Abigail Farley in 5th (8th overall) and 6th (9th overall) positions, separated by only 1 second. Maizie Tearle was close behind in 8th position. Phoebe Fuller had a great race to finish 5th in the Wave 2 race.
Next to race were the U13 boys with 10 representatives. Jake Meyburgh easily won the wave 2 race by a long way in 11:14, only 1 second slower than wave 1 winner Daniel Munn of Chiltern. Guy Branston was first WSEH in the wave 1 race in 11:56, followed by Sarim Toqeer in 7th, Jack Harding in 8th and James McSharry in 9th. In Wave 2 after Jake came Thomas Taylor in 4th, closely followed by James Farley, Declan Evans, Evan Hardy and Sam Thuo in 7th, 8th, 9th and 11th.
Rachel Clutterbuck was a clear winner of the U15 girls race in 11:15, followed by Freya Ruffles in 2nd in11:24 with Daya Baga in 5th and Eloisa Symonds in 7th. Maddison Emment was 2nd in Wave 2 (8th fastest overall) and Aashni Manek was 8th in Wave 2.
Sam Johnston, Toby Spencer, Alex Bishop and Ben Dewar were the top performers for the club in the U15 boys race coming 4th and 5th in Wave 1 and 1st and 2nd in Wave 2 respectively (5th and 6th fastest times for Sam and Alex running an identical 10:56). They were backed up in Wave 1 by George Thomas 7th and Josh Mingoia 9th, competing in his 1st ever cross country race. Also in Wave 2 Julian Abbas was 5th and Sam Neupane (another new competitor for the club) came in 8th.
Lottie Dewar won the competitive first U17 women’s race in 18:16, a time that was only bettered by U17 Jasmine Young, also of WSEH who ran 18:13 in the 2nd race for U17/U20 women combined, giving them 1stand 2nd positions on time. Nathalie Camp was 2nd in the first race in 18:30 with Jessica Hatch and Jemima Davies 7th and 8th and Hannah Woolley and Nicole Chamberlain 10th and 11th.
Amy Young and Katie Clutterbuck topped the U20 women’s race with times of 18:15 and 18:56 respectively, followed in 3rd by Morgan Hanson also of WSEH in 21:21, with Issy Craven not far behind in 4th place.
In the two U17 Men’s races, Raphael Riveiro-Stevenet was the fastest WSEH runner, coming 2nd in Race 1 in 15:56, followed by Sam Hodgson in 3rd in 16:27. They were supported by Liam Stone 7th, Finlay Kirk 8th and Ed Henderson 10th. In Wave 2, Luke Birdseye came in second (4th overall) with 16:13 and Oliver Emment was 4th (6th overall).
Will Barnicoat of WSEH had the biggest winning margin of the day, coming in at 15:14, 57 seconds ahead of Hillingdon’s 2nd placer. Dylan Spencer of WSEH was 4th, Ross Van Heerde 9th, Charlie Turner 11th and Ben Rowe 12th.
It was a great day of competition with all athletes (and their parents and coaches) so pleased to be racing despite the terrible weather.
The next race for many of the club’s young middle distance athletes is the Chelmsford Invitational Cross Country Relays on Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th October 2020.
Full results available here
Race photos courtesy of Hamudphotos