Another season in division one of the Chiltern Cross Country League has drawn to a close with plenty of highlights across the board. However, for the geeks amongst us, here are a few stats to sum up the season;
- 213 runs were completed by 73 LBAC runners at an average of 2.9 per runner
- We averaged 42.6 at each fixture with the highest attendance at Watford (52) and lowest at Slough (36)
- 29 people ran at least four races which gets them in the overall results
- 18 people did all five races which is just a great effort
- Highest position was 3rd place by Dominic Grimshaw in fixture 5
- 327 pieces of flapjack were consumed
- 13 pairs of spikes were put straight in the bin
- 36,243 photos were taken
- The phrase "Why are we doing this?" was heard 34 times (inc. 7 with expletives inserted)
- 837 beers, 234 glasses of wine, 27 ciders 3 half shandies and 1 Cinzano and lemonade were drunk in post race celebrations
In regard to the final fixture, before we get onto the running there should be a number of acknowledgements. Organising any fixture takes a lot of work, the last one is extra challenging and being let down by the host venue a month before is a nightmare! As it was though, we (and the CCCL) are extremely lucky to be able to call on Dickie Inchley to get it all sorted so thank you very much Richard.
Secondly, as club we had just about 80% of our senior membership out on Saturday doing their bit. Not only did we have good numbers running but there were a large number of members who sacrificed their whole Saturday to stand out in the wind and rain, often on their own to make us look good as a club. It has already been pointed out how much better this fixture was than the one in December and this is predominantly down to our fantastic marshals so thank you all very much too. It really is appreciated.
Despite the horrible forecast a couple of days ahead, when Saturday did finally arrive there was actually a lot of blue sky kicking around Milton Keynes. It did disappear intermittently as some large clouds were blown across by a very strong Westerly wind, but that wind also did a pretty good drying job after the heavy showers that came down.
There were six U11 girls that kicked off the LBAC participation on the day with 64 others who completed one lap of the short course. For the third time this year, Millie Hawes was first home in 44th place, just ahead of Zara Butler in 47th. Julia Bell finished an extremely consistent season in 56th with Amber Hill one place behind as they encouraged each other around the course. Katie Green had her best race of the season in 62nd and Kacie Anderson completed a great effort by all the U11 girls.
The U11 boys have a growing reputation. They finished 4th at Slough and the final fixture saw them repeat that result with almost all the boys having their best result of the season. Scott Towell (33rd), Ewan Bell (35th) and Harry Bell (39th) had a bit of a battle all the way around the course before ending in that order with Harry particularly commended for being one of three lads to run all five races. Just ahead of Scott was another "five racer" in Max Rose. Max's 29th place was 19 higher than his previous best and saw him chasing Owen Lindars all the way around the grassy banks of Campbell Park. Owen has joined the season late, but made a big impact by finishing 21st this time around.
There is no denying though that the performance of the day from all the LBAC lot was Dominic Grimshaw. As he ran past me, with 250m to go he was in 7th and I was impressed with the top ten place. A minute of so later and he had stormed past four other boys to cross the finish line in third, and he's a year young in the age group! His five races have shown consistent improvement from 16th at Watford to 3rd at MK.
We've had ten U13 girls take part in various races this season, which is a pretty healthy number, particularly as nine of them ran at least two races. McKenna Keefe should be given huge praise for being an ever-present throughout the season and on Saturday ran round in the company of Holly Stanton on her debut. Just ahead of them Melissa Chapman and Jess Hawes finished together too in 69th and 70th respectively.
Chloe May completed her season by just sneaking into the top fifty overall. On the day Caitlin Bell was the fourth of five Bells out on the course and was second home for LB with an excellent run in 52nd place, just a shade better than last time at MK. Ellie Rabbitts was the team leader for the fourth time this season in four races and came home in 39th, which was her second highest position and earned her 28th overall for the season.
With a distinct dearth of U13 and U15 boys the next two Buzzards scaling the slippery slopes of the park were Sarah Plummer and Megan Westrope in the U15 girls. Both these two have run at every race this year, despite there only being the two of them for the final four fixtures. As a result they have finished 8th team overall for the season, which makes a great difference to the club as a whole.
On the day, Sarah finished in 32nd with Megan in 41st, earning them 24th and 37th overall for the season. The great thing is that they will both be in the U15's next year and will undoubtedly be much stronger too.
After something of a brief but very uncomfortable downpour while the U17/20 women were running, the old boys started to get ready for their three large laps. The senior men have had their best season ever in the league. A few years ago they were 8th, but that has been the height limit for them without the elite runners in the first few that some clubs have. This record however, has been blown out of the water this year by a combination of excellent attendance and strong consistent running. There have been 28 different men wearing the purple and yellow this year and 13 of them have done at least four races.
For the second fixture in a row we were the second team to close our team of ten despite being the seventh club to get their first runner home. That first runner, for the fifth time this season was Pete Mac, whose 18th place was his second best performance of the season and emphasised the difference that can be made by consistent strong performances. Other notable runs from the men were Ian Grimshaw who has improved with every race, Adam Haylock who despite being new to the club and having a young family has run every one and become a vital member of the team.
Chris Norman and Tim Inchley were both fifty places higher than Watford and getting back towards their best. James Bell, Warren Rose, Dan Webb, Mark Haynes and Fred Watt also had their highest finishes of the season – with Mark just pipping Fred in their season long battle. I could go on, as their has been so much effort by so many but I have to stop somewhere. The result of all this though, was that we finished 5th team on the day and 6th overall for the season. With forty or so senior men on the club register that is a remarkable achievement.
The U17 men and senior women started within 2 minutes of each other, with the boys having a head start on their two lap course and not wanting to be overtaken by a bunch of charging women got their heads down pretty quick! Jordan was feeling particularly inspired as he matched his outstanding run from Slough with another 6th place on the day that also meant he was 6th overall for the season. Both Jordan and Charlie have done all five races and Charlie also had his best performance, by coming home in 23rd place. Just the two of them managed 7th place overall for the season as well. The good news is that all being well, they will score even more points in the men's races next year!
The final race of the day was the senior women and on this occasion we had five running, but it should also be noted that a very healthy supply of snacks also came from Liz Miller and an unwell Kate Johnson while Lorraine and Helen were posted to the top of the hill in the wind to offer encouragement to beleagured runners.
The five women running have done 21 races between them this season which has been superb consistency at an average of over four each. All five of them finished in their highest places of the year with Nikki Elvin's 69th representing a good first ever cross-country season. Katie Haylock has become an absolutely crucial member of the team this year with her ever improving results culminating in a 53rd place on Saturday. Lynn Boddy had an unprecedented run in 38th being 16 up on her previous best and chasing Jane Sauer all the way to the line. If these two continue on their current trajectory we will have a very strong team come October.
Jane's own run was excellent as she stepped up from her regular position in the forties to 34th place and finished yet another excellent year in the CCCL. Amy Inchley's run though really caught the eye as she broke the top twenty for the first time ever and beat a number of runners who she has never challenged before to finish 12th in division one. These runs meant that although the women were 9th on the day, they were less than 20 points behind 6th placed Aylesbury.
So, with all five fixtures complete the club finished the season in tenth place overall out of fourteen teams, sandwiched between Wycombe and Silson. This is one place lower than the previous year but St Albans (who are a huge club) only recently joined the league. Our senior athletes actually finished 6th, ahead of the likes of Windsor, Aylesbury and Luton, but we really need to encourage more juniors to continue through the ranks so that we can score in all areas.
Overall though, this is an amazing result, we are by far the smallest club in the division yet continue to punch way above our weight due to the unfailing commitment to the events of so many members. Huge congratulations to all, and bring on October 2014!……………… after the national anyway!