Representing Buzzard in Brum
It must be some sort of a joke played by the organisers! If ever there is a time in your life when getting out of bed in the morning is an issue, it's when you are a university student. Yet first race up at 11am in the UK Inter Counties this year were the U20 men. Billy Mead is at uni in Loughborough and so he didn't have too far to go to get to Birmingham but he still had to be up before 7am on a Saturday in order to make the start in time. Nevertheless, it didn't stop him going out until 1am anyway!
Remarkably, not only did Billy make the race, but he actually had quite a good run, although that may be comparing him to the other hangover fuelled students that may have been around him in the race. It may have been the late night carbo loading but Billy finished strongly to come home in 142nd place and 5th for the Bedfordshire team that claimed 10th out of 26 counties to field a team.
All of the runners taking part in all of races at the inter counties have to be selected to run. This is a great honour for most but means that the standard is extremely high. You get some very high quality athletes finishing at the back of large races so it can be a slightly intimidating experience, particularly first time around.
Next onto the start line from LBAC was Shea Minty in the U13 boys, who has only represented the club a few times due to school commitments and so was a bit of an unknown quantity. This race is crazy, in the sense that the boy finishing in 6th was just one minute ahead of the boy finishing 136th! For his part, Shea had a fantastic race to work through from fifth for Beds in the start pen to be first home in an excellent 61st place overall and lead the team to 17th out of 40 teams.
Having been called up a couple of weeks ago as first reserve for the ladies team Amy Inchley was pretty nervous about being very near the back in the highest standard race that any LBAC athletes ever take part in. However, after a fantastic run this was proved to be completely unfounded as she came home as fourth scorer (very nearly 3rd) for Bedfordshire in 152nd place out of 275 runners.
For those of you that are new to running or just need a bit of encouragement, seven years ago Amy came last in her first Chiltern league, ran 10 miles in 1:47 and was adamant that she couldn't run quicker than 10 minute miles!
There was then a bit of gap where a series of races took place with no Leighton representation, however Richard continued to do the team manager's role that he has now done voluntarily for over twenty years and was rewarded with the U15 boys race where Bedfordshire finished as 3rd team. This is a pretty good effort for the smallest county in the country!
The U17 men saw both Jordan Clay and Charlie Mead on the start line for Bedfordshire. This season has shown huge improvement by both of them across all their running disciplines and this event was good recognition of that. With Charlie making his debut at the event he was a little apprehensive, but ran consistently throughout to finish sixth out of eight for the county in 223rd place. Meanwhile Jordan continued his excellent form over the country to be third back for Beds in 118th. the team finished 24th out of 42.
In the U15 girls Sarah Plummer had done an outstanding job simply to be picked as she will still be in the same age group next year so is racing girls over a year older. Despite this obvious challenge Sarah closed out the scoring team as fourth scorer and finished 220th in the race, ahead of over 50 other athletes. This bodes tremendously well for next year.
The final race of the day was the spectacular senior men's race. It is stunning to watch simply because of the quantity of runners running at such high speed. You all know the level that Pete Mackrell is currently sustaining and yet he only just made the team. He was a little disappointed with his run, but in finishing 198th out of 276, and fifth for Beds his selection was more than justified. A little ahead of Pete was Simon Coombes who battled almost all the way with another Beds runner but just lost out on the final sprint finish as Simon completed the 6.7 mile course in under 39 minutes to take 149th place and help the team to 18th overall.
For those of you that have been around the club for a few years there were other ex members representing various counties. Jill and Joby were both out in the green of Wiltshire and finished in 235th and 239th respectively, while Nikki Sykes ran for Warwickshire and had a great run to finish 11th.
All in all, it was a fantastic day out in the Birmingham sunshine and to have eight representatives of a small club such as ours competing at such a high level is a great achievement. Very well done to all of you and long may it continue.