Quagmire at Wigmore

And the award for the muddiest Cross Country conditions so far this season go to…. Wigmore in Luton!

With Aylesbury parkrun called off completely that very morning, we should have known better than to expect anything else than a run around a quagmire in the afternoon. As the majority of the seniors arrived midway through the juniors, it was immediately apparent that the area around the tent village was already “spike ready” so the course was probably far worse!

With the older folk standing around, moaning and wondering why we keep turning up to these things, the juniors were already out showing us how it was done and braving the conditions on the course and making it that little bit more muddy for all those to follow.

As always, the U11 girls had got us all underway with our team of 3 of Hattie Grimshaw, Julia Bell and Katie Killick finishing in 13th place on the day. Katie managed to hold off a pack of 4 Silson Joggers chasing her down to finish well whilst Hattie and Julia finished strongly in 32nd and 35th places respectively.

There were 6 U11 boys out with Thomas Hirst-Mitchell and Daniel May pushing each other to the line to finish in 19th and 20th places. Aaron O’Dwyer completed the scoring team in 41st place to keep hot on the tails of Marshall MK in 6th in the overall standings. Evan Hirst-Mitchell, Samuel Mullinder and Sid Mead all finished close together to complete the U11s.

As is the situation in the Chiltern League we work our way through the age groups and so the U13’s were next out. Both the boys and the girls achieved their best team performances of the season with the lads in 5th and the girls in 8th. The girls were led home by Niquole Carter, whose 22nd place was by far her best performance yet. Most of the team are made up of girls in the bottom year of the age group and so will be getting excellent experience for doing battle next season. The fact that there were six of them bodes very well and Tianne Gaye-Clarke, Amy Killick, Zara Brooks, Daisy Giltrow and Ami Gardner finished in quick succession to make an excellent team.

The boys at this age have been remarkably consistent with them all finishing in similar positions each month and most of them taking part in all the races. On this occasion they were all in pairs (kind of) with Max Rose & Ewan Bell in 47th & 48th, Harry Bell and Dan Boulder in 36th & 37th, while Owen Lindars was 20 seconds behind Dom Grimshaw in 22nd and 16th respectively. After four fixtures the boys are in 5th and just one point behind St Albans so have every chance of getting 4th in MK next month.

The U15 girls once again turned out in force for this fixture with a complete team of four venturing over the M1 for the race. Ellie Rabbits once again led home the team that included Dana Carter, Evie Gilmour and McKenna Keefe. Impressively McKenna has run in all four of the races this season which has to be hugely commended in what is a challenging age group. On the day the girls were 8th and remain 8th overall with a slender lead on Aylesbury.

Evie & Dana in team socks!

Evie & Dana in team socks!

From an LBAC perspective there was then a slight lull in proceedings in terms of races, but we noticed a gradual bombardment of the tent by women! Since we’ve been back in division 1 we have averaged 6 ladies running for us in the senior race and to be honest we were pretty happy with that after years of none, one or two. Once, five years ago at Watford in the sunshine we had ten, but on this cold and miserable day in Luton the ladies lined up for a team photo and there were 13 present, nearly! Ironically, Gail who was always part of 1s and 2s for years wasn’t there this time around which made it even more impressive.

Where is Coralie?

Where is Coralie?

In terms of results, Jo Sharples led the team home in 22nd but there were notable performances from Ruth Mitchell, who only came to her first session last week, Kas Gardner, making her debut and Amy Inchley returning from injury and running for two! The lady vet team did particularly well by finishing 5th on the day.

Finally we come to the senior men. For the sixth time in nine fixtures we had twenty or more men running, and crucially almost all those who have been battling injury turned out too. We knew we had a good team out but we didn’t quite expect the overall result we got. For the first time ever we had 2 in the top 20, 5 in 50 and closed the team of 10 in 75! You may recall that we claimed the accolade of best men’s performance back at Keysoe in October, well this was significantly better! Our 10th scorer was in the first 37% of the field.

Tom & Charlie - Luton

Tom & Charlie ploughing through the icy mud

On the day the men were 3rd again and just 33 points behind Bedford. The thing is though, that to suggest this is purely down to a fantastic performance by Elliot to lead us home or the league debut by Glen after a couple of attempts would not do justice to the brilliant efforts put in by the whole team. Individual battles going on throughout the field both with the opposition and each other resulted in points being picked up everywhere. Warren and Charlie had their highest ever finishing positions, Chris George and James Cusack made their debuts too and we had sixteen home before Bedford had ten!

The result of all this means that the men’s team are now in 3rd for the season and just 16 points ahead of Harrow (both teams scored over 1500 at this fixture!) so that battle looks like being incredibly close and every single point will really count!

As a club we are currently 7th which is where we finished last year and was our best ever result, but we are only 44 points behind Aylesbury in 6th and actually only 400 behind Windsor in 5th, which is a possible gap to close if they don’t get a full strength team out and we do.

Finally, a huge thank you should be given to all those who spent much of a freezing cold day at Luton, arriving early to set-up and get the juniors ready, then hanging around to run or take photos and pack down at the end. It really is appreciated by those of us that just rock up a little before our race.

So all-in-all it was yet another brilliant performance from the Buzzards of Leighton and we have an opportunity in MK next month to reach standards we have never seen before. Brilliant work everyone. See you in Campbell Park.

Full results and standings for division one can be found here and there are over 500 photos from the day on the Facebook page.