Girls & Women take up the baton

For the last few years, the club’s results across the Chiltern League have been heavily reliant on an increasing quality and quantity of senior men earning more and more points to push us further up the table but it would seem that at Teardrop Lakes this weekend the girls really came to the party.

It would be unjust to venture into the report on the races without offering a thank you to all of the volunteers to gave up their Saturday from very early to set up the course, man the car park, marshal the runners and de-rig the course. Some of these people sacrificed their own runs or days with their families to help out. A few of them were not even from our club, so particular thanks go to those guys who were really selfless to stand out in the drizzle all day. Finally, Richard should get a big pat on the back for once again co-ordinating what is actually a huge cross-country fixture that is now regularly featuring international athletes.

So, the results will show that LBAC had two particular stand-out age groups. Firstly the U13 girls. Since we were promoted to division 1 back in 2010 the highest our U13 girls have finished in any of the 32 fixtures is 8th out of the 14 teams. Yesterday they finished 4th!

The six girls who donned the purple and yellow ran brilliantly. I am sure that them pushing and encouraging each other was the key to the result as Niquole Carter and Isabel Law pushed each other all the way to finish in 15th and 16th respectively, just one second apart. Two doesn’t make a team though and Katy Dixon (30th) and Julia Bell (42nd) meant we closed the scoring team very quickly. Rebecca Knibb was just 20 seconds behind Julia and Imogen Chesterton finished strongly in 58th to round off an excellent performance. If these girls can keep encouraging each other and improving there is no reason why this shouldn’t be the first of many fantastic results.

The other brilliant performance was from our senior women. Again, to put a little history behind it, two years ago our women finished 7th over the season which was our best ever result, but this was very reliant on just a few women turning out every race. Two years on and they have finished 7th again, but with a best ever turn-out of 14 runners – this is more than 10% of the division 1 field!

You may think that 7th isn’t spectacular, but when you consider that they were just 28 points off 4th and missing the first two finishers from the first fixture, then that is amazing. With this level of participation and the brilliant improvements that all the women are showing there is really only one direction to go. After two fixtures the team lie 9th, but are only 100 points off 4th place so clearly it’s going to be a tight battle this year.

It’s very easy for a report like this to just become a list of names and positions so I usually try to refrain from this with the seniors. However, pretty much all the women out did themselves this week, so:

  • Jo Sharples – As new vice-captain led the team home brilliantly
  • Gail Duckworth – Injury plagued couple of years, but still managed to chase Jo home
  • Amy Farnfield – First CCCL and finished a fantastic 37th
  • Lynn Boddy – Said she simply couldn’t make it so wasn’t expected, but rushed around the country to arrive just in the nick of time
  • Lisa Bowyer – Run of the day for me!
  • Katie Haylock – Starting to feel the XC love again……maybe?
  • Maria Williams – 10K PB last weekend, this weekend mud in MK
  • Amy Inchley – Gradually getting back, just three months after Juliet arrived
  • Coralie Anderson – Immaculate as ever
  • Fiona Towell – How she even has time to run is beyond me!
  • Nikki Inchley – First XC for at least 15 years – maybe ever?
  • Nikki Elvin – Back racing. If someone could just persuade her to do the odd training run……
  • Kas Gardner – Probably shouldn’t have been running, but still did!
  • Sarah Keane – Joins the club on Tuesday, running XC on Saturday. Awesome.
Maria & Lisa enjoying it far too much!

Maria & Lisa enjoying it far too much!

There were plenty of other good performances in the other races too, with an excellent 66 LBAC members out on the various courses.

If you’ve never watched the finish of the U11’s races, it’s certainly worth a watch; Toby Evans led our boys team home in 7:22, but was given the same time as three other boys in the middle of a pack of 15 finishing in 10 seconds. Aaron O’Dwyer was just nine seconds but 15 places behind in 52nd – small margins eh – while Sid Mead chased Aaron home. Logan Dewar, Finlay Boyd and Ash Carter all also ran well to give the U11’s 11th place out of 20 teams.

In the girls version, Charlotte Keane led home our small team of four in 33rd place, with Sophia Watt 44th, Amber Jones 70th and Izzy 73rd.This gave them 9th place out of the twenty teams.

The U13 boys were missing a couple of runners from the first fixture, but still had six in the race. Taylor Williams (58th) was making his XC debut and raced well with Josh Walker-Croft (57th). Thomas Hirst-Mitchell and William Rossiter equally had a battle a little further up the field, while the team was led home by Oscar Butlin in 38th place. Daniel May had picked up an injury from rugby and did very well to hobble round the course in 61st place to support the team effort.

In the U15 version, we had three boys out running with Daniel Horner (32nd), Owen Lindars (36th) and Max Rose (45th) all earning good points for the club’s tally. There were two U15 girls out in the drizzle with Leah Quinn and Izzy Hoare both running well in club colours. Megan Westrope has now done both of the U17 girls’ races, which are always an incredibly high standard. This time around she finished 40th and will no doubt be looking forward to Luton next month!

The senior men’s race was supplemented by not only the cross challenge but also the Oxford Uni vs RAF match so there were 457 participants in total. The results mentioned here are just the CCCL division 1, but it does show what a big event it has now become.

We had 25 senior men out racing on Saturday. This seems to have become the norm, which is absolutely brilliant and means that our expectations have become so much higher. There are clearly too many names to mention individually, but we had a debut from Mark Castleton, who has joined us from St Alban’s. Sam Nicholas (just about) made his first race as an U20 and Ben Corfield trekked down from Sheffield for the occasion. All of them are most welcome and helped bolster the team.

Definitely performance of the day though was from Charlie Mead, who having finished 12th for the club in Oxford had his brother firmly in his sights as he came home in 72nd place as our sixth scorer. Our scoring ten was closed out by Tim Inchley in 94th. This is not as high as it has been in the past, but with the increase in numbers that the league has seen, it’s a strong performance. The men were 7th on the day, but 5th to 8th were covered by just 70 points so all very close.

Charlie did remarkably well to complete the course with his eyes closed!

Charlie did remarkably well to complete the course with his eyes closed!

All of this leaves the club 6th after 2 fixtures, 200 points behind Oxford (the surprise team this year), but equally just ahead of Dacorum, Aylesbury and Harrow so there is a lot of racing still to be done.

The next fixture is close to home at Stopsley in Luton so we once again need a bumper turn-out, particularly with a small contingent still in Lanzarote at that time (sorry). We have proved this weekend though, that we do have the depth so just make sure it’s in the diary.

Thanks to Barry Cornelius for the photos above.