The Big Chiltern League Finale
Chiltern Cross Country League – Race 5 – Campbell Park
by Tom Kimber
The call for a large final turnout worked a treat. A total of 61 LBAC runners headed to the wintry conditions of Campbell Park in Milton Keynes for the final event in the Chiltern League cross country season. Prior to the event, we were in 6th place overall, but with the knowledge that a strong team performance would provide possibility of an even higher finish.
From a personal perspective I was looking forward to the Campbell Park event, as I happen to work a stones throw from the park and spend many a lunch hour enjoying its scenery. However I’m not convinced that any course knowledge particularly helped. I don’t know what others thought, but in my view it was one of those lumpy courses where you were running either uphill or downhill, with very little flat in between, which meant it was hard to run in a relaxed manner. Add in one or two very boggy spots, a tight ‘gate turn’, and a near vertical downhill section, and it is clear to see why this is viewed as a challenging course.
Despite some of these technical aspects there were some stellar performances throughout the team. First mention has to go to Elliot Hind, who ran superbly in the men’s race to finish in second place (SECOND!). This was not only Elliot’s highest position of the season, but was only 11 seconds behind the winner. Great stuff! Not far behind was the returning Jordan Clay in 7th place, and Rob Elmore in 22nd place. Has LBAC ever had three men finish in the top 25th before? These three were ably supported by the remaining men’s team – the first ten LBAC finishers were all placed within the first 69 places, whilst the second ten completed within the top 149. This demonstrates remarkable strength in depth, and a real team effort with the majority achieving their highest placings of the season.
In the womens race we had a great turn out of 13 runners, including, a first appearance for Jessica Jenkins. Special mentions should go to quality runs from Amy Inchley (26th) Amy Farnfield (28th) and Coralie Anderson (46th) who all ran strongly to finish in the top fifty. We had another good turnout from the younger sections of the club, with all completing admirably in the tough conditions.
As a team we finished 3rd overall on the day – our highest placing of the season – beaten only by Marshall Milton Keynes and Chiltern Harriers. Perhaps more significantly, this third place meant that as a team we jumped up to 5th place for the season, which I understand equals our best ever placing. Fantastic!
Now nearly a week after the event (sorry for the delay in completing this report!), it is probably an opportune moment to undertake a bit more of an in-depth assessment of the 2016/17 cross country season. It is clear that as a club we improved the longer the cross country season progressed, from overall 7th (Oxford) 6th (Teardrop) and 8th (Luton) places before Christmas to 5th (Keysoe) and 3rd (Campbell Park) places in January and February. Maybe a ‘preseason’ club cross country run should be in order?!
It is also clear that lots of LBAC members take part in lots of the races – I believe that out of the 60 senior male runners completing four or more events, LBAC had the highest number of any club (eleven). Some individual season-long performances are worth a mention here: in the senior men category, not only did Elliot Hind finish 3rd overall after five events, but we had two other senior male runners in the top 20 (Glen Turner 16th, and Billy Mead 17th). What you may have not also realised was that we also had Andy Inchley finishing the season in 5th place overall (M40), Nick Clay in 5th place (M50) Coralie Anderson in 7th place (F35), and Maria Williams in 11th place (F35).
Finally, as a newcomer to LBAC, I would just like to add how much I have enjoyed becoming a member, and taking part in training, and competing in events such as the Chiltern Cross Country League. I have especially enjoyed getting stuck into the cross country (and the post race cake!), and would encourage any out there who has yet to partake to get stuck in and give it a go. Slightly disappointed to have to wait until the autumn now for the next one!
Well done everybody for another exceptional season for the club. If you miss XC over the summer months remember we have some relays coming up as well as the off-road series and not to forget the tour of MK at the end of the summer. All of these have some sort of off-road/cross country aspect to keep you tested!