Heroes of Spikes and Cookies
Chiltern Cross Country League 17/18
Fixture 3 – Stopsley
After what seemed to be a record turnout for Teardrop Lakes at the last Chiltern League fixture, the senior teams turned up at Fixture 3 in Luton, a little bit light on numbers. However, that’s not to say that those who turned out didn’t do their club proud and as always, the Juniors got everybody off to an excellent start.
The day was cold and surprisingly wet with a mixture of mist and drizzle drifting across the course throughout the late morning and early afternoon. Whilst it wasn’t particularly pleasant for spectating, it did actually mean the conditions for racing weren’t too bad with not much wind around.
Toby Evans led round the team of three U11 boys with an excellent race, finishing in 28th with Logan Dewar and Ash Carter supporting him and scoring valuable points for the team.
The U11 girls had a superb day, finishing in 9th overall and really lifting them up the league in what is very tight in mid table. Sophia Watt finished in 24th supported by Harriet Butlin, Katie Killick, Sophie Ford and Emily Axten-Blackwell who all finished within a minute of each other.
Imogen Chesterton and Julia Bell both picked up points in the U13 girls whilst the two Meads in Arty and Sid were led home by Oscar Butlin in 25th position for the boys. All their points helped out the club with their overall points haul for the day and could be all important come February! Arty especially should be praised for stopping to check on a fellow runner who had pulled up. Something that the club is extremely proud of. Well done Arty!
Into the U15 girls and Amy Killick had another great run, finishing in 13th in the division. Backed up again by a team of Niquole Carter and Zara Brooks, who crossed the line together and Alicia Down with Amelia Butlin taking some important points off other teams in the division. Dana Carter again had a good race in another tough U17/20 women field and as the only LBAC in the race on the day her efforts are much appreciated by the club.
The three familiar names of Harry Bell, Max Rose and William Rossiter finished well in the U15 boys again as they have in all three fixtures this season. Hopefully with a bit of help from others they can continue their form into the final two fixtures of the season.
LBAC had two U17 men competing at Stopsley with both having an excellent season so far. Daniel Horner ran well finishing in 24th whilst Alfie Blaber continued his fantastic recent form to come across the line in 36th.
For those who don’t know, Stopsley Common is a high point in Luton looking out towards the glamorous sight of the Marsh Farm estate and the rest of the urban sprawl and M1 beyond. The important thing to take from this is that the course is obviously on a hill. Whilst the course for the men and women is relatively flat for the first few miles, it suddenly plunges down before a steep incline back up (including steps) which only levels off with half a mile to go. Upon doing a quick scouting mission of the hill, we were told that it was dubbed “The National Hill” as the National XC course, when in Luton, used to use the very same hill.
Unlike other Chiltern League races, such as Horspath, the men and women both only do the hill once, much to the men’s relief!
As mentioned earlier, compared to the turnout at Fixture 2, there was a lot more space in the tent when getting changed as there were a few people in both senior teams unfortunately unable to make the race. However, unlike past years we were able to get a team out for both men and women even with the increase in the ladies’ team to 6, so this should certainly be seen as a positive that our ladies team now has strength in depth.
Starting with the ladies, our team was lead home by Amy Farnfield who had a stormer and finished in 36th place. Coralie Anderson and a welcome return to the club for Ruth Mitchell who finished well, followed by Kas Gardner and Katie Haylock who all finished well within the top 100. Our 6th finisher was Alison Bell, who was delighted to have scored for the team despite reaching the top of the hill with steamed up glasses as a price for her efforts. The real story of the ladies team however, was Alex Killick, who the weekend before had attempted her first ultra run on what can only be described as the toughest course ever. Having not made the time cut off after 30 miles in Wendover Woods, a week later, Alex finished at Stopsley in determined fashion before providing the whole club with delicious cookies. A hero in more ways than one.
Following the same theme, the senior men had a few heroic performances on the day. David Killick and Mark Haynes had both attempted the 50 miles at Wendover Woods the week before. Whilst David had to drop out due to injury, Mark did complete the course and both travelled to Stopsley to battle it out for Purple & Gold.
James Cusack, who has been improving rapidly on the road over the autumn, returned to give Cross Country another go, but this time with spikes that fitted! All this a few days before his wife is due to give birth to his second child (Ed. Welcome to the world Elspeth!). James finished in his best position yet and was 7th scorer for the team.
Tim Inchley was having a steady race before taking a bit of a slip around one of the slightly boggier corners and tweaking his back. After taking it easy for a mile and dropping back a few places, Tim carried on and managed to find the effort to get up the hill and finish as 6th scorer just ahead of James C.
Tim wasn’t the only person to fall victim of the course either, with Chris George turning up in his racing vest with a dodgy calf in the hope he could score some much needed points for the club. Unfortunately the uneven ground was to be enough for him and he had to drop out, but his efforts were much appreciated by everybody else out on the course.
Charlie Mead was desperate to prove that he wasn’t just a lazy student now after the struggle at Teardrops and having trained especially for 3 weeks, made the train journey back for the weekend to finish well and help LBAC out.
Up at the front of the field, Simon Coombes finished well in what would have been 25th position, if he was allowed to score as second claim! No matter though as Tom Inchley led the team home finishing in an excellent 46th position with James Bell on his final Chiltern League as Club Captain, finishing in 99th position. The rest of the scoring team followed close behind with only 1 minutes 10 seconds between 2nd and 10th scorers. Stuart Blofeld is almost back to something near his best, Steve Sharples had another great run, Sam Dear made it round determinedly despite his ever-present niggles and the Chiltern League stalwart Warren Rose closed the team.
After all that, the club is now still in 8th position overall but every point counts over the next 2 races and we’d hope to be back to something close to our strongest field of runners in January. Remember it’s a bit of a longer gap between fixtures with Keysoe being next on the Chiltern League calendar with the exciting water hazard! Everybody loves it! So don’t eat too many chocolates and mince pies over Christmas and we hope to see you there.