Just Like Being at the Beach!

As it so often does, the first cross-country of the season arrived with blue skies over the Chiltern region of the country as hundreds of runners made their way to the Keysoe International equestrian centre in north Bedfordshire for a quick dip.

This was not the first time we have visited Keysoe in October, but after six consecutive years of kicking off the season in Oxford, it certainly made a change not to be slogging up a big hill! It was also unusual, in that we finished last season at Keysoe, so have had consecutive races at the venue renowned for its water splash.

The junior section of the club has been somewhat diminished over the summer, so it was great that we still had nine juniors taking part in the various races. We are particularly thankful to Warren for his continued involvement with the juniors and especially as he also brought along the gazebo for us all to use throughout the day.

It’s probably fair to say that the junior performance of the day was from Freya Ineson, who finished 16th in the U11’s out of fifty-one girls. The U11’s a real scramble, with over three-quarters of the field finishing within a minute of each other. On the team front, it is great to see that we had three U13 boys taking part. It is the team aspect of our club that has always made us punch above our weight, so it’s important to retain that aspect in all our running. Well done to Josh Ineson, Joe Mercer and Tommy Davies for their strong running.

Also, huge credit should be given to all of the other youngsters who turned out for the club on Saturday. Ash Carter, Cerys Fountain, Olivia Cane, Amy Green and Charlie Mercer. All of these kids will have earned vital points for the club in our season-long battle.

We had great numbers turn out in the women’s races with twelve ladies taking part. This equalled our highest number in the last five years. Campbell Park in 2017 was the last time we had that many runners and there were five surviving members of the team from that day in Alison, Amy F, Amy I, Liz and Kate. This time around we were somewhat hit by long standing injuries and marathons, but some strong individual runs helped to make up for that a little.

Most of the ladies team under blue skies – Jo and Amy I must have been hiding!

Amy Farnfield led the team home in 33rd place, starting this season as strongly as she finished the last, with Jo Dear giving great support as she ran very carefully on her return from her stress fracture. Other notable performances came from Sarah Keane who had her highest Chiltern League position in her second season; Kate Johnson returning for the first time since that same MK fixture in 2017 and Dana and Nicquole Carter, who chatted most of the way around and still managed to beat twenty people.

The men’s team was similarly missing lots of regulars, particularly at the front end, but it was great to have a couple of new faces making their debuts, and Jordan returning to the team for this solitary fixture, before he heads to Canada. There was talk of monthly flights from Vancouver being subsidised by the club, but unfortunately we couldn’t afford the in-flight masseur to ensure he recovered from his jet lag in time!

Following Jordan home were Will Harding and James Lloyd-Knibbs, who were both doing their first cross-country races for us and scored some excellent points. Well done chaps! In between those two, and quietly finishing in his highest ever CCCL position was Sam Dear whose consistent progression this year has been fantastic to see. It was also good to have Chris George making a welcome return, after a year away and Ed Toosey starting the season strongly with a good place to build from.

Good high knees through the water from William!!

So the results after the first fixture have the club standing in 8th place. This is a little down on previous years, but not miles away. It seems to be a perennial situation that the first fixture is our weakest and we spend the rest of the season playing catch-up. It looks like we need to do that again, so please try your very best to have the remaining four fixtures inked into your diaries and we can definitely catch most of the teams above us with our usual fantastic team spirit.

Full results from the day can be found on the Chiltern League website and just for your reference the remaining fixtures are:

  • 11th November – Teardrop Lakes, Milton Keynes (Our home fixture)
  • 2nd December – Stopsley Common, Luton
  • 13th January – Cassiobury Park, Watford
  • 10th February – Horspath Sports Ground, Oxford