Category Archives: Cross Country

Cross-Country, Dursley Dozen and parkrun round-up.

Surprisingly there are very few Hallmark Valentine’s Day cards featuring two sweaty runners adorned in lycra locking eyes across a Parkrun start line.   “Your pace, or mine?”

Yet something was obviously in the air at the Mundys to encourage such a wonderful turnout from TRC for our ‘parkrun of the month’.    Maybe it was the thought of the pink-frosted heart-shaped treats that made a welcome refuelling alternative to the medjool dates?  

Yet again the Duracell Bunny in human form, Ben Bohane, was first across the line in a time of 19:43, now taking him above Nick Williams as the runner with the most first finishes at this race.  I ask again: does Ben ever have a bad run?    (Spoiler alert, possibly in Dursley).   It then got a bit ridiculous, as TRC runners filled almost all the rest of the top 10 male finishers, with Asten Haynes, Nathan Darkin, Alan Gatling, Paul Thomas, Sean Leadbetter, Tom Usherwood and Andrew Darton following Ben home. (Not literally).   Julia Jolley was the first Thornbury woman runner, and a very impressive third overall.   Catherine Dack was sixth overall, and ran a new course PB in 27:53.   To do so in this weather, and underfoot conditions, is a sign of significant improvement.

Highlights from the previous two weeks’ parkruns included:  Ben Bohane winning both Thornbury on the 29th January, and then Berkeley Green the following Saturday.   TRC’s London Marathon record holder, and late 90s Milk Tray Man, George Evans, continued to impress with a brilliant new Mundy’s PB of 19:38.   At Chipping Sodbury on the 29th, Taryn Roberts was fourth woman in 20:44, and James Harrod fourth male in 16:34.    On the 5th Feb, Clare Watt was, yet again, first woman at Thornbury.   TRC’s growing strength in depth amongst the male team was reinforced by top 10 finishes at the same event for Adam Frontczak, Jonathan Hall, Moray Sloan, Tom Usherwood and Henry Orna.

Feb 13th was the second round of the Gloucestershire Cross Country league.   Sadly the team was significantly weaker than usual, with the clash with the Dursley Dozen, and a few Covid absences, meaning we didn’t really have a chance of recording a meaningful score as a team.   It was a foul day in Cheltenham, with 25mph winds and incessant rain.  By the time the men ran at the end of the day the entire course had a slippery sheen of mud.

James Harrod was the outstanding male runner of the day.   He ended up running almost the entire race on his own, not quite able to bridge the gap to two runners ahead of him, but still strong enough to hold off the runners behind.   He finished in 9th place, in 38:19, although on this occasion he had to cede the U20 race to a very talented junior from Birchfield Harriers who was 13 seconds ahead of him.    Andy Wilson is moving up the ranks in these races, and now pacing his efforts to perfection.   He was an excellent 41st place in 41:46

George Evans is also improving with each cross country race, after his stunning season on the roads.   He was 65th in 44:25.  Jim Godden was next in 45:53, and he managed to secure a top 5 age-category position.   Henry Orna was 85th in 47:04.

Sadly our ladies’ team was even more depleted than the men’s.  However we were encouraged to see 17 year old Laura Evans, daughter of George, make her debut.  In what was a very tough event, and far further than any school race she’d run, Laura came a magnificent 9th in her age category, and finished in 38:25.   She is fortunate to have inherited her father’s exceptional athletic abilities, and even more fortunate that she got her beauty and brains from her mother!   (Sorry George, couldn’t resist that one!)

However, first woman home for Thornbury was Laura Orna.   She ran a very impressive 34:16, to be 8th in category and just inside the top 50 overall.   Carol Mosses also demonstrated her improving form, and was delighted to finish well inside the hour mark.

Finally, Sunday also saw the Dursley Dozen, and the atrocious weather conditions made what is already a brutal race into a real test of mental and physical endurance.   So huge congratulations to all the TRC runners who took part, and especially so to those who got to place a sodden trail shoe on their respective podiums.   Or should that be podia?

Taryn Roberts recorded a brilliant fourth place overall, and completed the gruelling 12 miles in 1 hr and 49 minutes.    Anything under two hours on that route is very impressive.   Hannah Hamilton was not far off that mark, and came 13th overall in 2hrs and 4 minutes.    Clare Watt was third TRC woman, in 2hrs 11 mins, and was 2nd in her age category.   Emma Barnes (2hrs 27) and Sarah Newnes (2hrs and 32 min) completed the line up.

The Hobbs family are running royalty in these parts, with all three adult children competing at a high level in distance running and triathlons.   Yet their dad Dave is also an incredible runner, and seems to thrive on the trails in particular.   Dave was first TRC runner home, in 1hr 39 mins, 10th overall, and the clear winner in his age category.  Performance of the week I would suggest!

You know you’ve run well if you’re ever ahead of Dylan Roberts.   Even if Dave was stronger on the day, Dylan still performed very well, and was 19th overall in 1hr 42 mins.   Ben Bohane was next, and surely the sub-20 parkrun the day before explains the slightly slower time of 1hr 47.   Peter Cable ran 1hr 53; Ian Evans 2hrs 5mins and Garry Slater 2hrs 49mins.

Moguls and Molehills – cross-country race report, 8th January

How we love the fast-draining limestone soil of the Cotswolds!   

The Gloucestershire County Championships took place at the Cotswold Farm Park, and despite a fortnight of almost continuous rain it was remarkable how much actual grass we had to run on, even on lap 3 of the senior men’s race, some three hours after the competitions began.   

The start and finish took place on what the organisers called the ‘bumpy field’ which was full of moguls, hillocks and tree-roots, before a testing long section through fields and wooded paths.

The senior women’s race was combined with the men’s over 65s.  As the women sprinted for the sanctuary of the finish line with the occasional septuagenarian in hot pursuit, I did suggest to the organisers that they played the Benny Hill theme tune over the loud-speaker, but they just told me to stop bothering them and go away.

Taryn Roberts was the first TRC woman to finish, and demonstrated that her recent resurgence in form is continuing by securing an excellent 5th place overall in 33:42.   That should qualify her to run for the Gloucestershire team in the UK inter-counties championships.

Equally impressive, and less than 2 minutes behind Taryn, was Melanie Wilson who recorded a 5th place placing in her age-category competition.   Mel pipped team captain Hannah Hamilton to the line, but Hannah was significantly hampered by a nasty fall during the race that cost her a lot of time.   After the race her swollen knee resembled a 3-dimensional, scale-model of the aforementioned ‘bumpy field’.    Despite the accident Hannah should also have qualified, with Melanie, for the county team.

Some of TRC’s best endurance athletes filled the next few places – all of whom recorded comfortable top-10 age-category results.  It was great to see the talented Natalie Bennett on the cross-country course.  She was home in 36:23.   Jo Plumbley was next for TRC in 37:23.    Clare Watt and Ros Rowland were, not surprisingly given their abilities, first and second respectively in their age-categories.   Carol Mosses also ran a strong race to complete the line-up.

Arthur Renshaw was the clear winner in his age category, and he exudes such an aura of invincibility that none of his contemporaries were willing to line-up against him.   (are you trying to say he was the only runner?   Ed.)

The men’s race was very competitive up at the front, with UK inter-county places on offer.   The men had to circle the bumpy field five times in total, with three long laps around the main part of the course thrown in too.   The underfoot conditions remained good, but the pinch points at the corners were now very slippery indeed.

James Harrod has been injured for much of the past two months, and so was severely lacking in any form of speedwork coming into this race.   He began cautiously but was rewarded with a storming final lap as he worked his way through the field to finish in 9th place overall, and the runaway winner in the U20s competition.    A muddy, hilly 10k in 38:17.

Andy Wilson produced arguably the performance of the day for TRC’s men.   He was 39th overall in 42:03, but that was a big improvement on his last outing.   Andy has undoubted speed and talent, but until recently had been fading towards the end of the longer races.   His steady endurance training over the winter is already paying dividends as he paced his run to perfection this time around.   I am very confident that he will make further progress up the field in the next few races.

The ever-reliable Ben Bohane just lost out to Andy this time, finishing in 41st place in 42:30.    There then followed a sizeable gap to some of the TRC veterans, although they were consoled with some top 10 age-category finishes.   James had time to scoff a few slices of cake before watching his dad, Paul, slip-slide around the final corner like a malfunctioning milk-float:  52nd in 44:21 but 8th in category.   George Evans improved on his last outing, and was 6th in category, and 55th in 45:03.  X-country captain Jim Godden was less than a minute behind, and an excellent 5th in his category.    Will Hamilton was closing in fast on Jim and secured 63rd place overall in 46:17.   Paul Saville was the final member of the team home and should be pleased with a top-10 age category finish as well.

In the overall competition Thornbury’s men were fourth overall, and the ladies, fifth.   Both teams missed their top-scoring senior runner from last time around, (Laura and Sean), and the men’s team in particular has several other luminaries to call upon in the future.   Please put the next race, on the 13th February, at Pitville Park in Cheltenham, in your diaries.


As men’s team captain Jim Godden put it: ‘that was proper cross-country.’

Round one of the Gloucestershire League took place at Cirencester Park. The venue features acres of lush green grass that allow for a spectator-friendly event and a fast and furious race. Instead we were pitched down rain-sodden tracks, along rutted woodland paths, and (for the men at least) three times through a swamp which was knee-deep in places. Discerning readers may detect vague hints at my personal preference for a race route, but there is no denying that the sense of solidarity and achievement is all the greater if you make it to the finish line in a race like that more or less unscathed. Plus if you enjoy startling squirrels, you were in your element.

The highlight of the day was seeing just how many TRC runners turned out. As a result we had some excellent team and individual performances, even if we were missing many of our stars from the women’s team. Even a strong senior men’s team was missing Nick and Dylan, arguably our two fastest runners. So the potential is there for the club to perform even better in future events.

However it was the Masters men that delivered the performance of the day. Nick Langridge, Chris Foley and Arthur Renshaw won their team competition, while Nick was second in his individual age category. Our three musketeers ran alongside the senior ladies, who also ran at the same time as some very speedy U17 and U20 juniors. So picking out the specific results is not straight-forward. Laura Orna knew if she didn’t get round the course at a serious trot then her children would almost certainly have eaten all the cakes. So she did not disappoint by finishing in 51st place overall, but much higher in the senior ladies’ race, and a very impressive eighth place in her age category.

6km is barely a warm-up stride-out for Ros Rowland, but she proved that her ultra-marathon trail running hasn’t sapped her speed, as she finished in 77th place, and third in her age category. A top three age category finish in an event of this quality is a significant achievement. Ros was still pipped to the post by Jo Plumbley who finished 10 seconds ahead, in 76th place. Maria Hobbs completed the line-up and she finished in 98th place. Anything inside the top 100 is very good indeed.

The senior men’s race was also of an extremely high quality. Perhaps the 18 month plus Covid gap, and the fact that this was an ideal warm-up for some of the very serious guys looking ahead to the national cross-country relays, meant that there seemed to be a particularly strong turnout from the likes of Bath AC, Western Tempo, and some of the University teams. To put it into perspective, the winner of the men’s race ran well under 30 mins for 10k on the road the previous week.

So the TRC men’s team performed very creditably, even if I sensed some disappointment from a few of us at the placings. However virtually everyone on the team was making their cross-country club debut, and it does take time to gauge the right pace, and adapt to running on such challenging terrain after a summer on the roads.

18 year old James Harrod made his first appearance in a senior race, which involved a step-up to 10k from the usual 6km covered in the junior races. He was holding on to fifth place deep into the final lap when stomach issues necessitated a pit-stop in the woods during which he slipped to 10th place and James could not overhaul any other runner before the finish. However a top 10 placing in such a competitive race is a great achievement.

Sean Leadbeater, Phil Blackburn and Ben Bohane probably lost out to some guys they would easily beat on the road, but they still performed exceptionally well in their first XC races for the club. Sean grabbed a highly-prized top 50 finish in 46th. Phil was only 20-odd seconds behind in 53rd , while Ben just another minute back in 63rd.

There then followed a veritable cluster of TRC runners, with Paul Harrod in 79th; a brilliantly-paced effort from Simon Pinnington in 82nd (and 9th in his age category), Andy Wilson one place back in 83rd, and a fantastic effort from very-recent recruit Asten Haynes in 88th. Asten has made remarkable progress in a matter of weeks, so I am sure he will climb the ranks in future races.

London marathon club record holder George Evans was 95th, and running in the same month as his monumental effort in the Capital was heroic, and probably cost him a few places. However top 100 is still very good. Captain Jim Godden was 107th, but 6th in his age-category. Henry Orna was 122nd and Martyn Green 134th. Tom Witherbed sadly had to pull out just after halfway. He felt his hamstring was struggling on the sharp descents, and wisely spared himself injury. Hopefully Tom will be back for the next race which is likely to be on a less extreme course.

The net result was that both the senior men’s team, and the vets’ team (over 40s) are in seventh place overall. In an ideal world we’d get a few more fast guys out next time, then all the seniors score for the senior team, leaving those vets that scored for the senior team this time round (are you following at the back?) free to score for the vets which would correspondingly bump up that score. A top 5 placing in both team categories is therefore possible.

Next race is SUNDAY 12th Dec at Wotton Park. Any club member is welcome to join the team, and, based on our experience last week, the quality of the running is only exceeded by the quality of Jim Godden’s patisserie skills.