Cross Country Final Round Up after 3rd and 4th March Weather
As we prepared for a double header weekend of cross country races, the Beast from the East met Storm Emma and caused the whole lot to be called off with no further rearrangements to be made. This meant that positions in both leagues would remain as they stood.
As far as the Gloucester League is concerned this meant that the men’s team finished in 14th position out of 26 and the men’s vets team in a very good 6th out of 29, our best for a few years. The ladies’ team finished in 13th place and the ladies’ vets in 10th.
We also picked up 2 individual medals with Judy Mills being 3rd LV60 and Nick Langridge being 2nd in the MV60 category, having as a V65 stayed in the main race rather than running with the V65s in the ladies races. He was beaten by another V65 running in the V60 category.
In the Gwent League we had an almost full men’s team ready to turn out at Blaise Castle but with the cancellation this meant that as a club we did not trouble the scorers of the Gwent League all season. Both teams will drop back down to their respective bottom divisions where we started all those years ago and had done so well in between. It has been a fast decline at a time of increasing participation in cross country, somewhat bewilderingly.
As far as the club championships are concerned Rob Watkins takes the honours as men’s champion with Nick Langridge coming out on top in the age adjusted category. Jo Emerson came out as both ladies’ champion and top of the age adjusted category but as the club rules preclude one person from winning both the age adjusted will go to 2nd placed Angela Bushell. Well done to those.
So that’s it for this season. You can now start sharpening your spikes for next season.
Gloucester League Race 3 – Cheltenham 17 Feb 2018
After all the effort on concentrating on the Gloucester League, the women’s team was looking rather thin on the ground on Thursday night with only Angela Bushell ready to turn out. However, the team was saved by a mystery runner, a surprise comeback and Judy Mills not being injured enough to want to miss a cross country. The surprise comeback was a Pete persuaded Maddie Parrott and, at the start, we thought we had a team of just three. Pittville Park was looking quite welcoming in the sunshine and surprisingly dry conditions but is a deceptively difficult course with its constant ups and downs and turns. The stream crossing had been moved to a wider part so there was no jumping across and everyone was assured of three or four wet steps and a climb up a muddy bank.
Their 6.4 K race was joined by Pete as a MV65 who went to the start saying that we would recognise him as he was the good looking one. Angela headed the Thornbury runners at the start, followed by Maddie, then the good looking one and Judy together. But as the field thinned out from the start and we watched the runners round the top of the course we noticed another runner in what looked like a light blue vest with a red band ahead of all of them. Was it another club with similar colours or someone who had turned up unannounced? As she came round past the start again she definitely had a TRC vest on as it said Thornbury in black letters across the front but nobody could recognise who it might be.
Mystery runner continued at a good pace with Angela and Maddie behind and the good looking one pulling away from Judy. Towards the end Mystery Runner started to run out of steam and Angela started to close her down but not enough to catch her with Mystery Runner 66th in 34:45 and Angela 69th in 35:02. Mystery Runner then disappeared without anyone knowing who it might be.
Maddie finished in 97th in 38:31 not knowing why she’d done it while the good looking one was 108th in 39:46 and Judy 117th in 41:47
The ladies’ team was 21st out of 27 and the vets 17th out of 19.
The men had a team of 8, or so we thought, until we went to the start of the 9.3 K race and there was another mystery runner, who Rob Watkins actually knew and it turned out to be Henry and it was his wife, Laura, who had run in the ladies’ race.
Rob and Henry set the pace for TRC and they were together for most of the race, looking like they would have to sprint it out at the finish but half way round the last lap Rob took off and left Henry in his wake, passing several other runners on the way and finishing 50th in 39:27 while Henry was just under 20 seconds behind at 58th in 39:45.
Nick Langridge found he was not going to be challenging Moray Sloan today as Moray took off quicker and was already well ahead after the starting section. Moray forged on and left Nick well behind who was finding that a trip away for cross country of the skiing type was not the best preparation and the running legs had not returned. Kevin Arnold meanwhile was having a very good run and half way round the second lap shot past Nick, sped past a couple of runners ahead and skipped past two more on the stream crossing, passing them on the inside. He continued to forge ahead of Nick and gain on Moray but not enough to catch him. Moray was 126th in 45:23 with Kevin just a minute behind at129th in 46:27. Nick chugged on behind and, although he got the better of a Striders runner, found the whole thing torridly difficult, finishing 134th in 47:13 and was knocked off his age adjusted top spot by the fast finishing Rob Watkins for the first time, but still came 3rd V60.
Behind these our last four runners ran together in a bunch of their own as if they were out for a club run for most of the race, swapping positions as they went. It wasn’t until the end that there was much differentiation and then it was Anthony Yates showing some improved form in his new shoes that forged ahead to finish 158th in 53:32. Rob Hopkins, having an unusually slow race was one place behind at 159th in 54:09. Mike Bennewitz, having his first league outing of the season was 162nd in 54:51, holding off Jerry Clothier at 163rd in 55:31.
The men’s team finished 13th out of 15 and the vets were 11th out of 16.
We all gathered at our camp to recover and partake of the cake that Maddie and Judy had thoughtfully brought along and most of which disappeared very quickly. The good looking one declared that it was all provided to celebrate the third anniversary of his Cheltenham survival (he really does live in a world of his own sometimes, bless him).
Gloucester Cross Country Championships – Old Down 6 Jan 2018
A somewhat late report this time due to being away without an Internet connection and, as Matt has already so eloquently reported on the race, very little to add to it except to consider the team aspect.
As we were running as guests in the Gloucestershire Championships we weren’t actually allowed to count in the team event. However, if we look at the positions that TRC runners finished in and the points that would have been achieved then the following would have happened.
The men’s team would have placed 6th out of 11. The men’s veteran team would have done even better and have been placed as runners up out of 14. We even had enough vets for a 2nd team to have finished 9th and a 3rd team to have finished 12th.
The ladies team would have placed 6th out of 10 and the ladies’ vet team 5th out of 8.
I think Moray also deserves a commendation for his gentlemanly behaviour in actually apologising as he overtook me for the line. This could have had something to do with the word of exasperation that escaped me as he went past, having held him off for 4 laps and 2 sides of the finishing field and thinking I was dropping him a bit but he hung on to outsprint me, which I can’t do any more, poor old chap. On the other hand I was quite pleased to hold him off for so long. Personally, I blame the spectator encouraging me to stop and turn round to look at Wales for putting me off.
On the age adjusted front there was a close finish where Rob Watkins and Jim Godden actually tied for 2nd place once the age factor was applied (and just 17 seconds behind Nick Langridge)
Matt’s Race Report:
“The Gloucestershire Cross Country Championships took place in cold conditions at Old Down Country Park on Saturday and the Thornbury team was well represented with 18 runners. Several of the team were feeling the after effects of the club’s Christmas party the night before, but dutifully made it for the afternoon start times.
The Old Down course was an uncompromising one, with plenty of climbs, tight turns and sticky mud, which rarely allowed the runners to settle into a rhythm. The women’s race was contested over 2 and a half laps and the early pace was set by Lizzie Williams and Colette Jackson, with the experienced Joanne Emerson looming a little way back. Joanne used all her cross country nous and hill climbing ability to move through the field in the second lap and finished in 29:47 mins in 19th place and 2nd in the LV40 age category. Lizzie Williams ran 30:34 mins in 23rd place, followed by Colette Jackson one place behind in 31:08 mins and 3rd LV40. Clare Watt and Angela Bushell both had consistent races, Clare finished in 32:45 mins and was 2nd LV55 and 28th overall while Angela ran 33:58 mins in 31st place.
The races started in front of the bird enclosure and the ducks and geese raucously greeted the 102 men to the start line, clearly expecting an exciting race. The Thornbury men were out in force with 13 runners tackling the 4 lap course. Nick Williams’ night of dancing at the Christmas party did little to hamper him, and he set off near the top of the field and was the first Thornbury runner in a time of 36:52 mins in 21st place overall. Matt Johnstone narrowly held off the fast finishing Rob Watkins, Matt ran 37:42 mins in 27th to Rob’s 37:46 mins in 29th and 2nd in MV45 age category. Martyn Green made a cross country comeback and finished in 38:49 mins in 40th place. Team Captain Jim Godden continued his rehabiliation after a frustrating foot injury and was happy with his time of 40:58 mins in 54th place and 3rd in the MV55 age category. Moray Sloan tracked Nick Langridge throughout the race and had a little more in reserve for a faster finish in a time of 44:35 mins 71st place to Nick’s 44:41 mins 73rd and 3rd MV65. Other results on the day included Sean Underwood 45:33 mins 78th, Kevin Arnold 45:48 mins 80th, Ian Evans 46:07 mins 83rd and Martin Coyle 46:08 mins 84th. Mike Bennewitz and Anthony Yates enjoyed a competitive tussle until Mike pulled clear in the final lap. Mike’s time was 52:18 mins and 95th place and Anthony ran 54:41 mins in 99th.”
Gloucester League Race 2 – Charlton Park 4 Nov 2017
Was it the threat of a real good cross country course in thick mud or the colder weather? For this was the real deal with thick awkward mud on most of the course and hardly a non-muddy place to put your kit on the ground. Whatever it was, all our debutants and irregulars from the last event had disappeared but the regular hard core of tough condition runners had turned out. So, we still had a full women’s team but the men’s was in doubt until shortly before the start when the last three turned up having been delayed by traffic or sat navs which everyone should know by now don’t know the location of cross country courses as I can attest to from a couple of occasions like sitting in a car in Aberdare on a street of terraced houses next to some sort of sub station with an American woman insisting “You have reached your destination”. And then Rob Hopkins was complaining of already being caked in mud from riding his motorbike into the parking area.
Among the late arrivals there was one exception to the hard core regulars. Matt Johnstone had promised to be there in spirit, which doesn’t actually get us any points, but when his apparition appeared on the course and you couldn’t put your hand through it, it became obvious that he had actually gone one step further and turned up in person. And that turned out to be a real bonus for the team and we had another good turn out.
First off was the ladies’ 6.4 K race. With Jo Emerson making her customary circumspect start it was Clare Watt who took the early lead. Jo then made her trademark move through the ranks to take the lead and continued to gain places to finish strongly in 58th place in 32:55. Clare followed in at 84th in 34:40.
Jo was discussing how much she’d enjoyed the run and that it wasn’t that hilly, just muddy and slopes when Angela Bushell came into view. As she elegantly strode into the finishing area the call of “Come on, Angela” rang out, at which she looked up and waved to us. “Run, don’t wave” yelled Captain Jo, at which urgent instruction Angela suddenly sped up by several gears as if hit from behind and shot past the runner in front to finish 111th in 36:36. See, it’s all about places.
Judy Mills completed the team a little later at 163rd in 42:22.
The ladies’ team finished 24th out of 39, somewhat down on Blackbridge but obviously had a better veteran contingent where they improved on Blackbridge to finish 13th out of 24.
In the men’s 9.6 K race it was Matt Johnstone who took the Thornbury lead and held it to the end. See, told you he was a bonus. As Matt said, once the race settled down he seemed to stay in much the same position, gaining some places but losing an equal amount, eventually coming in at 82nd in 42:12. Behind Matt, Rob Watkins was never far away but not quite within striking distance and finished 91st in 43:00.
Nick Langridge, having spent the last 2 weeks pretending to be Lawrence of Arabia and being more concerned with sand, dust and Nabatean Kingdoms found the mud a bit of a surprise but despite stumbling, sliding and just avoiding a full frontal mud bath on the first lap did manage to pass Kevin Arnold in the early stages, had a tussle with a couple of Dursley rivals, coped better on the last 2 laps, gained a few places when a bunch evolved and wasn’t far off normal, coming in 156th in 48:40.
Rob Hopkins, on the other hand, was suffering from over training during the week and found the first 2 laps a bit of a struggle. On the third, he’d worked his way through it and found his form and suddenly sped up, taking Kevin and about 20 other runners as he surged through to finish 166th in 50:29. “If it had been a few more laps he might have won it” was the comment. Kevin was not far behind finishing 173rd in 51:32.
Jerry Clothier opted to run in the main race rather than the Men’s V65 in order to support the team but he was worried about finishing after everyone else and psychologically prepared by asking to be called lantern rouge rather than last as it sounded better. We didn’t think it was likely and he needn’t have worried as he and Anthony Yates had their own little competition with several other runners behind them. Jerry prevailed in 196th in 59:10 with Anthony one place behind at 197th in 59:47.
The men’s team were only slightly down on Blackbridge, finishing 16th out of 18 but the vets team were quite a bit further down at 13th out of 18.
As we changed on the mud, balancing on one foot to avoid sitting in it, Jim Godden who was there to provide support and take photographs, produced some cakes he’d made himself and Clare also produced her lemon drizzle, so plenty for everyone. Matt observed that it had been really good training and the harder it gets the better training it is which is quite right as many a running legend and pundit will tell you. They can’t all be wrong so if you want the advantage the next opportunity is very close to home at Wotton-under-Edge on 10th December – unless anyone is going to Brecon next week. So do come and join us and feel the benefit – and some cake afterwards.
Gloucester League Race 1 – Blackbridge 14 Oct 2017
Another season, new management and a new dawn. And with a few old faces missing and several new ones turning out it was like a complete rejuvenation for the team as the new modus operandi of concentrating on getting people out for the Gloucester League seemed to have born fruit with more than full teams all round. Even the pop up tent was a new one. And Jim Godden was there to manage and take photographs.
So it was with fresh optimism that we approached the first race on yet another slight reworking of the Blackbridge fields and path between the trees on a warm day and completely dry course. The ladies’ 6.4 K race, not forgetting the men V65 which Pete had opted to join, was first off.
From the start Taryn Roberts took control of the TRC lead and held it comfortably through to the end, tussling with some of the higher end runners and finishing an excellent 24th in 25:17.
Behind her, closer battles were going on. At the end of the first medium lap Lizzie Williams was closely followed by Colette Jackson with Jo Emerson some way behind them. At the end of the second medium lap Colette was still tracking Lizzie but Jo, making a customary pick up, had joined them as all three went past together. At the end of the first long lap Jo had opened up a gap on the other two as she picked up the pace and increased the gap to the end to finish 57th in 27:10. Colette continued on Lizzie’s heels on to the second long lap and was still there as they disappeared through the trees for the last time. As they reappeared for the short final run in Colette had made her move and came out first, sprinting to the end to make sure of her position and finished 65th in 27:37 with Lizzie just one position behind at 66th in 27:43.
Mrs Mainstone came in next at 146th in 33:47 while Judy Mills was cheered on to the last lap and completed the team in 159th in 36:35.
With the first 3 counting the ladies’ team finished 10th out of 40, an excellent position with the new recruits. The vets team of Jo, Colette and Judy also achieved a good position of 17th out of 27.
In the men’s 9 K race it was Nick Williams who, although taken aback at the speed and pace of the leaders, led the men’s team around from the start. His finishing place of 39th in 32:01 being an excellent result in the calibre of a cross country race. Behind Nick the team positions were somewhat closer. Andy Darton made a familiar fast start but was soon caught by Dylan Roberts and Rob Watkins. In a close race of catching and holding off and with only 25 seconds and 8 places separating them it was Dylan who prevailed in 81st in 34:14 with Rob 86th in 34:34 and Andy 89th in 34:39.
Somewhat further back it was Moray Sloan who led Nick Langridge and Kevin Arnold around. Kevin was quicker off than Nick but once Nick got into some running he passed Kevin and had Moray in his sights but too far ahead to catch and then Moray disappeared somewhere in the middle of the race to finish 147th in 37:47. Nick made some gains in the last lap and overtook a group of three near the end but for the second time in 3 races one picked up on him and despite Nick’s best sprint still took him on the line but in the same time. You’d think people who are running slower would have the decency to continue at their pace and have the courteousness to be overtaken! Nick was 161st in 38:41 while Kevin was 180th in 41:30.
Anthony Yates made a welcome comeback and finished 202nd in 48:20 in part 1 of his get fit in a cross country season scheme.
The men’s team finished a very creditable 14th out of 22 while the vets team were a very good 5th out of 17.
Well, everybody seemed to enjoy it and if we can maintain this interest we can look forward to a positive season. When I first joined TRC the wisdom of the club elders was that to improve your running you needed a good season of cross country behind you. And do you know what, they were right. Just see how Nick Williams is going to smash the hour for 10 miles next spring and Anthony will be way up in the field. So, if you want to feel the benefit join us at the next one in Malmesbury.
As we changed and prepared to leave Pete kept talking to Anthony about Jennifer, who has run with us quite a lot, and the fact that she makes cakes for a living and wouldn’t it be better if Anthony brought them along to cross country instead of eating them at home. For some reason, he brought up the subject 2 or 3 times. Pete’s hoping.
And how’s that for positivity, nothing to be negative about, apart from the fact, maybe, that there was, apparently, cake knocking about on the day but none of it came my way but, positively, I expect everyone else enjoyed it.