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HOWARD WILLIAMS REMEMBERED:

 

HOWARD WILLIAMS REMEMBERED

It was sad news to hear Howard Williams died last weekend.(25/26-3/17)

There are those in athletics who work tirelessly as officials for no remuneration, to keep the sport afloat.

Certainly Howard, with his tremendous encouragement and love of the sport, will go down as one of those.

He certainly was one of the Essex ‘Greats’ not for his modest athletics achievements of running 2:50.2 for the tough Isle of Wight Marathon or for doing 52 minutes for 10miles but, by being AAA’s Honorary Secretary for Essex in the 1980’s; President of Ilford Athletic Club in 1966 and Essex County President in 1996. He was first Ilford Athletic Club cross-country and road secretary in 1958!

Perhaps, the thing he will be most remembered for, by the cross-country fraternity, was being the Founder of the Metropolitan League in 1966. From 1966 to 2010 he spent his Saturday evenings and, all of Sunday collating and writing out all the results, single handily, which his wife Anne understood he had to do. Considering since then computers were used as a back up, it was quite remarkable.

The enthusiasm of Howard Williams has meant that the Metropolitan League has grown in numbers, year by year and, it is due to Howard Williams’s initial hard work.

Regards Alastair Aitken

 

Regards Alastair

   

 

 

FIXTURE 5 2016-17 SEASON, ALLY PALLY REPORT BY ALASTAIR AITKEN:

 

 

 

Janice Bowman the Administrator for the League

“Things have gone very well for the league. Much better than last year. Everything has gone very smoothly. I am very pleased with everything.’

. ‘Other than Start Fitness, who is the main sponsors with £5000, we have also had a very kind donation from England Athletics for £2000, which has enabled us to buy a gift for the senior men & women, to be handed out at the end of  the funnel.

We know who is going to win the mens race but, it is always a very tight race?

“It is tight for the teams as well. It will be quite exciting.”

                    RICHARD GOODMAN, after the final fifth league race of the season, won his fourth of four Metropolitan league races he contested and, took away the top prize of £575

                At the start, in the cold conditions, with the usual massive double hill to climb on each of the 3 laps. Goodman, was in fourth place, as they went up the hill on the first lap, behind Terry Fawden, Abdi Abdulle, and Peter Husk. When they came down the hill, onto the flatter ground, Husk had decided to make it a true run race and, started to put his effort in , only Goodman, stayed with him, with a 20 metres gap to the rest. Goodman attacked on the last hill and went clear but Husk, never gave up,  one second behind Goodman at the finish...

Chris Rainsford moved up to third in the middle of the race but John Eves, who had been back in twelfth position on the first lap, moved through and passed Abdulle, John Aldred and Chris Rainsford in the third of the three laps...  One should realise it was certainly tough for Goodman, as he lost a very close member of the family in the week and only came down from Leeds the day before, short of training to do the race and get round then to go back to Leeds the next day to be with the family.

      Husk said about his sixth place in the Northern “it was a tough race and very, very muddy but I was happy with sixth but not as good as I did last year but it was a good quality field...’ He added “I felt springier today than I did when I came second to Richard at Trent Park. I like the course. I fell over on the first lap but, I wanted a hard run out really’

Richard is a Class Act?

“Definitely. He is a brilliant runner.”

                John Steed, 81 years old, who did all the league races, brought up the rear of the 359 finishers but, had to stop for 4 minutes early on, because his heart rate was far too high on his monitor but, ran the last lap really comfortably. Steed in his day, was a very good competitive cyclist and, as a runner, won the Herts 10 mile road Championships in 50:05 and, was 12th in the Met League in 1973.

                Highgate Harriers became the only club, except for Thames Valley Harriers, in the history of the league, to achieve a team victory for five consecutive years. That was, since the league began in 1966. It is noted that, over the years Woodford Green, Verlea and Shaftesbury Barnet, have had the most team victories, if you combine all the age groups...

                Highgate Harriers women, have only lost the team title twice in the last 10 to 12 years or so,

once to London Heathside and once to Serpentine but this year they made sure of victory, by having all their six scorers in the first 14 of 84 finishers. Molly Renfer, who won the previous Met League but, suffered in the Southern, was in good form. Hannah Viner, now coached by Matt Yates, who has  built up her training and the improvement shows. She attacked from the start, after coming 9th in the Brutish Universities, the previous Saturday and, with Renfer and Emma Dixon pulled away from the field in the mid part of the race. Renfer was really running very well, ,pushing off the hill for  the closing flatter stages with Viner, coming in second, despite suffering a stitch in the race at one time and Emma Dixon, who was injured at the star of the year, just getting back here form,  third.

 Renfer, despite having had runs in the European seniors women’s Championships as a senior and Under 23’, considered her run in the 2015 NCAA Championships her best run, because she said, all the best runners from the Universities & colleges in the USA ran that.

About her events coming up. “I hope to run maybe, the steeplechase again, the 1500/5000 and some road races this year.’  She added “It has been good, training at Parliament Hill on a Tuesday, doing track sessions with the Highgate Harriers.”     

Two impressive nail biting battles took place in the younger age groups.

Godolphin and Latymer school girl from TVH, Kosana Weir (U17), and new find, Grace Malcolm (U15) were only a second apart in their race, interchanging the lead a lot. Malcolm’s club coach Richard Thurston explained “On a course like today it is the strength that counts and if you  are an under 15 you will not have the strength of a girl of 17, with the calibre of that particular athlete.”, and in the Under 13 boys, Rory McGonagle (13 on the day of the last Met League) and Ethan Primett (11), the Herts Phoenix lad, who won the Met leagues at Claybury and Stevenage over all, still an Under 13 next year, battled  it out all the way to the finishing line when McGonagle came away for victory. McGonagle, coached by Kabir Kemp, who came 4th in the Middlesex Schools, even though under age. He said “I have been training hard”

                in the under 17’s Ross McGarvie (U15) a Slough Junior who goes to John Hamlin Grammar School and is in year ‘10’.He does a lot of swimming at school too. He  led for most of the race till Usuf Bizimana (U17) put in a withering finish in the last 250 metres, which he was able to do as, he has a 4:7.9 for a mile indoors on the books, which is an excellent time for his age..

In the Under 17 girls, Roisin Keohane the Dame Alice Owen’s schoolgirl, went ahead with 500 to 600 to go. She was the clear victor following her success at Trent Park. last time.

          The Woodford Green under 11’s swept the board with the first three home Jimmy Geller, Lucas Gormley and, Chigwell school boy, James Brigstocke-Williams, filling the first three places, to help the clubs easy team victory league victory. . Geller was 1st at Claybury and Wormwood Scrubs and 2nd at Stevenage.” This race was much harder because I was so cold” said the lad from St John Fisher School, which Lucas Gormley goes to also but Lucas, is even more, into hockey. He is with Old Loughtonians hockey club.

Nicole McGovern of Hillingdon was the first girl in 7th out of 77 in the combined girls and boys race.

                     The Howard Williams Trophy for seniors overall, went to Highgate and Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets took the junior title with Hillingdon AC second.

 

Regards Alastair

   

 

 

FIXTURE 4 2016-17 SEASON, TRENT PARK REPORT BY ALASTAIR AITKEN:

 

 

RICHARD GOODMAN won his third of three Met Leagues he has done this season, over the Roller coaster course at Trent Park.

It was the hardest course I have run, with that hill going up to the memorial,, that is a tough one but, I knew that, from  a 10k I ran, on my own midweek in about 31 minutes,  I was going better.” said Goodman, who now runs a child care service in the week for 40 to keep active.

 Peter Huck, who works for a construction firm in London I was working on the site this morning” About the 2 lap race he remarked ‘It was the start of the second lap that we both went the wrong way round a corner, we both slipped. He got away a bit faster and got a gap then, he carried on and he was stronger on the second lap. Training is going well for me. This race set me up for the rest of the season.’ About his London Championship which Peter Huck won  that was a good course at Parliament Hill. I like these type of courses I enjoy hills and mud. I am usually best at that. This was a good track for the rest of the season as; it is tough going in the mud

        After a fast start, before going down into the valley, Ross Matheson, was leading a large group that contained Goodman and others. After a third, of the of the first of  two laps, Peter Huck, training for the Northern and Goodman, started  to  pull away from the rest; that left Ross Tennant,(the son of Neil Tennant the Scottish cross Champion of 1988), on his own next. It was on a slippery part of the course, going into the third lap Goodman got away from Huck and, was not headed again but Huck, was a good second with Tennant, who was 11th in the English National a couple of years ago( 2015 at PHF), holding off John Eves, on the climb to the finish for third place, after Eves had  caught him earlier..

Ross’s Father, Neil Tennant, was a very good runner and did 62.39 for a half marathon, the year he won the Scottish in ’88. He was watching the race at Trent Park.

He felt, if he was running now, he would be a bit scared on the line with Richard Goodman standing beside him because; he thought, Richard is immensely talented. .

It was interesting to see the second oldest man in the race 77 year old, Doug Milsom, come 421 and John Steed the oldest, at 81, in 427 of the 428 finishers.

                Molly Renfer (23), after studying as an Undergraduate at Harvard and doing her Masters at New Mexico University, came back to the UK with firstly, a good run in the Surrey Championships, when she was third, the previous weekend. The same position she said she got in the English schools 800 many years ago, when she did not think she would make the final. It all progressed from there .last year Renfer represented Switzerland in the European cross country championships (65th). Renfer used to do the triathlon but decided to stick to the running part. She also used to be a 400/800 runner and stepped up to 1500 and now, more 5k. She also did a steeplechase last year .Renfer realised that the Surrey cross country race gave her vital experience for Trent Park so, she could then run over even tougher cross-countries courses.

She felt the Met League at Trent Park was a great race. . She only really won the race on the last hill, before the finishing funnel. ‘I thought Naomi , was catching me’

 Naomi Taschimowitz appears to be coming back to form. She was, Southern Champion last year.. 

                The Under 17 men had the highest standard, at the front, of the four under 17/15 league races this season, with the Claybury winner and recent Middlesex Champion, James Young having to be content with fourth place.

It was a real battle for the first three. Elliott Dee (coached by his ex-international Father Billy Dee, who was watching him as well as his brother Jamie Dee, in the senior race);

Elliott, who studies at Richard Hale School, knew his Father worked so hard in training. ‘He remarked That kind of rubs off on me. Although, I am running every day but not massive miles or loads of reps. We think if we keep it steadier now I won’t lose interest for the future.

 Yusuf Bizmana 2nd and Mohamed Sharifali (First U15) 3rd are two good runners also.

Bizimana who studies at Emerson Park Academy only took up athletics from football last year. He had run a very fast 1500 to win the Southern Championships ‘Under 17’ indoors  (4.7) but, it was Elliott Dee who showed the strength on the hills that paid off, in the lat lap. Dee considered his best competitive race was winning the School Games 3000m at Loughborough last September.

             Highgate Harriers men are further ahead after the 4th Met League but Woodford Green are capable of, at least, shortening the comfortable lead Highgate have, but it would be difficult to imagine they would catch them... The Highgate women have moved into the lead in the Women’s league but will have to pull all the stops out to be the Champions in the last league fixture at Alexandra Palace The two teams that rival them are London Heathside and Serpentine...

Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets are currently leading the combined team trophy for the Junior Howard Williams Cup.

Regarding the other interviews on the day

Megan Greensmith (16) of Highgate was first of 48, in the under 17/women’s race with Nicola Ravenhill of ESM a previous winner 2nd.

Megan I do triathlons . I came here in July from New Zealand.’

Ag Trent Park On the colossal hill I kept my eye on the girl in the front and she slowed a bit then, into the last section I gave it my all.

‘Running is my favourite of the three disciplines in the triathlon. I hope to continue with the triathlon.”

Tom Day from Slough, who has won the Under 11’ race a few times, was 1st in the Under 11 mixed race, at Trent Park, out of 82 with Jimmy Geller of Woodford second

The race:-“It was difficult. I was staying behind Jimmy for most of the race. He made a wrong turning and went off the racecourse and I just took him and, stayed in the lead for the rest of the race’

 School races? I have got a few cross country competitions coming up with the school.

Mr Mitchell at school coaches me. I got in the County team for Berkshire. I just got in 8th in the under 13’s. As he is an under 11, it will give him some early experience of racing a County Championship.

Ruari McGonagle of London Heathside won from Eltham Primett of Herts Phoenix. Ruari, the previous week won the Middlesex Championships, about the Trent Park race  It was the toughest Met League I have done. It is like a roller coaster. Up and down... It was the start of the second lap I went into the lead.” Besides the Southern I think there is a Middlesex schools cross-country in Harrow where I will run for my borough. I was 2nd in the first Met League of the season, 3rd in the 2nd and 1st  last ime and 1st to-day. “

A great celebration for Ruari as, he was 13 on the day of the Trent Park event on the 14th of January. “

Roisin Keohane of Trent Park, who goes to Dame Alice Owens’s School, won the girls Under 13 race from Lydia Louw of Hillingdon. Running  your favourite event?

I don’t really have one but probably cross-country and track. I do netball too. ‘

‘My School coach is good Mr Neil Gamester.”

At Trent Park she went in the lead on the second lap.

 

Best Wishes Alastair Aitken

   

 

 

FIXTURE 3 2016-17 SEASON, WORMWOOD SCRUBS REPORT BY ALASTAIR AITKEN:

 

 

 

MOHAMUD AADAN, who last won a Met League race in February 2015, was successful again in the 3rd of 5 meetings, over the flat course of tufted grass at the Scrubs. On the 3rd of December..

After a fast start Abdi Abdulle, set a furious pace but already close behind him was Aadan followed by Jake Shelley (35th at Liverpool). Mohamud Aadan said Three of them went off very hard and I tried to stay with them. I knew Abdi was a strong runner, as a 1500 runner on the track as well. At the finish I was making sure no one was close.By the end of the first of two laps Aadan decided to open up a gap, so he was not outsprinted in the closing stages. I was happy to win today.  Jake Shelley was running strongly in second place. That move by Aadan was decisive, as Shelley could not quite get on terms with him again. Dale Clutterbuck and Rob Bahelbi came past Abdi for 3rd and 4th places. It was interesting to see Terry Fawden have a good run as a first year junior in 15th place. At the other end of the scale came 81 year old John Steed 440th of the 441 finishers. He shouted out at half way I am not being lapped.

Aadan said I came back from three good months running in Kenya, at the beginning of November, but as before, I got ill in the cold of the UK. I have done no running since Liverpool. It was not my day and  after illness I was running well on the first lap at Liverpool with a  hope of making the team but in the second lap I could hardly move my legs, my whole system shut down, my breathing was effected and, I was not feeling well at all. I jogged round for 33rd place. I thought, in the race, there was no point in coming up all the way from London and not finishing.”

 I do like cross-country but there is something in my system that I can’t resist flu.”

The thing is that Mohamud originally came from Somalia then Ethiopia and was firstly in the UK in 2007 so maybe, it is difficult for him to always acclimatise. (Just a thought). He joined his one and only running club Thames Valley Harriers in 2008 and never looked back.

Jake Shelley from Shaftesbury Barnet “It was me Mo and Abdi from the very beginning of the race .I wanted to deliberately go off hard today because, I went out slowly at Stevenage and so, I wanted  to experiment really. We did go hard at the beginning and slowed in the middle and almost caught up  Mohamud Aadan but he got a bit of a gap. All good Winter training for the Summer track.

A road 10k next week for me. His favourite event “The 5000m. 13:46 is my best. Mohamud has done a good time as well.

In the Women’s race it was not concluded till the final 800. There were five runners together going through at half way Vicky Pritchard, Tamara Armoush, Revee-Walcott Nolan, Emma Dixon and Hannah Viner. Armoush proved the stronger at the finish but close behind were Pritchard and Revee-Walcott Nolan. Dixon improved at each Met League from 6,5 and now 4.’

Emma Dixon, the London University Champion, said Hannah Viner and I worked together on the first lap and we were at the front and I was optimistic. I was really happy and thought ‘Could I do it this time. But the other girls went past (3). I have been 6th, 5th 4th now so, hopefully the next time it will be third.. Hannah was not far behind at all. Next time we could work together and try and keep with those girls.

Armoush, who was 34th at Liverpool, which she was pleased with, because she felt that she had not really been running at her best since she was an Under 15 and then very near the best in the country for her age but,  injuries and things curtailed her progress since then.. She works in consultancy for credit risks at the bank and, like several others in the first 10 is now coached by ex-international Matt Yates (Who ran 1:45.05 for 800 and was a 3:52 miler)..

London Heathside lead Highgate in the women’s match and Highgate are drawing further ahead in the Men’s league. Highgate are at the top for the Howard Williams Trophy, for combined Men/women and, for the junior trophy, Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets lead.

There were many impressive runs by youngsters at the Scrubs.

In the Under 13’s  Ruari McGonegal won his first Under 13’ Met league. In 2014 he won all of his three ‘Under 11’ Met League races.

I went in the lead after quarter of a lap. He is at St Ignatius school. Mr Kemp coaches him.

His strengths?’He makes us train on the hills and it builds up our stamina. It is in Finsbury Park.” Who then was  his hero in athletics then” Guy Learmouth , who runs for Scotland (1:46.65 best). He is my Godfathers nephew. “

    Hamza Kadir, the National Under 17 1500 Champion, coached by his Dad Ali Kadir, showed he can also run well on the country when,  he won his race and was following up his 3rd place in the London Youth Games at Parliament Hill.  He went into the lead coming out of the wood.

“My best events are the 800 (1:54/3:56 1500. I won the Nationals over 1500 this year and got through the heats of the English Schools and, got to the final of the 800 but I came 7th... The 1500 is my best event

He is at School at Christ’s College Finchley. “At school they specialise in basketball but they have a few good athletes at the 100m and the sprints. I am the only middle distance runner they have

  Mia Manttan, of Haringey & Enfield won the girls Under13 race and she said she was at Highgate SchoolI am in the athletics and netball teams.  I am coached by Mike Smith at the club.

She added ‘The school is supportive. I did not run in other Met Leagues this year because they clash with other things. I ran the Met Leagues last year but did not come in high places. At Wormwood Scrubs she was 8th/9th early on in her race but came through strongly and was unlikely to be caught in the latter part of her race.

  Two who really stood out with potential were the Malcolm twins, Grace and Claire Malcolm. As 14 year cold’s, it was their first ever cross country for a club and they were first and 2nd Under 15, behind Under 17 runner India Weir of TVH. The only race they previously was being 1st and 2nd for their school in the English schools Cup Semi finals (District). They joined Woodford Green & Essex ladies three weeks ago.

John Stow “These girls have got potential without a doubt. If they are looked after they will be finesaid the Woodford Green & Essex ladies coach. They do a fartlek session with Richard Thurston and an anaerobic session with me.

 

Best Wishes Alastair Aitken

   

 

 

FIXTURE 2 2016-17 SEASON, STEVENAGE REPORT BY ALASTAIR AITKEN:

 

 

RICHARD GOODMAN found the second Metropolitan league of this season the most

testing race in Fairlands Country Park “It was the hardest course I have done for a while,

from the very beginning.’

 ‘You were in a large group for sometime early on

‘I was getting nervous. I was scared and thought, I might not win, as there were too many guys around me. I thought this is fast, I might not be able to get away with it.’

You then showed the ‘Goodman fluency’ on that last lap’

It was fast. You go up and down and up again. Long shape. It reminds me of what is to come in two weeks at Liverpool. It was hard today. I was pushed from the very beginning.’

Is it because the course in unrelenting and fast. Claybury was easier for you, as you won by a bigger margin?

‘There are some rest places in that and, therefore you are able to hide. You can stand in the middle hear (At Fairlands Country Park) and watch every part of the course.’

‘You can have a World cross country here and thousands of people can watch every minute of the race.’

However when he finished he also remarked “I wanted to dedicate this to the 2 girls who lost their lives this week in a car accident with, the two black ribbons on my vest. My Ex-coach Mike Woods was the coach to the girls. Thinking of them in the last lap and, how they would have enjoyed running round the course.”

      At the start, a very large group set off very quickly with Paul Martelletti going to the front briefly in the constant drizzle. It was down to four in the second of the three laps and as they rounded the corner into the open fields Adam Kirk Smith was in front and, had been for a while but then Goodman surged and overtook him and was not headed again. Kirk-Smith improved from 3rd at Claybury to 2nd at Stevenage and an even better improvement was by British ‘Under 23’ 5000 Champion, Phillip Crout, who was 6th at Claybury and 3rd at Stevenage. He put that down to good training with his friends at Cambridge University, where he has been studying physics...

John Steed, who is 81 and brought up the rear of the field in 441 position in 48:47, He pointed out about Hillingdon’s, Doug Milsom, who was 77 was  the first M75 in 435 in 44.35.

John said ‘Milsom had done 52 races in 12 months which, included Park Runs and, was reserve for the Home Vets International.

The first veteran 40 was, Ben Noad, who came 32nd. He was once 43rd in the World cross country championships a few years ago now but, it is the Highgate Harriers team spirit that keeps him going.

(Of the 441 finishers the first three were Richard Goodman 25.42;  Adam Kirk-Smith 25.53 and 3rd Phillip Crout 25.54)

To Adam Kirk-Smith ‘It was one of your best races. What are your memories of the race?

“I was closer to Richard today than at Claybury. I was listening to his breathing and things.

I felt so relaxed coming into the first big lap. I saw Marttellti and knew what shape he was in.

He made a surge. It is always a danger if you think you are controlling it but people are very aware of what you are doing and so, when you are then taking the pace on. I think I made a bit of a tactical mistake in the first lap, when I was in the lead too much and then, I thought I would stay behind Richard. In the middle of the second lap my legs were not feeling that great. Give it a few minutes and take it back slightly. I looked back and I was not going to be caught by ten different people that is always the nightmare in a race. You turn round and suddenly everyone is there.  I was happy with the race.

You had a better run than when you were third at Claybury

‘I certainly was much closer to Richard.’

            I saw him make his move just behind you, in about a group of 4. You looked behind to see who was there and he was 5 metres behind you. He looked relaxed when he made his move and then went round the corner to take the lead into the open fields.

“Technically he had been running much longer than I had. and a lot better. He has done a lot more than I have. Obviously you have got to respect that. When I felt good I thought I could take it on, feeling so good but, he was always had that in him. For me it is an extremely positive building block for going for the Commonwealth Steeplechase (For NI)

To Phillip Crout what are your memories of today’s race. 3rd was good.

“Yes; I was 6th four weeks ago but that was quite early on in my season and, it was nice to come down with the university (Cambridge). ‘I felt good today and tried to follow the Richard Goodman break but it did not quite work out for me’.’

There was a big group that went off fast

“It was nice to settle down early on.”

Have you had a good year?

“I had a really good track season as I won the Under 23’ 5000m in the summer.

 I am beginning my transition to seniors. It takes a little bit of time. You get used to running against guys who have been on the circuit for 5 or 10 years. I am really enjoying it. I still love doing it which is the really important thing... It is my final year at Cambridge. The running club there is very supportive and a really good community and, it helps because you talk to others who

are at Shaftesbury, who go to Uni’

 40 or so of us came down for this. It really helps.”

Besides Richard Goodman there was one other who followed up his win at Claybury and that was Under 13 Herts Phoenix lad Ethan Primett.

Highgate Harriers still lead the Men’s teams but with the women, only one point separates London Heathside from Highgate at the top of the table.

In the women’s race, although Naomi Taschimowitz was not quite race fit, after her Summer injuries but, it did not look as though she would be beaten in the race at all and at half way, she was inter changing the lead with Vicky Pritchard, before going clear with Emma Dixon and Stacey Ward running together behind that, just ahead of Hannah Viner. In the closing stages of the last lap Revee-Wilcott Nolan, who was 3rd in the first Met league, came through strongly. She was told by her current coach, Matt Yates (The ex-international 800m runner) that the last lap was the important one to go. Being an 800 runner and 4th in the British Championships, there was no stopping her, at the finish on the fast ground. Stacey Ward was a good third...

Revee Walcott-Nolan “Going into the last lap I was 4th or 5th I think and picked them off.

That was what my coach Mathew Yates wanted me to do, to sustain the pace near the end.

I was not expecting to win before the race,’.

What is your favourite distance?

800m (2.2.32 her best) I will continue that in the Summer and maybe 1500 (Best of 4.17 for 1500). The most pleasing was the British Championships when I came 4th in the final (2.3). I have just graduated from St Mary’s.”

Vicky Pritchard 4th) “At one point I was in the lead going into the last big lap. It was fast to-day. I enjoyed those bits but had not quite enough speed.”

Naomi Taschimowitz  “it was my first hard race back. A few more weeks of training. (And perhaps in a longer race)

I am not disappointed with the race as the girls ran really well.

Revee did well last weekend as well at the relays.”

(First 4 out of  182 1 Revee Walcott-Nolan 21:42; 2 Naomi Taschimowitz 21:45; 3 Stacey Ward 21.51’ 4Victoria Pritchard 21:56.)

          

 In the Under 11 Girls and Boys Woodford Green & Essex ladies lead and, by a large margin in the Boy’s section however, the winner at Stevenage was Thomas Day of Slough, who was 2nd in his last Met league in January.

In the Under 13 Boys Ethan Primet, who won at Claybury won again with his club mate Daniel Gill 2nd and Ruairi McGonagle of London Heathside, who had been so successful in the Under 11’s 3rd.

Ethan Primet took control “After the small lap, we then had the big lap to do.

Other sports at school “At PE we do basketball.’

‘At Herts. Phoenix I have three coaches at Phoenix, Adrian, Geoff and Salvatore. They work together.

Train with a group “Tuesday’s and Thursday’s and I train on Saturday with Adrian, with a boy called 

Jaime and sometimes I am with Geoff... It is at Ware Sports Centre.”

Elena Roncarati of Shaftesbury Barnet won the girls Under 13 after coming 2nd at Claybury

“I came 2nd in the last Met league. I decided that I would start quite fast, because, I am a longer distance runner. I was just able to keep the pace. I am coached by Colin Godfrey (Lead is coach is

 Ty Holden).). Roncarti goes to East Barnet school. I train with Colin six times a week.

 ‘I went into the lead (At Stevenage) turning round the first corner, I think I was 2nd and picked that up and kept the lead...”

Lucy Gryce was 2nd “I just remember going round and holding that position, to keep as close as I could to Roncarti. She was ahead of me in the second lap. Gryce  is from Slough Athletic club and goes to Eagle House School in Sandhurst.

Other sports she likes to do “I like to mix sports but my main sport is athletics.

.I am hoping to do the heptathlon so; I compete in pentathlons at the moment. I finished third in the Power of 10 at the end of the season. .She won the last Met League she said. I am Captain of hockey at my school and play for a Reading team and Berkshire,”

Hillingdon’s Somalian, Mohamed Sharefall won the under 15/Undeer 17 race in 12.35 (From George Kerry (12.43) ESM) and Liam Garrett London Heathside) in 12.48)

Mohamed was 2nd at Claybury. Impressive for a 13 year old, he was noticeable running  with his easy long stride and his orange shoes.

 Is running his favourite sport “Yes. I have been doing athletics for a year now, my best race is over 3k and I have done 9:04. I am coached by Idris Hamud.’

Cross country or track—“ I like both of them’ He is at Dormers Wells high school in Ealing.’

‘I would like to do the English schools cross country Championships”

George Kerry of Ealing Southall & Middx was 2ndI felt strong. I ran well but it was a tough course today .The first lap he took it out very hard. He got a gap on me and it was hard to get back to him. ‘

When did he start running “As an less than 13’. I am 15 now. I moved up to my current coach

Steve Mann. Things have been going really well.  training hard at the moment.

Got some good sessions going. So far this season I have not had a bad race.  I ran well at Mansfield and I won the North of the Tames Junior race. I got my tactics right on that one. I have run 2.2 for 800m...I have not had the chance of doing a 3k but next year I will.’

‘I am at City of Westminster College at the moment at Paddington Green. Its nice .I is studying a for Sports extended Diploma... I hope to move up next year, depending on how my season goes.”

Jessica Leane of ESM won the Under 17 girls race (2nd Phoebe Littler of Highgate Harriers 14:57; and 3re Sarah Butler from the winning SBH team 15:05.)

‘I went into the lead pretty much at the end. I had not walked the course in advance so; I had no idea where I was going. I stayed in the group because I am not going to run a race on my own , that does not end well. It was easier if I stayed in the group and try and race a bit when I was ready.

‘I started Sixth form in September. Steve Mann coaches me. I came over to Ealing because there was not really any group at Harrow. .I was in a young under 13 group for quire a while and I thought it would be better in an age appropriate. I suppose my best run was being selected for the British Inter-County County Championships at Birmingham (Crofton Park). All these big names so, I was happy to finish third for my county of Middlesex.’

She has an honest remark about why she does not go with other sports very well

“With other sports I am terrible as my co-ordination is not good (I know the feeling)  

 

Best Wishes Alastair Aitken

   

 

 


FIXTURE 2 2016-17 SEASON, STEVENAGE REPORT BY ALASTAIR AITKEN:

 

 

RICHARD GOODMAN found the second Metropolitan league of this season the most

testing race in Fairlands Country Park “It was the hardest course I have done for a while,

from the very beginning.’

 ‘You were in a large group for sometime early on

‘I was getting nervous. I was scared and thought, I might not win, as there were too many guys around me. I thought this is fast, I might not be able to get away with it.’

You then showed the ‘Goodman fluency’ on that last lap’

It was fast. You go up and down and up again. Long shape. It reminds me of what is to come in two weeks at Liverpool. It was hard today. I was pushed from the very beginning.’

Is it because the course in unrelenting and fast. Claybury was easier for you, as you won by a bigger margin?

‘There are some rest places in that and, therefore you are able to hide. You can stand in the middle hear (At Fairlands Country Park) and watch every part of the course.’

‘You can have a World cross country here and thousands of people can watch every minute of the race.’

However when he finished he also remarked “I wanted to dedicate this to the 2 girls who lost their lives this week in a car accident with, the two black ribbons on my vest. My Ex-coach Mike Woods was the coach to the girls. Thinking of them in the last lap and, how they would have enjoyed running round the course.”

      At the start, a very large group set off very quickly with Paul Martelletti going to the front briefly in the constant drizzle. It was down to four in the second of the three laps and as they rounded the corner into the open fields Adam Kirk Smith was in front and, had been for a while but then Goodman surged and overtook him and was not headed again. Kirk-Smith improved from 3rd at Claybury to 2nd at Stevenage and an even better improvement was by British ‘Under 23’ 5000 Champion, Phillip Crout, who was 6th at Claybury and 3rd at Stevenage. He put that down to good training with his friends at Cambridge University, where he has been studying physics...

John Steed, who is 81 and brought up the rear of the field in 441 position in 48:47, He pointed out about Hillingdon’s, Doug Milsom, who was 77 was  the first M75 in 435 in 44.35.

John said ‘Milsom had done 52 races in 12 months which, included Park Runs and, was reserve for the Home Vets International.

The first veteran 40 was, Ben Noad, who came 32nd. He was once 43rd in the World cross country championships a few years ago now but, it is the Highgate Harriers team spirit that keeps him going.

(Of the 441 finishers the first three were Richard Goodman 25.42;  Adam Kirk-Smith 25.53 and 3rd Phillip Crout 25.54)

To Adam Kirk-Smith ‘It was one of your best races. What are your memories of the race?

“I was closer to Richard today than at Claybury. I was listening to his breathing and things.

I felt so relaxed coming into the first big lap. I saw Marttellti and knew what shape he was in.

He made a surge. It is always a danger if you think you are controlling it but people are very aware of what you are doing and so, when you are then taking the pace on. I think I made a bit of a tactical mistake in the first lap, when I was in the lead too much and then, I thought I would stay behind Richard. In the middle of the second lap my legs were not feeling that great. Give it a few minutes and take it back slightly. I looked back and I was not going to be caught by ten different people that is always the nightmare in a race. You turn round and suddenly everyone is there.  I was happy with the race.

You had a better run than when you were third at Claybury

‘I certainly was much closer to Richard.’

            I saw him make his move just behind you, in about a group of 4. You looked behind to see who was there and he was 5 metres behind you. He looked relaxed when he made his move and then went round the corner to take the lead into the open fields.

“Technically he had been running much longer than I had. and a lot better. He has done a lot more than I have. Obviously you have got to respect that. When I felt good I thought I could take it on, feeling so good but, he was always had that in him. For me it is an extremely positive building block for going for the Commonwealth Steeplechase (For NI)

To Phillip Crout what are your memories of today’s race. 3rd was good.

“Yes; I was 6th four weeks ago but that was quite early on in my season and, it was nice to come down with the university (Cambridge). ‘I felt good today and tried to follow the Richard Goodman break but it did not quite work out for me’.’

There was a big group that went off fast

“It was nice to settle down early on.”

Have you had a good year?

“I had a really good track season as I won the Under 23’ 5000m in the summer.

 I am beginning my transition to seniors. It takes a little bit of time. You get used to running against guys who have been on the circuit for 5 or 10 years. I am really enjoying it. I still love doing it which is the really important thing... It is my final year at Cambridge. The running club there is very supportive and a really good community and, it helps because you talk to others who

are at Shaftesbury, who go to Uni’

 40 or so of us came down for this. It really helps.”

Besides Richard Goodman there was one other who followed up his win at Claybury and that was Under 13 Herts Phoenix lad Ethan Primett.

Highgate Harriers still lead the Men’s teams but with the women, only one point separates London Heathside from Highgate at the top of the table.

In the women’s race, although Naomi Taschimowitz was not quite race fit, after her Summer injuries but, it did not look as though she would be beaten in the race at all and at half way, she was inter changing the lead with Vicky Pritchard, before going clear with Emma Dixon and Stacey Ward running together behind that, just ahead of Hannah Viner. In the closing stages of the last lap Revee-Wilcott Nolan, who was 3rd in the first Met league, came through strongly. She was told by her current coach, Matt Yates (The ex-international 800m runner) that the last lap was the important one to go. Being an 800 runner and 4th in the British Championships, there was no stopping her, at the finish on the fast ground. Stacey Ward was a good third...

Revee Walcott-Nolan “Going into the last lap I was 4th or 5th I think and picked them off.

That was what my coach Mathew Yates wanted me to do, to sustain the pace near the end.

I was not expecting to win before the race,’.

What is your favourite distance?

800m (2.2.32 her best) I will continue that in the Summer and maybe 1500 (Best of 4.17 for 1500). The most pleasing was the British Championships when I came 4th in the final (2.3). I have just graduated from St Mary’s.”

Vicky Pritchard 4th) “At one point I was in the lead going into the last big lap. It was fast to-day. I enjoyed those bits but had not quite enough speed.”

Naomi Taschimowitz  “it was my first hard race back. A few more weeks of training. (And perhaps in a longer race)

I am not disappointed with the race as the girls ran really well.

Revee did well last weekend as well at the relays.”

(First 4 out of  182 1 Revee Walcott-Nolan 21:42; 2 Naomi Taschimowitz 21:45; 3 Stacey Ward 21.51’ 4Victoria Pritchard 21:56.)

          

 In the Under 11 Girls and Boys Woodford Green & Essex ladies lead and, by a large margin in the Boy’s section however, the winner at Stevenage was Thomas Day of Slough, who was 2nd in his last Met league in January.

In the Under 13 Boys Ethan Primet, who won at Claybury won again with his club mate Daniel Gill 2nd and Ruairi McGonagle of London Heathside, who had been so successful in the Under 11’s 3rd.

Ethan Primet took control “After the small lap, we then had the big lap to do.

Other sports at school “At PE we do basketball.’

‘At Herts. Phoenix I have three coaches at Phoenix, Adrian, Geoff and Salvatore. They work together.

Train with a group “Tuesday’s and Thursday’s and I train on Saturday with Adrian, with a boy called 

Jaime and sometimes I am with Geoff... It is at Ware Sports Centre.”

Elena Roncarati of Shaftesbury Barnet won the girls Under 13 after coming 2nd at Claybury

“I came 2nd in the last Met league. I decided that I would start quite fast, because, I am a longer distance runner. I was just able to keep the pace. I am coached by Colin Godfrey (Lead is coach is

 Ty Holden).). Roncarti goes to East Barnet school. I train with Colin six times a week.

 ‘I went into the lead (At Stevenage) turning round the first corner, I think I was 2nd and picked that up and kept the lead...”

Lucy Gryce was 2nd “I just remember going round and holding that position, to keep as close as I could to Roncarti. She was ahead of me in the second lap. Gryce  is from Slough Athletic club and goes to Eagle House School in Sandhurst.

Other sports she likes to do “I like to mix sports but my main sport is athletics.

.I am hoping to do the heptathlon so; I compete in pentathlons at the moment. I finished third in the Power of 10 at the end of the season. .She won the last Met League she said. I am Captain of hockey at my school and play for a Reading team and Berkshire,”

Hillingdon’s Somalian, Mohamed Sharefall won the under 15/Undeer 17 race in 12.35 (From George Kerry (12.43) ESM) and Liam Garrett London Heathside) in 12.48)

Mohamed was 2nd at Claybury. Impressive for a 13 year old, he was noticeable running  with his easy long stride and his orange shoes.

 Is running his favourite sport “Yes. I have been doing athletics for a year now, my best race is over 3k and I have done 9:04. I am coached by Idris Hamud.’

Cross country or track—“ I like both of them’ He is at Dormers Wells high school in Ealing.’

‘I would like to do the English schools cross country Championships”

George Kerry of Ealing Southall & Middx was 2ndI felt strong. I ran well but it was a tough course today .The first lap he took it out very hard. He got a gap on me and it was hard to get back to him. ‘

When did he start running “As an less than 13’. I am 15 now. I moved up to my current coach

Steve Mann. Things have been going really well.  training hard at the moment.

Got some good sessions going. So far this season I have not had a bad race.  I ran well at Mansfield and I won the North of the Tames Junior race. I got my tactics right on that one. I have run 2.2 for 800m...I have not had the chance of doing a 3k but next year I will.’

‘I am at City of Westminster College at the moment at Paddington Green. Its nice .I is studying a for Sports extended Diploma... I hope to move up next year, depending on how my season goes.”

Jessica Leane of ESM won the Under 17 girls race (2nd Phoebe Littler of Highgate Harriers 14:57; and 3re Sarah Butler from the winning SBH team 15:05.)

‘I went into the lead pretty much at the end. I had not walked the course in advance so; I had no idea where I was going. I stayed in the group because I am not going to run a race on my own , that does not end well. It was easier if I stayed in the group and try and race a bit when I was ready.

‘I started Sixth form in September. Steve Mann coaches me. I came over to Ealing because there was not really any group at Harrow. .I was in a young under 13 group for quire a while and I thought it would be better in an age appropriate. I suppose my best run was being selected for the British Inter-County County Championships at Birmingham (Crofton Park). All these big names so, I was happy to finish third for my county of Middlesex.’

She has an honest remark about why she does not go with other sports very well

“With other sports I am terrible as my co-ordination is not good (I know the feeling)  

 

Best Wishes Alastair Aitken

  

 

 

FIXTURE 1 2016-17 SEASON, CLAYBURY REPORT BY ALASTAIR AITKEN:

 

 

RICHARD GOODMAN, a man with tremendous potential, who won three Metropolitan league races convincingly last year but failed to get the ‘Jackpot’ because of a serious bout of flu.

I could not get out of bed for a week so, I had to throw in the towel’

He had another good win at Claybury in mild conditions.

‘I graduated this summer and I am running, training and, working in childcare, looking after children.

It is flexible so I can train in the day’

About the race ‘I had not had a really hard run for a week and a couple of days; I wanted to have a hard run today. After one lap I wanted to put in a hard effort and moved away with a lap and a half to go.”

           After a mile and half, before they swept up the first steep hill there was a leading group

that contained Goodman, Abdi Nageeye, Phillip Crout, Bradley Goater and just behind  that

Robel Bahelbi and Tom Aldred.

It was after a lap and half of three that Goodman, with his fluent style, put in a hard effort.

It was on the second lap up the hill Andy Maud, (In his first Met League), who had been running with Rob Bahelbi and Chris Rainsford, moved clear for second place with Adam Kirk-Smith coming through from twelfth early on, to third in the final third lap Andy saidThings are going in the right direction and it is my second proper training session in the last few weeks’

He has an intensive job ‘I help Charities to raise funds. Quite a lot of times, I have been at work till 10’0’clock at night. I run to Clapham or Wimbledon and then get a train to go into Surrey.

My nearest station is Thames Ditton. The actual parks round my way are brilliant places to run in Bushy Park & Richmond Park but, no good at 10’0clcok at night.”

 Adam Kirk Smith who was third home said “My main focus is the steeplechase. The plan for next year. I did it when I was at school in Northern Ireland but I did no training for it then. I only did it at school in the summer when I was still playing hockey in the winter but at that time I would not have called myself a runner. I started running properly a couple of years ago.’

‘When I was back in Ireland this year I joined Derry track Club. I run with them out of the season. ‘

 ‘My best race so far was the steeplechase in the British League when I ran 9:02.73 (At Hendon 9th of July, 2016)

‘ My coach is Tomaz Plibersek (WGEL) a Slovenian steeplechaser who ran for Slovenia in the European cross in 2011. He worked with their National record holder who was in the Beijing Olympics.

For the men it was exactly 50 years this month, since the first Metropolitan league event, that Howard Williams founded and, I ran in it at Hainault Forrest. Gerry Archer (Hillingdon) and Terry Driscoll (Highgate) also did that one Since that first time the enthusiasm and numbers have grown considerably. It was a record field again at Claybury and the oldest person ever in the history of running the Metropolitan leagued was John Steed, who is now 81 and, completed the undulating course in 467th of the 472 finishers. It was amazing how Janice Bowman and her team were able to sort out all the main results by the Monday afternoon after the race, as  the number of runners are getting to huge proportions and, the officials should be congratulated on their efforts in a ‘ truly exciting amateur event.’

Highgate Harriers already look in contention, to be able to equal Woodford Greens’ record of four consecutive wins in the Men’s senior event and are close second to London Heathside in the Women’s competition..

In the Women’s race at Claybury Rachel Felton set off, in the way she did, when winning Metropolitan league races in 2014 and, had a 30 metre lead over Tracy Barlow at the end of the first

 lap. Barlow had picked her way through from seventh, avoiding places where she could get injured. The reason for that was she was using the race as training for a marathon at the end of the month.

 Felton dropped out injured at the top corner of the course and then, Barlow had a clear run to the finish.  Barlow works at the Wellington Hospital full time but on regular hours, rather than doing shift work which, she used have to do that did effect things. .She does Pre assessment on patients before they go into theatre

 At the moment I am doing 100 miles a week in preparation for the Frankfurt marathon on the 30th of October. I ran 2:33.25 in the London Marathon.”

Charlotte Buckley had her first Met league race as an under 15 year old and, ran impressively to finish in front of all the under 17’s as well! She was running with her Thames Valley club friend Kosana Weir for the first half of the race .Weir finishing 2nd and the first in the under 17 category.

Another notable run was by Jaime Dee who was the first junior in the senior event in 10th place

overall.

James Young of Enfield & Haringey was the first Under 17 in 13:22 with the second runner

Mohamed Shrifali (13:44) 2nd and Jamie Harper, the talented Shaftesury Barnet runner 3rd in 13:58.

 Young was leading at the half distance “I wanted to win this race. I had a really bad track season as I was in between coaches, then it clicked a couple of weeks ago and I upped the mileage’

‘I first started running when I was in Primary school when I was 7 years old’

A special event for him he said was The Mini Marathon as I like road running. I did not get to do it last year when I peeked and, I think I came third in my London Boroughs age group the year before. I have not got to run it fully fit yet. I go to Latimer School.' I train about 4 times a week maybe. My new coach is Chris Rainsford (Highgate Harriers) I have been with him for a month. I train at Parliament Hill on a Tuesday and the rest of the time on my own.

Ethan Primett of Herts Phoenix (10:53) was the first Under 13 boy from Ruairi McGonagle (11:00) who won all his Met League races in 2014 as an under 11 boy.

Ethan Primett is from Richard Hale School. When did he startI started in the beginning of year six.

I was selected to run a race in my school and from then on, I just continued running and I really just enjoyed the running of it; then the win was just a bonus.

My Mum used to run, My Granddad used to run, my step-Granddad used to run, Dad used to run. My Mum and my Granddad have run marathons, I know he won lots of medals and got his own running club down in Tonbridge Wells.’

When did he go in the lead at Claybury On the first lap on the top of the hill and overtook the leaders .I fell over at the start and someone shoved me back. I just sat back and just ran and tried to get as far to the top of the field as I could. My Dad and I came up with some tactics. I needed to get to the front because it narrows down quite a lot. If it was a big field like this, it would not have mattered too much with the space but it narrows down by a considerable amount so I had to get to the top.”

                In the Under 13 girls one of the first two to come in finished just outside  the funnel but in the end they gave the win to Zakia  Mossi of TVH who did 11.59, 2nd was Elena Roncarati (SBH) 2.01 and 3rd Lydia Louw (Hillingdon) 12:12.

I was 2nd for most of the way.’

‘I started running when I was very little but not competitively till I was 10. I am coached by Roy Claridge. I go to Brentford School for girls. When I was young I used to go out running with my Mum

Nicola. I joined TVH when I was 10 and I am now 13 

An interesting phenomena was in the Under 11’s for Boys & Girls combined as the first 5 out of 77 were all from Woodford Green & Essex ladies AC 1st was Jimmy Geller (10) in 5:26 and 5th the first girl Kezia Beeton (10) in 5:48.

 

Regards Alastair Aitken…   

 

 


FIXTURE 5 2015-16 SEASON, Ally Pally 2016 REPORT BY ALASTAIR AITKEN:

 

 

PAUL MARTELLETTI, on 100 miles a week and, six days after his very clear victory in the hilly Watford half marathon in 67:32, won his first Metropolitan League cross country, at 36;

having done his first one in 2009. Paul Martelletti explains I came into the second lap and ended up third.  I was trying to make up the ground I lost on the hills.’

‘This is good. Shaun has beaten me in the Southern and the last Met league.

‘On the third lap to-day I could see I was not really losing a lot of ground up the hills. He was tiring’.

You were about five minutes ahead in the Watford Half marathon last Sunday. You must have been very comfortable, as you were that far ahead?

I never like to go to these things and just dawdle to win it. I like to put in a good time. So, 67.30 on a hilly course, on my own. I had already done 100 miles before that race so, at the end of a big week I was happy.

It is another big week with over 100 now already. This year things have gone well so, I am on a roll not like last year when, I was on too much of a roll and burnt myself out a little. I am 100% sure I could run under 2:15 to 2:14

BUT everything has got to go right. It is a tough ask still, I am not saying it is at all easy and, I have tried and failed many times to do 2:15 it is hard work.’

‘If you a re prepared to put in the hard work you have got to go for it” (He has done 2:16.49 in 2011).

The Senior Men’s race is always full of intrigue, with no defined winner beforehand, except in the case of Richard Goodman who won three times this season and Nielson Hall, four times in 2012.

In the final league race of the season at Alexandra Park it was often drizzling but in really harsh icy winds.

In the senior men’s, for the first 600 metres, Thomas Butler of Barnet, the leading junior led but, after nearly a mile, a group headed by Bradley Goater and Mohamud Aadan were ahead.

When they descended the large hill there was still a large group ahead with Bradley Goater, Shaun Dixon, Andy Greenleaf, Glenn Hughes, John Eves and Tom Aldred all in contention

but Martelletti was back in the 20’s and beginning to work his way through the field.

As they came off the hill in the second of the three  laps Dixon , looked the most comfortable ahead and, having his best Met League race of the season. Along the bottom of the fields, after about another 800 metres Martelletti, briefly moved up to join Dixon . Then he fell back a bit. On the third lap, as they came off the last hill with 900 to go Dixon was leading by 20 metres from Martelletti. As it was a flatter part of the course Martelletti felt that he should try and catch Dixon, which he duly did and, came home a couple of seconds clear. Pete Chambers moved away from the chasing group, after coming down the final descent...

Shaun Dixon “The pace was punishing at the beginning . . . I thought I had got it but I was not making the decisive move. I think if the ground was a bit firmer coming in I might have got closer.’

‘I did really enjoy the race as I felt smooth all the way round and, on the hills I was quite strong. I think I ran a good race but I lost to a better man on the day really.

He added “I had a good run to-day but his run was slightly better than mine

Peter Chambers who was third and started further back! “That was the problem. I let Shaun and Paul get away. I was closing on them at the end but you can’t leave about 15 seconds to try and catch them. The ones near me all beat me at Horsendon Hill and I beat them at Wormwood Scrubs. I knew when I am on form I can run well. Highgate coach Jacky Bayliss said you are good on the hills.

At Alexandra Park his confidence in his ability was restored, after having couple of bad one’s.s. His third ‘Start Fitness’ sponsored prize of £325 was good.

Pete added “The hills are my strong point really. It is when it is really heavy underfoot I find I can’t get any power down. My stomach held up to-day. At the BUCS last week and the Southern it was not good.

At the Southern I was fine going up the hills but going down it was really shocking. It was a really uncomfortable pain and, I could not get my knees up and get moving.”

       John Steed was the first over 80, which he has achieved in all five Met Leagues and, remarked to me that his Mother died at 104 so, there must be longevity in the family.(356 runners finished in Alexandra Park)

Dixon had good compensation for only coming 2nd  when he received the Start Fitness’ prize of £575 for his highest aggregate position in the league races and, the same top  prize money went to Svenja Abel, who

had another good win .She went away from the opposition on the first big hill, Stacey Ward was in second place all the way and, it only looked at one stage, she would be caught at all by Hannah Viner, the leading junior, who was 18th in the British Universities race the previous weekend.

Svenja Abel. “I am not very good down the hills. Up hill I am fine so, I thought I better get a lead before the hill. “

She had a great race in the Southern, coming a good second in definably one of the best results of her life “ In the Southern I was comfortable all the way round and, even though I was tired by the time of the last final climb down, I knew I would not be good going down the hill. The winner Naomi (Taschimowitz) is a track runner.. If the last bit had been up the hill then maybe, I could win but as.I knew I could not go down Parliament Hill so well. She was a better runner on the day.

Svenja Abel has had a wonderful season over the country so far and said “I am enjoying it and I loved to-days race

Svenja still thought the Southern was her most enjoyable race of all. “Because I did not push the last little bit as, I was not mentally ready to go with her in the last 500 metres but I really enjoyed it.

I always run well at Parliament Hill... I think I came 12th   in the ‘National’ once so, I quite like Parliament Hill as a favourite course. To-day it was flat with a steep hill in it so, it was enjoyable.”

 Hannah Viner, Coached by Chris Rainsford, was the first junior in the race and third overall “It was good. I have had a cold for the last week and have not done a session and had BUCS last weekend. ‘

As she was 18th,   How did she go in that one? “I was chuffed and really happy. I never expected to do so well. It was a really flat course.

Stacy Ward was 2nd in the race at Alexandra   Palace “I was worried about the course for a couple of weeks because the boys at Hillingdon AC that I train with warned me about the big hill in it. I was slightly apprehensive. I felt a bit heavy and a bit tired but I settled in. I did not want to go with Svenja because, I knew she was strong. The first hill felt quite tough. The second time I knew which were the muddiest bits and then I felt quite strong in the second lap and then stayed second to the finish.” (137 completed ).

Highgate Harriers had a Bonanza in the senior ranks, winning the Men’s and Women’s Leagues overall and, were awarded the Howard Williams Trophy for their combined score. It was interesting to note that Highgate’s’ four yearly wins

In the Men’s league equalled Woodford Green & Essex Ladies previous four wins in a row, just before that.(2nd overall was London Heathside who got 38 points with Serpentine RC 3rd also  on 38 point too.Bboth clubs appeared to have a strong Vets section. There were 22 clubs competing for that prized Howard Williams  Trophy.)

Thomas Day of Slough won the Under 11 race out of 45 youngsters, six seconds ahead of the next runner over the 1.5k course

“This is the first league I have done this year. I go to St Georges School. I am 10 now. I go to the cross-country club on a Monday and do other sports. This is the second time I have come first and got a third and a second.

Luca Stubbs of Shaftesbury Barnet won the under 13 boys race by 5 seconds. It was over 3k “I went ahead half way in the first lap. I am at St Albans Boys School . George Harrison coaches me. At school I have not had much training time but during holidays yes. I do two times training a week and one at school. Last year I was doing the Met League and coming between 10th and 13th in the Under 13’s. His Father “We have not being coming to a lot of these because of school commitments and racing commitments. He has done some of the North West London’s and two Mets last year. This is the first one he has done this season. He came 2nd in the first North West London League and he won the next one.” (Shaftesbury Barnet were the winning team in the Under 13 Boys)

Terry Fawden (U17) for the winning club in the Under 17/15 Division who were highgate Harriers had a convincing victory but considers his best race ever was coming second in the Southern Inter-Counties race.

When did he go into the lead at Alexandra Palace ? He had this to say. “I went into the lead up the big hill.’

He did not have such a good Southern as he would have liked?

I found it hard to run on the mud. At Parliament Hill I find it very difficult.

Shaftesbury Barnet’s, Gabriella Kyriacou (U17). She was in the winning Shaftesbury team that won this Division for Under 17’s. She had won all her four leagues she competed in. She only missed one, because she was ill. So, how did she find this race, as opposed to the other Met Leagues she did

“I found this quite a good course. I quite like hills, so I went well on the hill. It was good the hill was in the first lap.

Jeremy Sothcott coaches you so, what are his strengths with his coaching?

“I think endurance. He is good for the coaching.”

 At Queen Elizabeth’s school do you do much athletics?

Some but not much. I am in the sixth form “

 Ava White of the winniing Under 13 team, Thames Valley Harriers, won all her five (U13) races and was eighth on the Wednesday in the London Schools at Parliament Hill Fields. I went into the lead fairly near the start to-day... Having done all of them, it was much colder today, the mud was really heavy round the trees and so it was a harder run. Roy Claridge is my coach. ‘I really liked the London Schools on Wednesday. It was really good fun. I came 8th and the top eight get into the English Schools

               In October will be the first Met League of next season, which will celebrate the league being exactly 50 years old, since the first was run in 1966. (The ’66 race, I did that one, as did Met League Highgate harriers official Terry Driscoll & Hillingdon’s Gerry Archer).

 

The Junior Howard Williams trophy this season was very close with. only one point separating all the firstt 4 clubs  Shaftesbury Barnet, was eventually declared the winner from Enfield & Haringey, Highgate Harriers and  Herts Phoenix..

 

Janice Bowman took on the roll of being the new Administrator of the league this season, after Gavin Collett of Hillingdon AC had resigned as the Administrator before that. A huge task was set regarding collating the results, as Gavin was superb with his results system.

Could it be done again?  It was a difficult act to follow regarding producing the results in good time. One must add that Martin Bateman of Hillingdon AC is the very useful website man for the League.

Janice Bowman (Trent Park RC) comes in here regarding her first year with the immense task of filling her important roll as league Administrator 

Everything has gone very smoothly.”

Was it a problem taking over from Gavin “It was in the beginning, just due to administration but, we got there in the end.  Regarding the overall result I am very pleased with.”

What gave her the most pleasure “To see everyone come to the presentation and, everyone being here. It has been really enjoyable.”

Are you going to take it on being Administrator next year?

“If I am voted in at the AGM I will stand. I was Chingford League Administrator from 2004 to 2008 but this is totally different. I have loved every minute of it.”

She had this to say “It is a team of people who make it work smoothly and run smoothly, not just one person.”

 

Regards Alastair Aitken  

 

FIXTURE 4 2015-16 SEASON, Horsenden Hill 2016 REPORT BY ALASTAIR AITKEN:

 

 

 

 

RICHARD GOODMAN, who won the first two Start Fitness Metropolitan league races, made it a third in convincing style.

He said “I have had two hard races then came into the Met League relaxed and, I enjoyed it,

This was proper cross country running, not on the harder stuff. I love races like this, more than anything I ever run in’   He made that remark about the undulating course of grass and, thick mud in places...

Just after a mile covered, going up the incline, amongst the leaders in the large front group were Matt Gunby, Tom Philips, Michael Callegari (who later dropped out) and John Eves.  Just behind that but, still in the group was Richard Goodman. It was on the second lap Goodman struck and moved well clear, running comfortably over the mud in the bottom fields. It was also in the second lap Nick Torry moved right through to second, just ahead of Eves, the Hertfordshire Champion. On the third lap, with Goodman safely away, Eves ploughed through the mud behind that, which meant he was able to get away from Torry, on a vital stretch of mud and, before Torry could use his speed on the drier parts of the course. In that third lap Shaun Dixon had a spell ahead of Eves and Torry with Andy Greenleaf close at hand but Eves was the stronger coming into the finish.

Goodman also said “In the last hard couple of races I had poorly prepared for them, The European (He was 11th in the Under 23’s with a silver team medal) He said. I could not have done any better, as I took it up hard and faded in the last lap ‘It was good and it wasn’t’ but, he indicated there is still a lot to come. He said ‘To-days race was good fun. I relaxed into this race and wanted to run well.” That he certainly did!”

John Eves .“ I knew on the last hill, if anyone is going to beat me now (Other than Goodman of course) they would have to do something really special because, I felt so easy. It will be muddy at Parliament Hill for the Southern, which will be to my advantage. I am going to Brussels to race next week. For his Irish club near Dublin called Dondrum,. It is the Southern and probably then go to Alexandra Palace for the Met League. Since I came to England I have loved e cross-country. It is so good, the battles, like everything running should, be about. Lisa (his wife) and I moved here four years ago. We teach up in Hertfordshire. I do a little bit of coaching at school. It is football and rugby with the kids.

at St Edmund’s College.

                    It was interesting to note John Steed, who was the oldest man in the race, having turned 80 last May, managed to beat 12 younger men out of the 406 finishers.

In the Women’s race the leading junior, Hannah Viner (19), dictated the pace till three quarters of the race had been run but close behind her, all the time, was Stacey Ward with Ashley Scott-Wilson

Running on her own, for the whole race in an isolated third position but, it was good she had recovered from a back injury she sustained in the Middlesex. Stacey Ward was strong towards the finish and celebrated her birthday that day by finishing the race sixteen seconds ahead of Viner. Tracy Ward is coached by Gerry Archer of Hillingdon, near where she lives and Geoff Jerwood at Herne Hill Harriers. She remarked “It has taken a while to get through to now as, I really struggled. I had two months off at the end of the summer. I had about five years when I was not running much at all as; I had two lots of surgery and, did not really get back. That is a while back and that is why I don’t feel my age (31) because I missed so many years of running. It has helped in a way. I was running as a junior Under 15 & 17. I was fourth in the English Schools on the track and fifth in the AAA’s. I did win the Southern 3k as a senior. I have never been at top level. ‘I am studying for an MA at Brunel at the moment and, managed to get up to 70 miles a week for the big races coming up.”

 

Additional comment from my interviews

 

In the (U17) men’s race Jamie Philpott, who won two of his last three league races, was in the lead all the way but, was challenged at one stage by Hamzir Kadir, who had a bad fall in his mud. Abel Sinko-Uribe (U15), coached by Chris Rainsford, came right through the field for second. He admitted his second place was the best result he had ever had, in his whole life by far.”

.

Nicola Ravenhill of Ealing S &M, was an impressive winner in the (U17) women’s race and Steve Mann, her coach was pleased with the way she is progressing.

 

Sidnie Ward, appeared a good winner of the Under 13’s, not having competed since he won the first Met League at Claybury. He had been ill but had still managed to train but not race... His coach John Stow of Woodford Green & Essex Ladies, who coaches Sidnie Ward and, another 46 athletes from the club, has excellent credentials as a coach as, he remarked to me his best times ever were 1:53/3:48 for 800/1500 in the 1970’s...

s:-

Ava White (TVH) won all her four (U13) league races.

Someone who impressed, as the best Under 11 girl was Lydia Louw always the first under 11 girl in the league, Lydia who is 10, at the end of last year climbed Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for Stoke Mandeville Spinal Research.

 

Under 11 Boy & Girls Metropolitan League Development race:- Abdirahim Hamud (10) of Hillingdon, won in 7:48, out of 49 starters. “I was leading the whole race. I was second in the Middlesex. I am at West Drayton Primary School .

My Dad coaches me.” It was one of his best races.. “I had a challenge and held a bit on and, kept fighting till the end of the race so, it was a good race.” Lynda Louw who was first girl was also from Hillingdon AC

 More comments:-          

Under 13 Ist Sidnie Ward of Woodford Green & Essex Ladies 11:22.  69 finished. “How did it go for him?” Considering it was the first race back; I have been training continually but being able to do that to-day is absolutely brilliant. I was at Claybury (He won there) in the Metropolitan League but I have missed two of the Met leagues because I have been poorly so, this is the first race back since then. To-day I was sticking with the leaders and, it was just sort of getting the mental side correct which was a bit wobbly but then I determined myself for it. You have got to believe in yourself. When did he go ahead? You go round the rugby pitch and do another loop and, you go round the third field, come back in and as soon as you go up the hill I took off from there and going down the hill  I just went for it..”  His Father said his Grandfather died three weeks ago and so he kept a ‘St Christopher’ in his back pocket when he ran.”

            Ava White (TVH) was the First under 13 runners out of 42.hjow did that race compare with the other three Met Leagues she won in succession “I did not like the course to-day but I found it easier than the last Met League one. I took the led near the beginning. It was freezing. “

          

   Under 17 Men was won by Jamie Philpott (Herts Phoenix). 58 finished. Were you surprised you went into the lead so early on? “I saw Terry (Fawden) was not there, so I thought I might as well take the lead. To begin with it was me and Shaftesbury’s Hanz Kadir, the two of us kind of leading .He fell over then I went to the front. Although I was happy with it, there was so much mud it was horrible. Definitely spikes to-day.”

                Second was Abel Sinko-Uribe, 14, (Highgate) . His memories of the race. “It is definitely my highest position “I started off not too great. After the first small lap on the long straight I was catching people and I kept catching people then, ended up in second place. The first person was too far ahead of me to catch him. How do you class this one? “I think it was my best race ever.” Coached by Christopher Rainsford.. I go down the track Tuesday’s and Thursday’s every week sometimes Saturday’s as well. This was my first good race of the season so far.”

 

It was 6,7,3,1 for Nicola Ravenhill of Ealing in the combined under 15/17 Women’s race for her. “I knew a few people were not here and thought I would just go for it and see where I am.

She started to motor away from Lidia Kyriacou before entering the finishing area with a circuit still to do “I thought because it was downhill it will be easier to go there.

I was third in the Middlesex Championships. I think it was a descent race but a few things I did wrong. Half way through I was right off the pace and at the end they kicked on a bit and I did not react quickly enough. She is at Elthorne Park School near Boson Manor. .Taking her GCSE. Steve Mann her coach is pleased the way she is going on and giving her a bloc of training in view of the big races coming up.

 

Best Wishes Alastair

 

FIXTURE 3 2015-16 SEASON, WORMWOOD SCRUBS 2015 REPORT BY ALASTAIR AITKEN:

 

 

 

PETER CHAMBERS won an enthralling battle, in strong winds on the exposed Scrubs course.

Coming into the second long circuit were a group ahead, which included Glenn Watts, Peter Huck, Mohamed, Shaun Dixon and Chambers.

It was just after that point Huck tried to break up the group and then, made a second effort to draw away but Chambers was

accelerating into the bends and, made his determined move at the 4 mile point.

He held on to the finish but still the pressure was on for all the first four home, as they hit the final 600 into the wind, with Huck getting the better of Watts and Dixon.

Chambers said “I found it slippery on the Liverpool course in the trials, being the 14th Under 20 runner but made last year’s European under 20 team. I felt happier over the fast firm going at the Scrubs.”

First 6 of 443 finishers:- 1 Peter Chambers (Highgate H) 24.02; 2 Peter Huck (Newham & EB) 24.10; 3 Glen Watts (Shaftesbury Barnet H) 24.11; 4 Shaun Dixon (Highgate Harriers) 24.16; 5 Mohamed Mohamed (Hillingdon) 24.28; 6 Tom Phillips (Woodford Green & EL) 24.31.  Audun Nordtveit of Highgate rulled himself out of trying to get in the frame and finished 14th, although gaining valuable points for the leading club in the league. He had trained hard in the morning and was just running through, as he was going to compete for Norway in the European Championships in France the following weekend.

 

CHAMBERS remarked “There was a surge coming through finishing line at the end of the first big lap. I tried to ease off coming round the corner. The man who came second put a bit of a spurt on.

Then he put another spurt on and I thought, just hang in there! hang  in there!. The flat course seemed to suit me, especially when it is nice and firm. I took the lead on loop, woody bit, on the way back. I tried accelerating, at every corner. I heard my watch bleep at 4 miles so, it was .7 or .8 to go.’

‘4 minutes of effort, 5 minutes of effort sort of thing’

‘At Liverpool it was a bit too skiddy’ for me and I was 50th-14th under 23, so fairly happy. I would say this was one of my best races this year but I have only run four or five times. One every two or three weeks.

Probably my biggest victory of the year was at Wormwood Scrubs in this Met League.’

‘I got an infection that knocked me out in January and February then, did not quite get it to-gather on the track. If I have a good track season I like to have a solid cross-country season and, because of the winter my track was rubbish.’

 

HUCK’S MEMORIES

“Windy! For me it was good and a really dry course. When we went off we were really looking at each other. On the second lap I thought there were too many people coming up the fields, on that second lap. I pushed on a bit to split it up a bit. The idea was to test and see what everyone else would do.’

It was the 2nd time he has been 2nd in a Met League

“It was when I was second to Audun, the Norwegian at Alexandra Palace .’

How had he been running lately?

“It was my first cross country and I did the Great South 10 miles in 50.20.That was going off the back of an achilles injury. I’ll do a few cross-country races now.’

What stood out for him? Probably the North of England cross countries. Three of those in the North of England Champ’s 5th, 6th and then 7th.”

 

Back to talking to Pete Chambers‘--My best race was the Liverpool cross a challenge last year. I was second in that race but was first Brit. Then I went to the Europeans. I was 26th and I was a bit frustrated as, the top 10 or 15 might have been possible and, we would have got a team bronze then.’

‘I train at Highgate on a Tuesday with sessions. Croydon are my second claim club now-First claim Highgate. I have joined for the ‘Big’ Championships.

‘At the moment my bigger weeks are about 60 miles. I have three weeks on and then an easy week-40-45, with three quarter sessions. I find that if I am consistent at the moment it should bring me on.

‘My track times are not that good to be honest. 15.08 For 5000.  I want to run well under 15 next year. The thing is to stay injury free then once we start the track season I will sit down and see.

Ben Pochee is my coach now.

 

 

SVENJA ABEL, who had a six year, lay off cross-country races, till this season, was a good winner in the Women’s race. Svenja pointed out ‘” Naomi was not there but Tracy gave me a good run.”

However it was a surprise for her, as she explains “I was not sure I would run, right up to the start of the race and, whether my back would stand up to it. I was knocked off my bicycle by a car Friday week ago, bruising my knee and affecting my back. I did not run again till yesterday, when I went for an easy run for the first time as, the bruising on my knee had cleared up but I was not sure about the effect on my back. ‘ It was a great thank you to my physio!’

In the race Ashley Scott Wilson, Hannah Viner was with Abel, for the first 300m of the race but Abel went away after a mile. Abel appears to have won more Met Leagues over the last 8 years than anyone-8)

She was fourth in the German 5000 Championships sometime ago and as a U23' less than 23 she won the ‘German’ Nationals once.

“If I can stay fit I may consider doing the Nationals in Germany , beginning of March but I need to be fit for that to do it!

 

Stacy Ward: - “It was definitely a higher standard than the race at Trent Park last week. To-day it was really good but tough in the wind. It felt quite tough and isolated on the second lap for me but I felt a lot stronger than the last Met League. I was 6th that was my first race after injury. Last week helped to tune up for to-day. I prefer it like this, not muddy.”

At half way, as they came back close to the Scrubs Abel, had a clear lead but Stacey Ward was a good second. Spaced out behind that were Reeve Walcott-Nolan, Tracy Barlow, Scott-Wilson and first Under 20, Hannah Viner.

After three league matches out of five Highgatee Harriers Men & Women look in a strong position to win the league, moving further ahead on points.

First 7. Svenja Abel (HH) 23.50; 2 Stacy Ward (Hillingdon) 24.10; 3 Revee Walcott-Nolan (Newham & Essex Beagles) 24.34; 4 Tracy Barlow (TVH) 24.38; 5 Ashley Scott-Wilson (HH) 24.56; 6 Hannah Viner (HH U20) 25.14)

An impressive run was by Jamie Philpott (U17) who considered his 7th place at Liverpool his best ever result.

 

Third successive victories in the league were achieved by Gabriella Kyriacou (U17) ; Ava White (U13) and Katie Price (U11).

Other comments: - Katie Price (TVH) “I do training at school. ‘ At school I came first in the Ealing Borough. ‘Running is my favourite sport.”

                           

Dylan Michel (SBH) “It was my second one in the Under 13’s. About a mile I went into first place. I go to Mill Hill County School . (The same school as Calligari). I was 4th and 8th in the other leagues. .

I train twice a week. I do football and table tennis. I prefer football.”

 

Ava White (TVH) who has won all the league races so far said “ Ava Mulvill of Highgate and myself ran together all the way round. (Both timed at 13.13). ‘I gave it my all and we started sprinting really hard.”

 

Ava Mulvill (HH) Her mother pointed out that she played a netball match that morning and was player of the match “ That was my school in Highgate’ said Ava. She plays for AP Saints netball club Alexander Palace) so there is a lot going on in her life. It was a very close race Neck and Neck! She will be running in the Southern Inter-Counties.”

 

FIXTURE 2 2015-16 SEASON, STEVENAGE 2015 REPORT BY ALASTAIR AITKEN:

 

 

Richard Goodman, won his fourth cross country race in succession at Stevenage

There were violent storms and swirling winds in Fairlands Valley Park but it did not take anything away from

the good racing on the day..

Goodman said “It was my first true test of the winter, as it was so hard and exposed in the strong winds against, in the final lap,

and they did not go through the woods this year”

After three quarters of a mile, there was a huge group of forty runners together, rounding the steep and slippery banking and,

before going out into the large field. At the front were Tom Butler, Mohamed Mohamed, Pete Chambers, Jake Waldron, and Richard Goodman.

It was fairly soon after that, a quartet of Mohamed, Goodman, Shaun Dixon and Glen Watts broke away.

Into the second of the three laps Mohamed and Goodman were running together and had built up a lead of 30 metres to Watts and Dixon .

It was on the third and final lap Goodman pulled right away from Mohamed, who was overtaken by Watts but Dixon , was caught by the fast finishing

Oliver Fox, who was using the event as one of the two Cambridge University trial races, for the Varsity match, a couple of weeks later.

Woodford and Highgate are fighting for team supremacy and are likely to be doing that for the rest of the season with

only a possibility that Serpentine might be in the mix..

Naomi Taschimowitz, third fastest at Mansfield, and her Shaftesbury team were 2nd overall that day, had won the first league race of the season at Claybury and  again her nearest rival was Svenja Abel, the woman she trains with

at parliament Hill Fields on a Tuesday. Abel got a bit closer this time, she thought that was because she liked the course as it was fairly flat and wet but, after the last Met League she had to take a week off because she was injured. then training was quite good for her after that and she feels, she is getting used to cross country after her long break from it...

Tschmowitz, who appears to be running better than last year said “I planned to have a hard middle section of the race.”

Highgate are going further ahead for the team honours.

It was interesting to see Thomas McCardle of Trent Park, win the under 17 race, after coming seventh at Claybury in the first Met League and, that

  he is coached by the current league Administrator Janice Bowman.

In the junior women’s race Dundrum AC, as guests, showed some of the form they had as being the best Southern Ireland junior cross team,

when their club had the first five home. The winner being guest Abigail Taylor (15), who incidentally, is the daughter of the Ex- Irish International cross country runner Dave Taylor.

Perhaps the most noteworthy, amongst the younger athletes was Woodford Green’s, Under 13 boy Sidnie Ward, who won at Claybury and followed that

With the fastest age group relay time in the National cross at Mansfield . At the Valley Park he had quite a bad fall very early on in the race but was able to sprint down the finishing straight to

make sure of victory.

Additional Comments:- Sam Greenstein (10) from Shaftesbury Barnet was the winner of the Boys and girls development race, with Max Chinn (9), who won at Claybury, second of the 60 finishers

Sam “I went down the hill and overtook them and won on the sprint finish. I was 4th in the first Met League at Claybury. My favourite sport is athletics.”

 

The first girl was Lydia Louw (10) who was ninth overall, the same position as she had  in the first  Met League and being the fist girl in that too

 Was it a harder race than the first one? “Yes it was.! My coach is Abraham (Lead coach on Power of 10 Idris Hamud). ‘”I joined Hillingdon AC a few months ago.”

She was first girl all the way

Her Father Len said “From the age of six she was always running outside. We used to live in Kingston , next to Richmond Park and, she was always out there running in the Richmond Park Run.

She used to run for Stragglers and, they were really supportive. Running once a week they would do an evening run, a couple of miles. She is going to climb Kilimanjaro on the 8th of December, raising money for Stoke Mandeville Hospital . Last year she spent three weeks with Kenenisa a Bekele in Ethiopia , just running with him and enjoying life. It was very nice.”

71 under 13 Boys competed, won by Sidnie Ward of Woodford, who won at Claybury “It was a harder race than Claybury as the wind conditions were twenty times worse. When we went off it was so windy I fell over at the beginning. I just carried on then two more boys overtook me. I thought I had obviously just got to go out there and run it. Coming round there was just us four and I picked it up in the last straight, coming round the bend. They said it wast 400 to go.

But  It did not look like 400  The last straight down the middle was really, really windy.’

 ‘Since the Last met League!

“I ran at Mansfield and won my leg and had the quickest time of the day fro the Under 13’s “

 

 There were 56 finishers in the under 13 girl’s race. The winner Ava White (12) of TVH who won in the First Met League at Claybury “This one was harder and the girl runing behind me was called Ava as  well. I thought I had overtaken her too early, as she was with me all the way and, then I just I let her go over there in the field to the finish. My last race was the previous Met League but today the ground was very wet. Roy Claridge coaches me.’

In the week her training “I do running Tuesday & Thursday and sometimes Saturday.”

Second in that was a new name coming into prominence here in the Met League and running for Highgate Harriers, Ava Mulvill. “AT Highgate School I am Caption of the netball team .

I find it quite hard because I have to go to every netball match as well.”

 

90 Under 17/15 runners in their race and, the winner was Thomas McCardel of Trent Park, ahead of two guest runners from the good Southern Irish club Dundrum AC.

McCardle (17) coached by Janice Bowman “I was seventh in the first Met League of the season. It was good today. I managed to pick it up quite a bit at the end. I ran much betterl than I did in the first one, there were not any hills so it was easier.”

 

66 finished in the under 17 girls race won by Abigail Taylor from one of the strongest clubs in Southern Ireland Dundrum that is situated near Dublin and, they filled the first five places at Stevenage and 9th and 10th place too. Gabriel Kyriacou was the first English girl Under 17 in 6th place. Taylor Coached by Eddie Mcdonagh. “My Father went to college in America and he ran for Eire .”

 

Best Wishes Alastair

 

FIXTURE 1 2015-16 SEASON, CLAYBURY 2015 REPORT BY ALASTAIR AITKEN:

 

RICHARD GOODMAN showed why he is a ‘class act’ as he went clear of the field for the last of three laps at Claybury.

I was not going to run 10 minutes before the start. I had a an injury from a hill session on the Thursday and, I could not run yesterday but came to watch

He did not feel that good trying it out beforehand but then remarked. ‘ I did five minutes of easy jogging but my ankle was so painful. Had a 10 minute break. 40 minutes to go I did another five minutes and was fine.’

He added “ I don’t train to train, I train to race. I would rather race in pain and not train at all to be honest.

It is frustrating when you get so many injuries.”  22 year old, Richard Goodman, added that he may still go for the European cross country Championships with high hopes but he has a mature approach, as he thinks he may at his very best in a few years time, subject to injuries..

            On the first lap, well into the race, as they approached the steep hill, Chris Rainsford led a group of runners that contained Robel Bahelbi, Mohammed Mohammed,

Richard Goodman, Glenn Hughes and Andy Greenleaf.

            As Goodman had won the corresponding race in 2013 over the same undulating course, he knew the best places to make his moves which, appeared to give him a distinct  advantage. Glenn Hughes followed him when he broke away. Hughes was 8th in the first league last year, at Claybury. He has been the New Zealand Mountaineering Champion three times. He pointed to the British Championships next year as a goal for him but admitted it will be tough to make the team, as the UK team did so well this year. He won the Southern Mountain race championships a couple of weeks before Claybury and was 3rd last year in the British.

Mohammed Mohamed, followed Hughes after Goodman  broke away from the rest on the last lap. “ I came back from injury two weeks ago, after my training had been good and it was fine for me coming third to-day.

John Steed, who finished naturally a lot further back(Still beat three men a lot younger), had the distinction of being the first man over 80 (80 on May the 1st this year) to run in the Metropolitan League

since it began in 1966, also to have done 155 Met leagues, which is more than anyone has achieved and, this year he completed despite having a fall at on the uneven ground..

He was a three counties cycling champion as a young man and also came 2ndin the Army road cycling Championships. He has also been married for 57 years!

 

 

In the Women’s race, Naomi Taschimowitz ran ahead with Svenja Abel in the second of the three laps down the hill.

Tachchimowitz, a civil servant, working for the Treasury went into a 30 metre lead, as they went into the final lap with Abel..

Naomi  considered her breakthrough race was in 2011, when she won the Southern senior CCC at Parliament Hill Fields. It was that year she did her fastest time for 1500 of 4:16 but said

about her second best time of 4:22 she did this year “ I think concentrating on 1500 is quite good for me. It is distance I enjoy. It improved the bits of me physiologically that I have neglected for quite a while, having been injured for so long.” She also said “ I am doing 30 miles a week at the moment and, advised twice a week by email from my coach Charlotte Fisher who, lives in Somerset .”

            Abel, who was a prolific winner in the league awhile back, said “I have not done cross-country for six years, with no hills. I usually start slower and then get quicker but, I knew I had to follow from the beginning. I enjoyed it anyway. She took Highgate Harriers to a clear team victory with the first junior Hannah Viner of Highgate in third place. It  was Viner’s best position in the league and shows she has great promise for the future..

I might add the Men’s team result for the first three was very close and sets up a battle between Highgate, Woodford and Serpentine for the rest of the season....

          

 In the age group below Terry Fawden, now coached by Chris Rainsford of Highgate Harriers, won his first Under 17, Met League race after disputing the lead with Jamie Philpott of Herts Phoenix but, got the better of him on the flat and downhill stretches. In third place was first Under 15 runner, Jamie Harper, who showed his determination against the older lads, like he did coming through the age group below..

There was a record field for the women of 183 and the second most runners in the men’s race of 427.

 

Considering Gavin Collett’ administration and results technique was a very hard act to follow, Janice Bowman and her team did incredibly well to get the first set of results out relatively quickly.

 

Now for some comments from the other athletes on the day and who they were.

In the youngest Foundation race, less than 11 1.5k race Max Chinn won in 5:32; from Abdirahim Hamud 5.39 and Nathan Douglas was 3rd in 5:40.

65 competitors made up of boys and girls. The fist girl in 9th place overall was Lydia Louw in 5:51.

Max Chinn is 11 years old and is from Woodford Green & Essex Ladies club. He is at All Saints School, Bishop Stortford. His favourite sport at school is running.

Going down into the woods at the start he was up amongst the leaders’ “I started progressing in the first 5 or 10 people’

‘I was not hear last year as I was doing something else with the school.

 I turned 10 in July. His coach John Stowe said “ He has run 6.57 for 2k on the road and he beat some good guys to-day. He also plays football as well. He is just going to run and enjoy his running.’

‘With a good win today I am happy with that.”

 

The Under 13; 3k was won by Sidnie Ward in 10.58 from Mohamed Sharifali 11.14 and Joe Heather 11.16.  59 ran.

Ward was running with Sharifali for a long time in the race “I took him when we came up and go round the hill. He backed off then. I needed to push it or I was not going to get anything out.’

He is at Burnt Mill Academy Harlow “ It was my first cross-country run so far this season.’

‘I joined Woodford in the middle of the last cross country season.’ He is coached by John Stowe and Richard Thurston .

Stowe “He is ranked No.1 in the UK for 800 for his age’

Richard Thurston remarked “ He had a bad run here last year which was a year ago and a bit concerned about that. He had to come out then, as he had a foot injury in the end. It affected him a little bit.

 He did 2:07 for the 800 but is still learning really.”

 

3k Under 13 girls 37 ran and Ava White won in 12:03 from Ava Mulvihill 12:06 and Lucy Gryce 12:16

           “ I went into the lead on the second lap down the hill.”

Presumably it was her Father who backed up what her coach  Roy Claridge told me “ Ava had a burst appendix at Christmas and she had two weeks in hospital. She then got something else and had to take penicillin for six months. After that she broke her arm just before the summer and she twisted her ankle a couple of weeks before Claybury” 

Although a lot  went wrong however she was up beat “ I am at school at Sacred Heart High school . I ran for St Mary’s club as an under 11. I then went to Thames Valley Harriers and I have been there a year now.”

 

In the Under 17 Girls race, over 4k, was won by Gabriella Kyriacou in 16:17, from Erica Wallace 16:29 and Phoebe Littler 16:32.  61 finished.

Kyriacou said about the race” It was after the first lap then, I kind of worked up the hill then, again on the downhill  I got the lead. ‘

She is at Queen Elizabeth Girls School . “I was ill a week before the race at Claybury. My track season was not good because of my exams GCSE. It is after that I got back into training

Her coach Jeremy Sothcott of Shaftesbury Barnet. He said “I was pleased  as she had only come back a few days after being ill, that is quite good.”

           . 

           

 

Regards Alastair Aitken

 

FIXTURE 5 2014-15 SEASON, WORMWOOD SCRUBS 2015 REPORT BY ALASTAIR AITKEN:

MOHAMUD AADAN, the Middlesex cross country Champion won the Final Metropolitan League senior race of the season

It was in the cold and exposed course but over firm going, at Wormwood Scrubs 

            It was evident, as the 377 senior men set off Audun Nordtveit and Michael Calligari would be two runners at the front of the field, knowing that the position they finished in would dictate

who received the top money prize, for the most consistent and highest positions over 4 of the 5 league races contested. That money will not be available next year!

However, Nordtveidt was even more interested in his team Highgate Harriers winning the league.

            In the race, first of all, a group of 7 who finished in the first seven, broke clear but then there were five and Michael Calligari was the one who dropped off, suffering with back pain which he has had since warming up

for the Edinburgh International. It was in the second lap Nordtveit, Aadan and Phil Wylie, the International triathlete, were out ahead. In the last kilometre Aadan upped the pace and went for home.

Wylie, who improved on his two third places in the league last year went past Nordtveit for second place and then came Glenn Watts, running an unusually controlled run, to move into fourth with Calligari and Shaun Dixon behind that.  Aadan was quite sharp, having raced indoors recently, when he did two personal best times (1500/3000) but considered he was more endurance based recently. He did not think he had a good run when coming sixth in the Southern, losing a spike in the last half mile and after that he had trouble running properly.

Glenn Watts who was 4th   :- “I did not go off too quick as I did in most of the races.’

 You were very competitive in the group?

 “It made a difference to stay with them. It makes you go a lot quicker when you have people around you and then you get stuck in. I knew Michael Calligari was not feeling very well, as he has got a bad back. I sheltered him from the wind a bit as we were getting blown around. I felt good and confident.’

You stayed with Shaun Dixon for a long time

“He was ahead of me for most of it. I overtook him going round those trees, near the finish. I just managed to get past him. He was trying to keep with the top couple  with a lap to go. He stayed with them and then he suffered for it.

I tried to pace myself.”

Audun Nordtveit who was 3rd ;- “The thing is that, since I was injured in December and then ill during Christmas I really struggled with my situation. Also I had so much to do at work and passing an exam for my MBA Application.

I am applying for some programme starting after Christmas next year so, my training after Christmas was quite bad. This week I only ran on Tuesday and Wednesday.’

‘I was only after the overall victory. For that I had to beat Calligari. That was my concern then, I felt okay. I knew that I could not go too hard. I just tried to get a steady run in and that was enough to get away from him. Moh and Phil Wylie y were a bit stronger than me. I did most of the running in the front so, altogether I am happy, I am not in my best shape at the moment and I am more looking forward to the track this Summer. I am just really happy with the overall league victory for Highgate. I think to-day we did very well.”

Phil Wylie, who was 2nd:- You have had a good season

                                           “Not too bad. Cheltenham is my first claim team now, as I have moved from Bristol . My coach is Dave Newport. As I am travelling around the country I go to his sessions a lot. I am an Educational Consultant. I used to be a teacher and now moved up. A secondary teacher for Primary as well. Working with kids up to 18.’

 What are your memories of the race to-day “I was a little bit concerned. For a couple of weeks I had not been training as well as I had done up to the Birmingham League race. I was not sure what my form was like but it felt Okay. When it set off I felt Okay and was able to sit in. I was fairly comfortable the whole of the first lap. (2 lap’s race). As we moved into the second lap there was a change of pace and it broke up. I had to really dig deep to be with Audun and Aadan and I had to close that gap into the wind. Once I got with them it was a three horse race for a long, long time. Mohamud Aadan ran a really good race. .It was with a kilometre to go he really turned his legs over and ran really strongly for about 400m and we could never quite catch him. He never moved far away. I caught Audun at the end with 100 metres to go.”

          “I do duathlon and triathlon. From the middle of March onwards I am working towards the duathlon season for a team in France . That is where I do all of my racing. One a month between March and September. For the last 7 years I have managed to be selected for the British team for the European Championships.

  Highgate has a another good triathlete Danny Russell?

 ‘We room together at the World’s and Europeans. He is a good friend of mine and team mate.”

                                                       

                                                 “LOOKING FORWARD TO THE MET LEAGUE WHEN THE SUMMER IS OVER”

 

That may sound a strange comment to some but not to Ex-St Albans and Verlea runner, who is now running for Herts Phoenix in the Met League-John Steed.

        John came 375 ahead of two younger men in the Metropolitan League at Wormwood Scrubs.

          “ In May I will be 80 and would like to be the first ever 80 year old to complete a Metropolitan League race in the 50 years history of the event”

           As a young man he won the Herts County 10 mile Championship in 50.05 in 1973 and, was a good racing cyclist. He remembered cycling in an event from London to Holyhead which was a 268 miles ride, amongst other things. .

 

 Highgate Harriers won for the third year in a row but had not won overall before that since the league began in 1966. On the day they nailed it with 5 runners in the first 11 and all 12 in 48.

            Naomi Taschimowitz, who came seventh in the Southern, feels she is coming back to her best form, after settling down with her work pattern at the Treasury in the Civil Service.

She led from start to finish at the Scrubs but Sarah Pemberton, was overtaken by Tracy Barlow and Lisa da Silva, running to-gather, That was  before entering the second lap.

Highgate Harriers had won the team event nine times since the Women’s League began in 1994 but had to be content with third at the Scrubs behind the surprise winners London Heathside with Shaftesbury Barnet second..

Highgate though did win the Howard Williams Senior Cup for Women and men combined and the Junior one went to Enfield & Haringey.

            There were impressive runs in the younger age groups. Thomas Butler has improved as the season has gone on. He came 4th in the first Met League at Claybury but won well at the Scrubs but he had opposition from Lucillo Burrell (More a 1500 runner), in the early part of the race, inter changing positions several times..  

Thomas Butler “I just went off hard. I knew that would break the field up. Hopefully things have come right at the right time.Some people peek at different times. I think I have been helped by not doing all the relays early on in the season. Later in the season you don’t remember who wins the London or earlier races. You remember who wins the big races. I am not saying I will do that. I am now running every day apart from Friday’s and on that day is a gym session. It is going well at the moment.”

        

            Under 13 runner Finn Harvey won all the five Met Leagues under 13 and hopes for a top 10 in the National.

Of the 5 Met Legues would he say was the toughest for him?

Finn Harvey :- “Probably the first one at Claybury. I was not that confident and I could not lead it out. I had to really stick with them till the last 100m. It was quite tough today and Luke Minale (VPH &TH) who was second ran really well to-day and was trying to sit with me.’

What had Finn been doing in the week?  “On Thursday I did the IAP cross country and I won that. I had a football match on Wednesday. Tuesday I did a little running training. Quite a hectic week I suppose.”

 Another to impress was India Weir and the Thames Valley Harriers team, who had their first 4 runners in the first 5 home. Weir considered her run when coming 3rd in the Knole run at Sevenoaks, for her school Godolphin and Latymer that came second, was an important result for her.

Both Radus sisters won at Wormwood Scrubs Lia Radus in the Under 13’s and Maayan Radus, the first girl in the Under 11 race. They had 4 wins in the league. Jeremy Sothcott is the coach for Lia and Tony Smith the coach for Maayan.. The Boys and girls joint development race was won overall, for the fifth time out of 5 by Rairi McGonagle of London Heathside. At the Scrubs race he led from the front and found the race was the hardest of the five for him.

“I had been with the school mountaineering in Wales in the week and my legs were very tired after that”. 

            Jeremy Sothcott is also a coach to Jamie Harper of Shaftesbury Barnet, who was the 2nd Under 15 but won every under 13 Met League last year.

             He had a brilliant run coming 2nd in the National Cross Country last year?

            “Very good." He has been up and down this year with illness.”

  “It is a hard task when you are a first year Under 15 and running against the 17 year old’s

   “He is just getting used to the slightly over distance- It had been all 3k and it is all 41/2 K so we have upped his training a little bit and when he has a good day he does very well.

 When he was in the first year of the under 13’s he used to be beaten by Jamie Phillpot, who was at the end of the age group.

   You must have been very pleased with his second in the National

      “ He was very upset himself but I said second in the ‘National’ that is no mean feet. If he is not doing well he beats himself up about it so, he has got real determination. If he could have a good track season and stay in good health

hopefully, as a second year, next year, he will do well. He is not written off. He now has got the English Schools in Blackburn . He had to pull out from one of the races that qualified him for the Inter-Counties so, he is a sort of first reserve. Hopefully he will get a place and there is the ‘National’ in two weeks time.”

            Next year it will be a celebration of 50 years since the league began and Terry Driscoll and I remember doing the first one ever at Hainault Forest in 1966!.

One must congratulate the Administrator for the ‘Great’ work he does on the Met League and also the website manager Martin Bateman . One hopes someone else comes up with money prizes for the league next year but even if that does not happen there is no doubt this is one of the best leagues and possibly the highest standard league in the UK !

 

 

Best Wishes Alastair

 

FIXTURE 4 2014-15 SEASON, HORSENDEN HILL 2015 REPORT BY ALASTAIR AITKEN:

 

 

 

 

LEE MERRIEN, of Newham & Essex Beagles, a prolific Championship marathon runner, went clear in the last half mile at Horsenden Hill.  

 “It was several years since I ran a proper cross-country’ He added ‘It was not about beating anyone to-day in particular. I have been doing sessions for a few weeks but had injuries before that and,

 last raced in the BUPA 10k (29.64) back in April”

           After a mile, as they went up a  long gentle gradient; a bunch of six, Shaun Dixon, Richard Phillips, Dan Watts, Glen Watts and Lee Merrien were close together with Audun Nortveit tucked in the back of the group. They were the one’s contesting the first of three laps till, firstly Richard Phillips went ahead for a short while and then Shaun Dixon, started to push the pace for the whole of the 2nd of three laps, even bravely into the strong wind. He took Merrien and Nordtveit away from the rest. Merrien went for home on the downhill stretch before the finishing straight. He was chased by Nordtveit with Dixon a clear third.

            Nordtveit remarked “Although I was pleased with my result to-day, after the last Met League, I went back to Norway for the holidays and got flu. I only started training again Friday week ago.”

In the last Met League Middlesex ‘Under 20’ Champion, Toby Clyde, was the fourth Junior in the senior race but at Horsenden Hill he was the first, in an improved position of 23rd.

The First ‘Over 70’ in the race, out of the 389 finishers, was Stuart Mann in 346. Mann was ranked 2nd in the UK ‘Over 65’ for the marathon in 2010 and 2nd V60 over 20 miles in 2006. It was interesting to note that since the league began in 1966, no one over 80, has completed or competed in the league senior races but, 79 year old, John Steed (383) Intends doing that next year as he is 80 in May 2016.

            At Uxbridge, in the last Met League Serpentine RC won and they had 5 in the first 10 but only had 2 in the first 10 at Horsenden Hill (Their top man Nick Torry out with a stress fracture) and Highgate had all their 12 scorers in the first 45 so, they will be extremely hard to beat in the final Met League at Wormwood Scrubs on the 7th of February and likely to be overall Champions..

            Rachel Felton, said the race was hard, as it was muddy. She won her 4th successive Met League and, the result was the same as last time for the first three home. Felton, Lizzie Janes, and Naomi Taschimowitz. The first ‘Under 20’ in fifth place was Hannah Viner, who was challenging for third spot when she fell heavily in the mud. (164 completed) Felton remarked that she was pleased to win the Herts title the previous weekend, something she wanted to do before she retired and, to be able to race on the Verulam Park course. Something she used to love to train over. Also, in the Herts’ she felt she was against two good runners, Lizzy Janes and Claire Hallisey. Felton pointed out she had been Gloucestershire Champion (2013)..  Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers are at the top of the table with1046, Highgate on 1030 and London Heathside 1008 so; all is to play for in the final match.

            Finn Harvey, is another who has won all his Met Leagues this season. In his case, in the ‘Under 13’s but in the week before he has been doing his favourite sport football but he like athletics and, cross-country as an individual sport. It had football training in the week. Another to deviate from athletics was the ‘Under 17’, winner George Cook; who studies at Bishop’s Stortford High School . He disputed the early pace with Thomas Butler, before going back into the group and then, making a late run to the finish.  As he is a Triathlete, outside of school, he does  6 hours of swimming  in the week, one day of running plus just the race as extra running and he also does cycling.“ I find the cross-country really helps with toughening up for the triathlon.’ He remarked.

            Nicola Ravenhill, from Elthorne Park High School , who runs for Ealing Southall & Middlesex, won in the last Met League at Uxbridge. She was impressive when winning, as she is only 14 and, running with all the Under 17’s. For a lot of the race, she had a battle with Gabriella Kyriacou of Shaftesbury Barnet, who goes to Queen Elizabeth’s Girls School at High Barnet. ‘It was near the hill when I was coming up I got away’ said Nicola. ‘I had been ill for a bit but generally Okay. I had a bad Middlesex but managed to just squeeze in the team. Apart from that it has been good.”

            10 year old, Ruari McGonagle, from London Heathside, won his fourth ‘Under 11 Boys & Girls Development race’ out of the 4 contested so far. He led all the way... There were 43 finishers. ‘My coach is kabir Kemp.

That was not the only outstanding thing about the new ‘league Development race’, as Mayan Radus was 2nd overall. 10 year old,  Radus said “I did the Hertfordshire Championships (As a guest as no Under 11 Middlesex). I won.

Was it a harder race for her?

 ‘No, this was harder. It felt longer and it was really muddy which made it much harder.’ Gerry Elmore sometimes coaches her so what did he feel were her qualities. “Both Lia and Mayan are sisters “She is good and very determined sometimes.”

 In the ‘Under 13’s’ Lia Radus’ went into the lead from the beginning. “ I started running when I was about 10. I go to City of London School for girls. My coach is Jeremy Sothcott.’

     I would like to point out two ‘Star’ youngsters coached by Roy Claridge of TVH, Charlotte Buckley (Under 13) and India Weir (Under 15) were competing in the famous Independent Schools race, the Knole Run at Sevenoaks that day That event attracts all the ‘Big’ Public Schools in the UK.

            The results come out quicker on this vast league, than they do with much smaller events, which is quite remarkable. So, GAVIN COLLETT and his team should be congratulated on that fact.

       

 

With Best Wishes Alastair

FIXTURE 3 2014-15 SEASON, UXBRIDGE 20th DECEMBER 2014 REPORT BY ALASTAIR AITKEN:

 

 

 

MICHAEL CALLEGARI considered the race as an important one for him, as he leads the prize winners so far and also will not be at the next Met League at Perivale on the 10th of January, because he will be racing at the International in Edinburgh.

Callegari, who won the last Met League at Stevenage , was racing on the Hillingdon House Farm course, before playing the trumpet in his local Barnet church the very next day..

            In the race on the 20th of December, Callegari, was never out of being in a challenging position.  After a mile covered, in the long field, Dan Watts was setting a fast pace out ahead with Callegari. The group just behind that was led by, Glen Watts, with Shaun Dixon and Audun Nortdveit together still well in touch. On the second of the two laps Dixon , Callegari and Nordtveit had opened up a gap to the rest of the 383 finishers. It was on the hill Callegari moved ahead. Nortveit, was close behind him with 500m remaining but then Callegari threw everything into it to win well. However, Nordtveit had been suffering with Knee trouble and had just two weeks off training till the day before and was happy to be second.   Dixon was coming back to from in third spot. Serpentine won for the second time in a row with five men in the first 12 but as Highgate had their 12 men inside the first 63 they are still very much in the hunt with an overall but narrow lead in the league.

            CALLEGARI “The training has been going very well.. I am not sure whether I am going to run indoors but will see when the time comes..I kept on feeling the Highgate runner was behind me the whole time so, I kept pushing and pushing. I knew he was good because won the first Met League by quite a bit. It took him quite a while to get to the front and then he took it easy so, once he got to me I tried to push it on and on just to make it a bit more.”

            NORDTVEIT “I came back to him with the last 500 to go but my last session was two weeks ago when I did 1k rep’s. I then had two weeks off due to my knee. I slowly started up running again. I was just happy to be able to finish. I honestly had not expected that. This morning I went for a short easy run and my knee did not feel too well. Considering all the training Iost it has been very much like a season break. I hope to get back to fitness for the last two fixtures. On a normal day I would have tried to go away onn the down hill section and just go for it. My aim to-day was just to finish.”

            Callegari, you and Shawn must have decided to go away from the Watts ’ brothers in the second of the two laps as they were then dropped?

             “I think it was on the first lap on the downhill section. I just think they started out too fast. At one point they had to drop the pace a little bit. I honestly felt that. I did not have any high expectations for to-day I was very happy I got the second place.”

             To SHAUN DIXON . The three of you burst away from the others at one stage?

              “That was my fault . I felt good in the first lap so I thought I am going to push it on. The most I thought we would have to contend with was Nick (Torry 5th). I thought he would be with us in the pack but he wasn’t. It came to the hill and Callegari went. I tried to follow but could not quite bridge it .It was a good battle. I think I am just lacking a bit of turn over really.”

              

                        Rachel Felton was pleased to win the women’s’ senior race, considering she had been ill when running the Abbey Dash 10k in 33:49, on November 16th and was unable to train afterwards for a couple of weeks. She led all the way at Hillingdon and Liz Janes continued to improve, running in second place most of the way and Naomi Taschimowitz managed to hold off Sarah Pemberton (Her highest position in the league) for third spot.

Shaftesbury, Barnet, Highgate, London Heathside and Serpentine are all close at the top of the table.

               RACHEL FELTON “The race went well. When I did the Abbey Dash in 33:49. I had to stop three times because I was sick in the race. On the Friday I did not feel great and the race was Sunday and that was it. I was basically ill for the next three weeks and missed a lot of training. It was nice to race again but it was hard work, as I am a bit out of shape. It was nice to win. It was good but the course was really muddy.”

           

 Jamie Philpott in the Under 17’s, ran a 9.09-3k in the summer, had a cartilage injury with some time off and then came sixth in the previous Met League at Stevenage . He ran well to win at Hillingdon with Terry Fawden getting his highest position in the league in second place, followed home by Karim Mahiddine and George Cook (62 runners completed).

             PHILPOTT “ I had been injured so it took me a while to get back into it.(6TH At Stevenage ).Things had not been going great but building up again now. The injury I had put me off racing. That was in August and early September and I was off for about a month. It was a bit of cartilage in my knee that had come loose and was moving around in my knee.’

            “ When did you go in the lead to-day?

             “About half way I think, on one of the downhill's. ‘

             “Things been going well this year’

              “ Not particularly but did OK in the County (Herts) on the track in the Summer and won that. I ran 9,09 for the 3k.’

            

            The revelation of the Metropolitan League was ‘Under 13 runner’ Charlotte Buckley, who won her third Met League in a row. She also won at the London Youth Games at Parli Hill and the Southern Inter-Counties the previous Saturday. Buckley is at St Paul’s School and also very young still so, her coach, Roy Claridge, is not keen for her to do the very big races coming up in the season till she is older.

Another to impress, who has won all his three Met League races was, the ‘Under 13’ boy Finn Harvey, who is muli-talented, as he has had a trial with Chelsea Football club already and plays rugby for his school.

 

            The Under 17 Girls was won by Jodie Ratcliff of Woodford Green & Essex ladies in 16.18 with Gabrilla Kyriacou and Amalia Edwards of Shaftesbury Barnet 2nd and 3rd (45 completed)

             JODIE RATCLIFFE (16) went into the lead from the start and won by 3 seconds.

             Jodie was 15th in the Southern Inter-Counties Under 17 race. She is at Mark Hall Academy in Harlow .’ I have upped my training this year because I want to be better. JOHN STOWE and Richard Thurston coach me.

               JOHN what sort of miles are you giving her.

                   “She is probably running 30 miles a week. More working on quality. Her favourite event is the 800 (2.23)

                 JOHN COMES IN “That might change. She may have to move up. Cross-country running tells me something.

She could run a really good 1500 and 3000 as well. She has got a good stride that eats the ground up but I am keeping my options open but I might have to move her up.”

                 UNDER 13 BOYS 1st Finn Harvey (SB) followed by two from Herts Phoenix Nathaniel Zapico and Joe Smith.

                 FINN HARVEYS Father JOHN HARVEY “He came sixth in the Southern Inter-Counties. Most of the top 10 in the country were in that so it was very strong. Very close, he just got beaten on the line, just a few seconds.

He was in the side that won the National Six a side football Tournament at Chigwell School . He plays for Cockfosters Football club. He has had trials with Chelsea . He also plays rugby. Quite an all-round sports person”

                CHARLOTTE BUCKLEY of Thames Valley Harriers has won all her 11 cross-countries in 2014. Regarding this season she considers her best win was in the Southern Inter-Counties at Oxford . However

Her coach Roy Claridge thinks the hardest win for her was in the London Youth Games race, as she went out hard and was chased all the way. He also thinks he must be careful with her doing all the big things this season because she is at a very good school St Paules and also because it is too soon for her to do that. She has natural talent but when she moves up later on she will have to train more.

               

 AIMI WEIGHTMAN. 10 at the start of November. She was 6th overall out of 53 in Under 11 ‘Boys & Girls Development’ race and therefore the first girl. “ I go to Foulds School (Barnet). I Missed the previous Met league but came 3rd in the first. I am coached by Jo Kent and Ty Holden. ‘My favourite sport is running’

                  RUARI Mc GONAGLE OF London Heathside was first past the post. This was his third victory in the same event consecutively “I went into the lead after the first sprint and we had turned the corner. I came 2nd in the London Youth Games. I was very pleased with that result. I am going to run the Southern and maybe the National, when I am eleven, as I am 10 now. I am 11 in time for the National.”

 

Regards Alastair Aitken

FIXTURE 2 2014-15 SEASON, STEVENAGE 8th NOVEMBER 2014 REPORT BY ALASTAIR AITKEN:

 

 

MICHAEL CALLIGARI, the first Under 20, won an enthralling league race at Stevenage Alastair Aitken reports

In the senior event there was a record field of 442 finishers (League first started in 1966)...Calligari, who was brimming with confidence, after taking Shaftesbury Barnet from 11th to 3rd on the final leg in the National Junior cross country relay, at Mansfield , the previous Saturday.

It was John Beattie heading the group of 10 for most of the race, till Calligari took off in the wood, with just under half a mile remaining, to be one second clear of John Beattie at the finish, with Nick Torry moving up from fifth to third in the last mile. Michael Calligari said “ I took it on 100m into the woods where the crowd was.

In the race I kept on holding on, as I had got that finishing speed towards the end. Luckily the pace slowed down again and it was alright then. Last weeks race at Mansfield gave me a lot of confidence.”

            John Beattie was 18th in the corresponding Met League race last year at Stevenage but a good third behind Keith Gerrard and Steve Vernon in the National of 2012 at Parliament Hill Fields so, what went wrong since?

       “There was a string of injuries, three or four months apart with achilles injuries. At the time I was getting a little fitter and I would injure myself again. That was for 15 months.’ He is coached by Gavin Smith, who also coaches Luke Cragg and and Chris Powner.

 He has worked with some of the best athletes in the World in Kenya with Renato Clay. Any athletes, no matter what kind of training and where they are from’ John went on to say ‘I am very happy to be coming back. I raced the Great South two weeks ago and ran 48.:59 for the 10 miles and then last week were the cross relays.

I wanted to win today but all credit to the lad that won. He is a good junior and should make the junior team but, it is no disgrace to lose to him. It was a good field and although I led it the whole way, there were a lot of good guys behind me who were not going to lie down. It was good preparation for the European Trials. It is great to be racing again.This is what I live for! When you don’t do it for a year and a half it is frustrating”

         Gavin Smith (He was 22nd in the Senior National in Sunderland In 2013) .  “ Did he learn a lot coaching in Kenya . “ Absolutely. I was coaching with an Italian coach Renato Canova. Helping him with some of his athletes. I learnt an incredible amount. Hopefully  we can translate into some good form for John.”

            Adam Hickey, who was just nine seconds off the winner in fifth, came with his coach Eamonn Martin in order that Hickey could run in a good field, as preparation for the races coming up. He will be going to race in Spain with Jonathan Davies and Richard Goodman in two weeks time and then it will be the European trials to do. One behind him was Shaun Dixon in sixth position but one of those in that front group nearly all the way.

Shaun explains “ A nice pack of about 10 till the last lap but coming down, the Cardiff lad (4th) Kevin Seward was beside me. It was a better run for me than the last Met League. My problem is that I know after Christmas I should be running well I hope. I am running OK now but not great. I wanted to run strongly at Liverpool in the Trial but I don’t feel I am quite ready for that but should be after Christmas.”

            Nick Torry “It was a good race but I struggled at first to stay with the pace then, told myself ‘Everyone else is hurting’ and just kept going. In the woods I lost the first three for a little bit, on the last lap and then, slowly caught them There were some narrow bits at the end but still managed to catch the Cardiff runner in the sprint.

Don’t remember much of it because it is a bit of a blur and quick. The woods were quite nice. I think the second Met league of the year often gets the best standard and Liverpool is coming up. You get all the Cambridge University guys. They were ahead of me at first and working hard. They tend to go off hard.”

  Highgate Harriers still top the table and lead the senior women but could have opposition from Serpentine and Shaftesbury respectively, as the season progresses.

            After the start in the Women’s race, Rachel Felton and Gemma Kersey went well clear and then Kersey and Felton battled it out, with Kersey trying to dictate the pace for much of the time but Felton, had the adequate experience to be able to contend with that and went for home, as they entered the woods for the last time. In third was Elizabeth Mooney, an Under 20, Cambridge University graduate, then came Elizabeth Janes who had not won a race since a Met league in 2012 but the ex-international, known as Lizzie Hall has had two children since then and feels now she is getting back slowly and pleased with the result at Stevenage. She felt it had been a welcome break. Her children are 2 years old and the other one 7 months old.. Her husband is one of the good runners in Bedford & County athletic club Matt Janes.

         Rachel Felton “It has been a hard training week so I was a bit worried that the legs would be tired but they were okay thankfully. I am racing at Leeds over 10k next weekend, ease right back for that to have a good run there, then a week off and then Liverpool. A big month. I may go to Brussels , the time the next Met League is on and then do the other Met Leagues.” 188 finished.

           Gemma Kersey, coached by that famous ex-international Eamonn Martin

I just kept trying to push it on, trying to get a gap but she was very strong. Every time I got a gap she would come back. I just wanted to make it a true run race because the trial is in three weeks so, I just wanted to give it everything. I know Lorna--(3rd last year but won 2 Mets and Gemma was 2nd in that corresponding Met League)-- and Rachel are both really strong cross-country runners. Last year it was us three and it was a good run out before the trials. I am gutted. To-day I should have sat in a bit more but I was so keen.”

            In the younger age groups the most exciting race was the Men’s Under 17’

 Abel Sinko-Uribe, who had only been training properly with Highgate for two months, led at the start but after 400m was swallowed up by the leaders a group of 4 disputed the lead for the rest of the race. At one stage Terry Fawden went ahead but then George Cook and Daniel Carpenter, went past him. Cook then went clear, just before coming out of the wood with Carpenter closing on him by then Cook was then far enough ahead to pull it off.

          Terry Fawden There were 4 of us in a group coming round in the field loop. I tried to make a break into the woods. I only dropped one person and the other two were able to soldier on and win the race. It was good racing, especially for a local meet.”

            Under17 and 15 women’s race was combined. The winner Isabel Dye of TVH, from Isabella Hoy of Woodford Green & Essex ladies (an Under 15) with Gabriella Kyriacou of Shaftesbury Barnet coming in third.

           Isabel Dye (16) At the beginning Isabella Hoy was with me for a along way but just before the woods I pushed on at the corner

 Dye added “This is my first cross-country of the season so just getting back into it. I want to focus on track to hopefully do better. I have run 2:12 for 800.”

            An impressive win was by TVH’s Charlotte Buckley in the Under 13’s, as she went ahead straight away and was following up a win in the English Schools Cup 2.5 race, at St Albans in the morning! Roy Claridge her TVH coach is really pleased the way she is going.

” She loves it and has natural ability. Wonderful isn’t it! “

            Harvey Finn, (Shaftesbury Barnet) won the  Under 13 Met League race again. This time in 11.00 minutes, from Luca Minale (Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets) 11.17 and  Nathanael Zapico (Herts Phoenix) 1.17. Finn was second for quite a while. “I wanted to push in the last bit. I had the strength to head them off in the woods. It was just before we entered I thought I might as well kick.’ He added ‘ I liked this race more than the last Met League. I liked the woods and the finish as well.”

            Ruairi McGonagle won the Under 11 Boys & Girls Development race, which he also did at Claybury. 5th home overall out of the 69 was the previous girls winner Mayaan Radus

              Ruairi  McGonagle (10) (London Heathside) He went into the lead straight away. How did it compare with his previous win this year at Claybury.  Ruairi said  “I had done a lot of training because I had under trained and I wanted to retain my win.” His Father Barney “He is enjoying it, that is the main thing.”

              Mayaan Radus.(10) She was pleased to win again. She did not lead the girls all the way “ There were a couple of girls in front of me. When we got over the hill they slowed down and I overtook them but I was not in the lead for the whole way. It was my stamina that helped later in the race.”

To organise the record fields and have results out so quickly, was due expressly to the organisation by a very busy man, besides his work on the Metropolitan League.         Hats off to Gavin Collett of Hillingdon AC and his helpers.

 

Regards Alastair

FIXTURE 1 2014-15 SEASON, Claybury 11th October 2014 REPORT BY ALASTAIR AITKEN:

 

AUDUN NORTVEIT, who won impressively at Alexander Palace in December, was equally comfortable over the hills at Claybury, for his second Met League victory and this time it was in fine conditions.

On 180k’s a week, he was building up for the Norwegian Cross Country Championships the following Saturday.

          The Race:- Nortveit was in a group in the early stages before Mohamud Aaden, having his best race for sometime, forced the pace upfront, only for Nortveit to sweep by, opening up a lead of 20 metres after the first large lap.

When Nortveit went ahead, he was worried, for a short while, whether Nick Torry was going to challenge but Torry like Shaun Dixon, had been a bit ‘Off form’ with a cold in the week. Michael Callegari, who considers the winter now as strength work for the track, was a good third and first Under 20. Robel Bahelbi, vastly improved on all his other previous positions in the league races when he came fourth at Claybury.

John Steed, 79, running in his 149th league race was 415th in 46.31 !

            Highgate Harriers had put down a marker for a third league victory in a row with a win at Claybury, following the five consecutive victories by Woodford Green.

            AUDUN NOTVEIT “ I decided to go out steady. I went a bit quicker down the hill. I kept on pushing quite steadily. I was quite tired though on the last hill. .I think, if I had waited a bit before starting--.. It was a good test pushing as I am doing the Norwegian cross country championships on Saturday. I was most scared by Nick Torry, even though I was not in the lead for the first half of the first lap. I could not see him behind me. It was then I decided to just go for it. I thought my stamina might be better than the other runners.’

I love cross country as it is more exciting than track, where you are always thinking of times. England is the home of cross-country running. My best race last season was the European Clubs Cup and I finished 13th overall,

‘I was 19 seconds behind the winner of the  European cross-country Championships. It is supposed to be a good field on Saturday with two runners who were in the 10,000 in the European at Zurich ..’

‘It should be a really hard and tough competitive race.’ Surprisingly he then said ‘I don’t think Norway will send a team to the World Championships and I am not sure they will for the European. They may send a few runners to the European but I am not certain they will do that. Obviously if they did I would try to qualify for that team.’

’ He joined Highgate last year and Highgate, at the time, were improving as a force

            He has run for the club since last Summer. He remarked “‘it was great in the National Six Stage (2nd)’

             ‘In London I am working for the Norwegian Several Wealth Fund. Now we have all the oil and gas in the Northern Sea , invested in equity and bonds. The revenues will be for the benefit of future generations. I am working in the Management of that fund and that, was what took me here to London in the first place but the hours are quite long so, it is really nice to have almost a family outside of my other friends and family back in Norway .I have been really well loved by the Highgate family.’

            MOHAMUD AADEN (TVH) How did the race go for him?

                                                  “ It was really good. Obviously this time of the season I am not fit. I thought I am going to take it on. I got a big surprise because the guy came from behind and he swept by.

‘ It was half way through  the first lap. Then, by the end of the first lap he was 20 metres ahead. I had to chase him all the way down. .He is really good. He gave me a good race. I finished strongly. I was a bit surprised to finish

strongly on the hill. It was a good start of the season. I am just off to Kenya and I will be doing good training for three months.’

      ‘I can say that. Last Winter I was fit when I came back from Kenya then, in the ‘National’, I was knocked down and out of the race. I was leading the race and some guy gave me an elbow and I went down into the ditch. And I could not finish. One week before the Inter-Counties I got flu. I finished 14th but Middlesex got a silver medal when Richard (Goodman) won for Middlesex.. Since then I did not win some of the races but I am coming back now. I am missing the European trials at the end of the month. Hopefully, when I come back from Kenya , I hope to do the National and Inter Counties , maybe try for selection for the World Championships at cross-country. My mileage is about 105 miles a week at the moment.”

         MICHAEL CALLEGARI, (Just turned 20) You had a good season  “ It was alright’.

        ‘ I had been ill when I first went to Uni (St Marys) but I am fitter now. ‘

          Are you still into music, playing the trumpet in church?

         ‘Sometimes on Sunday’s but not so much, as I am at Uni now. Like Richard Goodman at St Marys.  I am coached by CRAIG WIINROW (He ran 1:45.6 /3:43.4-800/1500)

           Callegari ran a good 1500, as a 19 year old last year of 3:45.15.

          ‘ It is all about the track ,cross-country is strength for the track really.’

          ‘ I have noticed  you are a strong cross-counry runner in muddy conditions.’

          ‘ It is good strength for the track. I have taken it seriously in the past, trying to get in the GB team. The older you get the more miles you get in. Some of these guys do good solid miles.’

          ‘Great runners around that I knew in the 1970’s Dave Bedford, Ian Stewart and Andy Holden believed in that!”

           ‘I am on 60 or 70 miles a week at the moment. It is still a lot and running all the time, really. It is going alright.”

  

     ‘Shaftesbury Barnet had the first three finishers in the women’s race. After the first large lap Rachel Felton, who took her team up 10 places on the third leg in the ’National’ road relay the previous Saturday, was leading by 10 metres from Melissa Courtney, known more as an 800/1500 runner and behind that for the rest of the race was Naomi Taschmowitz. The latter had had injuries and in her first cross-country race for nearly two years. She was Southern Senior Champion at Parliament Hill in 2011. Felton went further and further ahead, as the race progressed and hopes for a good run in the Liverpool Trials..

The teams were close at that stage of the season. Serpentine were leading  Highgate and London Heathside. It is worth noting Hannah Viner was the first Under 20 Woman in fifth place and has been improving throughout the summer.

                             RACHEL FELTON (Shaftesbury Barnet) The overall points winner in the Women’s section in the Met League last season and therefore received the top money prize then.

                                                        'It went alright. I have been training quite hard. I trained through last weekend and pretty much trained through this one as well so, running on tired legs. I am hoping to run well at Liverpool because I did not get it right last year. Rachel’s family were watching. Her daughter is 3, ‘Evelyn wants to do her first race and there is a fun run in Stroud. She runs everywhere .I never see her walking! ‘”

As Rachel gets colds sometimes and ran second in one of the Met Leagues last season, probably because of that, she commented. ‘One of my friends is a sports scientist and she is involved with athletes doing Para- Olympic swimming. Her athletes take Vitamin D in the winter. They reckon we don’t get enough sunshine in the winter which makes you prone to colds and stuff but, I will go into the research for that.’ (I said Vitamin C is good to take in the winter months). Just before we stopped talking she said ‘I forgot my spikes to-day so borrowed some so I better return them now!”

                           MELISSA COURTNEY “You were second all the way?

                            ‘I tried to stay with Rachel but I knew she had so much better endurance. I hoped to stay with her for a little bit.’

                            ‘That would take you away from the rest

                             That is what I thought. She took it out straight away as well and so, I stayed with her for half way round the large lap and tried to maintain it the whole way round. I am more a 1500 runner

.I ran 4.11.41 the At Manchester Grand Prix for the BMC last year so, this was a lot further than I would normally do .It was the end of May when I did that time and I was trying to qualify for the Commonwealth Games for Wales . and I was .4 off the ‘B ’standard  It was a bit agonising.. I was happy because I have only just turned 21. The next Commonwealth Games will be a better aim for me really. This year to have a go would have been being a great experience. Hopefully next time I will be there.”

‘You have had a break?

 “Probably about 4 weeks. I had 2 weeks no running and a couple of weeks doing a couple of runs or going on the bike. I am hoping to run well at the European Cross-Trials as I am still under 23 for that but my main focus is for the European under 23’s next year.”

                                 NAOMI TASCHMOWITZ ‘You had a good race!”

                              “I was third all the way. It was the first time I have run for Shaftesbury. .I was pleased.’

‘ I was running quite well 2 or 3 years ago. I won the Southern at Parliament Hill in 2011.This is my first cross-country for nearly

 two years, I have just had injuries; I have done some track races at the end of the season to get back into it.”

 

FINN HARVEY from Belmont School , Mill Hill won the under 13’s race “I went into the lead just after the first lap.’

‘I have only been running for about a year or so. My coach is Ty Holden and. Shaftsbury is a good club. I train with them on week days and sometimes weekends. Running is my favourite sport. Our team fame 7th in the road relay and I was happy about that.’

Finn only got to Claybury  at 12.30 and did not get a chance to see the course, which is an important to do so you know what is coming’---A comment by his Mother

 

In the Under 17 race first was Daniel Carpenter, bringing his club Trent Park RC to the top of the points table and, having run all his personal bests on the track this year He was followed by Terry Fawden coached by Ben Pochee who was a good 2nd .It was Terry’s  best position in the league races, then came George Cook and Thomas Butler. The latter  won the  Met League Under 17’s at Alexandra Park last December  TY HOLDEN is the coach to Thomas Butler (15) as well as Finn Harvey. About Butler ’s race he said “ There is not much to chose between the first 4’

Holden ran in the senior or race and came 354th, , as an over 50’ so, he gets that practical experience for his coaching! He said his lad Butler , who incidentally is the son of International road and cross-country runner Tim Butler, was in a heavy part of his training at the moment and ran a good 8:58 for 3000 in the summer.’ Ty Holden did 51 seconds for 400m as a young man.

 

In the younger age groups Charlotte Buckley, coached by Roy Claridge, led from start to finish in the Under 13 girls race, having also been fastest in the National & Southern relays and her TVH friend Kosana Weir (14) who achieved two PB’s in the Summer for 800/1500; 2:23.4/4.56.4 won the under 15 race. Kosana Weir (14) who goes to Godolphin Latymer School , said “ At the beginning I felt it was really hard, as my foot was really hurting but I went away after the first lap. I was running with another girl at the time. “

 It was the first time since the start of the Metropolitan league races in 1966, that an ‘Under 11 Development race ‘was held and 10 year old, Ruairi McGonagle (London Heathdside) from St Gildas School in Crouch End won in 5.25. Nine  year old, McGonagle said ‘I was first in the Haringey cross-country 2 to 3 weeks ago’

His Favourite sport? “I Like football as well. I play Central-Mid. I have been running for a year now.’

About the race at Claybury ‘ I went into the lead to-day after 800m’,

Mayaan Radus, from City of London School for girls was the first girl in 7th place out off the 62 girls and boys combined race. “I tried to say up with the boys’ she said

‘At school we don’t do that much running, we do a lot of netball but running is my favourite sport. I do my training with two older girls in Shaftesbury Barnet but I don’t race against them, as they are Under 13 and Under 15. I am advised by Tony Smith and Gerry Elmore.

 

Regards Alastair

FIXTURE 5 2013-14 SEASON, WORMWOOD SCRUBS 8TH FEBRUARY 2014 REPORT BY ALISTAIR AITKEN:

NICK TORRY, not only won his second Metropolitan League at Wormwood Scrubs

but also, by finishing second, fourth and twice first in the league won the top prize of £575.   

    The very early leader was Mohammed Mohammed but there was a huge group behind him. 

At the half distance in very strong winds with some sticky patches to negotiate,Torry decided to push hard to break up the group and only Norwegian Audun Nordveit could stay with him. Then came  Michael Calligari and guest Darren Deed running together. It was only in the last 100m that Torry was able to burn off Nordveit. Torry also explained " It was tough against the wind all the time.'

He added " In the week I had an issue with my knees so I decided to lay off the training before the race which obliviously paid off on the flat going that I like."

    Nortveit said " I had run 6x2k efforts in the morning, as training in preparation for the 'National'  but Nick deserved to win because he pushed it hard from the front. I tried to kick at the finish but my legs were tired. '

  About the European Clubs Championships on the 2nd  February , when he was 13th at Albufiera

  Nortveit remarked ' I really feel that was the best result for me on any surface. It was won by a man who did 3:31 for 1500 last year and, I only finished 19 seconds behind the European Champion!"

 Audun Nordvelt went on to say  training and racing in and around London he said " I love it here in London better than Norway."

    It is really worth mentioning here Highgate Harriers won the Men and the Women's league Championship combined, for the first time ever since the event was first run in 1966, therefore it was not surprising that the Howard Williams Senior Trophy for the joint result went to Highgate..

    Rachel Felton was dominant in the Women's race and led from start to finish. She had a 70 metre lead at half way over a bunch led by Becky Penty but at the back of that, which included Rebekah Gardiner, Sarah Williams, Sarah Swinhoe and Katie Meredith was Tracy Barlow who then moved up to challenge Penty and was with her for sometime, before she drew clear for second in the final stages.

    Shaftesbury Barnet's Rachel Felton, won all her four Metropolitan league races and was awarded the £575 winning prize and said she thought she may use that for a flight to visit some friends, who are also runners in Boston, USA.".

     Regarding her run in the Southern at Parliament Hill Fields, when she was fourth in the senior race:-

    " It was so hard to get going. I don't mind mud but that was ' 'Silly Mud' . I was so tired from that I took 2 days off before training again and I wanted a hard run today. I hope to run a 10k on the  road in a couple of weeks time."

    Shaftesbury Barnet won the Junior Howard Williams Trophy and perhaps their 'Star' runner in the younger age groups was Jamie Harper, who has now won all five Under 13 Metropolitan League races.He did not run the Southern because he was unwell then but features when winning North West London Youth Athletics League races. About his coach Jeremy Sothcott he said " He is so supportive. He is encouraging and accepts me for what I am." Another to be most impressive was TVH's, Charlotte Buckley, who has won all her four 'Under 13 Met League races that she did. At Wormwood Scrubs she was followed home by two of her clubmates. The interesting thing is she was likely to have won all five Metropolitan League races but, on January the 11th, the Met league clashed with a high profile race unreported elsewhere-The Knowle Run in Sevenoaks and running for St Pauls Girls School, she came 10th of 156 and was not beaten by anyone younger than she was.

           The 'Under 17 & 15'  Boys  race was won for the second time in succession by Jamie Philpott (U15), who has had a good start to the season, having won the Herts. Championship too..2nd to Jamie Philpott was Toby Clyde of TVH in 13.16 to Philpotts' 13.12. Toby Clyde of TVH mentioned the conditions " It was like a steeplechase to-day!"Clyde is at St James School at Heathrow. About the race he said " I was 6th to begin with but then came through to 4th and third place before finally coming 2nd."

Highgate Harriers won the team event overall for the first time in that age group.

    In the Under 17 & 15 Girls race it was good to see Isabella Hoy of Woodford Green & Essex ladies winning again. She won and came third in the early Met Leagues of the season but dropped out of her last two races this year, before winning at the Scrubs.She had a good run when coming 14th in the British Cross Challenge in Liverpool in November and so, why did she drop out of the Southern. That was for a very understandable problem for so many young athletes, as her coach Richard Thurston explains " She had a mess up with her tag and she, panicked and by the time she got back down again and went off again, she went too fast at the start and messed it all up, as she was unsettled and it was a bit unfortunate really..She needed to run well to-day before going to the Nationals." In second place out of the field of 44 finishers was Olivia Olsher, from St Pauls School, who runs for Thames Valley Harriers  Three other TVH runners followed her in. She had  this to say " It was quite good today.I was in a group till the end really and pushed through at the end.' Roy Claridge coaches her. She is American, as her Father is from New York.but lives in England where she was born.. She said she had a good season but remarked " It is my first season ever at cross-country."'

    When Howard Williams was the Organiser/Administrator of the league it was good but in the case of Gavin Collett he has put it up a few notches more with his efficiency, supported by his very good team of Hillingdon's Martin Bateman of course looks after the Met League website too. (He was 70th of 362 seniors at the Scrubs.). Another thing is the ATW Met League Director James Shipley, must have felt bad to miss the Final event of the season

but can be forgiven because his wife was in labour!. Someone in Highgate's men's winning team  remarked after Saturday's events. "Only 275 days to the next Met League--That is the feeling all round with the 'Great success of the league which would be hard to beat anywhere in the UK.

 

Regards Alastair Aitken

FIXTURE 4 2013-14 SEASON, HORSENDEN HILL 11TH JANUARY 2014 REPORT BY ALISTAIR AITKEN:

NICK TORRY won the fourth of five league races over the glue like surface  

    This year, in particular, it has been hard to predict a winner in the high standard league race, where as  last year Neilson Hall won all his four Met League races comfortably, before going on to come third in the National so, it was a big surprise for me to see Hall bravely put his reputation on the line at Horsenden Hill, not having trained at near the intensity of last year, for one reason or another.

    At the start Mohammed Mohammed and Glen Watts hit the front. Mohammed was determined to try and get away early on but in the second lap Neilson Hall joined him and they ran together for a while with Nick Torry then 50 metres behind them. Shaun Dixon, Phil Wylie, who was about 12th early on, and Stasionis who also came through, were running near each other. At the start of the last lap of three  Torry took over the lead from Mohammed, who started to fade. Hall was caught by Stasionis, who was having his best season in the UK and Wylie, took Hall on the long last hill for third..

    Nick Torry said "I was  pleased with the result because it is tough and your foot suddenly sinks into the ground at times.It was perfect weather today at Perivale but muddy and tough. I have upped my mileage as I would like to do the Reading Half Marathon and try to qualify for the World Half Marathon in March plus make the Commonwealth marathon team after that."

  Nick Torry, is a chartered accountant in the City of London. He ran the fastest time for a UK runner over the marathon in the 2013 year with 2:15.08 at Frankfurt on October 27th, after coming second to Richard Goodman in the ATW Met League at Claybury. About his marathon he had this to say " I was very pleased. I think I could have gone a bit quicker if I had known it was going to be 2:15 with 600 to go. . I might have pushed it a little bit earlier. I went to the race quite relaxed as I had a huge PB at 10k and the marathon before that--Everything is going well so far. I felt comfortable most of the way through the marathon. I got a stitch between 39 and 41k that was uncomfortable but I had  just to keep running through it. It was a very good race. A good group in Frankfurt.  A couple of pacers. Phil Wicks and Dave Webb were there and a few Europeans."

     Thomas Stasionis who had easily his best ever Met League position at Perivale.

            "I remember there were two Highgate runners on the second lap with me and Neilson Hall, who started moving up a bit.'

    ' It was the last lap I caught Mohammed and Neilson Hall; at the beginning of the last hill. I was pushing hard on the hill but I did not expect to be as high as second but then, I am pleased with my training for the London.Recently I have been doing a few 2k reps or a mile or 1k fast at the end of my 5 mile or 8 mille runs but not too much, just add that little bit.'

     Phil Wylie " I found it a very fast start.  I had to keep my feet on the mud and it was heavy on the legs.  I was about 10th/11th in the early stages On the first hill, when it was a little bit drier, I moved to 7th/8th. There was then a group of three or four of us with the 2 leaders out ahead (Mohammed & Hall). Then I found my rhythm and the guy in front started drifting back. Neilson Hall was chasing all the time. I caught Mohammed half way into the third lap. I caught Neilson on the hill and realised I had got him on the downhill stretch before the finish.  

     Ben Pochee was the first vet over 40 again, for the umpteenth time and finished only two places behind James Stocking, the first Under 20 runner. 

     Highgate lead by over 300 points in the Men's league and should take the trophy after the final match, at Wormwood Scrubs on the 8th of February but the Women's league is closer between Highgate and Serpentine. Shaftesbury Barnet are favourites for the Junior trophy.

    Rachel Felton never looked like losing the Women's race, particularly as her biggest rival Lorna Russell was not running to push her. "it was nice to-day not to have very stiff opposition as I found running it was more fun and of cause the conditions underfoot are likely to be the same in the Southern at Parliament Hill."

     However a surprise result was Tracy Barlow, who only finished 18th on the course last year. Barlow came through from 7th in  the first lap to 2nd by the finish. Barlow is an Intensive Care Nurse at St Thomas's  Hospital which has really, at times mucked up her training but she is pleased that she has just been given a secondment, with more regular hours and no working at nights or in the weekends.

    In the younger age groups Charlotte Buckley, who  had won the three previous ATW Met league 'Under 13' races was doing the Knowl Run that day, which left the door open for her cblubmate Iona Pernthaller to have a good win, for the first time in the league. Another outstanding run was by Jamie Harper who led from start to finish to win his fourth of four Met League races but he declared " It was the hardest race of the four because it was really muddy and took your energy right at the beginning of it."

    Jamie Philpott (Under 15) son his first ATW Met league of the season in the Under 17's race, as a 15 year old.but I could remember the last time he won at the venue was in the younger age group Under 13' and a very young runner of 11 Jamie Harper had just started out and came second but now dominant in that group.

    Jamie Philpott " I went into the lead  half way round. It was really boggy but felt  quite good to-day. Jeff Veitch is my coach at Herts. & Phoenix, as he is for the second 15 year old in the race Beck Grover (5th overall).Jamie pointed out that Grover was an 800m runner (2.01.2 in the Summer) rather than a cross-country runner.

    Isabel Dye, coached by TVH coach Roy Claridge, won the Under 17 race quite easily but pointed out that Highgate's Georgia Fear was the very good runner in her age group. Isabel is doing her GCE's at Godolphin & Latimer School where she said that athletics was not the only sport she does. " I run twice a week with the club and do a race in the weekend but I also play hockey, netball and basketball at school and later in the Summer I play  tennis."

 

Regards Alastair

FIXTURE 3 2013-14 SEASON, ALLY PALLY, 21ST DECEMBER 2013 REPORT BY ALISTAIR AITKEN:

NORWEGIAN, AUDUN NORDVEIT (25) took individual and team victory for Highgate Harriers men, at Alexandra Palace Park.

Nordveit, who started working in London a couple of months ago, considered himself a track runner rather than a  cross-country runner, with Personal Bests' this year of 3:50.77/1500 at Oslo 3/6 and 14:09.97/5000, Belgium 13/7.

  AUDUN NORDVEIT " I came to London from Norway in August. This was my first cross-country in Britain. ' I did not know what to expect here so I just decided to go with the pack. I felt quite strong on the downhill's. I decided that on the second lap I wanted to attempt to run away and get the gap and it worked.. I just then tried  to run at a steady pace.'

    ' I have been running since I was 13 but I am a track runner. I am living in Marylebone and I am here working. I will stay here at least one year. I might try and get an extension. I really like it because in Norway in the Winter it is difficult to train as we have a lot of snow. Living next to Regents Park I decided to do a Park Run and I won it. The organiser suggested I should go to Highgate.'

          It was with 'Great trepidation that he decided to run on the slippery mud in the rain at Alexandra Palace.  However, that race produced many early front runners like Rory Chesser and last years' runner-up to Nielsen Hall, Glen Watts. It was at half way, moves were being made amongst the two leading groups and things radically changed when Auden Nordveit and Peter Huck hit the front. Nordveit appeared to have ' Great technical' ability on the descents which, eventually, enabled him to get away from Peter Huck with American Colin Leak and Shaun Dixon running together. Behind that. Nick Torry split those eventually to come in fourth. Dixon and Torry were well off the pace in the early stages but both came through well.

Shaftesbury's, Michael Callegari, who was 10th  was easily the first junior in the race and maybe will be remembered for winning the Met League 'Under 17' race over an equally muddy course at Alexandra Park. That was by half a minute in January 2011!  Highgate's Ben Pochee, who appears to really galvanise his team, was first over 40 and his clubmate Alex Davidson the first over 50 in the race.

The most surprising thing about the senior race was that, it was the largest field of 408 since the inauguration of the League in 1966 which, considering the weather and the proximity of the National holidays coming up was unusual and again a 'Feather in the Cap' for League administrator Gavin Collett..

    PETER HUCK (23), who was 2nd in the Men's race, won the senior Metropolitan League race back on the 20th of October 2011.

    " The guy that won was a lot stronger than me going downhill. I could not catch him. Then I had to pull him in and was with him up the hill but then,  he went away in the downhill again. I was happy with the run. I ran at Stevenage(Sixth) and that went OK.'

    ' I did my achilles in last December and it took me a long time to get back. I did not run all Summer. That is luckily behind me and not got trouble with that anymore'

    After he won the Met League last time in October 2012- " I went to the Bristol Cross Challenge and ran that one. From that I got picked to go to Spain for England then, I got injured out there and came back and I did not run after that till the end of the Summer, as it was a bad injury.

Another Newham & Essex Beagles man COLIN LEAK was third in the Senior race " It was good for me but it was muddy, slipping and sliding on muddy tracks, . That downhill was 'Nuts'  but despite that it was good. I was back a bit in the race and trying to work my way up, slowly getting up there. I was never at the front but that downhill ruined me as it did for a lot of people.'

    ' I have been here for a couple of months at University.  I got an athletics Scholarship to  East London University. In America  I ran for the College of  William and Mary (Virginia).."

    REBECKAH GARDINER  (23) ran to her first ATW Metropolitan League title but had to overhaul Becky Penty, who was outstanding over the course in 2010. Anyway, she did that when moving up the last hill. ' It was a pretty hard race for me but I felt quite strong going up the hill. It was quite hard coming down the hill as, you had to kind of steady yourself..'

    She added " Race training is all down to my coach George Harrison.'

'She had studied 'Nutrition' at Loughborough for a Masters and was then advised by Bill Foster. 

     Two of the most impressive results in the younger age groups were in the Under 13's where Charlotte Buckley won her third ATW Met League in a row. The important thing she said was ' I got a good start. Iona was behind me but she was from the same club (TVH).Roy and some teacher at school are my advisers." 

             Jamie Harper won the Boys' equivalent for the third time with a good Southern Inter-Counties win the previous weekend. His coach Jeremy Sothcott said he was pleased with Jaime's run at Alexandra Park. " It was a bit touch a go really. He had forgotten his spikes and Tony had to find a spare pair of spikes before so, he did not really have a warm up.(Bran new spikes ). He had a flu jab last night so he was not feeling too good. He was very pleased with that. His win in the inter-counties was excellent because there was a good field."

  TOM BUTLER of Barnet & District won the Under 17 race from Toby Clyde and first 'under 15' Terry Fawden. Butler " I have never won a Met League race before. I went into the lead round the field for the second lap. I am not that fast in terms of leg speed so I knew I would have to make the move'

    He is at Ashmole Academy school and. Coached by Ty Holden. He did 16.24.8 on the 11th of September for 5000, obtaining the Avadis & Co Prize for the top junior performance in the Highgate Harriers Open meeting '5k' at Parliament Hill Fields. ' My Dad Tim Butler used to be a good runner. he did about 47 minutes for 10 miles.'

    JADE DOS SANTOS (16) of Trent Park won the Under 17 women's race from first 'Under 15' Rosie Poole. " This is the first time I have come first in a Met League race.I was challenged by Rose Poole in the race and another girl at one time who overtook me but I re- overtook her. I was in the lead for the last 300 metres. I am at Southgate Secondary School and in my last year there. This would be one of my best results as the. Met League is one of the highest standard races.'

   

Regards Alastair Aitken 

FIXTURE 2 2013-14 SEASON, STEVENAGE, 9TH NOVEMBER 2013 REPORT BY ALISTAIR AITKEN:

FRANK BADDICK, known more as an 800/1500/3000 track runner with PB's of 1:49.71/3:42.22/ 8:06.56, whose best result in the Metropolitan League was fourth in December 2011 at Ruislip, was the surprise winner, over the Fairlands Valley Park course. (George Gandy is his lead coach).

    As the runners went through the first lap, at least 'One in ten' of the top fifty slipped at the corner in the top field, on the rain soacked top soil .That was mainly due to rounding a tight left turn on the banking, at the start of the last two laps but that did not spoil the race, which was on a great deal of fast grassland..

  The Inter-changing at the sharp end, for the vast majority of the race, was quite remarkable. After the first of three laps, Glenn Watts led Mohammed  Mohamed and Mohamed el-Jebari-el Majdoub. Alex Short and Frank Baddick were back in sixth and eighth place respectively at that time. Glenn Watts still led with a lap remaining with Short having moved up to second. Then Short  went ahead but it was in the woods, not long before the finish Baddick moved up behind Short and then outsprinted him in the final stage, as they came out of the woods. At that point Watts had fallen back and running with Shaun Dixon.  Watts came again to take third place. However Dixon's Highgate Harriers team, were going further ahead in the overall league points table.

FRANK BADDICK  "The course was fairly flat but it takes it out of you a little bit but .I have been doing a  fair bit of strength work. I am going to run indoors so, I wanted to be fairly strong so this is the first test."

    The popularity of the league, since it started in 1966, is not in doubt, when you consider at Stevenage there were record fields of 400 men and 165 women competing.

    It was interesting to note that Short, running for the Cambridge University 'Guests' was in the winning Varsity team last December and hopes to do well in the Cambridge v Oxford match in December. He fell last year at half way, while leading and broke his toe in the race but still managed fourth and Cambridge won the historic event.

  ALEX SHORT who is at Robinson College, Cambridge University. " To-day I felt pretty good and decided to take it out in the last lap. I wanted to start slowly. I usually get trapped into going off hard and I wanted to position myself in the top 15 and slowly work my way through. I was really strong during the last lap.I did not notice the guy in second storming up behind me.'

' The team at Cambridge is incredibly strong.It is a really good group to train with. It is also tough competition Oxford v Cambridge.'

    ' For me to run, it needs a lot of organisation to manage the work and the running. I am doing Natural Sciences-Biology/chemistry/physics, now they have made it all into one. It is really, interesting but time consuming. The running is a really good stress reliever. I have  a very full day so I run in the morning to try to get it out of the way--7-7.30 am.It is not too bad but every day it's 9 till 6, with lectures in that. I don't have time to run later in the day.'

 'I wanted to test myself today to see where I am at. I looked at the results of the league and thought it was good competition and competitive, and it was very competitive so, it was good to stretch the legs out."

    GLEN WATTS was in the lead on the first lap " I think I went out a bit to quick. Last week was Mansfield and I had a good run there to test my fitness. I could not quite go with it when the Cambridge guy took it on but felt alright. Shaun and I had a good battle in the last mile and a half.. When I was overtaken I did not lose too much ground on third and  Shaun and I worked together. I started to pull away and see what happened at the end.I was quite pleased with the race. I am not gong to do Liverpool.It is not my sort of course. I had a cold in the last Met League."

  I expect we will see Glen in the Met League at Alexandra Park as he was 2nd to Nielson Hall on the course last year!   

      Rachel Felton was more conservative in her approach than at Claybury in the first women's league senior race, when Lorna Russell won. At Stevenage Felton was 30 to 40 metres behind her, with a lap remaining. Felton was then challenged, several times in the final lap by Gemma Kersey. The two raced through the woods together and managed to catch Russell.

   Felton won by 12 seconds at the finish but Kersey was pleased with her own run and amazed at the high standard of the league itself.

    RACHEL FELTON " I thought I needed to go off steady. The other two slowed down quite a lot in the woods. I just stayed at the same pace.The girl who was second--We were working together to try to catch Lorna and we caught her in the woods and, she was obviously getting tired so I made the most of the situation.I had a couple of weeks off after the cold and did not do Mansfield and so, I thought, I would run out to-day to see whether I wanted to do Liverpool. I thought if I am not in shape I don't want to go up to Liverpool. I think I will do it and see how it goes."

    GEMMA KERSEY, coached by Eamonn Martin :- " I was pleased with the race. Do you know I did not realise  how good the competition was!  When you say a league you always assume it is going to be like club runners but it was a really good race. I went off quite hard. I was then in third place and kept my rhythm going. Me and the girl that won. I overtook her than she overtook me then, we overtook the leader. I then moved into second. There was good competition because there are the trials in two weeks'

 ' My coach Eamonn Martin is a brilliant coach.

He is quite old school. We do a lot of hills, tempo runs, and we have now got Adam Hickey."

    What she said about the Metropolitan League would be of inerest to the organsier and  administrator, Gavin Collett l! " It is a brilliant league. I heard it was a really good league.You know with a league you always assume it is just club runners but the quality of athletes you have got here. I'll come back and do another one."

  What are the events that stand out for her over the years so far?

" I went to the European 'Junior' Championships in 2011 and came sixteenth. I got a team gold medal. It was amazing being  on the podium. Being in the Olympic Trials Final was another memory and also doing a 4.13 1500 last year'

 '.It was a good work out to-day, just like it was in the National, as everyone goes off hard and that was what I needed to do and, just hang in there. It was good with the trials coming up in two weeks time.'

 ' I could tell the winner was good because, even when I dropped her she came back for more and then I would try to open the gap again and she went past me and I then tried going past her again. It was a really good race.

              21 now she has a good future

            " I really want to be a good senior. At the moment it is just like stepping stones."

        Regarding the ATW Metropolitan League last year the Women Team Champions were Serpentine RC. They are just three points ahead of Highgate at the moment but they tie on the joint points for the Howard Williams Trophy. Shaftesbury Barnet are heading the points for the Junior Howard Williams Trophy. 

    Two convincing winners in the younger age groups, for the second consecutive time, were Canaan Solomon, in the 'Under 15 and 17' race and Jamie Harper in the under 13's.

    Canaan Solomon is advised by John Stowe and by Richard Thurston, who takes his training sessions at Woodford on a Tuesday, Thursday and a Sunday.

His mileage?

       " I am not too sure. I do one big one in the week which is a 40 to 50 minute run. I do sessions which are hard.I run 4 or 5 days a week'.

    John Stowe comes in " Things have been going alright. This year we are looking to be high up at Liverpool and then the National and the South of England, right in the mix there, The English Schools and possibly get his international vest, as he was so unlucky to not get that last year.'

   It is good Canaan running against the older boys in the league

John " He needs this because last time he ran beat the Asgodom twins which was a good result. Every time he does these races he is going to get more experience,.as he is only an Under 15, so it is all good."

    Isabella Hoy won the Under 17 race for girls and she is only 15

        " I went into the lead in the forest at half way." She said. She goes to Wanstead High School and coached by Richard Thurston " He is a really good coach.He got me into this position today, as all the training paid off."

    Charlotte Buckley won the Under 13's race by two seconds ahead of Iona Perthaller with Cecily Turner of Highgate, the early leader third. When they went into the woods Buckley, who won the last league was stride for stride with Perthaller.

    Iona Panthaller is coached by her Father Jason Panthaller.

    He had this to say about his daughter " Last year they had got some really good under 15's at TVH.The girls who are under 15, the Weir sisters joined the club..When I saw Charlotte running for Thames Valley, I was training Iona myself and Charlotte won the London Youth Games last year and, I saw TVH was a good club to join. Iona joined and I think, once you start seeing good results and the club becomes successful, everyone tends to join.. I think there is a bit  of that going on. I have been coaching Iona since April 2011. 21/2  years. I think Iona is specially good on the roads. I think I will coach her for the Mini Marathon this year. She ran quite well up in Birmingham at Crofton Park. 13th overall and  under 15 minutes.To be under 15 minutes is good enough to be in the tip 10--She did 14.50 there so, I was pleased with that. I think she has  got more to come in training as well.'

  At such a young age. How did he keep her from not doing too much?

 " We take a kind of ' Listen to your body approach'  We  don't really have a schedule. We just try and do as much running as we can. If she is tired we will ease off and if she has got a knot in her legs then, we will really ease off a lot and just do a recovery jog for a couple of days and maybe a little harder the next day. I understand that is what a lot of the African runners do. They don't have a time table. If it is a bit sore, ease off.

A lot of our training is not at the track. It is doing 4k round the park but quite often and maybe a few track sessions."

    jamie Harper led all ther way to win his second consecutive Under 13 Boys race race

    Why did he like the Met League so much?

      " Because I win anyway. I like running in the races as it gives me experience" 

 

Regards Alastair

FIXTURE 1 2013-14 SEASON, CLAYBURY, 19TH OCTOBER 2013 REPORT BY ALISTAIR AITKEN:

SHAFTESBURY BARNET'S, RICHARD GOODMAN, returned to competition with great success in the ATW Met league senior race.    Goodman, who had only been back training for five months, after 4 stress fractures (Femur, both hips and shin) had so much time not running last year, that he was even more nervous about putting himself on the line than he was before running in the European Juniors back in 2011, or any other race for that matter.' This was a race to blow the cobwebs off !' He remarked.

        That would explain why the ' Power of 10' has no record of performances for him in 2012.

It is interesting to note that the other time he ran in a Met League was, when he won at Claybury on the 9th of October 2010 and, he went on to have a good season, particularly in the rest of that year.

    " I spent time in Kenya for a year' On and off'. I learnt about the way they train and I remember that, if ever I am out training and pushing it hard that, the Kenyans will be pushing 10 times harder. I always have that in the back of my head.''

    ' It did take me a long time to recover from my injuries. I liked this win and, enjoy being in that territory at the top as, I have had so much time off last year.  If I stay here at this level for the rest of my life, for the big competitions, I will be pleased with that.'

 The European Junior when he was second in 2010

  Richard is now 20 years old and said " That was my biggest medal to date. I wanted to win and to be called the best in Europe. I would say I was at the time but, the way I raced was not very good but I am just happy that I am back racing again now"

    Nick Torry, who had achieved PB's recently over 10k/half marathon, set a fast pace down the first hill and he led Richard Goodman through the first of three laps with Mohammed Mohammed a clear third at that point. On the second lap, going into the woods, Goodman overtook Torry with Mohammed third. The next runners were Phillip Wylie, running with Shaun Dixon, then came Glen Watts, Kevin Skinner, Nial Fleming and Thomas Stasionis. Goodman, who is at St Marys and now coached by Mick Woods, came home clear with Torry next and Wylie overtaking Mohammed, on the mud hill in the woods, just before the finish.

A new name, out of the impressive first ten runners, was Phil Wylie, who runs first claim for Bristol & West.

" I do duathlon (International for the UK for several years), Basically I want to race in a good standard cross-country league. Where Bristol are based it is not of a very good league standard. Ben Pochee said I could run second claim for Highgate. I knew of him and, want to run a s many Met leagues as I can. It is a very high standard, so hard. The speed at the start was incredible."

    Shaun Dixon " I was not disappointed with fifth to-day. It is early days and I have been improving with very race. At 200 metres I was about 20th. I blew up in the Southern relays, because I was not that fit. In the National road relay I ran my own race and had a more solid run. I never felt I was killing myself to-day and pretty composed. I did not want to come out of it absolutely shot. There area bigger battles in the next few months."

    Gavin Collett the administrator must be pleased with the number that finished 371 and, in 356 was an old rival of mine, Russell Devitt, who was running his 100th Met League on the day, which says something for the popularity of the league!

    Highgate Harriers, who won the last Senior Mens league season, for the first time in the long history of the event, are already in pole position again, as Woodford Green, who had won 13 times were only third.

   

In the Women's race Rachel Felton and Andrea Clement were together, ahead for the first short lap and Felton, suffering with a cold (She has a 2 year old baby and catches things off her quite often), looked good, powering along at the half distance. She had a 30 metre lead over Lorna Russell at that point, who won the first two league races last year. However, Russell knew how good Felton was on the hills and did not overtake her till coming off the last hill, sweeping into the woods. Russell said " I train at 5.30 in the morning because that is the only time I can with such a demanding job as Tax consultant IT', that I have just had promotion with. I like cross-country, as I grew up in the countryside where I lived so, I miss that. I had a good Summer as I got a PB's over 3k and 10k on the road. I am not a big fn of the track."

    Serpentine, like Highgate with the men, won last season and are top after the first league race at Claybury.

 

There were good performances in the younger age groups. Three of the winners led from start to finish, Canadian, Georgia Fear (Under 17's); Jamie Harper ( Under 13's) and 11 year old, Charlotte Buckley in the Under 13' girls.

Canaan Solomon, an Under 15, who was so good as a youngster, won the Under 17's race but, only in the very closing stages did he overtake Paulos Asgodom, an under 17 runner.. 

Various Comments:- Georgia Fear from South Hampstead High School, who won the Under 17/15 race splices up her sports by being a good figure skater which she feels gives her an nice change..

"They are Very different!' she said. She was doubled up after the finish, having had a stitch for the last half mile of the race.

    Jamie Harper, has had a very good season topping the 1500 rankings and running well recently in relays.

He is an Under 13 runner who won at Claybury but there was a time, when he was 11 and in the same age group and found it difficult to win." Running against the older boys in those days gave me more experience." His training " My coach Jeremy Sothcott is a great help. I train twice a week Tuesdays and Thursdays. Mostly do track work 500's to 1k's and sprint work"

 Charlotte Buckley of TVH, winner of Under 13 girls. "The road relays have gone well and we got better each weekend-4th in the National RR.'

    'I go to St Pauls School and run twice a week at the school"

Roy Claridge, her club coach " She was 10th fastest in the National road relays last Sunday and she is only 11. She is a natural and doing brilliantly well. I think she was 4th fastest in the Southern road relay and 10th fastest in he National RR. She does not train too hard. Twice a week at school that is all. Take it easier when you are younger or you have got nowhere to go! '

   Canaan Solomon 'Under 15' won the 15/17 group race " I love cross-country as much as track really. I am in year 10 at school and starting GCSE's at Mark Hall School in Harlow."

 

Best Wishes Alastair

FIXTURE 5 2012-13 SEASON, NORTHWOOD, 9TH FEBRUARY 2013 REPORT BY ALISTAIR AITKEN:

NEILSON HALL won his fourth consecutive league race over the mostly flat, Merchant Taylors School's course of fast going.

   Hall commented " The race was good training and nice to have money at the end of it" (£575 for the cumulative winning prize).He added "I will decide in the week whether to do the Southern or not as the National is only one week away from that. After the National I hope to use that money for a trip to America for some early season track races."

    In the race at Moor Park, Hall was leading at half way with Mohamud Aadan, who had come second in the British Universities Cross country' B' race the Saturday before in next place. Also running on his own in third place was Huw Lobb, having his best Met League of the season. He was overtaken by Glenn Watts and Ben Noad before coming into the final 300 straight. Ben Pochee of Highgate was the first veteran in all the league races and came in eleventh overall.

       Mohamud Aadan:-" It was tough on my calves. I had an injury to my ankle so was out for three months.I have only done 40 days training. I came second in the  British University Championship race last Saturday in Leeds. I will not be running the Southern but doing the British University Indoor Championships over 3k.I have done about 8:40 and would like to do around 8:20. I enjoyed my race in Moor Park chasing Nielson, who I have trained with."

        Glen Watts remarked he will not be doing the Southern, as he wants to do the 'National' and the races are too close together. Regarding Moor Park he said he just got away from Ben Noad in the straight after the hill (Ben had come through in the race.)

        Huw Lobb, had his best league position and was only overtaken for a minor placing quite late on. He ran 2:14 for a marathon back in 2005. He added " I was pleased but I don't know if I am running well or not!. I will do the Southern. He is currently a Management Consultant at Lloyd's in the Insurance market in Lime Street"

        Ben Noad, who was once an English Schools Champion and 2nd UK runner home in the World senior cross country, a few years ago, had not been training for the two weeks building up to the Final league race.

    " I was a little concerned but it all opened up on the second lap and a bit of experience came into play"

Highgate Harriers men won the Senior Men's Metropolitan League outright, finishing all their 12 in the first 42 places at Moor Park, where as rivals Woodford Green had their 12 within 87 of the 288 finishers. It was Highgate's first overall victory since the league began in 1966 but, one must not forget that Woodford have won the league 13 times since 1989 and that included the last four years when Terry McCarthy successfully managed their team..

    About Highgate's victory, remembering that two of the league races were won by Woodford and yet Highgate, were far from put off and Ben Noad explains about the clubs success " Team bonding all the way through. A laugh before and afterwards. After the first Met League when we finished second Ben Pochee sent out e-mails and stuff to generate team spirit."

    Rachel Felton of Shaftesbury Barnet, coached by Chris Frapwell, who advised Dan Robinson the International marathon runner, improved through the season in the league races and won well with Sarah Bird coming through on the second of the two laps to be runner up and American, Sue Rust, having her best position in the league in four seasons by coming third.

   Leslie Felton:- " My coach Chris Frapwell is from Stroud and has a good junior squad and I like to train with. 

I am on track at the moment for doing the track (She ran 4.13 or 1500 in 2007 and not much slower in 2008-9).' I had really set my sites on running a good Southern cross-country when it was first scheduled but now, I might as well run in the Southern with its new date"

    Sarah Bird:-" I felt good the whole of the first lap then I started to move through the field to second place. I won a 10 mile road race in Bury St Edmunds recently in 61 minutes and as I have run 3:04 for a marathon. I would like to aim for Sub-3 in the London."

.    Serpentine Running club not only won the team award but also for the 'Combined Men and Women's'

Howard Williams Trophy and Herts Phoenix took the Junior ' Howard Williams Trophy'

    Paulos Asgodom continued his good form, after winning the previous league at Horsendon Hill and Kyle Langford and Liam Cloona also looked good running round the flat fields.

    Under 15 Herts Champion, Ellie Baker, battled with first Under 17' Hannah Viner, before drawing clear on the only hill, just before the final run in.

` Ellie Baker:- " At the bottom of the field I really had to push it on to win (As Hannah was with her) and went away going down the hill." She added looking back " I won the Herts Championships but to me making the English Schools was the most important thing so far, even though I did not do particularly well in it. Just to make the Schools is good." She also said ' I like to train with my brother Jack who is about the same standard as me. That helps a lot."

    The Under 13 boys race a new name emerged. Tom Fulton, who is coached by George Harrison( I remember George was known as the 'Old Fox' in the days he was Highgate Harriers' best distance runner in the middle 1960's).

     Fulton was third in the London Schools at Parliament Hill fields on the Wednesday and fifth in the last Met league. He had to overtake John Fielding in the final stages to do it over the Merchant Taylor's course. Fielding was a previous winner of the league race at Stevenage last year. Fulton moved ahead coming down the hill and into the straight.

 Tom Fulton " After the start when John Fielding was ahead by 20 metres, I thought I might not be able to catch him because I was thinking he is good!." It was really from the last corner with the straight run in Tom realised he could win.

   Credit should go to the League Administrator Gavin Collett who managed to get a venue for this event, with only a couple of week's notice, as he was not allowed to run the event at Hillingdon's course at Ruislip!

Gavin Collett said before the final league race " Things went very well till this fixture which was quite chaotic with a change of venue. Hopefully everything is sorted'  (I thought it certainly was a wonderful day)..

 Gavin continued about the league which I considered a 'Great' feature in the athletics calendar for club athletics?

         ' It has been and what has made it is that, it is so competitive. Not only have we got a good product in terms of numbers, which have grown this year but it is more competitive at the sharp end. Whenever I get Athletics Weekly on the Thursday I tend to look at 50th place. Anyone can have a good run in the race but if you look the time gap from 1st to 50th you see how competitive our league is. That is in terms of the Birmingham League & Surrey League and we are right up there which is good." 

 

Regards Alastair

FIXTURE 3 2012-13 SEASON, ALEXANDRA PALACE 15TH DECEMBER 2012 REPORT BY ALISTAIR AITKEN:

NEILSON HALL led from start to finish in the Senior Men's race at Alexandra Park 

    The three lap race had a steep climb in it to be negotiated three times on a muddy surface so, it was not surprising to see Hall come in with his vest and shorts caked with mud.

    The race for the minor places was much more intense till about half way when a group of Glen Watts. Sean Dixon, Alex Cornwall and Ben Noad were together. It was on the last stiff climb Watts was drawing clear of his rivals but fell on the descent, cutting his leg but still managed to get up and quickly move back into second for the sprint to the finish. Kevin Skinner improved as the race went on to come in fifth ahead of Chris Smith sixth.

    Neilson Hall:-" The race was really good. I got selected to run for Great Britain on the 5th of January up in Edinburgh. This is perfect sort of practise for that. When you go up Arthurs Seat it is really tough. I wanted to run really hard from the start today. I felt really good despite having a bit of a cold for the last two weeks so, to try to finally get it out of my system.'

    'I will do a couple of weeks hard training, run in the Great Edinburgh Run. I hope to do Met Leagues but see how it fits in with the Southern and things. I am doing about 60 miles a week but at work it is tough at the moment as I am doing some really late nights. Rob Russell has been in London along with Matt from Bedford. I train with them when I can or otherwise it is on my own round Hyde Park in the tourist area!"

    Glen Watts, How had his Summer been, as he was an 8:43.08 steeplechaser in 2011?

"A bit disappointing because I had a really good Winter, fourth in the Southern at Brighton. Track did not really work out and I did not get any PB's. I am not going to put too much pressure on myself as I did chasing times and things but enjoy racing that is the main thing."

  Shaun Dixon:- ."Glen has came back to form a bit but I did not have my head in it today and, I did not run the hills at all so, I was still pleased I was third. Nielson destroyed everyone! You have got to try to get closer to people like that!"

    Woodford Green & Essex Ladies, who have comfortably topped the league for the last three years have a serious battle on their hands with Highgate Harriers, who narrowly lead the overall table. Highgate have never won outright in the history of the event that dates back to 1966.

    The Men's field was 392 which was a record number as was the women's event of 156. When watching the Men's race with her husband Brian Smith, Joyce Smith, a World Class athlete in her day and having won the first two London Marathons, is now an official at so many cross-Country races. As they were watching the men come through the end of the lap she said

"They could have a real problem with so many runners finishing!" To add to that it was amazing that the ATW Met League Administrator Gavin Collett got the results on the web at Midnight on the Saturday. There are countless races that you have to wait a day or two to get the full results!

     Rachel Felton, who was third at Stevenage in the last ATW Met League race, was the winner of the Women's race at Alexandra Park. Lorna Russell, who won the first two ATW Met Leagues was leading at half way by 40 metres but Felton was so strong on the last hill she overhauled her and came home clear. She declared

    " Where I live in the Cotswolds you have to go up and downhill a lot. In fact for my steady run I have to run up hill for the first 50 minutes. "That explains her performance somewhat at Alexandra Park where the hill has to be negotiated twice by the women. Rachel Felton also said " It was just on the last hill I went into the lead. I was third coming up to the first hill and caught Vicky Webster on that hill. It was on the last I caught Lorna going up."

      Other races this season for her? "I am not sure. The Southern and the 'National' I have done two Met Leagues. It is where they fit in because I have got a baby at home who is one year old. It depends whether Rich can look after her or, If he cycles and has got a bike race."

    In the younger age groups the Under 17 runner Perry Rowan, coached by Richard Thurston, led from the start and was followed in by first Under 15 runner Canaan Solomon the first Under 15 runner to finish again. Solomon said " Things have been going well running against the older group. I was 2nd in the race. I was overtaken in the race. I was then third instead of second but overtook (Ruben Vos) at the end."  Solomon said his Coaches John Stowe and Richard Thurston have been a great help.

    In the 'Under 17 Women's race Jessica Burgess won her second consecutive Met League. She thought "This was a harder race than last time. I went into the lead near the end". It was Isabella Hoy's third consecutive victory in the Under 13's ATW Met League.

    George Groom finished ahead of the last 'Under 13' Met League winner John Fielding. It was interesting to note that Groom won the Southern Inter-Counties Under 13 title at Claybury, the previous Saturday by two seconds from Thomas Kendrick, who had beaten Groom by one second to win the English Schools Cup Final at Bolton on the 1st of December.

    "I have a few good races in the small leagues. Chingford league .I did the Metropolitan before but something happened to me on the way out and I did not finish it ( At Claybury he was leading when he fell over and did not finish. He had to play rugby in the morning on his birthday and was kicked, so he has stopped rugby now in favour of his athletics.).

             Stephen Murphy the Shaftesbury Barnet runner is his coach at school. George Groom said " The good thing is you have faith in him because he has been through what you have been through. He has run for England. He is good to talk to. Very enthusiastic about the training. Every week we will go out to Burnham Park, right next to the school (St Columbus).Our school came 3rd last year and 8th this year in the country. A really good thing."

    His sister Mia, who is only 11 but runs as an Under 13 (technically in the under 11's but old enough to do the Under 13's . Two more years left in the age group).Mia Groom came 12th of 35 in the Under 13's race.

George said "I started running a year and a half ago."

 

Regards Alastair 

FIXTURE 4 2012-13 SEASON, HORSENDEN HILL 12TH JANUARY 2013 REPORT BY ALISTAIR AITKEN:

NEILSON HALL won his third Metropolitan League race of the season at Horsenden Hill with his red vest  and shorts caked with mud, like at Ally Pally and, after squelching through marshy ground and along the mud paths of Horsenden Hill Park.

    Afterwards he said " It was a lot muddier underfoot than at the Edinburgh International last weekend but a good course to prepare for Parliament Hill."

He added ' Despite a couple of problems in the weeks leading up to the event I was pleased to be in the scoring team in Edinburgh as, it was a fantastic experience running with World class runners. He also concluded " My next races will be the Southern, Metropolitan League and National Cross-Country."

    Although Neilson Hall won conclusively in the league races at Stevenage and Alexandra Palace, his nearest rival at Perivale was Shaun Dixon, who had run a personal best road 10k in 30.45 recently on a hard course. He was never far away from challenging Hall. Shaun Dixon pointed out " I did not quite have the pace to bridge the gap, running on my own. I am pleased with the way things are going and probably in the best form of my life."

    In the early stages of the race Hall had gone off hard to lead with Glen Watts and Shaun Dixon next running together ahead of Don Leitch, who only took up running as a single sport last year.

    Leitch said " Today I went off a bit quickly and died a death later but I only really started running last year, after being a mountain bike racer and, a triathlete full time for a year and a half but I decided to stop all that..I thought I have not got time for this! I'll do some just running. I used to run as a kid so I thought I would give it another whirl.. I ran 2:26 in the last London and hope to run inside 2:20 this April. I had been putting in the miles with my coach Nick Anderson. Something I was not used to and I am getting a feeling of getting faster and stronger."

      Going back to the race it was In the final third lap, coming up the muddy last climb Hall was safe enough with Dixon running on his own 30 metres behind, then came a gap to Glen Watts who was having to muster everything to eventually outpace Darren Deed for third spot. Watts is coached by 80 year old, George Harrison, who had success with many internationals over the years and once was Highgate Harriers top distance runner in the 1960's but has been allied, as a coach at Shaftesbury in recent years and St Albans School.

    Watts said ' I had time to chat with Shaun as we were running together early on. I just managed to hold off Darren Deed in the last lap. I had an illness at Christmas and spent four days in bed. I am better now and have lots of races coming up. Today you had to try to keep upright in the mud and enjoy it!"

    Considering the quality of the race up front it was somewhat surprising Highgate Harriers got all their twelve scorers in 38 out of 350 and, it will be an interesting final feature of the league when Woodford, the winners in the last three years and Highgate Harriers fight it out in the final match of the season at Ruislip on the 9th of February. Having run in the first Met League in 1966 and thinking back now about the subsequent years. I really would be surprised to think any club has had all their 12 in by 39th place before!

    However, the Highgate Harriers women, who have won the league seven times in the last eight years really have a mountain to climb to have a chance of taking the title, even though they won at Horsenden Hill. They are fourth overall in the table behind leaders Serpentine RC.

    The combined result for Men and Women for the Howard Williams Trophies' meant the seniors at the moment are led by Serpentine RC and the Juniors by Herts Phoenix.

   In the Women's race Shaftesbury's, Rachel Felton, the Gloucestershire cross-country Champion led at half way from Kent winner Elaine Murty, Lorna Russell, who won the first two Met Leagues and Becky Penty and that was the order at the finish.

  Felton:-  "I worked harder to win the Gloucestershire title race with Kate Goodhead who was second. She was with me for the first lap till I pulled away but it was still hard going to-day because it was so muddy. Coming down the little hill before the big hill, on the first lap I picked up the pace a bit and went into the lead. I felt quite comfortable as they did not go with me. I run better like that and relax a bit more" 

    Elaine Murty, who went into second at the end of the first lap said " I am not very good in the mud. Regarding my Kent victory. I had always wanted to win that title but it never seemed to happen. My training has been going really well this Winter. I am 25 and it is just about time it went well.' She added ' I did not start running till I was 16 and I kept getting injured since then.'

' I have been putting in the miles lately and coached by Ben Noad. I have been running first claim for Blackheath but although it is a nice club I found I would just turn up run and then go home. They have not got the team mentality. Blackheath don't always get the cross-country teams out." Like Shaun Dixon she is coached by Ben Noad. They both have benefited greatly by that because Ben, who has come 43rd in the World cross country a few years back and raced track in America has the mental equipment to really help them.

    It was noteworthy that two Under 15 girls Isabel Dye and Madeline Turner of TVH came home ahead of all the Under 17's in the combined age race.  Isabel Dye " I have done two Met Leagues but the race I felt was a good one was coming 10th in Southern Inter-Counties. I had to stop running last year at one stage (May to October) but I then started again at the beginning of the cross country season. Roy Claridge has been a help as a coach at TVH "   

    Paulos Asgodom (16), second in the under 15 National at Parliament Hill last year, now an Under 17' went into the lead in the Under 17 Men's race after five minutes of running and pointed out

        "This race was really important to me. I needed to prove a lot of things. I did not race well in the last three months so today was a great day. I had flue in the 'Challenge'. Paulo came from Eritrea four years ago but did no running in Eritrea and is at Woodside High School. He added  ' My aim will be the English Schools cross country and to try and get an English vest would be great so, that is what I am trying to do."

    Jamie Harper, who won the first Met League Under 13 race at Claybury was a winner again at Horseneden  Hill.

    12 year old Harper said " I went into the lead in the beginning. I am at Haberdashers school and I train at Copthall Stadium on a Tuesday and Thursday and often race on the Saturday."

    Looking back he thought one of his best results was in November in the North West London League when he was quite a close second to George Groom at the Bannister Stadium, Harrow.

    TVH lead the Under 13 girls table, which was helped by having India Weir and Iona Pernthaller finishing first and second at Horsenden Hill. Weir (15 on January the 3rd) said  "I went a bit ahead at the beginning. I was 2nd last time in the Met League. I won the Middlesex but I am also interested in playing netball and hockey at the Godolphin Latimer School,"

 

 

Regards Alastair 

FIXTURE 3 2012-13 SEASON, ALEXANDRA PALACE 15TH DECEMBER 2012 REPORT BY ALISTAIR AITKEN:

NEILSON HALL led from start to finish in the Senior Men's race at Alexandra Park 

    The three lap race had a steep climb in it to be negotiated three times on a muddy surface so, it was not surprising to see Hall come in with his vest and shorts caked with mud.

    The race for the minor places was much more intense till about half way when a group of Glen Watts. Sean Dixon, Alex Cornwall and Ben Noad were together. It was on the last stiff climb Watts was drawing clear of his rivals but fell on the descent, cutting his leg but still managed to get up and quickly move back into second for the sprint to the finish. Kevin Skinner improved as the race went on to come in fifth ahead of Chris Smith sixth.

    Neilson Hall:-" The race was really good. I got selected to run for Great Britain on the 5th of January up in Edinburgh. This is perfect sort of practise for that. When you go up Arthurs Seat it is really tough. I wanted to run really hard from the start today. I felt really good despite having a bit of a cold for the last two weeks so, to try to finally get it out of my system.'

    'I will do a couple of weeks hard training, run in the Great Edinburgh Run. I hope to do Met Leagues but see how it fits in with the Southern and things. I am doing about 60 miles a week but at work it is tough at the moment as I am doing some really late nights. Rob Russell has been in London along with Matt from Bedford. I train with them when I can or otherwise it is on my own round Hyde Park in the tourist area!"

    Glen Watts, How had his Summer been, as he was an 8:43.08 steeplechaser in 2011?

"A bit disappointing because I had a really good Winter, fourth in the Southern at Brighton. Track did not really work out and I did not get any PB's. I am not going to put too much pressure on myself as I did chasing times and things but enjoy racing that is the main thing."

  Shaun Dixon:- ."Glen has came back to form a bit but I did not have my head in it today and, I did not run the hills at all so, I was still pleased I was third. Nielson destroyed everyone! You have got to try to get closer to people like that!"

    Woodford Green & Essex Ladies, who have comfortably topped the league for the last three years have a serious battle on their hands with Highgate Harriers, who narrowly lead the overall table. Highgate have never won outright in the history of the event that dates back to 1966.

    The Men's field was 392 which was a record number as was the women's event of 156. When watching the Men's race with her husband Brian Smith, Joyce Smith, a World Class athlete in her day and having won the first two London Marathons, is now an official at so many cross-Country races. As they were watching the men come through the end of the lap she said

"They could have a real problem with so many runners finishing!" To add to that it was amazing that the ATW Met League Administrator Gavin Collett got the results on the web at Midnight on the Saturday. There are countless races that you have to wait a day or two to get the full results!

     Rachel Felton, who was third at Stevenage in the last ATW Met League race, was the winner of the Women's race at Alexandra Park. Lorna Russell, who won the first two ATW Met Leagues was leading at half way by 40 metres but Felton was so strong on the last hill she overhauled her and came home clear. She declared

    " Where I live in the Cotswolds you have to go up and downhill a lot. In fact for my steady run I have to run up hill for the first 50 minutes. "That explains her performance somewhat at Alexandra Park where the hill has to be negotiated twice by the women. Rachel Felton also said " It was just on the last hill I went into the lead. I was third coming up to the first hill and caught Vicky Webster on that hill. It was on the last I caught Lorna going up."

      Other races this season for her? "I am not sure. The Southern and the 'National' I have done two Met Leagues. It is where they fit in because I have got a baby at home who is one year old. It depends whether Rich can look after her or, If he cycles and has got a bike race."

    In the younger age groups the Under 17 runner Perry Rowan, coached by Richard Thurston, led from the start and was followed in by first Under 15 runner Canaan Solomon the first Under 15 runner to finish again. Solomon said " Things have been going well running against the older group. I was 2nd in the race. I was overtaken in the race. I was then third instead of second but overtook (Ruben Vos) at the end."  Solomon said his Coaches John Stowe and Richard Thurston have been a great help.

    In the 'Under 17 Women's race Jessica Burgess won her second consecutive Met League. She thought "This was a harder race than last time. I went into the lead near the end". It was Isabella Hoy's third consecutive victory in the Under 13's ATW Met League.

    George Groom finished ahead of the last 'Under 13' Met League winner John Fielding. It was interesting to note that Groom won the Southern Inter-Counties Under 13 title at Claybury, the previous Saturday by two seconds from Thomas Kendrick, who had beaten Groom by one second to win the English Schools Cup Final at Bolton on the 1st of December.

    "I have a few good races in the small leagues. Chingford league .I did the Metropolitan before but something happened to me on the way out and I did not finish it ( At Claybury he was leading when he fell over and did not finish. He had to play rugby in the morning on his birthday and was kicked, so he has stopped rugby now in favour of his athletics.).

             Stephen Murphy the Shaftesbury Barnet runner is his coach at school. George Groom said " The good thing is you have faith in him because he has been through what you have been through. He has run for England. He is good to talk to. Very enthusiastic about the training. Every week we will go out to Burnham Park, right next to the school (St Columbus).Our school came 3rd last year and 8th this year in the country. A really good thing."

    His sister Mia, who is only 11 but runs as an Under 13 (technically in the under 11's but old enough to do the Under 13's . Two more years left in the age group).Mia Groom came 12th of 35 in the Under 13's race.

George said "I started running a year and a half ago."

 

Regards Alastair 

Mike Barratt RIP:

Mike Barratt

The ATW Metropolitan League have learnt this morning that Mike Barratt of Ealing, Southall & Middlesex AC collapsed and died yesterday less than a month after his eightieth birthday.

Mike has been a magnificent servant to ESM and, indeed, the Metropolitan League, having finished second in the first ever race in 1966. He has represented ESM as their contact since then and was, indeed, in attendance as their men’s team manager at the fixture at Stevenage last Saturday.

He won the veteran race a record 31 times.

Gavin Collett: “In my opinion, there was no finer example of a cross country enthusiast”.

Below is a recent article by Alastair Aitken on Mike.

Mike Barratt
The ‘Evergreen’ Running Legend

by Alastair Aitken

Mike Barratt was born in Fulham on 27th of October 1932

He joined Ealing Harriers, now called Ealing, Southall & Middlesex, in 1948, which he is now Chairman of, Cross Country Captain and Manager of the teams on race days. He is currently the President of the North London CC Association.
Despite having to give up racing as a 60 year old, because of heart trouble, his vitality as a 77 year old is unquestioned and the vast majority in retirement would be hard pressed to fill their days as he does. He is General Manager and factotum of Byfleet Tennis Club that has 800 members. He is there once or twice a day and few would know that, as a 48 year old, he was in Byfleet Tennis clubs’ team that won the National Doubles Championships which was played at the famous All England Wimbledon courts. Fred Bell, who coached his son Peter Barratt at Woking, is the part-time groundsman at the Byfleet club. Barratt is a keen table tennis player and on the Surrey Committee as vice Chairman and runs the local league. He also works on his allotment that came with the house.
It would be hard to tapestry his complete running career as, it would leave people exhausted just reading about it.
One of the things he achieved was having a phenomenal ‘National’ cross-country record. He ran the ‘National’ 39 times. His highest position in the junior race was 5th and he finished inside the first 30 in the Senior championships  seven times. His first senior ‘National’ was in 1955 and his final one in 1998. What then did he feel his best results were?
” Winning the Southern Junior Cross country Championships and I obtained a third as well. My best senior Southern was at Parliament Hill in 1955. Gordon Pirie won the race from Ken Norris and Hugh Foord but behind me were Frank Sando, Mike Maynard, Peter Driver and the whole lot! I had never run 9 miles in my life before not even in training, it was an amazing run for me.
‘I loved road relays and we had a good team at Ealing. For two years we won the TVH road relay, out of about 70 teams and, I won it both times on the last leg.’
A friend of his that he had great respect for was Ken Norris, who he finished second to six times in the Middlesex cross country Senior Championships.
Although he did beat Ken at least a couple of times, he pointed out that Ken had tremendous track and road times.
Another international he respected was Frank Sando who he considered very modest. In fact Barratt and Sando ran for the AAA’s against Oxford & Cambridge over 2 miles and beat Chris Brasher, who went on a few months later to win the Olympic Steeplechase gold medal.
‘I guess the most important trophy to me must be the one that came as the greatest surprise. The Middlesex County Board presented me with a trophy, quite out of the blue, in recognition of my having run for them for so many years, 21 in fact in succession at the time’
A race Mike Barratt featured in a lot was the North of Thames Championships. He won the Junior Under 20 in 1953 but the whole field went off course before he won it. The event took even longer than the senior race for one reason or another. It was at Welwyn Garden City and Alan Perkins won the senior race. Mike Barratt went on to win the senior race himself in 1955.
Another race he had a prolific record in was the Liddiard Trophy cross country race
‘ In 1960 Queens Park Harriers invited me to their annual dinner and presented me with this beautiful silver salver with all my Liddiard performances engraved on it, and I consider it a truly magnanimous gesture on their part. I  think I had come  third in the race after winning several times and they must have t thought I was unlikely to win again but I still managed to win it for the next four years, but that doesn’t t detract from the gesture in any way. Such a lovely club.”
Mike Barratt’s times as a non-vet were good 800: 1.57.0, One mile 4.10.6, 2 miles 8.53.4, 3 miles 13.39.2, 6 miles 28.40.00 and 10 miles 49.48.00.
As a ‘Master Veteran Athlete’ he won three gold medals in the European M45 Championships at Vierregio in 1978. 5000 in 15.19.60/ 10,000 31:55.58/ and 3000 steeplechase 10.04.50. As an M50 he won the Southern and British Vets cross country Championships. The latter at Cambridge.
Mike looks back at his training when he was running well ” I did not rest or anything like that. To me Saturday was race day in the Winter come what may. I ran 35 miles a week. Short sharp 4 or 5 mile runs and then go out and play table  tennis or maybe a tennis match. Funnily enough I did my mileage after I was a veteran with John Doggett who lived down the road. He wanted to do longer runs. I went along with him and did them steady. I got up top 50-55 miles a week. Most of my career I was doing 35 to 40 miles a week-It was in my late 30′s when I was running well and did my best times. I did a little bit more when I ran with John. Before that in the track season we did too much interval work, not enough endurance. Doing 12×440 and hammering them. I did not rest properly and I think that was why some of my track times were not as they ought to be. I did a lot of fast track work. I must have had natural endurance. You are born with it I suppose!”
‘At 30 I was told by the Doctors I should stop running I had had a good run as I was 30′  Yet he went on and raced for another 30 years!’

When Mike Barratt was 30 he went to the doctor and saw a specialist and, was diagnosed with arthritis in his toes and that he should never run again. When he was 45 he said to me “If ran on the road my feet played up the next day but I had come to accept that and it did not bother me as much as it did. It had been a nagging pain like a toothache but I suppose, like everything else one learned to compromise and my  toes did not seem as tender as they used to be but I had to buy a size larger in spikes because of the fact my toes were so stiff but if there was any mud my shoes came off”  Despite the pain and problems with is feet and trying to run, in a certain way on the sides of his feet to compensate, he carried on until he had to eventually retire from competition at 60.
Mike Barratt went to Latymer School, where a rival of his international Tim Briault was educated, before going on to Cambridge University also Hugh Jones the marathon runner was later  at that school. Mike Barratt did his National Service in he Army and at that time was playing football for Brentham but, as he was getting knocked about a bit, he decided to enter an Inter-club race and thought, if he won that he would give up football and concentrate more on his athletics. He duly won the race. In his second season he was second in the Middlesex juniors. His job over the years was in Transfer Printing before he retired at 65. His wife Pam was also interested in sport and, even at 50, she was playing good class  netball and his sons competed in the middle part of his long career. In fact Peter Barratt got international vests as a steeplechaser and his other son Tony was the Ealing club record holder for the 800 with a time of 1.51 and competed for Wales. Both have good jobs connected with athletics in some way. Mike Barratt’s oldest is Jane and she was a good runner at school and a tennis coach after that.
It is noticeable that without the unpaid officials, club athletics would not really exist as, the administrators who have the money, are far removed from the situation. Take Howard Williams the first man to start the Metropolitan league 43 years ago. He has been an unpaid official at every single meeting (5 in the year) since 1966 bar two.One of those was when he collapsed another when he was in a serious crash.
Mike Barratt is passionate about the amazing work unpaid officials do ” That is one thing my club Ealing Southall & Middx have got and they are so dedicated. We are missing Ron Jewkes from our club who died on January the 28th. He had 70 years of officiating.Over quite a few years Janet Bensley came up from Marlborough to take him to various meetings to start races with his pistol. He was always in great demand, right up to when he died at 92. There are others over 70′ like many of the Middlesex officials like Ted Whitehead. Ron Hopcroft is 90 from TVH. Nobody is getting any younger. Ann Livings and tony Randall are others. Another, Charlie Williams the M75 world sprint Champion, is yet another person who stands out in the field in all weathers and sweeps up at the clubhouse afterwards.His wife Evelyn makes the teas. They are all unpaid officials. What will happen when they all go. It is all the old people doing it it’s amazing really” .

Alastair Aitken

 

Our thoughts go out to Mike’s family and ESM AC at this sad time.

FIXTURE 2 2012-13 SEASON, STEVENAGE 10TH NOVEMBER 2012 REPORT BY ALISTAIR AITKEN:

NEILSON HALL was quick to take the lead and never faltered to win the second Active Training World Metropolitan League.  However at Stevenage afterwards he said " I had three to four weeks off having injured myself quite badly after the Bristol Half-marathon and went on holiday. I did not know I was fit enough! '

As he was on track again he was not sure if he would do the European trial or not." I will get the training consistency in now" He added " You could put a hard training session in but doing the league race is better because you never can run as hard in a training session than in the race itself.". Nielson, is Head of a Digital Media Co, which is like a Media Communications Agency "That keeps me really busy. I go to a lot of events but manage to train lunch times round Regents Park." Shaun Dixon who was third, after having to sprint for the line with Paul Martelletti remarked " I have only been dong the league race for a few years but there was more quality in this one than I have experienced before." That is not likely to change for sometime because of the money prizes for the first seven when the league season ends!. The field which was well over the 300 mark again but, the big surprise was for Highgate Harriers to win on the day, Something they have not done since the middle 1990's when it was run on their home ground of Parliament Hill Fields. Even more remarkable was they topped the league ahead of Woodford Green & Essex Ladies, who have won overall for the last four years. To be an outright leader of the league is something Highgate Harriers men have not achieved in the last 30 years or more! The race for second individual place was in doubt till Niall Fleming ran a strong third and last lap to come away from Shaun Dixon, Matt Gunby and Paul Martelletti. Dixon looked a safe bet for third but then had to hold off Martelletti's dash for the line.  Running 50 metres behind Nielsen Hall, coming out of the woods with one lap to go was  NIALL FLEMING:- "The leaders went off fast so I came out of the first lap out of three in about sixth place. I went into the woods quite comfortably on the second lap so I could have a strong last lap. Nielson Hall had gone.  Shaun and I were then at the front of the pack, as we entered the last lap. I then thought I would  put my foot down a little bit and then coming out of the woods on the last lap I felt myself have a little bit of a gap; I felt good so I may as well try and work to get away from them and carried on working hard."

        SHAUN DIXON " I made a mistake on the second lap when I tried to pick it up and get a clear second. I over cooked it and Niall was strong coming into the third lap- Got a gap. I then decided to sit in with them which included Mat Gunby and Martelletti and went for it in the last 400, which I did and then, I suddenly had a bit of a battle with Paul, after coasting into the finish, that gave me a bit of a fright'.

   'All I am lacking is a bit of  cross-country race sharpness having been running on the road. I ran 66 minute at Bristol. All going in the right direction. I  don't think I have ever seen  that competitive field at the front of a Met League before." After the race I talked to the fourth man PAUL MARTELLETTI, a software developer " I can' t complain. It  was 'Great ' at the end there but, as marathon runner I am not renowned for sprint finishes. I came from further back, 15th early on' He added " This year I did a PB on the track of 29.55 for 10k but went the wrong way in the Bristol half marathon and got disqualified when I was on for 65 minutes PB. The 50K World Championships, did not go quite to plan, as I was hoping to come out on top but I was third but I seem to have recovered from that pretty well "  It was interesting to see four good juniors finishing in the first fourteen, three of those in the first seven home and it was Ben Pochee's fifth consecutive league win in the veteran category. It was a shame then his clubmate Ben Noad who finished 11th, came in limping from a bout of cramp..

    Liam and Jamie Dee, dominated the under 17' and 15' combined race. Jaimie said 'The aim is to go out there and feel good' . Not only his Father Billy Dee, had been a good runner and second to Eamonn Martin in the 'National' of 1992 plus running 3:41.9 for 1500 but his Mother Nicky Morris was 2nd in the European Indoor 3000 in 1989 and ran 8:53.2 in the World Indoor Championships. It was also worth noting their youngest son Elliott Dee came fifth in the 'Under 13' race at Stevenage.

    In the 'Under 17 and 15' combined race in third place, following his third at Claybury was Perry Rowan (16 next weekend) which was another good performance for him, against two outstanding youngsters ahead of him. Coached by Richard Thurston, he goes to Burnt Mill School, Harlow. In that combined '15-17' race and second in his first year as an Under 15' was Canan Solomon, getting some very valuable  experience running against talented older boys and his coach John Stowe has high hopes for him and thinks he could even win the English Schools Cross-country and get his first international vest.

    There was a repeat victory for LORNA RUSSELL  in the ladies race. It was half way through the second of two laps that she took over the lead from Vicky Webster and the early leader Rachel Felton was then in a solid third position. Both Rachel and Vicky considered it a very hard race for them and they certainly looked as though they had fought hard, as did the third person Rachel Felton (33), who had been in the lead for a lot of the first lap. RACHEL FULTON who has an 11 months old baby girl." I have had a cold this week but you pick up these things from your baby so easily. I thought as I am here I might as well race."

  Looking back " Since I was younger I have had some injuries. Some years ago I made the European Under 23 because, at the time I was picked from my good running in the States" She pointed out the most  important thing for her in athletics was the satisfaction she got in the sport " Enjoyment over the years really!" Highgate Harriers, who won the Senior Women's league for 7 of the last 8 years look like having their work cut out this time, as the points for the leaders Serpentine RC are 436 and Highgate are fourth in the table with 307.

  Jessica Burgess, a Brentwood School girl, went into the lead in the Under 17 race, as they entered the woods and was never headed again." Her coach, like with Isabella Hoy is Richard Thurston.

  In the Under 15's there was another good win after Claybury for Isabella Hoy. She Looked very relaxed leading all the way.

    " In the Under 13 boys race Ealing's John Fielding made a late bid for victory with 150 out and went from third to first, after coming out of the woods and down the hill to the finish in the park." Fielding, who is 12, is at Durston House School. He said " I only started getting good at running six months ago because I lost a lot of weight." About the race at Fairlands Valley Park he said " I was 8th at Claybury but I was running in flats where as today I wore spikes."

    The Combined scores for women and men for the  Howard Williams Senior Trophy is close with Serpentine ahead with 58 points with Highgate and Woodford on 37 with Shaftesbury Barnet on 36 and in the Junior 'Howard Williams Trophy' Herts. Phoenix and Woodford are joint leaders, bearing in mind last year Herts. were well clear.

 

Photo gallery from Stevenage here

Best Wishes Alastair Aitken

FIXTURE 1 2012-13 SEASON, CLAYBURY 20TH OCTOBER 2012 REPORT BY ALISTAIR AITKEN:

It is amazing to think when I ran the first ever Metropolitan league ever in 1966 for Highgate and finishing in the first half of the field near Hillingdon's Gerry Archer & Terry Driscoll of Highgate, the fields were barely half the size, with no women's race. It says something for the man who recently took over the Metropolitan League from Howard Williams, Gavin Collett and his work on the league and the way Gavin brings out the results so quickly.

    Woodford Green with Essex Ladies set out to win their fifth successive Metropolitan league over the very undulating course at Claybury but were surprised by Highgate Harriers getting so close on Woodford's home patch 1161 to 1107 but Woodford top the table for the Howard Williams Trophy with Serpentine RC in second position. For the Junior Trophy Herts Phoenix already have made their stand in first place, followed by Woodford and Shaftesbury Barnet.

    Peter Huck, 22, who was coached by Pat Miller at Barrow, won the senior race for Newham & Essex Beagles. Huck who came to London to work in September, was in the leading large group headed by Matt Gunby after a mile completed. Mohammed Mohammed, the Somali London Olympic 1500 runner, had a stab at leading but was very closely followed by Huck, Jake Shelley and Niall Fleming. Huck took off with 2k remaining but Shelley and Fleming had to hold off the challenge of Ben Noad, who had run steadily throughout. Ben Pochee, an M40 veteran for the last couple of years, was a high placed eighth in the field and the oldest runner 77 year old John Steed was 318 of the 337 finishers. PETER HUCK “It was my first cross-country race of the season at Claybury. In September. I joined Newham & Essex Beagles 2nd claim. I have been training in the group there.' ‘Since I started work in London with Mace Construction Group things have been going well. I normally train once a day but have been training recently in the mornings and evenings'  About his highlight he said "That was achieving an England cross-country Vest for the Home International last year at cross-country which gave me more belief in myself, despite the fact I had a cold which affected my performance on the day." Manager for the Newham team Bob Smith “Since he has moved down to London he has managed the transition--That is always difficult, where does one train! He has come through that."

    JAKE SHELLEY “In the race I got out quite hard to get through the narrow bit. Matt Gunby led for quite a long time. Mohammed Mohammed upped the pace so five of us got away. I had a bad patch on the third lap but got going again but Huck had got clear.' ‘I was pleased with my PB's in the Summer 3:46 for 1500, 8:14 for 3k and 14.27 for 5k."

    NIALL FLEMING  " I am not as fit as I would like to be but getting back with each training session--5 weeks for the chance of making the Under 23 team so, quite pleased with to-day"

   

The Women's race was a 'Ding-Dong' battle most of the way. Just a lap remained when German, Caterina Granz, was leading Vicky Webster and Lorna Russell. It was on the flat part with half a lap to do Russell moved ahead.

    LORNA RUSSELL (22) “I had time off last season so it was my first race. I had to get used to the job that started for me last year. A big adjustment trying to get used to the job as an analyst in finance so, I t hen trained at quarter to six in the morning 8 or 9 miles a day. I do a track session with Nick Anderson at Haringey."

    VICKY WEBSTER " The lead kept changing' Regarding the year “I have not had a massively good season for me because I increased my training from 3 to 5 days a week with a long run in it. At 28, I am trying to get back to the form I had when I was an 'Under 20 runner' for Great Britain"

    Becky Penty, who often won the Met League races in the last couple of years had been injured all summer and only started being able to train again during the previous half a dozen weeks. She came a creditable 14th.

In 37th position out of the 147 finishers was 28 year old MARILYN OKORO the outstanding two lap runner "It's my first cross-country for 12 years.!." Although an 800 runner she looks towards the 1500 in the future “I have not really done the work for 1500 as the training has been speed based so, it’s about building an endurance base now. I have not really done the work for 1500. Cross-country I am enjoying' ‘If I am prepared I think I have got a good 1500 in me.' Her favourite time she commented on "Definitely qualifying for Beijing. That was a fantastic year. For the last couple of years I was running a strong 800 and it was all coming together-Running under 2 minutes consistently" She then said "Then it did not quite work out with injuries and things like that. It is actually about what you do managing those injuries and what prevents them so, it is getting me strong doing the endurance work. Cross country is not my domain but it is enjoyable being here with all the girls."

    In the Under 13 Boys race, the winner James Harper, who so often finished behind older boys in the league last year but, as an Under 13, he has even got another year in the group. He won his first Met League outright. He is in his first year at Haberdashers School, Elstree (A famous runner who went there was Julian Goater). He said about the race " I went into the lead going down the hill' and added  ' I have had a good season with PB's 800 2:22/800 and 4.55/1500"

    ISABELLA HOY, who goes to Wanstead High School, won the Under 13 girls race, like Harper by a good margin. "I lead at the start of the second lap. My coach is Richard Thurston. It was my first race in the Woodford colours. "I have had a good season with PB''s of 2.29/5 minutes 800/1500.

    The under 17 Men was quite a 'Classy' race, if you think of good runners like Canaan Solomon coming only fourth but in a new group or him. For a time Kyle Langford was in contention with his Shaftesbury club mates Liam Dee and Jamie Dee who were first and second respectively and too strong for the rest in the closing stages.

    Liam was a very positive young man " Things have been going well and I got my head down in the track season and ran a 3:50 PB (At 16 years old)."Today we lead with Kyle Langford with us but the first time up the last hill I broke away. Simon Doyle coaches me at Welwyn Garden City. A nice group. We are at Richard Hale School, Hertford and I am in the sixth form.'

' He continued ' The last National cross country I was 15 so, to come 11th I was really chuffed but in the Southern I had a bad stitch I came 6th in the English schools and managed to gain an English vest.'

    About their Father Ex- International Billy Dee (I remember seeing Billy coming 2nd to Eamonn Martin in the ' 'National' Senior). “He is very good at gauging where we are in training, not over training and look towards senior level. It is nice to run now but he wants us to develop at being good seniors which is more the main aim."

    GEORGIA FEAR (14), who is at South Hampstead High school, was the first woman under 17 as an Under 15 girl. She maybe a new name but she appeared to have potential, winning by 17 seconds. Fear whose sister Lilah was also running, was born in New York but has Canadian parents and was like her Mother Kirsten, a figure skater before taking up running seriously. (Her mother ran for Western Ontario University and was in the team that won the Canadian Universities cross country in her day)  Georgia went on to say "I actually started running in year 7.athletics. I was a figure skater then I noticed I was close to winning races so I took it up seriously."

 Regards Alastair

FIXTURE 5, HORSENDEN HILL 11TH FEBRUARY 2012 REPORT BY ALISTAIR AITKEN:

WOODFORD GREEN & ESSEX LADIES and HIGHGATE HARRIERS won the Senior titles after the final league race of the season at Horsenden Hill.

    It was Woodford's fourth consecutive annual victory and for the women it was Highgate's eighth in the last ten years.

    The Howard Williams Trophy for the first club for Men & Women combined was a tie between Highgate, Serpentine and Woodford where as, the Junior title, was more clear cut for Herts Phoenix.

    In the Men's race Andy Greenleaf and Shaun Dixon disputed the lead, as they went into the final third lap of melted snow. Thirty metres behind them were Jake Shelley and Shaun Collins running together, followed by Sam Farah and then Ryan McKinley.

    Dixon sprinted ahead of Greenleaf in the last fifty metres and then came Jake Shelley and Shaun Collins with McKinley out sprinting fellow steeplechaser Farah in the funnel.

    Dixon said " Last year things did not go well over cross country in my build up to the marathon but have gone better this year " Dixon who has been self-coached said " Recently I have had good advice from Ben Noad and I had my best senior race coming tenth in the Southern."

    Andy Greenleaf was pleased with his recent international race at Elgoibar on January the 22nd " I came 27th and it was won by Paul Tanui of Kenya, who was second in the World cross country Championships so the race was of a good standard."

        In third place in the Met league senior race was 20 year old, Jake Shelley " I have not done a cross country race since the National cross country relays. I sprained my ankle at Christmas time. I am now looking forward to the 'National' cross country as Shaftesbury Barnet will have a good team and the race is a local race for us."

    In the Under 17's Michael Calligari who, was third in the Southern, looked good winning from James Stockings the Stevenage Met League winner.

    In the Under 17 women's race Freya Lenton, who is just 16, from Mill Hill County school, was running with Mary Gough early on but went into the lead after 1.5k to win by seven seconds from Emily Ruane. In fourth place was Molly Garden, the first Under 15 girl. However, things might have been different if Hannah Novackovic an Under 15 girl had been well. Despite a virus she came ninth. She won outright at Trent Park and Ruislip in the Met Leagues there.

    In the Under 13. Boys Liam Fox, led all the way to win his third Met League on the trot. Highgate's Terry Fawden had his best ever position in second place, four seconds behind Fox at the finish. Shaftesbury Barnet dominated the team scoring in the Under 17' men and Under 13's.boys, although Hillingdon and TVH were quite close behind respectively..

    In the Under 13 girls race Rosie Poole, not 13 till June, had her fifth win in all five Met Leagues. Like Canaan Soloman (Claybury winner) is coached well by John Stow of Woodford Green with Essex Ladies.

    Mike Barrett of the host club Ealing, Southall & Middlesex praised Gavin Collett for his wonderful organising of the London City Metropolitan League and then handed out the trophies, on behalf of founder member Howard Williams.

As a writer of this article on the Met league I would like to say ' I consider Mike Barrett was the 'Greatest Clubmen' to ever compete as a cross-country runner in the history of the whole of the North London athletics areas, outside of the very best ' National' Champions and to prove a point in a small way.He was second in the first ever Met League in 1966, then won the event five times and was the leading veteran in the league 31 times!

FIXTURE 5, FIXTURE UPDATE

The fixture is still on despite the snow from last night and the previous week.Full details are on the fixtures page in the Horsenden Hill section

However before traveling to the fixture please check back here for any further updates.

FIXTURE 4, RUISLIP 14TH JANUARY 2012 REPORT BY ALISTAIR AITKEN:

Nick Torry and Shaun Dixon, made the senior men's race an intriguing spectacle over the tough,Trent Park course.

Torry, who had ankle problems and couple of months off in the late Summer, ran the first Met League race at Claybury in fourth place and Dixon, the previous weekend was a good second in the Middlesex.

    Dixon and 'Clear' Surrey Championship winner, Torry, were together till just over half way when Torry tried to drop Dixon. He got a 30 metre lead but still Dixon, was able to challenge him going up the hill again. Dixon lost ground coming down the hill on the last lap. Kevin Skinner ran in third position for most of the way but Ben Pochee, the first veteran who got married on New Year's Eve, came through well for fourth and was even able to run down the hill afterwards and encourage his team mates.

    It would be a great surprise if Woodford Green were overhauled in the last meeting on February the 11th at Horsenden Hill, as they have a sizable lead over second placers' Serpentine 4651 to 4284.

    Sylvie Lloyd was runner up in the last two Met Leagues and went out to try and win at Trent Park. and she took the lead early and was only overtaken on the long hill as they came up to the finish by Lizzie Hall, who was making a comeback. Hall came second the previous Saturday in the Herts Championships and someone, who has run extremely well in the Met Leagues was her brother Nielson Hall, who won the Herts Men's race. After the race Sylvie learnt that Lizzie Hall had won the' National' in 2006 and so, it was no mean feat to be overtaken by her and Sylvie felt she had run well anyway. Lizzie Hall said "I had an operation for a hernia in December but before that I could not train properly".

    Highgate women were only the fourth team on the day and their two 'Stars' Becky Penty and Esther Evans were unavailable, although they had third spot with Katie Meredith. Now they have a slender lead of 971 to Serpentine's so 938 so there is all to play for at Horsenden Hill.

    However, the combined scores for the Howard Williams Trophy now reads Highgate, Serpentine and Woodford Green & Essex Ladies all on 40 points but, with the Howard Williams Junior Trophy it is a different matter as Herts Phoenix have a 9 points lead.

    In the Under 17 Men's race it was good to see Phillip Crout gradually move away from the opposition and win well. Usually he has had to be content in finishing behind Michael Calligari and James Stockings.

    Several had won successive Met Leagues. Rosie Poole the most prolific. The John Stow trained athlete, has won all her four Under 13 Met leagues. The Under 13 race went to Jamie Philpott for the second time. He lead all the way at Trent Park and remarked "That last hill was very hard. It' cruel"

    Hannah Novakovic won again " I went into the lead going into the woods half way up and then down the hill the other side.'

'The last time I ran round I hated it!'  She obviously has come to terms with running a true cross-country course at Trent Park, Cockfosters.

FIXTURE 3, RUISLIP 17TH DECEMBER 2011 REPORT BY ALISTAIR AITKEN:

NIELSON HALL was back to the good form he had in last season's Metropolitan League.

His recent patchy racing he can now put behind him as a bad memory and, looks like being a factor in the Southern and National again. Hall said " It was nice to get a hard run under my belt. I wanted to go off hard and just hold on. I got a bit worried when the shouts were getting louder for the boys behind me in the 2nd lap'

He added "I had a couple of  Chiltern Leagues which did not go well and, as I was a bit down I had to drop out at Liverpool but back again now."

    Glen Watts, who has had his best year in 2011, which includes an 8:43:08 steeplechase in September, took command in the early stages but after a mile Nielson Hall joined him at the front. Watts coach George Harrison feels he has improved and even thinks he can get down to a time that could qualify him for the Olympic steeplechase.

Regarding his 3:43.08 Watts said " I did not know about being selected to run aboard till 2 days before. I had already begun my Winter  training of long hills. It was a good experience that race in Nice."

   Aldershot 'Guest' Ben Moreau, who was third home in the race said he thought the Met League was good quality and gave him something interesting to do  away from training for the London and the possibility an Olympic place. 

Going back to the race at Ruislip.

At the half-way distance Hall had gone ahead by a valuable 40m and Watts was then running with Ben Moreau who had moved through to join him. There was another 50 meters to a large group of ' 'Quality runners' who had lost contact with the first three.    The leaf strewn course of muddy twists and turns in the Ruislip woods was not a problem for Hall but Watts never gave up trying to catch him and was a good second.

  Scotsman Murray Strain, the International orienteer who was second in the Snowdonia marathon and, hopes to run for Highgate in the 'National' was the fifth man home, one behind Frank Baddick who came in fourth. Baddick was helping Newham & Essex Beagles get promotion from Division 2.No doubt with Bob Smith's encouragement!.   

After three league matches of five, It was interesting to see Woodford Green were drawing clear in the league with 3561 points to Serpentine's 3264.but in the Women's league Highgate Harriers, who won six times in the last seven years have a good chance to win their league as they now lead Serpentine RC, who won last year by 773 to 728.

    Becky Penty led from the start in the women's race but again her nearest rival was Sylvie Lloyd who was a very clear second.

    Penty said " I am a great advocate of cross-country running on the way to building up for the London Marathon."

The Howard Williams Trophy for the combined seniors result should have an intriguing finish to it as Woodford, Highgate and Serpentine all are on 40 points and ahead of the rest. Herts Phoenix have a reasonable lead for the Junior Trophy at the present time.

    The Under 13 boys race Jamie Philpott won but only by one second. He had come 2nd in the last two Met Leagues and said " I just managed to beat Jamie Harper in the sprint to the line. " It was slippery but I love cross-country and will do the 1500 and 3000 in the Summer"

    However the second runner was Jamie Harper, who at only 11 years old, is an extraordinary talent. He came 8th then 3rd and now 2nd in the Met League 'Under 13' races.He is a North West London League winner and studies at  Haberdashers School

    The Under 13 girls race Rosie Poole, the Woodford Green girl, lead all the way and was a winner in the previous Met Leagues. She said of the three races " This one at Ruislip was the toughest.' Despite being only 12 she has been running for three years.

     The Under 17 Men James Callegari ,who won the first Met League at Claybury led all the way. Unfortunately he collapsed in a race sometime ago and with Doctors orders had three weeks off rerunning altogether then, with only 11/2  weeks of running again he came fifth in the Southern Inter-Counties at Lloyd Park the previous week and, with only another week's training he won well at Ruislip with James Stockings a clear second.

   The Under 17 Women Hannah Novakovic (14 in March) went clear in the last part of the race and was delighted to win, having finished 3rd and 6th home in her previous two Met Leagues.She said " I prefer cross-country to track"

FIXTURE 2, STEVENAGE 12TH NOVEMBER 2011 REPORT BY ALISTAIR AITKEN:

RORY CHESSER outkicked Ben Noad, his nearest challenger in the last 100 metres reports Alastair Aitken

    371, only 4 short of the record, finished the race over a course with fast grassland stretches and some wooded countryside that did include some slippery leaves.

    On the first lap, after they came out of the woods for the first time Harun Abdi was leading a group containing Rory Chesser, Niall Fleming, Shaun Dixon, Sam Farah, Ben Noad and Nick Torry. In the second lap the pace up front increased after Nick Torry had a brief stab at leading.  It was at that point Chesser and Noad were starting to dig deep but just off the pace. Chesser threw everything he could into the final third lap but Noad moved up to challenge him as they came out of the woods for the final time. Despite Chesser feeling tired at that point he managed to muster up  a sprint (He is a 1.50/3:42 man) and held on to win but, one noticed that Noad has been gradually improving recently and should get back to his international form by the New Year. Niall Fleming ran well for third place in a week of heavy training for the European Under 20 trial.

    Rory Chesser "I killed myself in that last lap. I had nothing left in the tank. I don't win many cross-country races so I take everyone I can get!'

    Ben Noad with a lap to go his feelings "It was hurting at that stage. I can't complain as every race I got a little better. I did no running in the Summer and at 35 with the niggles and everything, it takes longer to recover but I am ahead of where I was this time last year."

     Niall Fleming. "It was good quality and I was pleased as I did 80 miles this week in preparation for the trials."

      Shaun Dixon " It felt OK when i was with the pack but in the second lap there was quite a big change of pace and I have not quite got the snap but I am nearly there."

    The first three clubs Woodford Green & EL, Serpentine and Highgate remain the same in first three positions in the league but the joint men and women senior Howard Williams Trophy is intriguing with Woodford, Highgate and Serpentine all on 40 points at the top of the table of 20 clubs.

    Overall the league is growing in popularity as the best one to do in the UK, which is thanks to Gavin Collett and his team but of course with such numbers there are difficulties with the funnels at the end, particularly as there are so many good standard runners coming in fast well down the field!

       Guest competitor, Emily Pidgeon ran away with the Women's race from start to finish but declared " I missed the Summer as I got injured in June'

   She added ' I knew at Stevenage there would be some good runners and I needed the race before the European Trials. That was ideal as it was near to home and the Metropolitan League is the best league in Britain besides the Midland's so, I felt there would be good competition. "

    Sylvie Lloyd was second for the whole of the final lap and Becky Penty in third place. Penty was coming back to the form she had before a nasty fall at the National road relays, when cutting her leg that necessitated stitches and she was pleased Highgate held on to the lead in the league despite Serpentine winning on the day.

    In the younger age groups it appears Shaftesbury Barnet and Herts Phoenix have more top of the table teams than any clubs in the league at the moment.

    The Under 17 Boys race was won by James Stockings of Woodford Green who pointed out his Father Paul Stockings, who ran in the senior race and Charles Stockings his Grandfather are life long members of Woodford Green.

The race for James " I felt comfortable on the grass. I  thought I would kick in the forest and did so and carried on going. I was with Phil Crout but when I looked round in the forest he was not there."

    Under 17 Girls race Amelia Barrett was in the first two, sometimes dropping to second but eventually won well.

Amelia, who was 15 in September said that cross-country was her favourite event and she was second in the last Met League. She trains three times week under the watchful eye of her coach John Stow, who was once a reasonable club half miler and Insurance Champion.

FIXTURE 1, CLAYBURY 8TH OCTOBER 2011 REPORT BY ALISTAIR AITKEN:

Woodford Green & Essex ladies Men's team set out their stall early on to try and gain their fourth consecutive victory in the league with 45 runners competing for them reports Alastair Aitken

    Organiser Gavin Collett would be pleased that, last year in the first meeting at Claybury 338 men finished but this year 355 completed.

Leading Men. Photo courtesy of Geoff Williams

    After a mile completed on the dry undulating course, Mohamud Aadan, Harun Abdi and Nathan White were at the front of a group of a dozen. That was just before they turned up the steeper climb for the first time. Aadan with Abdi had just come back from a couple of month's spell in Ethiopia. At that stage Niall Fleming was running steadily but several positions further back. Aadan, studying petroleum engineering at South Bank University,eased away in the closing stages but Fleming came through for second ahead of Abdi, who had been suffering with Achilles tendon trouble. Huw Lobb and Nick Torry moved up to their final positions late in the race ahead of Ryan McKinlay who had his best position in the league. Ben Pochee was easily the first veteran in ninth place.

    Becky Penty, who improved her marathon time of 2:42.21 last year to 2:36.19 in Berlin, on September the 25th, appeared to have no ill effects running on her favourite surface and, going away from the start.She was followed for over a half a mile by successful tri-athlete Esther Evans (won the W35-40 'half' Iron Man in Antwerp). Sylvie Lloyd moved into second place after one lap and stayed there till the finish, ahead of new name in the league Lorna Russell.

Becky Penty. Photo courtesy of Geoff Williams

    Highgate Harriers, who won the Women's league half a dozen times consecutively, till Serpentine took over last year but Serpentine already look in a good position to win the Combined Men's and Women's ' Howard Williams Cup' at the end of the season and Herts Phoenix are also doing well for the Junior accolade..

    In the Under 17 race, Michael Calligari, who had some good wins last year in the Met League was again a winner. He had run personal bests of 3:57/8:28 for 1500/3000 in the summer. The race for second place was a little more intense as the 'Under 15' Asgodom brothers tried to get on terms with Phillip Crout but Crout went away in the final stages for an overall second place with the Asgodom' content with being first and second Under 15 runners.

    Canan Solomon was impressive in the Under 13 boys race and his coach John Stow said wryly " He was good enough in what he needs to do." 

FIXTURE 5, HORSENDEN HILL REPORT BY ALISTAIR AITKEN:

The Final Metropolitan League at Horsenden Hill had muddy patches, from time to time, to negotiate reports Alastair Aitken

    In the Senior Men's race 277 completed, which was a bit lower turn out than the previous two meets but still good as 277 completed. Credit should go to hard working organiser Gavin Collett and his team.

   After 500 metres, Scotsman, Chris Smith, took the lead over from Harun Abdi and never looked like being headed again. Harun Abdi slipped back to fourth place before coming through again to finish second. The 19 year old had learnt to control his pace, running possibly the best cross-country of his life so far and, another person pleased with his result was Mohmud Aadan who came in third. He usually expects to finish between 15 and 10 so, his improvement through hard training has paid off.

    Chris Smith has run well this year, after the threat of redundancy in the Civil Service had passed and, feels training at lunch times has been good. He also thought training with Frank Horwill's group had been beneficial. His club TVH made a concerted effort to stay in Division One, coming third at Horsenden Hill but unfortunately, they were still relegated to Division 2. The club did have the satisfaction of topping the Under 13 Boy's league table and were top of the Under 17's on the day.

    In the Seniors Woodford Green (6305) held on to first place in the league for the third year but Serpentine (6227) were threatening behind them with good points in the first three league races.

    Serpentine had 71 runners in the race at Alexandra Park and 53 at Horsenden Hill which was truly amazing. Serpentines' men 'combined with the Women' won the coveted Howard Williams Trophy ahead of Highgate and Woodford Green.

Shaftesbury Barnet won the Howard Williams Trophy for Juniors.

    The Women's race had four runners racing together till over half way, then Sylvie Lloyd edged ahead, followed by Becky Glover, Esther Evans and Helen Branco and, as three of those were Serpentine it helped them win the league for the first time.

    Michael Calligari (16) who won at Alexandra Palace was a convincing winner again in the Under 17's before he came 7th in the Southern. His goal is to be in the first 8 in the English Schools.

    Calligari was not interested in athletics at school till, quite suddenly found he could run well in a schools race. His main interest was playing the trumpet, which he does in school concerts, jazz concerts and even in church. .

    In the Under 13's Danny Rowden went into the lead, after he came through the rugby pitches with three other runners.

He was at the back of the group but then went down the hill in the lead. 13 year old, Rowden did sprinting for several years at Primary school before he took up running longer distances. He likes track and has run 2:19 for an 800. He has won several Chingford League cross country races but it was his first victory in the Metropolitan League.

NOTICES:

Any thoughts on improving the League for next season should be forwarded to Gavin Collett to raise at the next AGM in April. League Administrator: Gavin Collett, 11 Breakspear Road, Ruislip, Middlesex, HA4 7SB. Tel: (01895) 678505. E: gavin.collett@jti.com

Check out those trophy cabinets, mantelpieces and cupboards - could all League trophies please be brought to the last fixture at Horsenden Hill.

The Middlesex Veterans Cross Country Championships will now be held on Saturday 5th March 2011 at Mad Bess Wood in Ruislip, hosted by Hillingdon AC. Further details at www.middlesexaa.org.uk

Running the London Marathon? The Finchley '20' miles road race will be held at Ruislip on Sunday 13th March. Enter online at www.hillingdonac.co.uk

FIXTURE 4, ALEXANDRA PALACE REPORT BY ALISTAIR AITKEN:

NEILSON HALL, the 2010 Southern Champion, had a comfortable victory with his second Metropolitan League win of the season reports Alastair Aitken

Neilsen Hall

    The three lap course at Alexandra Palace had one horrendous muddy hill in it, for each of the three laps, that had people slipping and sliding in the mud.

    On the first lap going down the hill Hall was moving quickly. He had a 40 metre advantage over a trio of Shaun Collins, Glenn Watts and Paul Marteletti. At the end of the second lap Hall had increased his lead and was followed by Glenn Watts, Marteletti, Collins, Orlando Edwards and Henry Dodwell.

    Hall's ambition, after the first Met League, was to win the Abbey Dash 10k on the road, which he duly did and, as he goes so well on severe courses he hopes to have another good run in the Southern at Parliament Hill, on his diet of 70 miles a week.

    In the Metropolitan League where the number of women competitors have increased each season, the league as a whole, is arguably the largest in numbers in the UK . This season in the Men's three races the number of finishers have been 338, 375, and 345.

    The 12 to score in the Men's race has meant Woodford Green will have to work hard to hold off an 'Ever' improving Serpentine team in the last venue at Perivale on the 12th of February.

    Highgate Harriers women won their league for six years, till last year and, although they are likely to win the Vets section they will be hard pressed to overhaul Serpentine this year.

Sparke & Penty

    Becky Penty (Highgate) made it 3 wins out of 3 by taking victory again in the Women's race. However Jess Sparke led fro the first half of the race but as she had only been training for two weeks since illness and had quite a few injury problems before that she felt she could not expect miracles. She just wanted to put herself on the line again and see what happened.

    In the a the younger age groups there were convincing victories. Michael Calligari in the Under 17's, sped round the final muddy corner and went sprawling at the turn into the finish but immediately picked himself up to win well.

    16 year old, Lissie Bird, won all her three Under 17 Met League races. At Alexandra Place it was after sitting a mock GCE in the morning at Haileybury School . She looks back to her best performance as being third in the English Schools Intermediate 1500 Final. She is coached by Simon Doyle who is keen not to over-train his charges at an early age. He also coaches Liam Dee and his brother Jamie Dee. The latter won his second, Under 14, Met League at Alexandra Palace . Dee 's Ex-International parents Billy Dee and Nicky Morris encourage their sons with their running but Doyle points out " I don't want them peeking too early. All our group start with 2 sessions then later progress to 3 before going on to do more."

STEVENAGE CANCELLED:

The Stevenage fixture was called off due to snow on race day.

All league clubs were asked to vote on as to whether they would be happy for the fixture to be held on a new date on 19th March. The response was 8 against, 7 in favour, 6 no reply. This means that this season will only have 4 fixtures.

FIXTURE 2, TRENT PARK REPORT BY ALASTAIR AITKEN:

Herts Phoenix runner, Nielson Hall, who won the Metropolitan League senior race at Claybury on November the 7th 2009 before going on to win the Southern at Parliament Hill in January 2010, showed again how well he reacts on tough courses reports Alastair Aitken for the Met League website.

Neilsen Hall

Over the undulating terrain at Trent Park, where there were patches of mud perilously camouflaged by slippery leaves, Hall, who had tight hamstrings in the week, was dominant in the second half of the race. However, he had gained a tremendous boost recently from being in the winning National relay teams for his first claim club Bedford & County.

After a very fast start Shaftesbury had several runners spearheading the field up front, which included Tom Bedford, Stephen Murphy and the Watts ' brothers. Harun Abdi had a stab at leading before Tom Bedford went ahead in determined fashion. It was not till about a mile that Nielson Hall reeled him in but it was obvious that Bedford had vastly improved since his seventh place in the first Met League at Claybury, helped by his training for the Florence Marathon.

At the half way stage the leaders were spread out. Hall was leading, next came Bedford followed by Nick Torry, who had come through. Behind that came Steve Murphy, road specialist Paul Martelleti and Rory Chesser. The order stayed the same till the finish.

Woodford Green and Shaftesbury had a good turn out and relegated Serpentine to third spot in the table. It was interesting to note with 375 men finishing and 147 women in the other senior race would be a combined Metropolitan League record for the ever popular event!

Highgate's Becky Penty followed up her victory at Claybury with another good win over the course. Penty went off quickly and never lost the lead. From half way Cardiff 'Guest' runner Ava Hutchinson, who was running in the race because her Gwent League fixture had been cancelled was catching Penty in the second half of the race but Penty held on well to win by three seconds.

Serpentine RC have built up a good lead in the table but in the Under 17's, won by Lizzie Bird of Herts Phoenix, Shaftesbury, Woodford and Herts Phoenix are close on points.

Shaftesbury's 16 year old Richard Charles from Cardinal Wiseman College had not run a cross-country for as long as he could remember but in the summer did personal bests for the 800/1500. He went into the lead going down the hill and kept it going to the finish untroubled. Till two years ago his main sport was football.

Jamie Dee of Herts Phoenix won the under 13 race and went ahead when the leader fell over going down the hill but never looked like losing first place after that . He has some pedigree as his parents were internationals Billy Dee and Nicky Morris and his brother Liam was the fastest Under 17 runner in the National cross-country relays.

FIXTURE 1, CLAYBURY REPORT BY ALASTAIR AITKEN:

Gavin Collett, the Administrator of the Metropolitan League for arguably, the most popular League in the country, must have been delighted with the Senior Men's field of 338 finishers over the tough Claybury course.

It is great credit to the Founder of the League Howard Williams, that a Cup will be presented in his honour 'The Howard Williams Cup' for the combined winners at the end of the season, out of 21 Clubs. Howard himself had told me how pleased he was with the addition and then, increase in the numbers of women that wanted to compete in the League (145 completed at Claybury).writes Alastair Aitken.

    Nick Torry of the current top team Serpentine had two Met League victories last season (Claybury/Wormwood Scrubs) and obtained his first international vest when running a 66 minute half marathon in Denmark in May.

Torry was obviously one of the favorites for the race at Claybury but a junior called Richard Goodman, with a massive talent, toed the line too.

    After the start Torry went ahead and set a good tempo. After a short while Goodman, tagged on behind him for the first of 3 laps. Then he wanted to go ahead so he could run at his own pace, as he liked running out in front. Although Torry was good on the downhill stretches Goodman, stole quite a few yards in the ascents and kept the momentum up on the flat, right to the finish for a convincing victory. Sean Collins, who was running in a good third spot for much of the way, after coming through early on was overtaken by Orlando Edwards, who had been running well in hill races recently. Behind that but close together were Henry Dodwell, Andy Greenleaf and Tom Bedford.

    Goodman said straight after "It was hard!"  I pointed out that one of his Shaftesbury club men, Ex-10k World record holder, Dave Bedford, used to enjoy local races when he was a top international and that included some Met Leagues amongst those (Back in the '70's). He agreed with that philosophy " I enjoy running as much as I can even when it is hard. If you don' t enjoy it when it is hard your morale goes down".

Serpentine, Woodford Green and Shaftesubry are pulling away at the top of the table with Highgate fourth, who may have quite a lot to do to get in the frame by the end of the season..

        In the Women's race Serpentine have a narrow lead over Highgate and Woodford. Highgate's women veterans' lead their league and include two interesting veteran scorers achieving other things in the year.

Esther Evans won the 35-39 World Duathlon Championships in France in May and Gayelle Le Bray won the Triathlon World sprint title for 35-39 in Budapest in September.

    After the start at Claybury Esther Evans, set a furious pace as they went down the hill.By the end of the first small lap she had been joined by Becky Penty, who was 15th in the National cross country, and ran a 75.58 half marathon in Bristol in the Summer. Penty pulled right away in the second lap for a very clear win. Shaftesbury's Sophie Connor, an 'Under 20', moved into second place on the final lap ahead of Becky Glover of Serpentine, from the club that had three in the first six home!.

    In the race immediately before that was the 'Under 17 and Under 15' Boys and that was won by an interesting future talent from T.V.H. He was James Murdoch, who is only 15. He is at  Latymer Upper School . He is a tri-athlete as well.

He decided to go to the front at the start of the second lap at Claybury and held on well.  "This is my biggest win so far!" He remarked and said that he was coached by James Beckinsale and Roy Carridge" 

Best Wishes from an 'Old' Met League performer Alastair Aitken

Key stats from the weekend races. 145 finishers was a league record for the women and Serpentine recorded 39 senior/veteran women and 66 senior/veteran men in the results which may well also be records.

WEBSITE ONLINE:

Welcome There is currently no league news other than to say that the website is now live and it will be a great new addition to the league and its development in the coming years. It is run by Hillingdon AC volunteers but it is an independent league website. If anyone would like to do general race reports for this site or know of information throughout the season that should be shared with the league and its participants please click on the "email your story" link below and send the information. It is intended that this site will develop in time with new features as and when time permits the volunteers to implement them.

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