Thirteen intrepid WVRs (9 lads and 4 ladies) made their way to Leamington last Saturday to take part in a classic event, the Midland Counties cross country championships. It is more years than I can remember since we had a mens and ladies team taking part in this high class competition.
The journey was uneventful (with only one toilet stop!) and on arrival we proceeded to put up the club gazebo to provide some shelter from the anticipated rain. The weights were placed on the gazebo legs, as it was already starting to get a bit windy. Boosty and I then went back to the minibus to bring kit bags etc , while Laura and co. collected the numbers. On returning to the club tent area, I politely asked who had moved the gazebo. There was a not so polite reply! In the 5 minutes that we were away, there had been a freak gust of wind, which had lifted the gazebo off the ground (weights and all) and it had performed 2 cartwheels before settling in its new location. We decided to lower the gazebo legs to reduce the height, which would still give us shelter for our kit. Unfortunately only Boosty and Jodie were able to stand in the “mini tent”
Drama over, the other runners started to arrive and the ladies got ready for their race. The course was fairly straightforward, being 2 laps of the common and adjacent redundant golf course. The addition of the golf course made for a much more interesting course than I remember at this location ( 20 years ago!), with the undulations making for a challenging but fast course of around 8k in length. On the first lap, Laura had made a steady start and was soon followed by Jodie, who always finishes strongly in cross country races, Jane was not far behind, with Cath completing the team just behind her. On the second lap, Laura began to tire, but still held her position well to come home in 57th place, with Jodie catching every step of the way down the finishing straight, only one place back. Jane was next in 122nd and Cath followed in 136th. The standard at the sharp end was very high, with first runner home under 30 minutes, but all of our ladies ran really well, all achieving very respectable finishes in a field of 263. A special mention for Cath Watkins, who stepped in at the last minute to make sure that we had a team, resulting in a 12th place out of 33 complete teams. For a club of our size, this was a truly outstanding performance, which put many bigger clubs to shame. Well done girls!
About an hour later, it was the lads turn. Three laps and 12k this time. Also the largest field of the day with over 400 starters. On the first lap, Steven was first WVR and then a gap to Peter Nugent and Richard running together. Lea wasn’t far behind and Peter Flynn, running strongly came next. A smiling and relaxed David Klotz was 6th counter, backed up by consistent Ward Linney, then Boosty and Lewis, running, I believe, only his second cross country for the club. Positions were unchanged on the second lap, with Steven looking strong and Richard tracking Peter Nugent, every step of the way. Lea was beginning to suffer, with Peter Flynn impassive and gaining ground. Dave, still smiling was still the last counter for the team. Only Boosty looked like he really wasn’t enjoying the day! As the ladies gathered at the finish to cheer the lads in, we were just in time to see the winner sprint home, comfortably clear, in an incredible 38.20.
First home was, as expected Steven in 104th place, having a much better run compared with his recent performances. Some 2 minutes later, Peter appeared down the finishing straight, but was passed by Richard, who had followed him for almost the whole race. Nice one Rich! Peter, you need to work on your sprint finish! There was a little wait before Peter Flynn arrived, having passed Lea in the finishing straight. Only 1 second separated these two. We didn’t have to wait too long for Dave to close in the team. Ward was close behind, looking like he could do at least another two laps! Coming in just over the hour mark was a very tired looking Boosty, with Lewis, still running strongly, only about 100m behind. The mens team also did exceptionally well, finishing 18th out of 33 complete team. It is worth noting that one of our larger neighbours, Cheltenham Harriers, could not field a complete team, so this was all the more impressive by our boys.
I have been to many of these championships as a competitor, but have never enjoyed one more than this and it was a privilege to be chauffeur and support to such a great bunch of athletes. This augurs very well for the future of Wye Valley Runners as a truly competitive running club. 4 teams next year?
Report by Martin Flowers
Full WVR results: