id1771-The 2015 Stoke Park relays - a story of sportive performance and great strength of character

Written by Susanne   

On a mixed-weather day, but luckily not too cold, we set out for Stoke Park to contest the 2015 Bruce Judd Surrey Junior Cross Country Relays. Owing to school holidays, injuries and illnesses, we had a somewhat smallish squad. But all gave their very best. And this was crowned with some excellent results, too.

First were the U13 boys. Mack Downey led the team out in a very strong run, coming round in 6th place and the 14th fastest time overall (7:58min). He handed over to Freddie Crosby, who as a specialist high jumper with a typical run-up of some 7 steps, had extended his reach considerably. He came round in 9:16min. Of course he had to led some specialist distance runners pass, but Matteo Leforestier, with a time of 8:20min (33rd fastest time), ensured that the team ended in a respectable 11th place - well done!

The U13 girls were led out by Gemma Watts. A positive run brought her round in 9:13min and 17th place. She handed over to Bronwen Ackroyd, a new 1st year U13 runner. In 9:16min, Bronwen had a fine run, too, improving the team position to 14th. She handed over to Freya John (also 1st year U13), who in 9:26min brought the team home in 13th place - well done, too!

Next the U15 boys. With four runners available, one had to take the short straw and run as an individual first leg runner, with the mission to score a good time. This was Matt Hall. He was up against Sam Shaw, who is our strongest U15 runner at the moment. Sam had a fantastic run in 7:19min (6th fastest overall). Matt was not far behind in 7:55min (27th fastest time)! Ben Collier, who has to be praised for the massive improvement he made over the last year, continued the show with the 17th fastest time on the day (7:36min). Sadly, Sol Harris-Woodfin’ shin pains came back halfway round and he couldn’t quite free-wheel as he normally would. But be bravely battled, still ran a great time (7:48min, 22nd fastest) and he secured an excellent 6th place for the team.

The day of the U15 girls’ team started with Annabel Hobday reporting a strapped-up ankle after netball endeavours at school, and Eleanor Bartle having niggeling growth pain in the hips. So we sent Kathryn Bartle out as first leg runner, and with 8:39min (21st fastest overall time), she set the team up in 9th place. Eleanor, running for an individual time, finished in 9:49min, and, considering that she’s actually a sprinter, this is quite amazing. Next came Imogen Busa, who in 8:57min kept the team in 10th place - so we hoped for another top-ten finish. And indeed, Annabel in fine 8:55min did exactly that – again, well done, folks!

Now the U17s. I don’t want to take anything away from the younger athletes, but I hope you’ll agree that the U17s are real role models. Harry Reynolds, who as he would freely admit had a miserable cross country season last year, overcame his disappointment, and with commitment to systematic training, he brought himself to where he can and should be – one of the top runners in Surrey. He in an outstanding 6:42min ran the second fastest time on the day and set the team up for a good team result, too. He handed over to Charlie Heaton, who now is establishing himself as a reliable force. He ran a strong 7:32min (23rd fastest) and kept the team in 4th place. George Chaplin, who didn’t have the chance to train for a while, still had agreed to come out to complete a scoring team, gave all he had and in just over eight minutes (8:01min), ensured that the team could finish in 8th place.

I am telling the last story because we always hear about grand successes, and not about how hard it is to overcome the odds and achieve. See, our U17 women’s team, Mollie O’Sullivan, Isabella Busa and Rebecca Keddie, won last year’s U15 trophy, but now had to step up to the U17 scene. Mollie O’Sullivan, who was meant to bring the U17 team out, had a bit of a confidence crisis before the start because really, she had the enormous pressure not only to set the team up in first place, but also to put some distance between her and the other runners to give Isabella and Rebecca a chance to keep the team in the medal ranks. It wasn’t easy, but Mollie showed an admirable strength of character to pick herself up, line up at the start and run. And she did set the team up in 1st place, and Isabella in 8:58min (17th fastest) did keep the team 2nd position, and Rebecca in 8:46min (13th fastest) did keep the team in 3rd and so they did win the bronze medal! And Mollie ran the fastest time of all.

So: excellent sportive performance and the willingness to support the team - our K&P young athletes are young people one only can be proud of!

Your young athletes’ XC TM Susanne Dietrich

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