Written by Matt Hyett
Cold, ice, mud, tram problems and just general Croydon grimness itself, failed to deter 11 of us from attending and doing battle at yesterday's Surrey League closing match at Lloyd Park. Cheered on by a handful of loyal supporters we all knew that this race was going to be critical if we wanted to stay in the highly competitive Division 2. Placed as we were in 7th out of 9 teams, with the bottom two going down to Div 3/4 at season's end, things were tense as we stood at the start contemplating the course ahead.
Match 1 of this season demonstrated that where less than 10 of us turn up, we get punished. So it was a real relief to see in excess of a full scoring team arrive and reminiscent of the brilliant turnout at Match 3 at Richmond Park.
With a gap of just 3 seconds between them, our leading runners U20 Neil Wellard and Scott Evans were first home in 6th and 7th respectively. Both have put in some excellent performances this season- incredible too that Scott placed so high yesterday having only just recently returned from injury. Well done indeed guys.
Matt Atkins has been a great addition to our team and again ran extremely well yesterday, placing 13th, just a matter of seconds away from a top ten finish. An ever improving and highly determined Michael Huntley was close by in 25th, fighting for every place and only very narrowly missing out on a sub 30 minute time.
Alex Thomas was our fifth scorer and has shown real commitment this season, travelling from Lancashire to attend these matches. I hope these races will serve as excellent training for your upcoming athletics season and attempts to beat your 800m pb!
Chris Gibbons, currently in training for the marathon, was our next man home in 58th, followed by another new member this season who has made a real difference, Stewart Dickson (69th). Next up was myself in 78th and Andy Arbour in 87th, working hard to ensure we lost as few places as possible. Peter Wilkins (124th) continued the fight and was our 10th scorer. Recovering from illness last month, David Greenfield (142nd) completed our squad and we wish him well in his upcoming half marathon.
So… the result. 5th place on the day and retention of 7th place overall in the Division. This means we stay in Div 2 for next season which is fantastic- we definitely have a squad strong enough to always aspire to be in this Division or higher.
I would like to thank David Barrington, Ant, Graeme Huntley and my wife Tukki for their critical support yesterday as we tried to stay on our feet on the renowned muddy course- it really spurred us on. And thank you to everyone who contributed this whole season.
Next up, and closing cross country proceedings this year, is the Club 9 at Sheen Gate Richmond Park, on Saturday 4th March. Thereafter the 2017/2018 cross country season and the continued campaign to eventually reach Div 1!
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