Grand Prix 9, The Perch, January 27th 2013

And a warm welcome to MudFest ’13, the imaginary signs said. Heavy rain overnight had left Nonsuch park muddy and waterlogged in places, which is ideal for a trail race. There isn’t much hillage in the park, but this was a gruelling race. To add to the challenge, it was billed as just over 10k and worked out to be nearer 11, with a particularly cruel switchback near the end of the lap such that we ran towards the Mansion House then swung away to loop round some trees (look out, it’s the copse!) before finally getting to enjoy the finishing straight.

First, in what used to be an occasional series and mostly limited to our female runners, the awards of the day. Katherine Wilson finished third lady, while the cause of our recent success, Danny Norman, was 2nd male. This time, as he made sure I noted, he’d also done enough to let the rest of us pick up the male team prize, with a score of 33 to 39 over East Grinstead Tri. The latter did, though, have a few people who’d entered with their running club details, such as the bloke who was right behind me. With him scoring they’d have equally our score, and maybe there was someone else far enough up to make a difference. Tough, and lovely to pick up our first male team prize in some time – Rob and Danny, I have your beer. I have not drunk it. No, Steve, you don’t get any. The ladies’ team were third, but by a bare point from EG Tri in 2nd, and only 4 behind West 4 in first.

Great to again see 12 26.2 females out and running. Katherine maintained her perfect year and needs one more win to take a perfect PTP score, plus is only 2 points off the same in the age-graded standings. . 
Libby took second with Zoe Ashcroft just behind. Natalie ran a lone race from a club point of view, as did Jo Deeks. Andrea did for both Caroline and Sue this time, both of whom may be eyeing her marathon 
training with some envy. Lovely to see Zoe Wingfield back at a Grand Prix, and Kate Hancock, Vicki Kirk and Megan Toerien at their first. What a race to pick!

In the men’s, Danny raced off to get involved up front, picking off those ahead with sensible pacing as ever. Half-man, half-biscuit Jack Holland was nursing a broken elbow and had to back right off on any 
slippery terrain, plus he’d run to the event, plus he was wearing road shoes. A finer set of excuses will never be made. As a result, I, Rob, Joe, Katherine and Richard all had the unusual experience of running past him, though Jack surprised many runners with his pace on the tarmacced sections. Steve Ramek stayed ahead of his chasers and is looking good on recovery from injury. Greg ran strongly to narrowly beat Daniel Hookey. Captain Kev will have enjoyed finishing ahead of Matt Pritchard and if you wondered what that howling was the night after, it’s just Kevin howling “Grant Davison” at the moon in a bid to get him out for some racing action.
For Grant, of course, other action sometimes takes priority.

Richard and Vicki Kirk ran together, with the same finishing time though Victoria keeps bragging rights on being first to finish.

We had great support, with The Changs popping up around the course to alternate cheering with a babycare masterclass, Peter Grecian extending a long run by meeting us going the other way, Simon Norman giving great advice on course (I appreciated it, even if I couldn’t acknowledge it at the time), Mike Crimmen cheering us on and Nellie and Binkie hollering useful advice like “don’t let that much faster runner get away”. Thank you all. Photos are up at http://gallery.sussexsportphotography.com/home.tlx?containerid=15089923176.

I’ve stuck with the same wava metric as the last time we ran the Perch, 10km road race, which makes the scores artificially low, but makes sure everyone gets the right points. We’re now at the business end of the Grand Prix year, and with 3 races to go we’re starting to get some idea of what the final scores might be. Jack and Andrea are the first to post full 9-race scores, but those can still change if they improve on their worst scores. In the ladies’, Katherine’s lead is unassailable for both titles, with Libby making the running in second. Zoe A is poised with a race in hand, though, and Natalie can complete 9 if she runs the next 3 Grand Prix races, and may make it close. In the men’s, Jack has the Past the Post sewn up, with Joe, Rob and I behind. The age-graded may go down to the wire, though. Rob and I have a race in hand over Jack and should pass him, though higher scores in two of the last three would improve Jack’s score markedly. I have a 5 point lead over Rob, but his worst score is a 14 – so one second age-graded position would remove that lead completely.

The next race is February’s cross country on the 9th.

2 00:43:06 Danny Norman 19
14 00:46:26 John Matthews 321
17 00:47:28 Robert Hinton 84
25 00:49:38 Joseph Chang 328
26 00:49:39 Katherine Wilson 123
30 00:50:26 Richard Goulder 223
40 00:52:05 Jack Holland 207
48 00:53:05 Steven Ramek 237
64 00:54:58 John Sweeney 175
67 00:55:24 Elizabeth Marchant 83
71 00:56:12 Ricky Emery 140
73 00:56:19 Zoe Ashcroft 77
89 00:58:10 Greg Whiteman 111
90 00:58:11 Daniel Hookey 152
108 00:59:37 Natalie Coghlan 230
117 01:00:16 Kevin Stone 172
121 01:00:35 Matthew Pritchard 110
137 01:02:07 Joanna Deeks 154
160 01:04:55 Andrea Bennett 143
169 01:06:02 Caroline Dawson 78
172 01:06:27 Sue Garnish 205
210 01:11:30 Javier Fuentes 74
219 01:12:49 Kate Hancock 160
221 01:13:00 Zoe Wingfield 324
231 01:15:16 Victoria Kirk 7
232 01:15:16 Richard Kirk 6
253 01:19:24 Derick Wilkie 8
267 01:24:44 Megan Toerien

138

I’m just waiting for a few dates of birth to complete the scoring, but I’m confident the top few positions won’t change.

PTP Points Races run Lowest score
Katherine Wilson 160 8 20
Libby Marchant 147 8 17
Zoe Ashcroft 128 7 16
Andrea Bennett 119 9 5
Natalie Coghlan 103 6 16
AG Points Races run Lowest
Katherine Wilson 158 8 19
Libby Marchant 139 8 16
Andrea Bennett 128 9 8
Zoe Ashcroft 125 7 15
Natalie Coghlan 91 6 12
PTP Points Races run Lowest
Jack Holland 169 9 15
John Matthews 148 8 17
Rob Hinton 115 8 11
Joe Chang 113 7 12
Luke McDonagh 73 4 17
AG Points Races run Lowest
Jack Holland 151 9 12
John Matthews 147 8 17
Rob Hinton 142 8 14
Joe Chang 101 7 11
Richard Goulder 77 6 9