Last Saturday saw the 2012-2013 cross-country season come to a close on a very boggy and muddy Wimbledon Common. We went into the fixture in a very commanding position at the top of the table and although the championship was all but in our hands, we had another great turnout. The race was also a Grand Prix event which may have contributed to the fact that the club had 23 men on the start line but I also like to think that there is a renewed interest in cross-county which has steadily grown as the season has progressed.
The first corner was marked by an unavoidable freezing cold puddle. This was quickly followed by a foul smelling bog, ankle deep mud and a killer hill. This was proper cross-country! Jack Holland, John Matthews, James Thurston, Declan Flynn and Robert Hinton sped off in front of me, finishing in that order. Our resident first place finisher Jim Ley was absent this time so we can only speculate if he would have finished ahead of Jack. Hopefully, we will see them go head to head next season. I was surprised to find myself in sixth place for a while until Chris Coghlan came past me, tiptoeing through the mud with the grace of a gazelle. I managed to keep him in sight for a while but lost him when we went through the thick mud the second time around. Somehow I managed to hang on to seventh place, finishing just ahead of Steve Watkins. David Pimm, Ben Downe, Mark Weight, Alasdair Reisner and Steve Ramek all finished within two minutes of me, demonstrating the club’s strong middle order. Ben was particularly pleased to score his first cross-country points for the club.
Joe Chang was not far behind but he would be first to admit this wasn’t really ideal conditions for him. Peter Grecian, Simon Gerrard and Daniel Hookey finished within 17 seconds of each other so I can imagine they must have had a little battle of their own on the way round. Peter Grecian however won the prize for the dirtiest runner having fallen over on the muddiest section of the course (see team photo!). Ricky Emery chose the night before to have his first drink of the year, which by the sounds of it was quickly followed by his second, third, fourth and fifth. Congratulations Ricky on making it around without throwing up. Greg Whiteman, Kevin Stone and Graham Ashby came in next. Graham had gone out typically fast before Greg and Kevin slowly reeled him in. Kevin was quicker on the muddier sections due to his spikes but Greg showed his improving fitness to win their mini-battle whilst Kevin finished just three seconds ahead of Graham. David Pearce and Richard Kirk, running in his first cross-country for the club, completed the 26.2 contingent.
It should also be pointed out that Jack, John and Mark all ran the next day in the Wokingham half but all still turned out and put in strong performances.
You can relieve the whole experience here: http://youtu.be/nxqGfWYlo4o
Thank you to the many 26.2 supporters that turned up on a very cold day and as usual Ann was there to provide hot drinks and delicious cakes. I can’t tell you enough times how much everyone appreciates them at the end of a hard run. There was just enough time to get home and get clean before it was time to meet up in the New Prince for the post match celebrations. It was great to see so many of you there and it was a record turn out for the curry.
The results are now in and I can officially confirm that 26.2 won Division 4! John Matthews finished third in the individual standings and Declan Flynn and David Pimm came first and second in the M50 category. Well done everyone.
One of my aims in taking over the captaincy was to encourage as many people to turn out and run whether they were likely to score or not. I have been delighted with strong attendances at all four fixtures and to see 34 different members of the club taking part. We had nine members who completed all four fixtures and six who have completed in three. I strongly believe that our success this year owes as much to the members who did not score as the ten that do each time. Although that sounds a bit paradoxical, big attendances have created a good buzz which encourgages everyone to turn out. It’s obviously going to be a lot more difficult in Division 3 next year and we need to carry that great team spirit into next season.
There are a few of you that are sad to see the season come to the end. The good news is that today I received the dates of the fixtures for next season so you only have to wait until 19 October. It just remains for me to thank you for putting up with my pestering you to turn up – I promise not to nag you again until September!