The County Championships returned after a years break at Horsenden Hill, Greenford. The recent rain resulted in a real challenge for the runners in conditions in part more suited to a Tough Mudder challenge. However, the mud and rain did not dampen the great performances and races on offer.
The day opened with the U11 boys who roared off the start line around the 1.5km course. The race proved to be closer than expected with Jack Hayward (ESM) who has 2 Met League and a NWLL win managing to hold off the challenge of Vivek Chopra (Harrow) by just 2s they were followed close behind by Marcus Muers (ESM) who also ensured the team title went to ESM. In what was a wide open U11 Girls race Sofia Mossi (St Marks School) took the lead halfway round and was able to keep ahead of Violet Muralidhar (ESM) over the closing stages, another unattached runner Eleanor Stewart followed in bronze position. The Team race was also competitive with ESM 2 points better than Harrow to win Gold.
The U13’s were first to test the full course and the boys race produced an epic battle between St Mary’s and Shaftesbury with Prince-Victorious John (SBH) setting the early pace before Tom Mythen (SMR) and Daniel Jeffs (SMR) hit the front taking a considerable lead. Despite Tom’s great form this season (Met League leader with 2 wins, 5th in LYG and 10th in Southern Inter-counties) he was piped on the line by Daniel. With Prince-Victorius John 3rd and Euan Phillips (SBH) 4th the team trophy was balanced on the 3rd runners despite another 2 Shaftesbury runners crossing the line before William Woods (SMR) in 10th place St Mary’s took the team title by just 1 point. The U13 Girl’s race soon followed the pattern of so many this year with Posie Shaw (SBH), Jorja March (Barnet) and Kiara Corkin (LH) running clear of the field. The team race could have gone to a number of teams with London Heathside victorious despite the 3rd runners of Highgate and St Mary’s both crossing the line before their 3rd placed runner.
In the U15 Boys race Thomas Chadwick (Highgate) and Charlie Brook (SMR) set the early pace before Thomas pushed ahead on the 2nd lap. Liam Bailey secured 3rd place and with Alex Mulvihill 5th Highgate easily won the Team Title. In the girl’s race Lyra MacDonald (VPH&TH) hit the front at the first corner and despite the efforts of Izzy Watkins (LH) led to the finish. Behind them Hattie Munday (LH) secured bronze and LH the Team Gold with 6 finishers in the top 10 places.
The U17 and U20 women were next to race. Ellen Donald (Highgate) was first home to take the U20 Women’s title with the U15 Girls title holder Lara Mannes (B&B) only 16s behind to take 1st place in the U17 race with Lauren Russell (Highgate) 2nd and Charlotte Harris (Barnet) 3rd. Highgate took the U17 Women’s title. Charlotte Buckley (TVH) and Isabelle Franco (TVH) were 2nd and 3rd in the U20 race to ensure TVH won the Team title.
In the combined U20 and U17 men’s race Luca Minale (VPH&TH) and Elias Ahmed (ESM) soon build a large advantage to the rest of the field and despite Luca’s best-efforts Elias hit the front with 150m to take the U20 Men’s title by 1s. Oliver O’Connor took bronze while the team title went to Shaftesbury. Sam Greenstein (SBH) took the U17 title pretty comfortably tucking into a group of U20 runners. Clubmate Joshua Fisher took silver with pre-race favourite Jack Bailey (Highgate) who leads the Met League standings in 3rd place. With Spike Blake crossing the line in 5th Shaftesbury comfortably won the U17 team title.
As expected, Hannah Viner (Highgate) took the women’s title pulling away from the eventual bronze medalist Hannah Cox (Fulham) after the first lap or the race and never looking under threat thereafter. Yasmin Marghini (Herne Hill) grew in strength and by the 3rd lap had overtaken Hannah Cox to take silver. The team race was more dramatic with Yasmin Goater (Highgate) in 4th they looked odds on for the title however great teamwork by Trent Park saw them take 6th and 7th place and London Heathside 5th and 9th meant all depended on the last two runners. With 14th and 17th place Trent Park took the title and London Heathside the silver on countback from Highgate (22 v 27).
The Senior Men’s race was contested over a ‘long’ 12,000m with the course now churned up with thick mud and pools of water. Quickly Dylan Evans (SBH) and Alex Lepretre (Highgate) established a gap on the rest of the field on the first lap. Dylan, who has two Surrey League wins this season and was bronze medalist in 2020, pushed ahead on lap 2 and continued to increase his lead over the next two laps winning by 25s. Alex comfortably secured silver with Michael Cameron (TVH) in 3rd. Thames Valley Harriers were packing well in the middle of the race and with 5th, 7th, 9th, 13th and 15th places comfortably won the Senior Title. The challenge for silver and bronze team medals was highly contested with Harrow holding the advantage until the closing stages when London Heathside let home by veteran Tom Aldred in 4th place piped them to silver by just 3 points. The day’s racing was complete when veteran Bill O’Connor crossed the finishing his race with a time of 1 hour 44 minutes.
Many thanks to everyone who put in such a great effort to get the races on including a last-minute appeal to Ealing council, the Volunteers, Officials, Marshalls and Ealing Middlesex and Southall AC for being such great hosts.
Some Great Photographs of the event can be found here:- https://www.flickr.com/gp/bruciebaby/g637aY
There is also video coverage of the races on Youtube by Moja Sport.