Middlesex XC Championships 2024- Report

Saturday 6th January saw the Cross Country Championships at Horsenden Hill which last hosted in 2022. The rain over the week had topped up the already heavy ground making this a real cross country challenge and fortunately apart from some drizzle the weather on the day was ideal for racing with their being 526 finishers across the age groups. Around of applause was held before the start of the Men’s race to remember past president Roy Stratton whose funeral had been the day before.

Terry Fawden (Highgate), added the Senior Middlesex cross country Championship, to all the Middlesex Championship cross=country titles since he first ran, as a 13 year old! Alastair Aitken reports. The ‘glue like’ conditions of sticky mud, were all over the four lap course. Fawden and, 8:45’ steeple chaser Luca Minale (VPH&TH), were together ahead for the first lap, till Fawden, who is studying Electronics at Cambridge University, made use of his his cross-training, that he thought helped him in the mud. He then started to draw clear for the rest of the race. Coming through on the last of the 4 laps Rob Wilson (Highgate), was a good third, despite one of his shoes badly split open in the thick mud with a mile still remaining to do. In the team competition last years winners London Heathside edged ahead of Highgate with 3 in the top 10 before a run of TVH runners swung the overall title their way by 2 points to repeat their 2022 triumph. Harrow were third and Ealing Eagles pipped Queens Park to the 12 to score prize.

Katie Olding (TVH) was a good winner of the women’s race. She lives down at Winchester but her coach Dave Wilkinson pointed out that she is in the Army. TVH were totally dominant in the Women’s race with 5 finishers in the top 6 the only break in the wave of light blue was Hannah Cox (Fulham) in 2nd with Stephanie Ainley (TVH) 3rd. London Heathside’s women matched their men’s team with silver and Ealing Southall and Middlesex on their home course were third. Ealing Eagles won the Corlin Trophy.

The U20 & U17 races were a combined event so it was not surprising that U20 Lauren Russell (Highgate) came home well clear of the rest of the women. Her mother Sabina (M55) is an International Masters racer. Lauren said afterwards “I think my best ever result was coming 5th in the World Mountain trail race. “As it was my first major International I learnt a lot, being with the girls beforehand and training plus racing with the team.” She added ‘I want to study medicine at one of three Universities -Edinburgh, Oxford or Birmingham.”. Last year’s U20 winner Sofia Latham (Harrow) was 2nd and Charlotte Harris (Barnet) 3rd. The winner of the U17 Women was Allegra Massey (TVH), also coached by Dave Wilkinson who commented that she was very short of racing as both the London Youth Games and Inter-counties races had been cancelled. With 1st year U17’s Lyra McDonald (VPH&TH) and Ruby James (VPH&TH) taking silver and bronze VPH&TH dominated the team competition.

In the men’s race first past the post was 19 year old, Oliver O’Connor (London Heathside), who has been actively running while studying at Newcastle University, said “That was my best race so far winning the County event”. He finished ahead of last years winner Chris Hudson (Harrow) and Monte Watson (Highgate), Oliver secured a 2nd gold with London Heathside winning the title ahead of Highgate and Harrow. Thomas Chadwick (Highgate) was the Under 17 youth’s winner but coming out on top of battle with last years winner Michael Cattini (Harrow) with Charlie Brook (SMR) in 3rd. Highgate also took the team title with Harrow 2nd and SBH 3rd.

National U13 XC champion and U13G County Champion Jorjia March (Barnet) excelled in her first championship as a U15 finishing 32s ahead of 2nd placed Posie Shaw (SBH) with Amy Kirk (London Heathside) outsprinting a bunch of runners to take bronze. With 3 runners in the top 8 London Heathside secured the team title aheasd of Ealing Southall and Middlesex and Harrow. The U15 Boys race was something of a classic with the top 5 all within 24s of each other. Last years winner Arthur Phillips (SBH) missed out this year to Daniel Jelfs (SMR) with Tom Mythen (SMR) 3rd. Shaftesbury Barnet however piped St Mary’s Richmond to the team title by just 2 points with Hillingdon 3rd.

Due to the heavy ground the U13’s course was changed to two short laps, however this did not detract from the racing and allowed spectators to follow the action. Jack Hayward (ESM) on his home course took the title on the line with runner up Aidan Wolpert (VPH&TH) given the same time, Rory Willis (LH) took bronze just 4s behind all three replicating their good form in the Met league this season. Ealing Southall and Middlesex took the team title with Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers 2nd and London Heathside 3rd.

The U11 Girls was very closely contested with Laura Graham (SMR) finishing strongly 3s ahead of Elsa Valori (VPH&TH) and Alice Clements (Enfield & Haringey). The team title went to Shaftesbury Barnet with London Heathside 2nd and Enfield and Haringey 3rd. In the Boys race Dennys Pascal (SBH) who has been dominent in the Met League took the title ahead of William Stockdale (Enfield & Haringey) and Luis Da Silva (TVH). Shaftesbury Barnet retained their team title with VPH&TH 2nd and Ealing Southall & Middlesex 3rd.

Thanks as always to the officials and organisers as well as hosts Ealing Southall & Middlesex who helped put on another successful championships.