London Championship 10k (men): 19 November 2011
On Saturday 19 November, Serpentine men’s cross country team took part in the London Cross Country Championships, a 10km race which takes place in November each year on Parliament Hill, Hampstead Heath. Normally for cross country we have to travel a bit further than Zone 2 so we therefore welcomed the shorter journey and a race away from the pressure of the Metropolitan League. Both in 2009 and 2010 we were team silver medallists behind Highgate Harriers in this four-to-score race and even with a depleted team we expected to medal again.
Nick Torry, after just missing out on an individual medal last year had an incredible sprint finish to overtake Thames Valley Harriers’ Mo Aadan and finish 2nd behind Cambridge Harriers’ Dean Lacy. Nick will be racing the European Cross Country Championships selection race in Liverpool next Saturday, the highest standard of competition he will have ever faced, and his fourth race in successive weekends. Hugh Torry finished 9th, again going off hard and fading slightly, while Eric Phillips in 24th was also passed by several people in the last half mile. Ebrima Noble in 28th, who is having his finest season for several years, was second veteran in the entire race and completed our A-team of four scorers who beat Highgate Harriers but were beaten unfortunately by a very good Herne Hill Harriers team to leave us silver medallists once again, out of 21 complete teams.
Dave Morgan in 39th said afterwards that the hills and the longer distance were something of a reality check for him, Joll Attwooll in 50th was pleased to have started harder than he did in Stevenage. Andy Reeves was another with a fine sprint finish in 61st, while Barney Southin in 69th didn’t appreciate the changes of pace that hilly courses entail and is therefore going to adjust his training accordingly. The London Championships didn’t this year count the scores for B-teams, but by my reckoning our theoretical B-team would have been third best B-team and ahead of all but the first nine A-teams.
Andrew Davies came 77th, Serdar Cetin was 86th, just in front of Kevin Darcy in 87th and in his first race of the season and only just starting to get into consistent training again. Club honorary chairman Charles Lescott was 93rd, while Roger Reid and Richard Fanning who both also opened their seasons came 97th and 100th. Alessandro Poggi in 103rd has now hopefully put injuries behind him and we welcomed back to the team endurance coach, Andy Robbins in 106th. James Quinn in 114th was happy to run his first cross country race of his adult life and finish in the top half of the field, just in front of Josh Paparo in 116th, while Alex Andel and Alastair Maher were 130th and 131st.
It was good to see many other Serpies running, including Dan Lewington (141st), Claudio Bellotti (150th), Justin Lock (154th and delighted that we chose a pub which didn’t serve full pints for once), Rob Westaway (162nd), Stephane Schneider (174th), new recruit Kieran Murray (175th), Shawn Duffy (180th), Paul Fromme (186th) and well ahead of rivals Alex Pearson (195th and more secret training needed) and Lars Menken (197th and catching), Mark Kell (196th), Chris Abel (199th), Robert Crangle (201st), Ian Hodge (213th), Gy Harness (220th), Richard Hardiman (223rd), David Hinds (227th), Neil Bradshaw (231st) and finally but not least Ian Hall (240th). Surely we had the largest turn-out of any London club?
The November afternoon was clear, crisp and sunny; running conditions were perfect and there was, unusually for Parliament Hill, almost no mud underfoot at all. Many thanks to all the race marshals and officials, including Malcolm French who helped with the organisation, Sally Hodge and Bev Thomas who helped manage the team on the day, Urban Bettag who has posted some pictures on facebook and everyone else who supported and cheered. Congratulations to the Serpentine ladies who also got a team silver medal. Given that we now have made enemies of most of the publicans round Hampstead we were forced to go to The Magdala for the first time for the post race celebrations and we may end up going there again in future.
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