Wormwood Scrubs (2022 season) – Race report by Alastair Aitken

Second Met League race of the 2022 season
12th November 2022

ALEX LEPRETRE Led from the start to win the second league race of the season in, surprisingly warm sunshine, on a dry grassland course Alastair Aitken reports. Lepretre, a solicitor in criminal investigation, considered his best run was his club half marathon record of 63.28 in the Copenhagen half-marathon when he was chosen to represent England on the 18th of September. At Wormwood Scrubs behind Lepretre, there was an intense race between Luca Minale and Robel Bahelbi but Minale went over a goal post hole and, lost his rhythm on the last lap and, Seyfu Jamaal who, the previous Saturday won the North of Thames/Liddiard race, shot past them both to come in second with Bahelbi third but the latter, content to be part of the winning Highgate team who had 12 in 62, to stay ahead in the league. In 8th place was the first Under 20 runner Abdi Hamud and, the oldest in the race was Roger Green, an M75 in 450 out of 458 finishers.

Rebecca Bunting, a speech therapist, coached by Jacob Howe, helped London Heathside, go further ahead in the women’s league. She has had an impressive season with 5th in the European Championship 50k race and a 2:41 Marathon in Manchester. In the race at halfway, there was a group together and Verity Hopkins came out of that to get second place behind Bunting. In 5th place in the race at the Scrubs was the first W40 Sofia Latham. The oldest was Angela Duncan, a W80, who brought the field home in 199th It was interesting to see Lisa Da Silva come in 14th as, she is the mother of the 9-year-old, Luca Da Silva, who won the Under 11’s and his Father is Manuel Da Silva Head of Competition at TVH.

Remarkable James Branch, who won the U13’boys at Claybury won again, in only his second cross-country race. Alya Johnson, who won the U13 girls’ race, leading all the way, is at Ealing Fields High School and Captain of the netball team. Digby Turk. Who was 17 on November the 7th, has run 4.15 for 1500 and is currently the Middlesex Champion at that event. Kiera Shaw is still an U15 girl but was first home in the combined U17/15 Race.

Regards Alastair Aitken

Claybury (2022 season) – Race report by Alastair Aitken

The 1st Met League of the 2022 season
15th of October 2022

WILLIAM BROOM (21) led Highgate Harriers to individual and team victory (12 in 42). Earlier this year Broom had been at Loughborough and coached by Sonia & Chris McGeorge but recently has been studying at Kings College in London.

The races at Claybury were in mild conditions except, for a few short showers on the undulating course. In the Men’s race early on the leaders together were Robel Bahelbi, Seyfu Jamaal, and Broom; Pete Chambers and Charlie Stockings were behind that. Going into the last lap and, down the hill Broom, who has run a 3:45.7 for 1500, was going was starting to go clear with Bahelbi running in a good second position, 30m ahead of Jamaal but later in the final lap Jamaal, caught him and relegated Bahelbi to third. Ethan Primett was the first Under 20 in sixth place, following his many wins in the younger age group Met League races. The oldest in the field was an M75 Roger Green, 345 of the 359 finishers in 34:36.

The Women’s race created a great battle. The Metropolitan League Champion of last season Beth Hawling and Liz Janes, the previous year’s overall Met League winner, who back in 2006 won the National cross country. After two of the 3 laps they were running side by side, till Hawling, who was 9th in the National and 3rd in the Southern, put the pressure on but Janes was only eight seconds adrift at the finish. Kelly Clarke was the first W40 in 8th place (32:06). The oldest was a W80 Angela Duncan who brought in the field of 153, over the tough course in 60.51. The League team race is wide open as Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets lead from London Heathside, who may be stronger next time and Serpentine RC.

The Under 17-15 men’s race was won by sixteen-year-old George Ward, who went into the lead on the second lap. He has run a 1: 55.68 for 800 and made the English Schools Final. An unusual talent, fairly fresh to the sport, was `12 year old. James Branch, who won the Under 13’s race. He went into the lead on the 2nd lap. He is a keen footballer having had trials with Arsenal & Tottenham and plays for Cheshunt Football club and is at Heathmore School.

Another unusual fact was that the Under 17&15 women’s race combined was won by a 14-year-old girl, Lyra Macdonald who went into the lead on the final lap with Abigail Reid the runner-up. The latter is coached by John Stowe who said “Abigail has many other things she has to do at Forest School that take much of her time up but she will improve. He also pointed out “Woodford Green & Essex Ladies will win the Howard Williams Junior Cup again I am sure”.

Best Regards Alastair

Wormwood Scrubs (2021 season) – Race report by Alastair Aitken

The 4th Met League of the season
15th of January 2022
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Wormwood Scrubs

TVH Officials from the Host club, predicted early in the week that, the course at the ‘Scrubs’ would be muddy going and it was Alastair Aitken reports. Tom Frith, the Essex Champion, won the senior race, following his victory back at Claybury in October, when the ground was drier.

In the closing stages he was chased home by Alex Lepretre, who the previous Saturday had been 2nd in the pouring rain, at the Middlesex Championships at Greenford. At the Scrubs Alex Lepretre, was followed home by Robel Bahelbi also, in Highgate’s winning team of 12 that came home clear but not quite as good as the first 12 in 57 at Uxbridge.

However, despite a heroic effort by Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets, Highgate still had a good cushion of points at the top of the table (6046 with VH &TH on 5127). In the race the first M40 was Tom Aldred in 16th place and the first M75 was Richard Bloom 405 of 440 finishers.

Beth Hawling won her 4th of 4 consecutive Met Leagues and, like last time was followed by Hannah Viner, the recent Middlesex Champion, She spoke to me of the good advice she often got from the London Heathside coaches. London Heathside have a good lead in the league, as they go into the final match of the season, on the 19th of February at Trent Park. (1.London Heathside 1396 and 2. VPH &TH 1122).For the second time in the Womens’ race the first W45 was Alice Sunderland in 5th place overall and, another noteworthy run was by Joanne Kent a W55 in 58th place out of 190.

The impressive multiple league winners in the younger age groups were Ethan Primett in the Under 17’ and Adela Svhalkova in he Under 15 girls.

Although in the young age groups Shaftesbury and and TVH were strong and, Ealing. in the very youngest element, it was Woodford Green & Essex Ladies who were the most prolific team winners again, in many areas and, in the senior ranks it is interesting to see a likelihood of Harrow going forward to Division One after this season.

Regards Alastair

Uxbridge 2021 – Race Report by Alastair Aitken

The 3rd Met League of the season
4th of November 2021
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Hillingdon House Farm.

JACOB ALLEN the previous Met League winner at Welwyn, who came 14th in the European Trial & Cross-Challenge at Liverpool, had the race well under control early on Alastair Aitken reports. “It felt a tougher course than last time but I enjoyed it. I had been refereeing football in the morning at the Central Foundation Boys School. After a lap, Robel Bahelbi was a good second and behind that Chris Rainsford was running on his own. Alex Lepretre led a group of runners next and amongst them were Rob Thompson and first Under 20 runner Thomas Archer. Lepetre’s shoelace came undone and, down in the woods it happened again and he stopped and half a dozen runners went by him. He panicked as he wanted to go quickly up the field and, his club ‘mate Charlie Haywood (7th) said to him ‘Calm down’. It was after that he went over the brook and then caught the second man Rob Bahelbi and went ahead of him to be second behind Allen. Highgate Harriers had their 12 men inside 55 to go a bit further ahead in the League. The oldest was Richard Bloom of Herts Phoenix who was an M75 and came 361 of 376.

In Division One of the women’s league London Heathside slipped to 3rd on the day but are still sufficiently ahead to give strong hopes for eventual victory. Their top scorer Beth Hawling won for the third consecutive time. She said “ I love the atmosphere in the Met League I was 20th at Liverpool but found there was lot of pushing at the corners.” Beth Hawling was strongly challenged by Hanah Viner who got a lead of 20 metres early on but Hawling was stronger going down the hills and, Viner admitted that the brook, covered twice by the senior women and men, and the mud near it was a bit of task in itself. Tara Bage who is a medical student at UCL looked a clear third and remembered one of her best results as 35.30 on the road in January 2020. The first W45 was Alice Sunderland, formerly Alice Braham the National Under 20 Champion of 1995. “ I had not done a cross country for a couple of years and I really enjoyed it but not if had been a shorter course then, I would not have got going”

The Under 17’s Men’s race was the closest of the day when Abdirahim Hamude came in with the same time as Ethan Primett who won the two previous Met Leagues. It Was interesting to see Jack Hayward win the Under 11’s for the 2nd time and after coming 2nd in the Youth Games at Parliament Hill Fields.

Cross Challenge

Welwyn 2021 – Race Report by Alastair Aitken

START FITNESS METROPOLITAN LEAGUE Welwyn Garden City

JACOB ALLEN, 27, took Highgate Harriers to an individual and team victory (12 in 44!) in the 2nd Metropolitan League of the season Alastair Aitken reports

In mild conditions, over the hilly Stanborough Park course, in Allen’s first win over the country he explained “ When I was running for San Francisco University, all the American courses were flat and mostly over golf courses. I was 16th in the Rigonals’ and my 10k time was 29.49” Allen who was in the silver medal team in the National cross relay the previous and after a fast start, was in the front alongside Seyed Ghafri and the previous Met league winner Tom Frith. It was well into the second of the three laps Allen chanced his arm and burst ahead, building up a lead that was not seriously challenged again although. the fight for the minor places became intense. Ghafri got a stitch and lost his second position on the last lap, suffering a stitch. Frith was caught by the strong finish of Alex Lepretre but held on well for second with Le Pretre third but Ghafri was nearly caught by Phillip Crout for the fourth position. The oldest man was Stuart Mann’ who was an over 75 and came in 425 of 441 finishers.

Perhaps the most emphatic win of the day was by the Claybury winner Beth Hawling, who led from start to finish in the women’s race which put London Heathside further ahead with the team scoring. Hawling won by nearly a minute and a half.

She hopes to run in the Liverpool race but feels there will be bound to be people around her and in the front but, her win over the Stanborough course should not, by any means be downplayed. In second place came ex-international Tamara Armoush, a previous winner, who works for Sport England as a strategist but not currently doing high profile races at the present time because of a persistent injury, then in third was Anne Kaye who fairly recently joined the RAF and she had been 4th in the last Met league.

It was interesting t see Jack Hayward, now ten years old win the Under 11’s race as he was 2nd at Claybury. He goes to Fielding Primary School and running is his favourite sport. Again in the Under 13’s Tom Mythen won again and will test himself in a Biathlon and in the London Youth Games, also in the Under 17’s Ethan Primett was a good winner again. A very talented girl Natasha Wynn (12) who ran a respectable 2.19 for Woodford club Under 13 record. She was 2nd in her first Met league but won here. She has a very fluent style and John Stowe the Lead coach thinks she has a very good future in the footsteps of Abigail Reid and is coached by Joe Everett and does sessions with Richard Thurston at the weekend.

`9 as an Uner 13 Woodford record for the 800m was 2nd in the first Met League but won at Welwyn Garden with her very fluent style. Like with Abigail Reid John Stower, the lead coach feels she has a bright future but not to pressure her. Woodford Green & Essex Ladies coaches Joe Everett and Richard Thurston look after her sessions

Regards Alastair++

Claybury (2021) Race Report – By Alastair Aitken

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Claybury 16/10/2021
By Alastair Aitken

THOMAS FRITH battled it out the senior men’s race with Seyd Taha Ghafari and Jacob Allen, till the final part of the third lap, in the traditional good weather for the first Met League of the season Alastair Aitken reports.

It was after that Frith’s tactics, to run quickly down the hills paid off and he drew clear with Ghafari chasing him in earnest. Frith ran 64.54 at Antrim for the half-marathon and was on 90-100 miles a week.

Ghafari came to England from Kurdish Western Iran in 2019 and did all his personal best times with Highgate Harriers this year. Allen who was third spent the whole of 2018 running for San Francisco University. Highgate put their marker down early, having 12 home in 35 out of 372 finishers. For the M75 the first home was Richard Bloom of Herts Phoenix in 40.29 in 333rd

In the Women’s race, it was easy to see that. at halfway. the first three were well clear and strung out, all of whom had got international vests. 1st was Beth Hawling of London Heathside, the leading club in the Women’s league. She ran in the European Cross-Under 23.s in 2015, 2nd was Annabel Gummow who competed in the European Under 20’s in 2011. 3rd was Revee Walcott-Nolan who ran a personal best 1500 in the Olympics with 4.06. 7th overall in the race was Carol Coulon who was first over 45. Angela Duncan, the 1st over 80 brought in the field of 179 finishers. over the hilly course in 1hr7m35sec.

First in the under 17 was Ethan Primett, who is in the sixth form at Richard Hale School. He had a race plan but decided against it and went off quickly. He improved his 3000m in the Summer from 9:44.24 to 8:36.08 In the younger age groups two who really stood out were 14 year old Adela Svihalkaova who came from the Czech Republic two years ago and, won the Under 15 girls race and was an amazing new find Tom Mythen, who won the under 13’s. He is at school at Newland House school and, had never run in a cross-country race before. He took off on the first hill in the 2nd lap.

Woodford Green and Shaftesbury Barnet look to be the ones’ to watch amongst the young teams overall and Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets look strong in most departments. It was Eton Manor’s first time in the league.

Regards Alastair Aitken