11th February 2023
JACOB ALLEN, who ran 5th in the Armagh International 5k in 13:47 on Thursday then, on Saturday, had a comfortable victory in the Met league, over the Trent Park course Alastair Aitken reports.
Afterwards, Jacob spoke about the pleasure he got from running for his club Highgate and his job as a PE Teacher at Central Foundation school, improving the boys at sports, particularly athletics.
In the race at Trent Park, it was a group, which included Allen, Brett Rushman, Seyfu Jamaal, Oscar Bell, John Eves and Tom Butler breaking away but soon Allen went ahead and, Brett Rasmusen fell heavily on a sticky patch that put him right out of the running for a place. Oscar Bell, who won at Welwyn, then became a good second in the final lap but, by then Jacob Allen was even further ahead.
The first M45 was Jim Cooper, the Harrow ‘stalwart’ in 61st place and the first M75 was Richard Bloom
340 (In 40.17) and the first M80 was London Heathside’s Bob Gould (52.41).
Highgate Harriers Men had enough points to go on to be the winners overall of the Men League for the 10th successive year but, the Howard Williams Senior Trophy, which adds the Men and the women for total points went to London Heathside because Highgate was Back in 6th place for the women!
There was a good Highgate individual winner in Hannah Viner in the women’s race. On the day it was TVH who had six in the first 9 places but as Viner dominated the second half of the race in second place, was Yvie Lock. A hockey player for Reading, who had only done three weeks of running training so, surprised herself. Angela Duncan (82) brought in the field.
Again, Lauren Russell was a good winner from Abigail Reid in the Under 17’s and Lauren’s mother was first W55 in the Women’s race. There were some impressive runners who won more than just one Met league in the season. In the Under 13’s for the 4th time James Branch went clear from the start, to think he only started running this season and plays on the right wing for Cheshunt Football club; Jonjo Marsh won all her Met League races and declared after the last one at Trent Park “It was tough but good to finish on a good note” Middlesex Under 17 Champion Michael Cattini looked good winning his Under 17 race but, he had to run well to beat that good Woodford youth Jimmy Geller but, one must remember that, as predicted by their coach, John Stowe, very early in the season, that Woodford Green & Essex Ladies would win the Howard Williams Junior Cup which they did.
Regards Alastair Aitken
14th January 2023
OSCAE Bell (23), who works for Bloomberg and recently on 50 to 60 miles a week, coached by Andy Hobdell, won the 4th of 5 Metropolitan Leagues in inclement weather, on the undulating Stanborough Park course Alastair Aitken Reports. “I think my main aim is to improve my general performance each year”. He had been 9th in a Met League race last year and 2nd in the previous one this year at Hillingdon House Farm. Up to about halfway Seyfu Jamaal; Alex Lawrence, Robel Bahelbi and Thomas Butler were all in contention before Bell, moved ahead for the rest of the race.
Despite Highgate missing two of their ‘Star’ runners who were competing for England in Spain, Alex Lepretre & Jacob Allen, Highgate as a team, still continued to be well ahead with their 12-man scorers within the first 61 places but, are unlikely to give London Heathside or Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets a challenge for the Howard Williams Trophy, which combines the Men and women’s scores at the finish.
9th overall was the first M40 John Eves and the two oldest, as M75 competitors, were Charles Taylor and Stuart Mann 336 & 337 of the 357 finishers.
In the Women’s race going down into the woods Liz Janes was striding along, going clear, with Rebecca Gummow on her own next and then came Kate Olding in a good third position. Janes husband Matt Janes, a good county runner was there, watching with their three children 10, 8, and 5. Ex-international Janes (Elizabeth Hall) who works as a physio said “I do my runs early in the morning except on a Monday. I was pleased to run a personal best 10k of 34:08 at the Telfford 10 in December”. Annabel Gummow has had a long career already at 29, having been 3rd in the European Championship ‘Under 20’ 5000 in 2011 and 30th in the World cross country amongst other things but, due to injury is just coming back into form and remarked “ For me I want to do the road now, run some half marathons. I plan to run a good marathon.”19th was Sally Judd (F45) in 43rd place. Angela Duncan (82) brought the field in of 161 runners.
London Champion, Lauren Russell, was dominant in the second half of her race for Under 17’s. She was followed home by an Under 15 Lyn Macdonald. The interesting thing about Lauren Russell is that her mother Sabrina Russell was the first over 55 in the women’s race in a good 38th place overall and her Father Andrew Russell who is an M55, competes quite a lot too. He ran last November in the Met league coming 400 of 462 at Wormwood Scrubs.
Violet Muraidhar (10) followed up her win at the last league at Hillingdon; James Branch has won all his league races and added the one at Welwyn to his Under 13 victories but had been injured recently. Jonjia March was a winner again in the (U13’s) She declared ‘It was very muddy!’ but there had been a lot of rain in the week and on the day.
Regards Alastair Aitken
Third Met League race of the 2022 season
3rd December 2022
ALEX LEPRETRE followed up his win at the previous Met League & the Fraternity Cup race, with a victory at Hillingdon House Farm in cold conditions Alastair Aitken reports. Despite the recent rains, it was surprisingly dry for the grassland course, except for the brook to negotiate on each of the two large laps. At the brook on the first lap, Lepretre led from Sam Hart with a gap to Oscar Bell but, at the halfway point Lepretre and Bell were running out ahead together. On the hill, before going down into the woods Lepretre took the initiative and, was not troubled again. Lepretre, who had run two very good half marathons this year said “Next year I hope to do the marathon”. Bell, who is 23 and coached by Andy Hobdale, is a Hertfordshire track and cross country champion, with a time of 14.25 for 5k. Highgate Harriers still top the league with their 12 to score but at Hillingdon. The first M60 was Mark Curzones 153 in 31:39 and for the oldest category M75, it was Chris Taylor of Trent Park (41.11), who was 346 of 373 finishers.
TVH’s Verity Hopkins won the women’s race but London Heathside is still leading the women’s league from Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets, who are in a good second position.
Verity Hopkins went into the lead on the hill in the 2nd of the two laps but she said she found the last 200 hard work. Hopkins ran 33:57 for 10k in October in Leeds. The first under 20 was Sofia Latham in 3rd place at 31:00; she came in with only one shoe on, as the other was prized off in the mud at one place. It was interesting to see Sabina Russell as a first W 55 because. she was the mother of Lauren Russell the winner of the Under 17 race. The oldest was Pauline Fischer who was 109th of the 161 runners in 40:55
Lauren Russell, in her race, started right at the back of the field in her race but worked through to win well. Lauren, a Highgate Public Schoolgirl, won the London the week before and is coached by Highgate’s Hannah Viner.
In the junior leagues, Shaftesbury and Woodford Green teams were the most prolific.
There were a lot of good winners. In the Under 11 girls’ Violet Muraidhr, who is 10 and goes to Notting Hill & Ealing High School and, the Uner 11 Boys race saw guest Ted Bambridge come in first. In the Under 13’s Boys race, Aneirin Lessard (12) won and declared “ I love cross-country and courses like this with a hill in it. I also like swimming but athletics is my best” In the Under 13 girls Joajia March, who had won the previous Met league she did, looked back to her best result when she won the English schools Cup race,
The Under 15/17 Men’s race was won by Henry Johnston (A guest from Windsor S&E). He has run a 1:59.7/4:03.76/800/ 1500.
Regards 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
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
The 4th Met League of the season
15th of January 2022
START FITNESS – Metropolitan League – Sponsored by Start Fitness
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.