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


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

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

Trent Park Race Report – By Alastair Aitken

By Alastair Aitken

DYLAN EVANS won his third successive Metropolitan League race of the season, at Trent Park Alastair Aitken reports. Over a course with a few sticky patches but, in bright sunshine, Roger Poolman, went ahead after the initial start, followed by Dylan Evans and Liam Dee, running together. Coming up to halfway Alex Lepretre, second in the Southern, who had been biding his time in the group behind, went straight ahead and pushed on, opening up a 70 meter lead over Evans, who gradually cut down Lepretre’s advantage and, in fact, worked hard in the last mile to win.

The first Under 20 runner Sefu Jamal finished well to take third place with Dee, Poolman and Thomas Butler not far behind.

Highgate Harriers had their record 8th consecutive year of victories in the league, with their 12 to score at Trent Park, all within the first 51 of 426 finishers and, their ‘B’ team topped Division 2 and will join the A team in Division One next season. Highgate also won the senior Howard Williams Trophy for men and women combined, on countback, as the 44 points score was totalled as 44 to Highgate, London Heathside and Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets.

Liz James who was third in the Southern and was, a few years back in 2006, the National Cross Country Champion, won all her 4 senior league races with consummate, what appeared to be with ease, which was good considering she has to look after three children and can only manage one hour a day of training six days a week. One must not forget an equally convincing run was by 2nd placer Nina Griffith who ran a 2:42 marathon in Malaga. She explained “I ran as a kid but gave up from 22 to 30 (Now 34) then had three years off with injuries” Khahisa Mhlanga who was a clear third as a first Under 20 said, “I’ll keep doing cross-country because I love it.” One who impressed me was the first W60 Fiona Kennedy, who came 61st of 218 finishers.

The Junior Howard Williams Trophy went to Woodford Green & Essex Ladies, narrowly ahead of Shaftesbury. Woodford Green’s Abigail Reid won all her Under 13 races in the league. She goes to Forest School and won the Essex Schools cross country on Wednesday. Regarding Shaftesbury Barnet victories, they won the Under 11 boys race with Arthur Phillips, who is at Moss Hill Junior school and, won his age group in the Middlesex clubs and coached by Ty Holden. He is 10 years old and, looks forward to running the 800/1500 in the Summer. Posie Shaw won the Under 11 girls race in every Met League meeting this season. Under 17 Joanne Miranda, won her last 4 Met Leagues, which included this one and was part of the club relay team that was 2nd in the National cross country relays at Mansfield, and Giano Stubbs was another to win for Shaftesbury as an Under 13 winner of all his Met leagues, so I put to established and top official of Shaftesbury Barnet Bryan Smith, that he must be very pleased with the results of the Shaftesbury youngster with a good future his reply was ‘Yes but they tend to all go off to University and we lose them”

Regards Alastair