conditions underfoot in Hylands Park were soft, but muddy only in places. The
courses were gently undulating, but the most difficult element for the runners
was the very strong wind which blew directly into their faces on the long
run-in. In fact, so strong was the
wind that it overturned the huge marquee used at the finish to house the
forty-four team managers as they record the finishing positions of their
athletes as they pass from the finish funnel to the horde of parents, friends
and coaches waiting outside to congratulate or commiserate as appropriate.
Fortunately, most of the athletes in the Senior Girls race had already finished
and gone through the marquee or the situation might have been calamitous: at the
height of proceedings there are usually some two hundred and fifty people in the
tent. Team manager, Liz Scott, was one of those in the marquee when it flipped
over, and helped to pull people out from the debris of overturned tables,
chairs, bags and marquee. As far as
we know, there were no serious injuries, though to see the mangled wreckage
after the event one would scarcely have believed this possible.
best individual performance of the day was, once again, that of Charlotte Moore.
Despite her professed dislike of cross country, the track specialist was
always with the leading group in the Senior
Girls race and it was only in the finishing straight that she had to yield
to her international rival from Northants.
It must be remembered that Charlotte is in the first year of this
category as is Anneka Smith who finished a very encouraging 105th.
best team performance was that of the Junior
Girls who finished sixth in the country with five runners in the top
hundred. Nikki Hamblin came home a splendid 10th to earn a reserve place for the
Home Countries International in two weeks time. Natalie Real, suffering from the
debilitating effects of a heavy cold, ran splendidly to finish 16th. Amanda
Bailey was also under the weather, but her 57th position is most encouraging
given that she is was a year younger than most of her rivals. There were
excellent runs by Abbie Lawson who, having missed the coach because a power cut
resulted in her alarm not going off and having been driven by car to catch up
with the coach during the pheasant-enforced stop, managed a fine 70th while
Laura Dixon was justifiably delighted with her 99th position. (How much better
it sounds than 100th!). Hayley
Crawford recovered from a fall in the first two hundred metres while Amber
Austin came to grief when her legs became entangled in the tape marking the
course which had broken in the strongly gusting wind. Such are the perils of
the Senior Boys, our first finisher
was Colin McCourt in 66th place, but the most impressive statistic was that all
eight runners finished inside the top two hundred. I cannot recall the last time Dorset managed to achieve this
at Senior Boy level. Indeed, I can recall one year when we had no runners in the
top two hundred at all! Star
performances were achieved by Charlie Pitt-Ford and Alex Crutcher, both of whom
started at the back of the pen and worked their way through a field of tiring
runners. Indeed, there were several examples of athletes who were forced to make
somewhat conservative starts because of their pen order, but who benefited from
this in the second half of the race. It is true of the London Marathon and true
of the ESAA Championships.
runners in the top twenty was the achievement of the Inter Boys team. Max Lacy had won every race in his age group this
season so far and set off with a vengeance.
At one stage he was lying fourth, but with hindsight this was probably
over ambitious given the conditions and his lack of experience. In the final
part of the course only determination and raw courage kept him in front of his
Dorset team mate, the amazing Sean Hogan who must rank in the top two or three
runners of his age in the country, being a young year 10. When he starts to take
his running seriously the rest of the country had better watch out!
Robert McTaggart ran an excellent race for 120th while the team finished
second in the minor counties category with two of its top four runners missing.
had three runners in the top hundred in the Junior Boys race, Luke Greenwood coming home in an excellent 38th
place. Lathaam Wilson and Aaron Davies will improve as they become more
experienced. County champion James
Moubray suffered from an over exuberant start and paid the penalty in the
Inter Girls were led home by county
champion Lucy Kember in an excellent 105th place. Lucy is a year young in this
category and with excellent cardiovascular fitness from her swimming is a fine
prospect for next year.
finished third overall in the Minor Counties boys' category and fourth in the
girls'. When both categories are combined, they were third. In what were trying
conditions, the team managers did an excellent job: thanks go therefore to Liz
Scott, Pete Clarke, Dave Barlow, Ian Dennison and Paul Hart whose experience and
calmness under pressure (or in Liz's case, under the marquee) contributed
greatly to the success of the day. The support of parents and coaches who made
the long journey was much appreciated.
year the championships are scheduled to be held in Brighton.