For the first time the Young Athletes section competed in these prestigious relays in Sutton Coldfield. All the athletes ran the same distance of just under 4k, which included a long climb at the start. The parents of the 26 athletes must be commended for travelling to the Midlands in order that our athletes could have a taste of racing the best in England.
So a wet cold morning greeted our athletes on the day, with the rain easing during late morning.
Under 13 girls
The girls exceeded the team manager's expectation of a top 20 placing from 60 starting teams by finishing an excellent 9th place, with the other team in 37th spot.
Abigail Reid, fresh from a record breaking run at Claybury two days earlier, got the Woodettes off to a good start early on. As the race swept down the hill in the latter part Abigail came charging through the field to give us an excellent start in 5th spot. Abigail's time of 14 mins 51 secs was the 9th fastest overall. Next away was Larna Morgan, who showed her class and experience by keeping the team in the top 10 by coming in 8th - a fine run from our triathlete. Kezia Beeton took care of the last leg with many top runners around her. Kezia did really well by holding her own and only Liverpool AC passed her as we came in 9th, ahead of the mighty Aldershot and also ahead of our Met League rivals.
Molly Matheron was so unlucky to have breathing problems in the damp conditions but she be proud of herself coming in 42nd. Next away was West Essex Year 6 champion Rosemary Kelly, who is benefiting from the Tuesday sessions from her coach, Sue Edwards. Rosemary had a good run, passing 6 runners to come in 36th. The final leg was run by Emily Caton, also who trains with Sue on Tuesdays. Emily stuck to the task with great determination to come in 37th.
Under 13 boys
Again the boys exceeded the team manager's expectation with an excellent 12th spot, and this was achieved with Jimmy Geller coming back from a virus. The other three lads did really well with 30th, this from 80 starting teams.
Reuben Fabian, racing for the first time at this level of competition did really well with 33rd, a fine run from the lad. Nathan Wright ran a stormer on the 2nd leg and he appears to be right back to his best after taking 13 runners. Nathan was around 30th fastest overall on the day. On the last leg Jimmy Geller took another 8 places to see the Woodies gain 12th spot. This was achieved with no training the previous week as Jimmy was recovering from a virus. Great credit to the lad as he was 16th fastest overall and would have been much higher if he had been fully fit.
Eden McNicholas, 3rd in the Essex Schools Year 6 last April, can be happy with 47th on the first leg as he is a bottom year runner. Next away was Luca Gormley, who had a great run, taking no fewer than 17 runners to come in 30th. On the last leg the dreaded stich got the better of poor Evan Johnson. Nevertheless he showed guts and spirit to bring us home in 30th.
We also had an incomplete team with Sid Cody and Ben Savidge running. These two lads, who both ran well, showed great club spirit by taking part despite having no last leg.
Under 15 girls
We had just one team and they battled well to come 53rd.
Miya Maeda, stepping up from Under 13s recently, had a fine opening leg from 80 runners to come in 37th. Miya’s main aim this season is to make the All England Schools XC. Next out was Zahara Malcolm, our county champion over 300m, stepping way outside of her comfort zone. She ran well, using the run as endurance training, and being the great club girl she is, by bringing the Woodettes in 53rd. On the last leg Ellen Savidge, another triathlete who is being looked after by coach Richard Thurston at the moment, did really well to hold the club's position.
Under 17 Men
Most of this squad are bottom year runners but they still managed 21st and 31st from 75 starting teams. The boys are currently training hard on a Sunday morning with Richard Thurston over at Trent Park, whilst John Stow takes the midweek sessions.
Ben Sloan, fresh from an excellent 10k of 36 mins 21 secs the previous week, ran a fine opening leg to come in 31st, not too far down on the leaders. Next away was Videsh Weerakkody who had his first taste of racing at this level. Videsh stepped up to the plate in fine style, taking 5 runners to bring us in 26th. The last leg was in the hands of International triathlete Kai Boggon. Kai, as always, gave his all to bring the club in 21st - a fine overall performance from our lads.
Sam Sloan, who, like his twin brother, ran an excellent 10k in 38 minutes the previous weekend, had another excellent race in placing 39th, just 14 seconds behind Ben. Kieran Allgood, again a great club/county runner, took 4 places to bring us in 35th. On the last leg Rhys Edwards, who is recovering from a virus, showed us he is recovering well to climb another 4 places to bring us home in 31st.
Under 17 Women
The girls did really well to place 35th from 55 starting teams.
Wren McLean-Jackson had a fine opening leg to place 20th, running inside 15 minutes for just under 4k, which equates to 6 minute miling. Wren, like Miya, is hoping to get the All England Schools XC next March. Siena Taylor came in for leg two and, although dropping a few places, is showing us why she is still a county runner. On the last leg Georgina Handford proved to me what a great club girl she really is by taking on the last leg even though she is really a 300m runner, and she brought the Woodettes home in 35th.
So overall an excellent set of results from our athletes, who were prepared to take on the best in the country. They now have the Met League to look forward to next Saturday.