A visit to to XC’s Mecca brings with it both excitement and anticipation. However the Senior men’s team was decimated as a result of illness recoveries and work travels. This turned a strong scoring 9 into a solid scoring 6. A race report should focus on running but the travel issues were too numerous to ignore.
Tom Beedell was 55th of 1172 finishers. (Pic: Alex Wardle)
Angus Holford was prepared to endure the rail replacement bus from Ingatestone to Newbury Park but the 15 minutes it took to get through the final set of lights were somewhat frustrating. Fortunately, the co-team manager’s meticulous planning meant he did not fall foul of the suspension on London Overground, due to a freight train coming off the rails but not stopping for 3km on Thursday night. Co-team manager Tom Beedell chose to avoid TfL Rail closures but only dodged the Overground during his travels on the day. Co-team manager Tom Phillips had missed the fact his train route from West London was subject to closures, but similarly adjusted his travel on the day. Kevin Murphy and Harold Wyber were less fortunate. Kev had to change his plan from car-train into just car after discovering the Overground closure at Wanstead Park. Harold was worst affected, missing the start by over 5 minutes when his train was changed to a non-stop, meaning he wouldn’t be able to disembark at Gospel Oak. Tom P and Dan Steel were the exceptions with their smooth travels!
Now to the running, well almost. It’s worth highlighting that the start line was moved 50m uphill. I’m sure the veterans and purists would not be pleased to hear of this shortening to the course. They’ll be especially disappointed to hear it was due to a Quidditch game taking place by the Lido!!!
Tom Beedell lead the team home in 55th, not far off where he was placing at the start of the last decade. He confessed this surpassed what he’d expected given current training levels. Angus followed shortly after in 69th, a pleasing result as he admitted to struggling to stay upright on the awkwardly slippery cambers. At least it was a soft landing when he fell at the end of the second of three 5k laps (though Garmin/Strava chat in the pub after concluded that the course was short of the advertised distance). The Ken Bray battle between these two looks like it will go down to the wire! Dan approached the race sensibly due to some hip pain in the preceding week but finished a solid 155th. He’d been closing on Tom Phillips but the marathon training is yet to stunt Tom’s track pace, who accelerated away to finish in 146th. It’s always a delight to have the club legend that is Kevin Murphy on the start line with us. His experience with unusual travels to this race meant he was adept at dealing with just 5 minutes to prepare, ultimately finishing in 277th. After missing the start, Harold enjoyed moving through the field and his 524th clearly doesn’t reflect his true potential, which would have been about half this. His contribution helped to close the team in 18th place but it should have been at least 5 places higher. Tom Spanyol demonstrated his grit by continuing his trend of running only the toughest courses on offer. He’d been briefed that in Harold’s absence he’d be our 6th scorer, so I imagine there was some relief when the two passed each other on the course. Tom placed 1094th out of 1172 finishers.
The team thoroughly enjoyed battling the 9 mile course despite their various travel challenges. They benefited from excellent support on the Heath and appreciate the dedication of the cheer team. Let’s hope things go more smoothly in two weeks at Trent Park for the final Met League of the season.