So, after nearly five months of no racing, 22 young athletes descended on the fields at the back of Writtle College for this event with each race totalling no more than six runners to comply with COVID-19. Unusual for XC events to see temperatures in the low thirties with the runners exposed to the sweltering conditions all around the course which took you round the lake. Chelmsford Athletic Club must be hugely praised for putting on this event with approval from UKA.
Our four athletes were included in the senior races in the afternoon, when the heat was at its worst. 90 men took part across 18 races and 23 ladies within six races before the men.
Wren McLean Jackson was unlucky to face Kai Mhlanga in the final ladies race. Kai broke away early on to record the fastest female of the day and it is refreshing to see that Kai started as an U11 with Chelmsford and here she is, 10 years later, still involved in the sport. Wren, despite this, ran well in the heat to place 3rd in her heat and 10th overall plus 2nd U20.
In the 16th Men’s race out of 18, Rhys Edwards was on the starting line. Looking after himself well throughout the lockdown, Rhys was rewarded with 5th in his race which placed him 16th overall out of 90 and 6th U20 - a fine run indeed.
Tom Adolphus and Videsh were in the next race, which was the penultimate one. Tom ran well throughout and was in contact 400 metres from home. It was at this point that outstanding vet Paul Grange changed gear and broke clear, leaving Tom 10 seconds down at the end. Tom complained of a stitch when the break was made and thought he might have got much closer to the Ilford man at the end. Videsh was never that far behind Tom in 6th place to Tom's 5th. Tom was 10th overall and 3rd U20, while Videsh was 15th overall and 5th U20.
Miya Maeda has been going well in training in recent weeks and ran a good 3k time trial a month ago. She was in the second of two races and for once it was a tactical affair early on. Natalie Sewell showed good speed at the end to win, with Miya in 4th spot, 20 seconds down on the Havering athlete. Miya was 4th overall. Jess Adams was in the first race after a fine sub 12 clocking over 3k in the time trials last month. Jess took an early lead and maintained that position around the lake, only to lose first place on the run-in. Jess was 7th overall and has improved a lot since the start of 2020.
In the Boys' races Max Richards found himself up against James Peck from Thetford, who finished in the top 20 in both the Inter Counties and National XC pre-lockdown. Despite this reputation, Max gave his all to finish just over 20 seconds down on the Norfolk lad, an excellent run. This gave Max the 4th fastest time overall. How this lad has improved! Jay Russell, a true club athlete in every sense, was in the first race of three races. As always, he gave his all for 3rd in his race and 11th overall.
Abigail Reid, who will shortly receive her England vest and badge, was in the final race of four. Holly Watson from Chelmsford lined up too. The week before, Holly had recorded an excellent 43.1 for 300 metres and she shares the same 1500 metres PB with Abigail. Abigail took off from the start and ensured she had a gap going into the final 300 metres. Although Holly rallied well at the end, Abigail was able to keep a five second advantage. Fine runs from both. Only Kai Mhlanga (senior lady) was quicker than Abigail at the end of the day. Emily Caton was in the same race and competed well for 4th overall from the four races. A month ago Emily completed a 3k time trial in 11mins 18secs so she in is good form. In race two Emily Millward was on the starting line. Emily had recently posted PBs over 300 and 600 metres in time trials, and today she had a good run for 4th in her race and 11th overall. Molly Wain, another fantastic club girl always willing to give anything a go, was in race three, placing 3rd and 13th overall.
In the Boys' races, Nate Harding started in race three out of five races. Returning from injury, Nate confirmed he is on his way back to fitness with a 5th place and 22nd overall. Nate is bottom year. In race 4 we had Evan Johnson, whose last race was the English Schools where he was an excellent 55th from 360 runners. Evan ran well overall, staying with the leader to claim 3rd in his race and 8th overall. In the last race we had Nathan Wright and Jimmy Geller. In this category back in January we had the first four from the Essex Schools Junior Boys. In that race Nathan was over two minutes behind the leaders, but on this occasion it was a matter of seconds as Nathan finished 4th in the race and 5th overall. Nathan is right back to his best following injuries/growth spurts. Jimmy, who has been through the same problems as Nathan, was not far down on Nathan with 5th and 6th overall. With Reuben away, these results from our Under 15 boys sends out a message that, as a team, they are a force to be reckoned with.
We had three Under 13 boys who all gave their best. I have to praise Leo Everitt in the first race. He found the heat hard but he had the good manners to thank all the marshalls throughout his run. He placed 6th in his race and 18th overall - he is such a great club lad. Oliver Brown, another one coached by Joe Everitt, was making his debut in the Under 13s and he had a good run, placing 6th, trying right to the end, and finishing 14th overall. Gregor Samson was in the final race, and one has to admire this lad for “having a go” as he took on the leaders but faded towards the end, placing 6th in his race and 11th overall.
The Girls' races included some of the top girls in the country, and in the last race you had three of the best in the UK. Charlotte Lovell, like Oliver, was racing as an Under 13 for the first time and she was in race two of six races. She gave a really good account of herself by placing 5th and 28th overall. Behind Charlotte was yet another girl racing U13s for the first time; Ishana Malcolm, a sprinter, finished in 6th place and was 33rd overall. Ishana has my admiration for giving this a go when she would much prefer a sprint race. The winner of race two was yet another sprinter, Lexie Gobran, who had a brilliant run and placed 24th overall. Lexie has clearly benefited from joining in on mum Liz's Under 13 girls group middle distance sessions. Molly Sherrin was in race four and took to the front straight from the start to win her race easily and finish 8th overall from 35. Molly may have benefited from being in a faster race but nevertheless it was a good experience for her. Natasha Wynn, another U11 who is moving up, had worked out her opposition before the start. Her main rival, Lottie Wilkin, took to the front from the start and Natasha was left chasing hard in second spot - a fine run that gave her 11th overall. Molly was 4th Essex girl and Natasha 5th.
So, although it was a very warm day, overall our athletes performed well when one bears in mind that it was not just athletes from Essex clubs. The likes of Barnet, St Edmunds Pacers, Thetford, Portsmouth and Norwich all sent athletes to this event.