This January like most was bleak, dull, wet and cold, but this not deter 35 young WGEL runners from taking part in the second match against rivals Belgrave Harriers.
As our colleagues south of the Thames were involved in a virtual Middlesex Championships we agreed to run their distances.
Under 13 girls and boys: 1500 metres
Under 15/17 girls and boys: 3000 metres
Under 13 girls
Our girls really made a statement with five girls inside 6 mins 10, three being year 6s which really bodes well for the future. Natasha Wynn, who is hoping to run 2 mins 20 for 800m this summer, led the way with an excellent 5 mins 21. Close up was our highly ranked swimmer at national level, Ella Edwards, in 5 mins 25, with triathlete Jasmine Hall running strongly for 5 mins 27. Faye Owers, whose family had been hit by COVID, was brave as always with 6 mins 05, with new girl Ella Langston also recording a sound 6 mins 06. Next up was Matilda Frith, who is improving all the time, in 6 mins 17, while 2nd claim member Tess Noblet, running as a guest, did well for 6mins 31. Caitlin Hancock, so looking forward to this year's track season, should be happy with 6 mins 43, just five seconds down on Chloe Jennings, who is also steadily improving and ran 6 mins 38. Eliza Bridges, who was limited with options as to where to run, must be praised for running 6 mins 53 around a muddy field. Amber Higgs-Smith is on her way back to good fitness and she ran 6 mins 53. New girl Maisie Palombo ran 8 mins 54. All these girls must be commended for running in cold, wet, sometimes freezing, conditions. This was the best turnout for WGEL. Great credit goes to Joe Everitt for getting these youngsters out.
Under 13 boys
Another reasonable turnout for the lads, who were led home by Rudy Parker-Bayes in 5 mins 14 - a fast time on a bitterly cold night in Harlow. Gregor Samson also exceeded expectations with a fast 5 mins 20 in North Weald. Oliver Brown has really stepped up to the plate this winter and was rewarded with 5 mins 41, while Daniel Arnold, another impressive year 6 runner, was timed at 5 mins 46. Ethan Day, back home from boarding school, ran a sound 6 mins 11 secs. Josh Richardson improved hugely from his virtual run last May with 6 mins 15 secs. Patrick Hayden, who is training well with Laura Millward, also improved greatly with 6 mins 20. What would our club do without loyal servants such as Zak and Leo Everitt, who ran 6 mins 35 and 7 mins 23 respectively. Again, great credit goes to coach Joe Everitt for getting these runners to compete.
At this stage we held a good lead over Belgrave.
Under 15 girls
Firstly I must praise Molly Sherrin for stepping up an age group by running a 12 mins 38 for 3k on a bleak Saturday morning. Schools International Abigail Reid ran 10 mins 44, getting an absolute soaking on a Tuesday evening. Kezia Beeton ran alongside the river Stort covered in mud but had her finest run to date with 11 mins exactly for 3k. Meisha Trend-Evans, another outstanding triathlete, had her best run to date, clocking 11 mins 11 close to High Wych. Ava Frances, who is running most days during lockdown, showed much improvement with 13 mins 05 - a really good run for her. Isabella Worwood gave it a go on a frosty, icy morning and she must be commended for her 14 mins 30. This was a really good turnout from our girls and stretched our lead over Belgrave.
Under 15 boys
Jimmy Geller 9 mins 36 and Chris Richardson 9 mins 54 ran brilliantly on another cold morning in Woodford. In my eyes, Chris's run was the best run overall, since it was only last May that he ran 9 mins 48 for 500 metres less, a colossal improvement for our lad. First year Under 15 Nate Harding clocked 11 mins 21 and Oscar Farthing 11 mins 47, and their runs must also be commended.
At this age group we were level with the Bels, but we still led overall.
U17 girls and boys
Maisy Silverstone once again showed that she is a confident runner, running solo with a fine 10 mins 27 secs. Jess Adams also had her best run ever, returning 11 mins 41 to show she is coping well with training during lockdown. Ellen Savidge - what a great club runner! - gave this a go, running well for 12 mins 49.
Max Richards, hugely tied up with GCSE and with hardly any training, supported the club with 10 mins 13. We all know that Max will be back to his best in the summer, we hope running a minute quicker.
So we finished ahead of Bels in five age groups and drew in the Under 15 boys. It was a good turnout overall but hopefully more will pound the pavements/paths as we take up the Essex Challenge during half term.
During this lockdown the youngsters are being encouraged to join zoom calls organised by coaches every three weeks, which enables them to chat about their training and gives the coaches an opportunity to praise the runners for getting out at a difficult time of the year.
In general, looking at these results, WGEL is in good shape for when things do get back to normal and the athletes cannot wait to see their clubmates and get back to group training.