What a difference a year makes! National at Harewood House, Leeds, last year we had blue skies, sunshine, mild weather, no wind and a fast course on a scenic setting. At Wollaton Park the runners were greeted with fierce winds, oceans of water, a log to negotiate on each lap plus a mud-bound course.
This fixture always seems to clash with half term, and with many families taking a much-needed holiday, plus a few injuries, we had a very small turnout.
The Start line at Wollaton Park
L to R: S. Beedell, T. Beedell, Angus Holford, J. Stockings, H. Wyber, D. Steel, K. Murphy
To misquote Nottingham legend Brian Clough, the National Cross Country course at Wollaton Park did not include the worst mud our senior men's team had ever run through, but they could all agree it was in the top one. Still, our 10-strong team all fought courageously through the gloopy mires, and after the collective shellshock of the toughness of the course and strong winds had died down, they could congratulate ourselves on 18th position in the 133rd Senior Men’s Championship. This replicated our team position at last month's Southern championship, and we were first Essex club home to boot, beating serious Newham and Havering outfits. This marked improvement was heralded by the return to the race-day squad of Ed Shepherd. Being unsure of his cross-country fitness, Ed planned to adopt the conservative strategy that took him to his historic bronze at the 2019 Southern championship, and he delivered a very solid 35th place to lead the team home.
Several Woodford athletes made the journey to Glasgow to compete in this weekend’s British Indoor Championships. Amongst a number of decent performances there were silver medals for Youcef Zatat, Cameron Fillery and Shanara Hibbert, with both Youcef and Shanara recording personal best performances. There was also news from the US and elsewhere.
Closing in on the club record: Youcef Zatat (photo: A. Wardle)