AFD New Years Day Relays

Another day out to Aldershot for another AFD Christmas special event. Another simple but effective and fun event, the AFD runners are paired up in to couples, with the fastest runner being paired with the slowest runner, the next fastes with the next slowest etc. I remember the first time Robbie ran in this event, at 9 years old he was paired with Steph Twell and was completly made up about it, a very real element of hero worship going on there. This year after about 7 years of progression Robbie is in the fast grioup and get’s paired up with a young female athlete “Amy” I think her name was. The format again is simple, and once again it is designed to make the fast runners work for their living instead of coasting along at the front of the groups. The couples form two sets, the fast runners in set one, the slower runners in set two. Set one run 2.7k first lap and hand over to their partner, who runs the second lap and hands back to the set one partner who runs the 3rd lap, finally handing back to their partner to run the 4th lap and finish the race off.

The first lap was started at a rapid pace and was very quickly led out by Josh Grace, with Jack Boswell chasing and Robbie chasing Jack, which is much how the first three runners came in, but by the time set one got back out on to the course positions had floated somewhat, Robbie got out in about 10th place, with Jack further back and Josh a long way back, all three had to work very hard to push up the field and all three more determined to keep the known faster runners behind them than anything else, set one runners made up a lot of places but never did catch each other with Robbie coming in 1st out of the three, followed by Jack and then Josh. Some great running, along with the chase mentality, led to their second lap being run substantially faster than their first lap effort.

Another great morning had by all, some heroic efforts put in by the younger and newer athletes and a great spectator event, well done to everyone who ran it was once again a great success.

Robbie - Leg 1

Robbie – Leg 1

AFD Boxing Day 5km Handicap Race

The AFD handicap is a great day, dragging runners and families alike out of the house at Christmas. Anyone involved with AFD is welcome to run, including the parents of AFD members, past illustrious AFD parents have included the Dad’s of Steph Twell, Jonny Hay and Josh Grace. I even had a go once :).

The idea is simple, everyone puts down their 5K PB, or has a guess at it if they have yet to do one, then the runners are set of at intervals with the aim being to try and get as many finishing as close together as possible, so if the slowest runner is going to take 30mins, and the quickest runner is going to take 15mins then the quickest runner would be released from the start some 15 minutes behind the slowest. It’s a great day, and a great run for the fast guys and girls who often have nobody to chase with the format starting them last and forcing them to race.

A lovely day to be honest, not as cold as previous years and no ice on the route led to a good morning out for all involved. Robbie managed to complete the route in 15:52, which knocked of a good 90 seconds from his previous 5k PB, though to be fair it’s been a while since he has done one.

Congratulations to everyone who joined in, from the regulars to the new and very young talent enjoying their first AFD Christmas.

Robbie Chasing Steph Twell

Robbie Chasing Steph Twell

Southern Inter County Cross Country 2016

Recent events, trying times and a nasty cold came together on Saturday 10th December to smash Robbie for six. A very poor performance with Robbie feeling out of it from the go. Hampshire battled forward with great performances from Zac Mahamaed (2nd) and Lachlan Wellington (4th) helping Hampshire to the Team Gold, unfortunately Robbie’s 5th place in Hampshire, 28th overall was insufficient to score and dropped him out of the winning team. More work needed to get that fitness up, more determination needed to battle through the little things, but improvement is still on the cards, and 2017 threatens to be a much better year than 2016. No more races now until the new Year, so plenty of time to get back on track in advance of the big races in early 2017.

Hampshire U17M. Gold Medalists (First 4 Score)

02: Zakariya Mahamed(Southampton)15:41
04: Lachlan Wellington(City of Portsmouth)15:47
15: Samuel Tyas(Southampton)16:21
24: Jacob O’Hara(City of Portsmouth)16:38
28: Robbie Coupland(Aldershot, Farnham and District)16:41
71: Max Satterly(Southampton)17:44
79: James Porter(Basingstoke and Mid Hants)17:54
91: Steven Cross(City of Portsmouth)18:41

Team U17M Placings.
1: Hampshire – 2,4,15,24 = 45
2: Hertfordshire – 1,6,14,40 = 61
3: Surrey – 3,16,20,29 = 68

Robbie chasing behind the leading pack about 1500m in.

Robbie chasing behind the leading pack about 1500m in.

Popham Airfield – Hampshire League (2016/7) 3 of 5

A chilly day at Popham, but not as cold as forecast, and none of the threatened rain to wetten the ground. Another good day for AFD in the Hampshire League, securing the following team positions;

Ind. 1st Place in U13G, U20W, SenW, U13B, U20M, SenM, VetM

Team 1st Place in U15B and U17M as well as all the above races, also securing 2nd in U15G, 5th in U17W and 6th in VetW. So all in all, a great team day out.

Robbie ran a strong race in the U17M finishing at the leading edge of an AFD pack, coming over the line in 6th followed by Max Heyden, Ollie Percival and Marcus Shantry giving AFD 6,7,8 and 9th place finishes. A good solid time of 17:17 for the shortened course, down to 5km instead of the previous years 6km. A little dissapointed with his position on the day, but given that his best ever performance at Popham was 5th, he was running at about par, the long straight gentle slopes not suiting his running style at all. The race was started at a flying pace with Zac Mahemed taking the lead from the gun, and never relinquishing it, after building a good gap it was up to Lachlan Wellington to chase him down, closing the gap but not enought owrestle the first place spot, with 800m to go Matt Rawlings from Reading stepped up and started to break the chasing pack, the AFD boys dropping off the pcae as Matt, Sam Tyes and Jacob O’Hara pulled away, a flying finish from Matt securing his 3rd place finish.

Dash down the Finishing Straight, end of Lap 1.

Dash down the Finishing Straight, End of Lap 1.

UK Cross Challenge – Liverpool 2016

Getting used to the long haul up to Liverpool on a Friday night, settling in to the Crowne Plaza (John Lennon Airport), having a nice meal, a couple of beers, early night and getting up, raring to go on Saturday for the UKA Challenge. So this year, a little of the same old same old, except for the horrendous journey, 4.5 hours extended to 6.5 hours due to multiple accidents, still got there for 8:30pm, had the meal, beer and headed to bed. Saturday morning saw our annual trip to McDonalds (New Mersey Retail  Park) for a breakfast of kings. Though for the first time in 4 years of doing this, we couldn’t actually see McDonalds from the hotel, a freezing fog had descended overnight leaving paths and roads covered in very slippery ice, and visibility at roughly 50 meters (if that).

After a short drive to Sefton park, we were soon set up and ready to watch a full day of racing, with Liverpool UKA also doubling as the European Trials for Under 20, Under 23 and Senior races it promised to be a good day. As it went it wasn’t until those latter races that we could actually see much of the action, the fog hung around until about 1pm when it finally started to lift (though as we found out on the way home, it wasn’t lifting everywhere).

Liverpool never carries a heavy AFD presence in the younger races, though there was a smattering here and there, with Ryan Martin and Patrick Brown running in the U13 Boys, Robbie representing the club in the U17 men, Jack Boswell and Jake Cvetkovic both finishing in the top 30 in the U20 mens race, the senior men was well and truly represented though, including top 25 finishes from Andy Vernon (3rd), Johnny Hay, Ellis Cross and Josh Grace, with 632 runners it was a busy course. AFD female representation by Kat Brown in the U17W, Niamh Brown in the U20’s and a flood of athletes in the Senior women, including Emily Hosker-Thornhill, Louise Small, Lauren Hall, Georgie Bruinvells, Philipa Bowden and Amy Griffiths all finishing in the top 50.

Robbie had a strong race in the U17m, showing further improvement with a hope of a complete return to fitness now being in the near future. Finishing well and crossing the line in 17th place with a time of 17:48 for the 5.5km course.

From Out of the Fog

From Out of the Fog

Kings Park Bournemouth – Hampshire League (2016/7) 2 of 5

Today was quite remarkable, the weather was bad, but not too bad, hard rain on the drive down was ominous, but Kings Park suffered drizzle at worse. The turn out from AFD was nothing if not exemplar, the individual and team performances were exceptional, and the feeling of a true family, there for each other, there together was simply unique.

The U13 Boys and U15 Boys repeated recent successes with AFD providing multiple runners in the top ten of each, U17M saw Robbie work through his fatigue, both physical and emotional to push home a 4th place finish. But today, AFD and what makes us, all of us, part of the AFD family was reflected in the performances of the two senior events.

The Women, as is the usual in these events went off first, and AFD showed a huge scope of participation with Louise Small carrying the flame over the line and taking the win for AFD, closely followed by other AFD runners, with 3 of the top 5 finishes being AFD. A little further back was a crowd pleasing group of runners, sticking together, being AFD in adversity and showing their love for the team mates so recently and tragically lost completing the course as a group, holding hands and wearing their black ribbon pins with a show of respect that was unprecedented.

The Men took to the field, the number of AFD shirts was quite astounding, the number of black ribbons had spread throughout the day to the extent that every team present had a runner with a ribbon. Today wasn’t just the AFD family, it was the entire running community coming together to show their support, and the AFD Men’s team provided the ultimate performance for the ultimate respect for the sport, and for those that choose to live it as part of their life. From the start the AFD Men’s lead runners took the field by storm, working together they conquered all in their path and as a group of 5 they turned in to the finishing straight together, a whole 300m in front of the next runner. It didn’t stop there, as the group approached the line, there was no mad bid for placing, no need to take first, there was a spreading across the straight as the 5 runners formed a flat line, arms around each other’s shoulders they crossed the line together as an AFD Family.

Today was about running, it was about AFD, it was about those that love the sport, it was about results, but it wasn’t about any of those things for a personal reason, it was about all of those things for two very special girls. Today was for Lucy Pygott and Stacey Burrows, and AFD stated loud and proud that they would never be forgotten, and that they would always be loved.

Robbie Hitting the Finishing Straight

Robbie Hitting the Finishing Straight – Tired but Still Going

National XC Relays – Mansfield – 2016

A traffic strewn slow drive to Nottingham, via Warwick to collect Jade Coupland, for a pre-race stay over at the Holiday Inn at Castle Marina. A family meal, minus Anna, but plus Sandra and Bob Coupland for the kids to get a chance to say hi to the grandparents before Robbie heads off on Saturday to participate in the National Cross Country relays.

Lots of team changes for the AFD teams, the final one seeing Guy Tucker pushed up in to the A team to run middle leg, led off by Robbie and anchored by Max Heyden. The boys ran well, first time with all three as a single team and with last minute changes adding some nervous energy in to the mix but good solid individual runs from all three saw AFD U17M finish in 10th place overall.

With the dry weather conditions, an unusual state for the Mansfield event, the course was dry, no swamps and slip points but some very tight corners led to a number of falls around the course. As always the big spread of runners on the start line is forced to condense down very quickly in to a much tighter course, so being in front of the pack provides a great advantage as the runners hit the first of the corners.

Under 17 Men Stampede Down the Starting Straight

Under 17 Men Stampede Down the Starting Straight

The pack jostling and squeezing being one of the key elements in the early falls, Robbie forced to slow to an almost walk on one or two corners as he steps over competitors or squeezes around tight corners, but once the pack starts to break the running becomes clearer and the runners start to speed up, though by this time those that got in front of the pack had a distinct advantage and dug in to ensure they kept their positions, great runs from Josh Cowperthwaite (1st – 09:00.15), Hamza Kadir (2nd – 09:00.85) and Joe Wigfield (3rd – 09:01.55) got them in front and kept them there.

Robbie Coupland – 09:13.25
Guy Tucker – 09:45.15
Max Heyden – 09:35.70

With a winning time of 9:00.15 (Josh Cowperthwaite) only 13 seconds spreading the top 13 runners to see Robbie place 13th overall.

Determined Finish

Determined Finish

Another great day for AFD as a club, with team victories in;

Under 13 Boys, U15 Boys, U17 Women, Senior Women, Senior Men.

With medal positions in;

Junior Men (Silver), Junior Women (Bronze), Under 13 Boys- B Team (Bronze).

Well done AFD.

Farley Mount – Hampshire League (2016/7) 1 of 5

Wonderful weather for the start of the Cross Countyr season, and XC intro once again provided by Farley Mount, near Winchester. The Hampshire Leaugue circuit will offer some truly excellent competition for the U17M this year with Lachlan Wellington and Zak Mahamed (1 and 2 in the country at U15 last year) moving up in to the U17 age group.

As expected both Laclan and Zak set a fast pace from the begining with Wimbourne star Tom Bourne and Reading Athlete Sam Rodda in the mix, AFD showing a strong team prsence with Robbie Coupland, Max Heyden, Ollie Percival, Marcus Shantry all running well and pushing the the team efforts high.

Ultimately the race finished as below; (times to follow)

  1. Lachlan Wellington (Portsmouth)
  2. Tom Bourne (Wimborne)
  3. Zac Mahamed (Southampton)
  4. Sam Rodda (Reading)
  5. Max Heydn (AFD)
  6. Robbie Coupland (AFD)
  7. Jacob O’Hara (Portsmouth)

Lost track at that point will update when the official results are released but AFD definately top the team event with Marcus Shantry finishing 9th and Ollie Percival finishing 11th meaning that AFD had 4 runners over the line before 2nd place team (Portsmouth) got their 3rd runner in.

A great run but a lot of runners, Lachlan’s lead was impressive, Tom Bourne back in form, Max Heyden leading home AFD. Well done everyone who competed today, a special well done to Gill Pantony at AFD on completing her first XC race in a few years.

Robbie packed in on the starting straight.

All packed in on the starting straight.

National Road Relays 2016

Surprisingly the National Road Relays was held slightly North of the Southerns in it’s usual location of Sutton Park, Sutton Coldfield. AFD didn’t spend so much time on the podium today, but everyone that was available put a good show in. The Youth section of the Road Relays didn’t have many notable performances, with only the U13B, U17W and U17M making the top ten. A very good performance from the U13B though, with the team coming 2nd overall and Harry Hyde placing 2nd in the fastest individuals, ansimularly great performance from the U17W with the team getting our only Junior Gold, and Lucy Pygott placing 2nd to take our 2nd Individual Silver.

AFD raced well in the Senior Mens event with Josh Grace finishing 1st in leg one, and achieving 6th place overall in the Individual Table, with the team placing 8th overall, once again AFD pride was carried on the back of the Senior Women who managed to get 2 teams in the top 10, placing 1st and 10th with Emily Hosker Thornhill bringing AFD up in to 2nd place in the 3rd stage ane Louise Small running an excellent final leg, placing 4th overall in the Individual table and bringing AFD Senior Women to the 1st place and Gold Medal place in the team event.

Robbie had a good run in the U17M’s race, having suffered badly with a chesty cold for almost two weeks, and missing a couple of training sessions because of it, speed and performacne were not expected to be great, especially given the short period of time he has actually been back at full training since his summer injury. He hoped for a sub 12min run and was somewhat dissapointed to only achieve 12:12 but giving the circumstances not a bad run. Once again Robbie took on the mantle of middle man, picking up the batton from Olly Percival who ran the 1st stage in 12:30, handing over in 19th position, Robbie picked off a list of individuals to take AFD up to 9th place, handing on to Max Heydn who picked off a further 2 runners and brought AFD up to 7th place and comlpeted his stage in 12:32.

All in all not a bad day out, even Jade came to watch, not that she saw much of the racing, she spent the whole day cuddling Trex, but hey, she’s been at Uni for a whole week so is bound to be missing him.

Robbie working hard, tired and feeling it.

Robbie working hard, tired and feeling it.


Southern Road Relays 2016

I know I may well have mentioned this before, but the usual, round the corner trip to the Southern Road Relays was somewhat extended this year. That and the closure of the M1 meant a long and extended trip out to Bedford for the relays.

Despite the extended travelling times AFD still managed to shine, winning both the Senior Mens and Senior Womens events by very impressive margins.

The Bedford Autodrome provided a very flat and exposed circuit for all races, the wind whipping across the open spaces to steal breath from the very lungs of the athletes, but still they ran.

Robbie’s first race since his foot injury, so some questions in mind on just how well he would perform, but questions smashed away on the day as he stepped up to take the 3rd stage of the 4 stage 4.5k relays, a stage that he completed in the more than acceptable time of 14 mins 35 seconds.

Times and Postions are not yet available, and given the issues on the day, may never be available, so at present we don’t really know how he performed on the grand scale, but it was a great run, especially after such a long time away.

Well done Robbie Coupland, well done AFD, and I have to say what a delight it was to watch Andy Vernon storm around stage 6 of the senior mens race. A very impressive performance completing 6k in 16:48, with AFD’s Josh Grace 2nd fastest on the day in 17:22, the AFD overall winning time for the 6 stage senior mens event being 1:46:12, some 2 minutes ahead of second place Tonbridge.

Despite the venue change Robbie still manages to keep both feet off the ground.

Despite the venue change Robbie still manages to keep both feet off the ground.