After the ice, frost and frozen grounds of the midweek a soggy and heavy Cross Country route was something of a surprise, but given the almost 24 hours of rain on Friday it shouldn’t have been that much of a surprise. Fairthorne Manor in Botley provides a very changeable course, with the footing and surface varying from compressed stone, through clods of heavy grass all the way to bogs of mud and sand making for a very “Cross Country” cross country course.
For the first time 2017 sees the U17 (6300m) and U20 (8700m) races are combined, running the same course up to around the 6000m mark where the U17’s peel of and head for the finish line whilst the U20’s have another 2500m loop to complete. The combined group of boys raced away across the open fields of the “Arena Stage” and with no Arena loop were soon hitting the first wooded area of the course, coming through those woods for the first time saw Robbie sat back in 8th place with Lachlan Wellington leading the combined groups through the woods. Some 700m later with the slightliy lighter footing of the “Golf Course” stage and Robbie had powered to the front of the group and was taking the race on, looking strong and a lot like the Robbie of old. The lead didn’t last for long though with both Lachlan and Zac responding and coming past Robbie as they entered the second wooded area and pushed in the “Cap Site” stage, Robbie’s legs still not 100% and with a heavy Christmas training routine still hanging on his muscles he simply didn’t have the endurance to keep up the pressuer for any serious amount of time, that said it was really good to see him push it and put the effort and determination in while he could. As the boys completed the first full lap and entered the shorter second lap Robbie was clinging on to 3rd place with U20 team mate Jack Boswell and U17 competitor Jacob O’Hara closing the gap, which and passing Robbie.
At the end of the seconf lap, the U17’s peeled away, by this time Robbie was in about 7th or 8th place overall, but 4th in the U17’s so as they peeled off the race was led by Lachlan, who had a convincing gap between himself and second place Zac Mahamed, with a similar gap back to Jacob and another similar gap back to Robbie. Though for a tense final 200m it looked like there might be an upset with Zac switching in to full on sprint mode and quickly closing the gap on Lachlan, though never quite getting there and ultimately leaving the placings as they were at the peel off point.
- Lachlan Wellington – Portsmouth – 20:38
- Zak Mahamed – Southampton – 20:42
- Jacob O’Hara – Portsmouth – 21:23
- Robbie Coupland – AFD – 21:41
- Samuel Tyas – Southampton – 22:00
A weekened AFD team, alongside very strong team performances from Portsmouth (1st) and Southampton (2nd) saw AFD finish in a dissapointing 5th place behind 4th place Winchester and 3rd place Guernsey, not through a lack of trying though with great performances from Connor Dauven (23rd) and Stephen Lawry (32nd) in a very strong Hampshire field.