English National XC Championships

Busy weekend for all, slow but steady trip up to Loughborough on the Friday night, an excellent choice in team hotel led to a few bevvies being consumed by the spectators whilst watching Rugby in the bar. A good nights sleep, a full English breakfast and a quick trip across the M1 to a very well organised Castle Donnington site. The U17 men’s course comprising of two 3k laps, some long and steep hills, a very long and wide starting straight, which triggered a few concerns about disproportionate distances to the first bend, and to add to the interest a few hundred meters of course running over turnips, which generated a delightful (not) smell. Robbie’s personal target for the day was to finish top 50, with a top target of top 40, personally I thought this was a little conservative, and still believe that he should have been targeting minimum top 40 with a top end aim of top 30. On the day the AFD team started way right in the pen layout, and immediately started voicing concerns, the right hand side pens seamed to have a longer distance to the first bend, and also started with a slight uphill requirement, where as most of the other pens were dead flat straight to bend 1, this may explain why some of the fastest runners in the field hit the first bend right back in the 50/60 positions, with Jack and Robbie coming round first for AFD in the early 60’s. A steady race ensued with Jack pushing through the numbers quickly to sit just of the leading 20 runners waiting for a chance to pick them off. Robbie on Mick’s advice took a steadier approach to ticking off the numbers, picking off runners on the uphill elements through out the race it looked like he may well break in to the top 30, right up until he started to cramp up, with about 1500m to go Robbie developed a severe stitch which lost him a good 7 ot 8 places as his breathing became harder and his speed dropped. Not willing to give up Robbie through everything he had left in to the finishing straight, managing to pick a few places back and fight off Dominic Willmore of Poole Runners, James Heneghan of Winchester and Oscar Subuh-Symonds of Dorking in a last 10m pitch battle. Robbie taking the line in 21:09, the other three in 21:10 so a very close finish. AFD’s third runner across the line was Ollie Percival who had a great run finishing in 48th place but only 5 seconds behind Robbie, a very close race with a lot of runners lends to large numbers with small gaps.

Robbie in the Mad Downhill Dash at Donnington Park

Robbie in the Mad Downhill Dash at Donnington Park

Well done to AFD on the day, especially the Individual and Team medalist;

Under 13 Boys – Team Gold
Under 15 Boys – Team Bronze
Under 17 Women – Team Gold
– Niamh Brown – Ind. Gold
– Lucy Pygott – Ind. Bronze
Junior Men – Team Gold
– Ellis Cross – Ind. Gold
– Gus Cockle – Ind. Silver
Junior Women – Team Silver
Senior Men
– Johnny Hay – Ind. Gold
Senior Women – Team Gold
– Lilly Partridge – Ind. Gold

Dibden Inclosure – Hampshire League 5 of 5

The Hampshire League is a particularly strong age group league, run by Hampshire Athletics Association it attracts clubs and runners from Dorset, Berkshire, Hampshire, Surrey, Isle of Wight and even the Channel Islands. The spread of clubs and runners provides all participants with an exceptional level of competition. This was Robbie’s 5th season racing in the Hampshire League where he has collected, through the help of some great team mates, a team medal in every season. 2011/12 saw AFD U13 Boys take Gold, 12/13 Silver a season dominated by Reading’s Matt Rawlings, 13/14 saw the Under 15 boys take Silver with Jack Boswell and Jake Cvetkovic providing most of the AFD winning points but being out-manned by a Reading trio of Chey Kemp, Matt Rawlings and Peter Cook, 14/15 and AFD claim another team Gold, but still no top 3 individual finish for Robbie 14/15 was supposed to be Robbie’s year, but bottom age group runners Zak Mahamed and Lachlan Wellington burst on to the scene and Robbie was plagued with injuries throughout the year.

So after 4 seasons, Robbie’s best race finish being 3rd and best league finish being 5th a bottom year U17’s season was expected to provide another team medal, and the season started really well with a 5th place in his first race (behind AFD’s Jake Cvetkovic in 1st and Jack Boswell in 3rd), but that first race was to be Jake’s last and with his loss a fierce battle for Team Gold would be contested between AFD and Reading with AFD’s Ollie Percival taking on the mantle of 3rd AFD runner and racking up some great races to keep AFD in with a chance. After two races AFD and Reading are equal on 3 points each, after 3 races AFD edge in to 1st place with 4 versus Reading’s 5 and going in to the last race AFD are 2 points clear meaning that Reading need to not only beat us, but beat us in the team rankings by 2 places, victory in the team event is all but assured.

This is Robbie’s second visit to Dibden Inclosure, the course containing some long straights, some very wet and muddy areas, some gravel like paths and a nice hard hill all lending a little something to a real cross country course, a course that saw many a runner splash down in to the mud and indeed saw Robbie take his 2nd ever race fall, his first being at Dibden Inclosure too. Despite the fall, the hard conditions this turned out to be Robbie’s best ever Hampshire League Individual finish, though to be honest the field of runners was obviously missing some of the medal contenders on the day. Robbie’s hard run race saw him cross the line in 2nd place approximately 31 seconds behind AFD team mate Jack Boswell giving Robbie his 1st ever 2nd place finish, and ultimately his first ever league top 3 finish, actually finishing the season in 2nd place and winning his first HL individual silver medal, along with his AFD team Gold medal.

AFD won the team Gold, the Individual medal winners are listed below.
1 – Jack Boswell – AFD – 5 points
2 – Robbie Coupland – AFD – 17 points
3 – James Beeks – Basingstoke – 24 points

The Leading Pack - Top of Hill 1

The Leading Pack – Top of Hill 1

It was another great season for AFD winning medals in many of the age groups including; (Note: In the lower age grousp a bronze medal is presented to 3,4,5 and 6th placed Individual runners)
U13 Girls – Team Gold, Individual Silver for Charlie Parsons and a 4th place Bronze for Alice Garner
U15 Girls – No team medal but Individual 3rd place Bronze for Abi White
U17 Women – Team Silver, no individual medals.
Senior Women – Team Gold, Individual Gold for Lucy Pygott and Individual Bronze for Katie Bingle
Although the Senior women and Junior Women is a combined age group, HAA still post the Junior Women individual places seperately so…
Junior Women – Team Gold, Individual Gold for Lucy Pygott, Individual Silver for Tilly Horton and Individual Bronze for Stacey Burrows

The Boys/Mens results aren’t in yet so the below is a bit of guess work on my part but…
U13 Boys – Team Gold, Individual Gold for Ryan Martin, Individual Silver for Sam Bodoano
U15 Boys – Team Gold, Individual Gold for Max Heyden, Individual 4th place Bronze for Marcus Shantry
U17 Men – Team Gold, Individual Gold for Jack Boswell, Individual Silver for Robbie Coupland
Senior Men – Division 1 – 2nd Place, Individual Silver for Matt Arnold
Junior Men – No team results posted, Individual Gold for Matt Arnold

South of England Schools Inter-County XC Championships

Despite the entire UK being smashed by rain storms, a little spot in East Sussex missed the rain and stayed dry throughout the day, despite the dry skies the footing was very muddy in places making for tough going on all the runners. It was a great day out for the Hampshire Schools teams, and a great day for AFD runners with representatives in three of the County teams, Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire. Individual club membership is a little difficult to decipher due to numerous misspelt names in the results, leading to the club alignment on Pof10 being missing for a number of runners. So apologies to any AFD runners I don’t mention below.

On the day Hampshire came away with 3 Individual Gold medals, 3 Individual Silver medals, 2 Team Golds and 2 Team Silvers.

Hampshire Schools

Junior Girls 2nd Place – Equal points with Sussex, but Sussex taking the Gold based on the last man(girl) in rule, Sussex last scoring runner placed 27th, Hampshire’s placed 28th. Very Close.
Hampshire Scorers
5 – Saffron Moore
7 – Nicole Ainsworth
11 – Isabel Richardson
17 – Phoebe Moriarty-Palios
18 – Ellie Farrow
28 – Charlotte Parsons
AFD representation from Abi White (Surrey), Charlotte Parsons (Hants), Alice Garner (Hants) and Ellie Monday (Surrey)

Junior Boys 4th Place – The Junior Boys race was dominated by Surrey with 5 runners in the top 6, congratulations to AFD’s Luke Van Oudtshoorn (Surrey) for his 2nd place finish.
Hampshire Scorers
9 – Toby Hale
22 – Henry Mcluckie
24 – Oli Bulpett
26 – Ben Pattison
34 – Theo Doran
37 – Samual Charig
AFD representation from Luke Van Oudtshoorn (Surrey), Theo Doran (Hants), Oliver Harris (Hants)

Intermediate Girls 1st Place – An outstanding performance from Josie Czura provided the first Hampshire Individual Gold of the day, closely followed by the first Individual Silver picked up by AFD’s Lucy Pygott both aiding Hampshire to their first Team Gold of the day.
Hampshire Scorers
1 – Jose Czura 2 – Lucy Pygott 6 – Maddie Deadman 8 – Stacey Burrows 12 – Maisie Grice 13 – Poppy Clements AFD representation from Lucy Pygott (Hants), Stacey Burrows (Hants), Maisie Grice (Hants), Eugenie Cockle (Surrey), Lizzie Squibbs (Hants), Amy Ratcliffe (Surrey), Katriona Brown (Surrey), Katie Standen (Hants)

Intermediate Boys 2nd Place – Like the Junior Girls, the Inter Boys were held off Gold based on the last man in rule, finishing on equal points with Berkshire, but with our last man coming in in 17th, and Berkshire’s coming in in 13th topped the Gold Berkshire’s way. So despite a very impressive run from Lachlan Wellington to win Hampshire’s 2nd Individual Gold, and Zac Mahamed picking up Hampshire’s 2nd Silver and Robbie coming in in 5th place, it still wasn’t quite enough to secure that elusive Team Gold.
Hampshire Scorers
1 – Lachlan Wellington
2 – Zac Mahamed
5 – Robbie Coupland
10 – Jacob O’Hara
12 – Sean Pocknee
17 – Keir Sullivan
AFD representation from Robbie Coupland (Hants), Sean Pocknee (Hants), Ollie Percival (Surrey), Joseph Jakubait (Surrey), Billy Smith (Hants), Will Brockman (Berks), James Hier (Hants)

Senior Girls 2nd Place, another win for Team Berkshire, but neither 1st place Berks nor 2nd place Hants won any individual medals in this race, the top three coming from Kent, Sussex and Essex in that order with a particularly impressive win by Sabrina Sinha crossing the line some 24 seconds before 2nd place Martha Coyle.
Hampshire Scorers
5 – Hannah Froud
8 – Charlotte Dannatt
11 – Anna Sharp
12 – Holly Collier
19 – Lucy Wildash
20 – Evie Grice
AFD representation from Evie Grice (Hants), Lianne Lafreniere (Surrey), Rebekah Pantony (Hants), Tula Hart (Surrey)

Senior Boys 1st Place – Like the Intermediate Girls, the Senior Boys brought home Individual Gold and Silver medals as well as picking up the 2nd Team Gold of the day, an impressive run from Jack Boswell saw him crossing the line some 23 seconds in front of Hampshire and AFD team mate Nathan Gibson who crossed the line some 7 seconds before Essex took the bronze.
Hampshire Scorers
1 – Jack Boswell
2 – Nathan Gibson
5 – Sam Costley
11 – Bonnor Sullivan
15 – Connor Lopez
17 – James Beeks
AFD representation from Jack Boswell (Hants), Nathan Gibson (Hants), Bryn Smith (Hants)

Robbie had a strong race and is starting to look like his old self again, fitness is definitely coming back, not quite 100% yet, but certainly getting there. Heavy conditions left many runners feeling the pain and looking almost done in on the long finishing straight, an early burst from Surrey runner Oscar Subuh-Symons saw him close the gap on Robbie, but that old Robbie shone at this point, as he too kicked and not only held Oscar off but stretched the gap to 8 seconds before crossing the line, at the same time closing the 16 second gap between himself and Sam Rodda (Berks) to only 8 seconds. An excellent finish, a sign of things to come, hopefully a few more weeks training will provide the foundation for a top 8 finish and England selection at the National Schools in Nottingham.

The Muddy Way

The Muddy Way

South of England Cross Country Championships 2016

With quite a deluge on Friday night, it was no surprise that Parliament Hill was once again very muddy under foot, creating a technically difficult and physically demanding course for all runners. AFD had another great showing on the day providing the winning team for 5 of the 10 races, coming 2nd in another and just missing out on a bronze in the U17 Men’s race. Well done to everyone who competed, especially all those Individual runners who medalled on the day. AFD Individual Medal Winners

U17 Women
Niamh Brown – Gold – 19:59
Lucy Pygott – Silver – 20:08

U17 Men
Jack Boswell – Bronze – 20:29

U20 Men
Jack Rowe – Bronze – 26:35

Senior Women
Georgie Bruinvels – Bronze – 30:58

Senior Men
Johnny Hay – Gold – 49:08

Robbie had a strong run in the U17’s a slightly disappointing 24th place finish, but still beating off some of his biggest rivals so not a bad result on the day. Given that the SEAA XC Championships is another deciding factor in team selection for the inter-counties it was important to place higher up the Hampshire scale than he did in the County Championships, so his 4th place Hampshire finish was a great result. There were a lot of other great performances on the day, both from AFD runners and from some great runners from other clubs, but a long day, and lots and lots of runners (1026 in the senior mens race alone) just adds up to too many to report on, so this one is a brief one. Well done everyone who ran, it is truly a great experience.

Battle For The Hill - U17 Men

Battle For The Hill – U17 Men