South of England Cross Country Championships 2017

For the first time since Robbie started running I missed the Southerns, but Robbie didn’t, with Anna and I celebrating our friends birthday in France both the Southern XC and the Southern Inter-County Schools would pass without our presence.

Robbie headed in to London with Anna’s Mum and Dad with hopes of a high finish, targeting top 5 which seemed possible given current form. Unfortunately on the day, things simply didn’t go to plan.

A strong start saw Robbie running half the race just inside the top 10, a great place to build from, but a quick trip in to face plant heaven left him feeling a little dispondent when he regained his feet, and despite pushing hard the fire was gone and he ultimately finished in 17th place (in 20.16) . All in all it was a good run, it wasn’t a reflection of his current form but 17th at Parliament Hill is still a great placing. Robbie was 2nd AFD runner on the day, the 1st runner in for AFD was Marcus Shantry (20.03) having a great run and coming 8th, Lewis Reid was AFD’s 3rd runner coming in 20th (20.25)  just in front of our 4th and final scorer Max Heyden in 22nd (20.27).

Unsurprisingly, on current performance Zac Mahamed (19.01) and Lachlan Wellington (19.02) took 1st and 2nd place with a photo finish required to choose the winner, which was after deliberation handed to Zac, but what a battle for the finish line, both runners finishing 20 seconds in front of 3rd place George Groom.

As often happens at the Southerns, Tonbridge had the breadth of field to take the team gold (58 points), closely follwed by AFD in silver place (67 points) with Reading (132)  just pipping Ipswich (134) to 3rd and bronze.

AFD U17's Team Silver Medalists

AFD U17’s Team Silver Medalists


Hampshire Schools XC Championships 2017

With the club event out of the way, time to compete for School glory. The U17’s field sporting a number of runners outside of Robbie’s club XC age group, as he is bottom year Senior Schools. So the top 3 U17 names from the club event are running in the age group below, meaning Robbie needs to step up to compete against the likes of Jack Boswell, James Heneghan and Sam Costley, though some familiar names are still in the field notably Sam Tyas, Lewis Reid and Keir Sullivan.

With the first 16 qualifying for the Southern Schools XC Challenge, and then the top 8 from the Southerns qualifying for English Schools XC Championship there is a need to succeed. Last year Hampshire only had 16 contestants in the Seniro Boys event, so the competition to compete was a little reduced, this year 24 line up on the start line, so no guaranteed places to be had.

Unfortunately event favorite, Jack Boswell who has been suffering with flu like symptoms all week did not finish the event, despite making a valiant effort and actually giving it a go. Well done for trying Jack, and good luck representing AFD in European Team Championships.

Robbie set a good solid pace from the start, but the long gentle down hill slopes so prevelant at Southampton simply don’t suit him and it soon became obvious that James Heneghan had the better downhill capability. It was a good race though, with Robbie closing gaps on the uphills, and james pulling away on the downhill, both pulled away from the chasing pack, with James making the most of the final downhill to lengthen his lead on Robbie.

The Race is On

The Race is On

The short course led to quick times and it was all over for the leaders in less than 14 minutes.

Individual Placings
1: James Heneghan : Eastleigh and Winchester : 13.28
2: Robbie Coupland : Aldershot : 13:45
3: Sam Costley : Eastleigh and Winchester : 13:55
4: Sam Tyas : Eastleigh and Winchester : 13:58
5: Lewis Reid : Aldershot : 14:00

Sam (3) - James (1) - Robbie (2)

Sam (3) – James (1) – Robbie (2)

Team Placings
1: Eastleigh and Winchester
2: Aldershot
3: Isle of Wight

Hampshire Club XC Championships 2017

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.

  1. Lachlan Wellington – Portsmouth – 20:38
  2. Zak Mahamed – Southampton – 20:42
  3. Jacob O’Hara – Portsmouth – 21:23
  4. Robbie Coupland – AFD – 21:41
  5. 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.

Robbie chasing Zac, chasing Lachlan in to the Camp Site stage.

Jacob chasing Robbie, chasing Zac, chasing Lachlan in to the Camp Site stage.

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