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.

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 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

Reading – Hampshire League 4 of 5

The sun was shining over cold and frosty fields as we headed to Prospect Park in Reading for the 4th Hampshire League race of the season, but by the time we arrived the frost was well and truly melting, lending to a very slippy and in places sticky course.

Another great day for Aldershot, clocking up numerous individual positions and pushing the team league positions further up the tables, or simply cementing their current top spots.

Up the Hill - 1st Time

Up the Hill – 1st Time

Under 13 Boys
Individual (Top 3 AFD Runners)

1 – Sam Bodoana – 10:39
6 – Edwad Henderson – 10:57
8 – Alfie Spear – 11:03
Team (Provisional)
HL4 = 1st
Overall = 1st

Under 15 Boys (Top 3 AFD Runners)
Congratulations to Lachlan Wellington from Portsmouth on a stunning run, winning by 26 seconds (12:44). Now if my maths is correct, in the team event AFD and Reading drew 1st place, but as AFD’s final runner was higher than Reading’s I believe we get 1st, which means Reading get 2nd and Portsmouth get 3rd. A great result for AFD as it means that AFD slip to the top of the aggregate league table.
2 – Max Heyden – 13:10
6 – Marcus Shantry – 13:45
7 – Eoin Canning – 13:57
Team (Provisional)
HL4 = 1st
Overall = 1st

Under 17 Men
Individual (Top 10)

A great race for the Under 17’s with a leading group of 5/6 hanging together for the first 3k, the double up on the primary hill taking it’s toll on a number of runners and seeing AFD’s jack Boswell hit the flat in front, a good and strong run from Reading’s Micheal Lennon had him chasing Jack out on to the field, closely followed by Reading’s Chey Kemp, Basingstoke’s James Beeks and AFD’s Robbie Coupland. Other strong performances from James Heneghan (Winchester), Ollie Percival (AFD), Luke Powell (Southampton), Connor Lopez (New Forest Runners) and Dominic Willmore (Poole Runners) completed the top ten. A strong finish from James Beeks and a trunk full of determination from Robbie Coupland saw an excellent battle for 3rd place, with James using his strong and long legs to pull out a 3 second gap over the last 250m, but without Robbie’s determination to hang in, it could have been much more. As mentioned very muddy underfoot, with a couple of hard hills make the Prospect Park course a hard course to run so congratulations to everybody who completed their races on the day, irrelevant of position. Well Done.
1 – Jack Boswell – AFD – 17:26
2 – Micheal Lennon – Reading – 17:54
3 – James Beeks – Basingstoke – 18:00
4 – Robbie Coupland – AFD – 18:03
5 – Chey Kemp – Reading – 18:16
6 – James Heneghan – Winchester – 18:17
7 – Ollie Percival – AFD – 18:26
8 – Luke Powell – Southampton – 18:31
9 – Connor Lopes – New Forest Runners – 18:37
10 – Dominic Willmore – Poole Runners – 18:38
Team (Provisional)
HL4 = 1st
Overall = 1st

Under 13 Girls
Individual (Top 3 AFD Runners)

2 – Charlie Parsons – 11:17
6 – Alice Garner – 11:50
8 – Emily Squibbs – 11:56
HL4 = 2nd
Overall = 1st

Under 15 Girls
Individual (Top 3 AFD Runners)

1 – Niamh Reid-Smith – 12:33
3 – Abi White – 12:36
23 – Ellie Monday – 13:43
HL4 = 2nd
Overall = N/A

Under 17 Women
Individual (All 4 AFD Runners)

AFD only have a very small contingency in the U17 Womens race, with many off our runners choosing to step up in to the senior race. Still we had a complete team on the day, plus a spare fielding 4 runners in this race.
8 – Evie Higton – 16:27
16 – Sammy Bonny – 17:44
17 – Tula Hart – 18:15
18 – Maddie Sturgess – 18:20

HL4 = 3rd
Overall = 2nd

Under Senior Women
Individual (Top 3 AFD Runners)

Great performances throughout the field, with a number of AFD U17’s women stepping up an age category and shining in the competition. Well don to all the Women who ran in this race, a busy start line of 117 runners on the day and a great win for AFD by Lucy Pygott.
1 – Lucy Pygott (U17) – 19:39
2 – Katie Bingle (U23) – 19:47
6 – Stacey Burrows (U17) – 20:32
HL4 = 1st
Overall = 1st

Hampshire XC Championships 2016

A good day in most for AFD, but very wet and muddy conditions to run in. Not such a great day for Robbie though, after 4 weeks of enforced rest a great performance wasn’t expected with the only true aim trying to finish top 8 in order to qualify for selection in the Hampshire Team. Unfortunately that wasn’t to be with Robbie running well, but obviously suffering from the lack of training, finally crossing the line in 9th place, just outside those important qualifying places. Still he is first reserve, and now back training so lets hope a chance occurs.

AFD didn’t really make much of a dint at U11 with a single representative in the boys, and nobody in the girls, but step up an age group and things start to change, with Harry Hyde winning the U13 boys race and AFD winning the team event by a massive 40 points, the U13 girls received an individual bronze for Charlie Parsons and despite Portsmouth coming 1st and 2nd AFD pipped a team gold based on the fourth runner position rule. Unfortunately AFD’s very strong U15 girls team are predominantly Surrey runners and AFD failed to enter even a single runner in that particualar race, the U15 boys missed out on any individual medals but did grab the team bronze, with our highest placed runner (Billy Smith) finishing in 6th place.

And so on to the U17’s – AFD did well in the boys, but only fielded 3 runners so no team medal, that said no teams fielded any more than 3 runners and no team medals were handed out on the day, a shame I think.

Packed tight almost at the halfway point.

Packed tight almost at the halfway point.

With no team results posted I have created a team result chart based on the following concept.
(Team Actual Score) plus (Team Forfeit) = Team Result
Where Team Forfeit = 27 (there were 26 runners) multiplied by the number of missing runners.
Which Leaves the Team Table Top 3 as…
1 – AFD – 53
2 – Guernsey – 54
3 – Southampton – 62

Individual Results
1 – Jack Boswell – AFD – 20:08
2 – Sam Maher – Jersey – 20:34
3 – James Beeks – Basingstoke – 20:44
4 – Ed Mason – Guernsey – 20:47
5 – Connor Lopez – New Forest Runners – 20:55
6 – Luke Powell – Southampton – 21:00
7 – Sam Costley – Southampton – 21:02
8 – James Heneghan – Winchester – 21:05
9 – Robbie Coupland – AFD – 21:17
10 – Kier Sullivan – Winchester – 21:41

With AFD’s 3rd runner, Sean Pocknee coming in 16th.

To quickly conclude the round up from an AFD perspective, U17 women won individual silver (Lucy Pygott) and bronze (Stacey Burrows) and team gold, U20 men won Individual bronze (Bryn Smith) – no team medals issued, U20 Women won Individual Gold (Daisy D’Santos) and Team Gold the Senior men saw Matt Arnold place highest from AFD in 5th place but no team medal, and finally the Senior Women received an Individual Gold through Louise Small but again no team medal.

Well done to everyone who competed on the day, it was a very heavy course, just walking the medium loop once wore me out.

Hampshire Championships

Tomorrow (Saturday 9th) will see Robbie running in the Hampshire Championships, with no training for 4 weeks due to an IT band problem it will be interesting to see how he gets on. Still hoping to finish in the top 8 and get selected to represent Hampshire in the National Inter-County Championships on the 12th March.

Good Luck to Robbie and to everyone racing in their county championships this weekend.