South of England – Inter Counties XC Championship

Well the weather seems to be changing, quite a nip in the air today, the chill accompanied by a horrible drizzle and a very cold wind set for miserable conditions. The footing was generally good though, no swamps, no puddles just grass and a little mud to contend with. Robbie running in the white and green of Hampshire started well, the race quickly breaking down to Ali Kinloch way out in front, followed by a chasing pack, followed by another chasing pack, followed by the rest of the field. Robbie sat comfortably in the second group for some time before pushing to the front of that group and pulling it along in an attempt to close down the group in front. The group worked hard and well closing the gap and presenting opportunities to pull back some places. For most of the race Robbie was the leading Hampshire runner, closely followed by New Forest Runners Connor Lopez, but the last 1km saw Jack Boswell come through to sit behind Robbie and subsequently pass him on the finishing straight.

Top 5
1. Alasdair Kinloch Kent 14:59
2. Terry Fawden Middlesex 15:07
3. Ben Davies Bedfordshire 15:08
4. Jamie Goodge Kent 15:11
5. Will Perkin Buckinghamshire 15:14

Hampshire Results
Team Position 4th (1st 4 runners score)
14. Jack Boswell 15:40
15. Robbie Coupland 15:41
19. Connor Lopez 15:49
27. James Beeks 16:10
28. Sam Costley 16:12
51. Luke Powell 16:43
53. Sam Metcalf 16:45
62. Keir Sullivan 17:07

Good run by everyone who attended, an excellent race to watch, well done boys.

Robbie kicking hard down the hill, about 1.2k to go.

Robbie kicking hard down the hill, about 1.2k to go.

Team Hampshire

Team Hampshire

Bournemouth – Hampshire League 3 of 5

Another wet and windy day in Bournemouth saw some good results for AFD overall with Team 1st in U13 and U17 boys, 2nd in U15 boys, the girls winning at U13 and the U20’s and coming second in the Senior Women.

Robbie’s race went very well, with Sam Costley taking on the wind and the weather to pull away early, a decision that ultimately cost him, as the chasing guys clung together in a group of around 20. That chasing group slowly closed the gap until they caught and pulled past Sam, and pushed on with Connor Lopez taking the bull by the horns and pushing out at the front a place he held until about 1k to go when Jack Boswell caught and overtook him, pushing hard and soon pulling away from the group. Connor feeling the effects of leading the pack slid back to 4th place with Jack holding 1st place, Sam Maher taking 2nd, Matt Rawlings taking 3rd.

Robbie’s race went well, sticking with the chasing pack and being as sensible as he could, kicking a little at the 1k to go point as the leading 4 pulled away and fiding himself in 5th place with nobody around, like Sam and Connor before him, breaking through the wind took the legs out from under him, allowing Sam Rodda to catch him, and on the finishing straight take him and push him back to 6th place. Still a strong run executed very well.

Individual Results
1. Jack Boswell AFD 19:34
2. Sam Maher Jersey 19:41
3. Matt Rawlings Reading 19:45
4. Connor Lopez New Forest 19:54
5. Sam Rodda Reading Reading 19:55
6. Robbie Coupland AFD 19:58

Reading 3rd Runner – 11. Micheal Lennon 20:31
AFD 3rd Runner – 10. Ollie Percival 20:22

Team Results
1. AFD 17 points
2. Reading 19 points
3. Basingstoke 56 points

Individual League Standing
1. Jack Boswell AFD 3 points
2. Matt Rawlings Reading 4 points
3. Sam Rodda Reading 8 points
4. Robbie Coupland AFD 11 points
5. Sam Costley Southampton 12 points

Team League Standing
1. AFD 4 points
2. Reading 5 points
3. Basingstoke 12 points

About half way....

About half way….

UK Cross Challenge – Liverpool (2 of 5)

A long trip up to Liverpool for the UK Cross Challenge, but a great experience, watching some great runners compete. Steph Twell coming 3rd (behind Gemma Steel and Kate Avery) in the Senior Womens and guaranteeing a place in the GB XC squad, with AFD pushing 2 runners in to the GB squad at the Junior Women level, Amy Griffiths finishing 3rd and Grace Baker finishing 5th. The men having a little success too, with Johnny Hay qualifying for selection in 4th place in the senior men, but unfortunately, despite some good prospects, nobody qualifying in the Junior Men category which was won, amazingly, by U17’s Ben Dijkstra, with Hampshire favorite Mahamed Mahamed performing well and coming 3rd  in his first season in the Junior Mens race. AFD continued with good results in the older categories, seeing Niamh Brown (2nd) and Lucy Pygott (5th) finishing high up in the U17 Women and Jack Boswell (5th) doing the same in the U17 Men. Unfortunately the younger categories were very scarcely populated as far as AFD were concerned, with no runners in the U15 girls and the U15 boys, but at least a little flag flying from Emma Boswell (U13G) and Patrick Brown (U13B) who both had a great first outing at such a massive and major event. What an experience for all who ran.

Robbie looked strong, relaxed and fresh throughout the U17 men’s race, perhaps a little too relaxed finishing 37th overall. The field was very strong, and for the first time in an age I witnessed Robbie do a sprint finish to complete the race, another sign perhaps that he over relaxed in the race. Still a confident run, against strong opposition, in hard conditions so there are plenty of positives to take away. A special congratulations to Matt Willis, bottom year U17’s, in his 3rd place finish and of course to Jack Boswell (AFD) for his 5th place.

1. Tom Mortimer 17:28 (Stroud)
2. Scott Beattie 17:35 (Morpeth Harriers)
3. Matt Willis 17:38 (Wrexham)
4. Sol Sweeney 17:45 (Perth)
5. Jack Boswell 17:47 (AFD)

37. Robbie Coupland 18:49 (AFD)

Slowly Picking Off the Opposition

Slowly Picking Off the Opposition

Popham – Hampshire League 2 of 5

A very wet day at Popham Airfield for the 2nd Hampshire League match. Robbie, still suffering with a slight sprain in his hamstring only raced due to the fact that this event is the Hampshire Team selection race for the Southern Inter-Counties, wasn’t expecting to do very well, but hoped for top 8 in Hampshire to ensure that team slot. As things went, Robbie was the forth AFD runner, 10th overall and 4th Hampshire runner over the line, so mission accomplished despite the injury, which was evident in the performance. Still we are expecting a fairly swift recovery from this one and hope he will be race fit for the next race, district schools championships and selection for the district team on Tuesday 24th November.

Individual Results (Top Ten)
1st Matt Rawlings (Reading) 18:13
2nd Jack Boswell (AFD) 18:21
3rd Sam Rodda (Reading) 18:29
4th Sam Costley (Southampton) 18:32
5th Micheal Lennon (Reading) 18:42
6th James Beeks (Basingstoke) 18:46
7th Alex Rodrigues (AFD) 18:48
8th Dominic Willmore (Poole) 18:50
9th Ollie Percival (AFD) 18:56
10th Robbie Coupland (AFD) 18:59

Team Results (Top 3)
1st Reading
2nd AFD
3rd Basingstoke

Leading group splashing in the mud.

Leading group splashing in the mud.

National XC Relays – Mansfield – 2015

Ok… So I am very slow, but there was Rugby, and Beer and other stuff that got in the way…

Anyway, a day off work to spend in traffic jams driving to Nottingham was a wonderful start to the weekend, The XC’s kicked off great for AFD, getting team Gold in Event 1 (Junior Women), Event 2(U17 Women), Bronze in Event 3 (Junior Men) but for AFD the U17’s Men’s race was the first non-medal event of the day. Robbie didn’t have a great start, and to be honest never looked like pulling it in, he looked tired and disheartened as he ran, performing well, but no where need his top level capability, finishing Leg 1 in 25th Place in a time of (09:37). Jack Boswell took over and stormed the second leg to come in as fastest runner for his leg (09:15) and bringing AFD up to an amazing 6th place. Jack handed the proverbial baton on to Jake Cvetkovic who despite weeks of disrupted training due to injury smashed the last leg (09:13) and brought AFD up to 4th place, an excellent finishing position in a major national event, just a shame that medal was out of touch.

A special mention to the AFD U13 Boys who finished 1st and 2nd. Well done boys.

U17 Men
1st Tonbridge
2nd Bedfors
3rd Cambridge
4th AFD
5th Charnwood

Overall a good day for AFD, and not a bad result for the U17 Men, but Robbie needs to pull something out of the bag to stay up there with the top runners, and ensure his place in the AFD A Team.

Leg 1 - Robbie Pushing it along.

Leg 1 – Robbie – Floating Downhill…

Farley Mount – Hampshire League 1 of 5

The Hampshire League Cross Country League’s is one of the strongest leagues in the country, the name comes from the fact that it is Hampshire Athletics Association who organise the league, but the league is not restricted to Hampshire athletes, it attracts a large and strong field with teams and individuals coming from Surrey, Berkshire, Hampshire, Dorset and the Channel Islands.

Today saw Robbie in his first U17’s XC race, though the race was only 4.7k, not the expected 6.0k it was still a hard course and an interesting opportunity. Reading, who proved very strong in the road relays this year had a large team entered in the U17’s and are pushing for a team gold in the league this year, trying to topple AFD from the top spot.

The race kicked off fast, then settled down some on the first hill, the top 5 places soon formed and hardly changed for the whole race, a fast finish from the two top Reading runners (Peter Cook and Matt Rawlings) saw those individuals pushing away from AFD runners (Jack Boswell and Robbie Coupland) to secure 2nd and 4th Place. Still AFD had the best of the day, with Jake Cvetkovic in 1st, Jack in 3rd and Robbie in 5th three runners in the top 5 looks good for the team results. It looks very much like this year’s Hampshire League is going to be a close fought battle between reading and AFD. Well done to everyone who ran today, a special mention to Niamh Brown, still eligible to run U17 but finishing the day as the winner of the Senior Women’s event and to Judith Squibbs in her first ever Hampshire League, the AFD vest suits her well.

Provisional U17’s results (Top 20)
1st Jake Cvetkovic AFD 16:26
2nd Peter Cook Reading 16:39
3rd Jack Boswell AFD 16:42
4th Matt Rawlings Reading 16:55
5th Robbie Coupland AFD 16:58
6th Dominic Willmore Poole Runners 17:01
7th James Beeks Basingstoke 17:12
8th Sam Costley Southampton 17:22
9th Toby Roe Portsmouth 17:24
10th Luke Powell Southampton 17:24
11th Joe Steveni Reading 17:24
12th Jamie Domoney Salisbury 17:32
13th Sam Rodda Reading 17:32
14th Sam Metcalf Isle of Wight 17:33
15th Michael Lennon Reading 17:39
16th Piers Copeland Wimborne 17:48
17th Keir Sullivan Winchester 17:58
18th Isaac Farnworth Reading 18:05
19th Alex Rodrigues AFD 18:08
20th Shreyas Kanyady Reading 18:13

U17 Men - AFD off to a Flying Start

U17 Men – AFD off to a Flying Start

U17 Men - Top of the Hill at Farley Mount

U17 Men – Top of the Hill at Farley Mount

British Inter-County Championships

Once again Cofton Park in Birmingham hosts the British Inter-County Championships, with runners from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland adding to the usual crowd. That said, the Scottish contingency was substantially reduced due to an event clash, someone managed to organise the Scottish Schools XC on the same day as the UK Inter-Counties, and on the topic of “event clashes” Sky TV’s presence was once again obvious in it’s non-existence due to their coverage of the World Indoor Athletics, apparently they can only film one athletic event at a time.

Unusually Cofton Park displayed a serious lack of mud, with just one short 5 meter sticky section at the bottom of the new starting straight, confusion rained down in heaps on arriving runners as they discovered that programs did not contain maps, and that the map posted on-line was incorrect, and that the distance of the course was substantially further than advertised and … wait I don’t think there was anything else, but still.

Anyway, down to business. The U15’s, like all the other races got under way from a very compressed start location, meaning that a distinct advantage was given to those runners in the front line, elbows flew, shoulders barged and more than one runner found himself sprawled on the floor, a fast paced almost full on sprint down the hill to “the sinking sand bend” or if you like the only bit of mud on the course, then in to a very long uphill climb, before zig zaging down, and back up that same hill. The start saw a lot of top notch runners further back than expected, but the hill sorted the order to some extent, Robbie hit the mud way back in the pecking order with over 100 runners in front of him, bottom of the first “Zag” and he’d worked his way up to 42nd, bottom of the second “Zag” and back on to the original course and he was in the 20’s.

Ultimately the good footing, steady hills and long flats led to a very fast race, the original course was marked at 4.5k, the additions to the course must have taken the distance well over 5k and the winning time of 16’58” by Zac Mahamed from Hampshire showed the pace.

Some good times were clocked up and the order of finishing was somewhat juggled about compared to the English Nationals two weeks ago, the top 5 runners in Birmingham being Zac Mahamed (Hampshire), Dan Slater (Merseyside), James Puxty (Kent), Toby Osman (Yorkshire) and Oliver Barbaresi (North Wales). George Groom who won the Nationals only managed 8th place in Birmingham and Harry Boyd who came 3rd at Parliament Hill was well outside the top 10 this time round. So there was some elements of great satisfaction and great disappointment on the day, Robbie had a great run managing 22nd place and coming in as the 3rd runner for Hampshire, showing signs that he is definitely on his way back to fitness.

Disappointment for North Wales who managed to have the best team results for the first two runners (Oliver Barbaresi and Matt Willis scoring 12 points between them) but only managed 10th in the overall team placings. North East Counties took first place with 48 points, followed by Yorkshire with 91 and Hampshire with 91, Hampshire getting bronze based on the position of their 4th runner.

Congratulations to the Hampshire team on their Bronze medal, shame we couldn’t have made up one more place and grabbed that silver, but still an outstanding performance from all the boys, with 3 of those 4 scoring runners being from the bottom year, Hampshire are looking good for U15 boys in 2016.

Zac, Robbie and Lachlan collect their Team Bronze Medals

Zac, Robbie and Lachlan collect their Team Bronze Medals

English National Cross Country Championships – Parliament Hill

The biggest event of the year for AFD, and the first race back for Robbie. Without the injury and enforced month off we’d have been expecting a top 10 finish this year, as it was Mick advised Robbie to take it easy, slow the start and pick people off with a target of top 50. Robbie ran the race exactly as told, looking strong but not really stepping up on the finishing straight where he got knocked back a couple of places, still he finished 40th, out of 371 finishers and 582 registered runners and was the first AFD runner on the scoreboard so not a bad return all in all.

Congratulations to George Groom (Shaftesbury) who had a stunning race to finish 1st in 15’48”, Zac Mahamed (Southampton) who finished 2nd in 15’59” and was the 1st boy from the lower year over the line and also Harry Boyd (Guildford) who had a great result picking up 3rd place in 16’05”.

AFD U15 Boys
40th Robbie Coupland 17’08”
57th Ollie Percival 17’21”
81st Sean Pocknee 17’41”
190th Billy Smith 18’46”
240th Matt Oakley 19’15”

Putting AFD in 12th position in the team event, somewhat disappointing for the team, but a hard course that even finishing deserves praise.

Well done everyone who competed.

English National Cross Country Championships

Hampshire League 2014/2015

This weekend saw the final event of the 2014 -15 Hampshire League. A trip down to Bournemouth was unfortunately not on the cards as Robbie is still recovering from his hamstring problem, that said it could still be a good day for both Robbie and the U15’s. Initial worries about availability were alleviated on the day and AFD currently in first place overall fielded a full 3 man team, ensuring that they wouldn’t be disqualified. At an individual level, only 4 out of 5 races count, and as Robbie had already completed 4, his 5th place and Bronze Individual Medal were guaranteed. With a team on the turf, AFD were always going to medal in the team event, pretty much guaranteed 2nd place and Silver medals, a good performance in Bournemouth would guarantee AFD 1st place and gold, and that is precisely what they got though by the smallest of margins finishing Bournemouth in 3rd place behind Reading and Camberley meant that the league as a whole finished with both AFD and Reading on 10 points, but with AFD holding an overall positional point tally of 115 to Reading’s 137 and since less is best that meant an overall gold for AFD.

First place on the day was Zak Mahamed, clocking in his 3rd 1st place of the season and ensuring his Individual Gold, Chey Kemp coming in second ensured his Individual Silver. With the AFD team scoring as below.

5. Ollie Percival
6. Sean Pocknee
24. Tom Naisby

Well done boys for making it there and getting the results. A big well done to the other AFD teams as well with AFD winning the following events.

U13 Boys
U15 Boys
U17 Men
Senior Men
Veteran Men
U15 Girls
U20 Women
Senior Women.

Another good season and warm up for the Nationals, come on Parliament Hill 21st February.

South of England Cross Country Championships

One of the biggest events of the year usually held at Parliament Hill in London, but sliding further south in years where Parliament Hill hosts the Nationals. This year, with Parliament Hill hosting those Nationals, the Southerns are held down in Brighton. Robbie has run both locations in the past with his last outing to Bristol being three years ago. This was to be one of the big races of the year for Robbie, with expectations for an individual medal place. Unfortunately it was not to be, a visit on Friday night to Stuart Butler (GB & England Athletics Support Team – Physiotherapist) highlighted that Robbie has suffered a torn hamstring, probably as far back as late November / early December 2014. Continued work and strain to the hamstring has resulted in a condition described as “weak hamstring”, Stuart explained that because the muscle was not being given a chance to recover, the body had started to “shut down” the muscle to prevent use and assist healing. Requirement for now is NO running, hamstring strengthening exercises followed by a gradual rehabilitation plan to get back to gentle running before stepping back in to training. The outcome 4 to 6 weeks minimum without competition, so no Southerns today, no School Southerns next week and for the moment we are not sure if there will be any more races this Cross Country season. Still at least we know the problem now and have a plan to move forward. Good luck to everybody running today, come on you AFD and congratulations to James Puxty (Tonbridge), Zac Mahamed (Southampton) and Lachlan Wellington (Portsmouth) who I am informed finished the U15’s race in that order, well done boys.