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.

National Road Relays 2016

Surprisingly the National Road Relays was held slightly North of the Southerns in it’s usual location of Sutton Park, Sutton Coldfield. AFD didn’t spend so much time on the podium today, but everyone that was available put a good show in. The Youth section of the Road Relays didn’t have many notable performances, with only the U13B, U17W and U17M making the top ten. A very good performance from the U13B though, with the team coming 2nd overall and Harry Hyde placing 2nd in the fastest individuals, ansimularly great performance from the U17W with the team getting our only Junior Gold, and Lucy Pygott placing 2nd to take our 2nd Individual Silver.

AFD raced well in the Senior Mens event with Josh Grace finishing 1st in leg one, and achieving 6th place overall in the Individual Table, with the team placing 8th overall, once again AFD pride was carried on the back of the Senior Women who managed to get 2 teams in the top 10, placing 1st and 10th with Emily Hosker Thornhill bringing AFD up in to 2nd place in the 3rd stage ane Louise Small running an excellent final leg, placing 4th overall in the Individual table and bringing AFD Senior Women to the 1st place and Gold Medal place in the team event.

Robbie had a good run in the U17M’s race, having suffered badly with a chesty cold for almost two weeks, and missing a couple of training sessions because of it, speed and performacne were not expected to be great, especially given the short period of time he has actually been back at full training since his summer injury. He hoped for a sub 12min run and was somewhat dissapointed to only achieve 12:12 but giving the circumstances not a bad run. Once again Robbie took on the mantle of middle man, picking up the batton from Olly Percival who ran the 1st stage in 12:30, handing over in 19th position, Robbie picked off a list of individuals to take AFD up to 9th place, handing on to Max Heydn who picked off a further 2 runners and brought AFD up to 7th place and comlpeted his stage in 12:32.

All in all not a bad day out, even Jade came to watch, not that she saw much of the racing, she spent the whole day cuddling Trex, but hey, she’s been at Uni for a whole week so is bound to be missing him.

Robbie working hard, tired and feeling it.

Robbie working hard, tired and feeling it.


Southern Road Relays 2016

I know I may well have mentioned this before, but the usual, round the corner trip to the Southern Road Relays was somewhat extended this year. That and the closure of the M1 meant a long and extended trip out to Bedford for the relays.

Despite the extended travelling times AFD still managed to shine, winning both the Senior Mens and Senior Womens events by very impressive margins.

The Bedford Autodrome provided a very flat and exposed circuit for all races, the wind whipping across the open spaces to steal breath from the very lungs of the athletes, but still they ran.

Robbie’s first race since his foot injury, so some questions in mind on just how well he would perform, but questions smashed away on the day as he stepped up to take the 3rd stage of the 4 stage 4.5k relays, a stage that he completed in the more than acceptable time of 14 mins 35 seconds.

Times and Postions are not yet available, and given the issues on the day, may never be available, so at present we don’t really know how he performed on the grand scale, but it was a great run, especially after such a long time away.

Well done Robbie Coupland, well done AFD, and I have to say what a delight it was to watch Andy Vernon storm around stage 6 of the senior mens race. A very impressive performance completing 6k in 16:48, with AFD’s Josh Grace 2nd fastest on the day in 17:22, the AFD overall winning time for the 6 stage senior mens event being 1:46:12, some 2 minutes ahead of second place Tonbridge.

Despite the venue change Robbie still manages to keep both feet off the ground.

Despite the venue change Robbie still manages to keep both feet off the ground.

Hampshire Schools T&F Championships 3000m

Back at Portsmouth, this time for the Hampshire Schools T&F Championships. Robbie was very positive going in to the 3000m, with the main competition coming from Lachlan Wellington, both having run similar PB’s to date. Ultimately the race was combined with the older (6th form) age group leading to Robbie’s AFD team mate Jake Cvetkovic running on the track at the same time. For a long time Jake led tha pack, which quite quickly slimmed down from about 12 runners to 3, with Jake pushing the group forward, Robbie sat in second and Lachlan keeping in nice andf tight in 3rd place. This continued for a number of laps until Jake started to push, as the pace stepped up, Lachlan slipped past Robbie and a look of pain was plastered to Robbie’s face… From this point on the gap between Lachlan and Robbie just continued to incrase, with Robbie finishing the race some 30 seconds slower than his worst run to date. When asked what happened, Robbie decalred that his foot was really hurting. Turns out he has a stress fracture in his right foot, and will now be out of training and competitive running for at least 8 to 10 weeks, so it looks like the summer T&F season is well and truly over. Hopefully once sorted he will be able to start building his fitness back up ready to be competitive in the upcoming Winter season.

Robbie still finished 2nd in his age group, taking the County Championships Silver Medal.

Robbie gritting his teeth as pain flairs in his foot with 2 laps to go.

Robbie gritting his teeth as pain flairs in his foot with 2 laps to go.

Watford Open – 3000m

Another drive around the M25 to glorious Watford and another open event. Robbie looking to put in a good PB tonight, and hopefully get the National Standard to confirm his place in the Hampshire Schools. As always with Watford the 3000m is broken down in to various races, on this occasion 10, Robbie is running in the 2nd to last race (they get faster throughout the night) with a race target of 8:40, and a personal target of 8:50 a bit of a push from his current PB of 8:59.

The race runs well, with Robbie running a steady 70″/71″ per lap pace which is spot on for an 8:50 time, but as things push out his times slow of the pace slightly and he drops down to a couple of laps at 74″ and obviously struggling with the pace for the last lap only manages a time of 8:56.8. Not the 8:50 he hoped for but still a good 3 seconds better than his PB, so can’t complain. A few more of these events and a few more 3″ of his PB and he will be well on his way to Schools and competing well at the National 3000m.

Robbie sitting in and waiting for his time.

Robbie sitting in and waiting for his time.

YDL2 – Aldershot

Thes econd YDL of the season is a home track event for Robbie, running once again stepping up and age category to run in the U20 Mens B race. Athletes from all 4 U17/U20 raceswere lined up to compete in one single event, specific race positions extracted from the final positions and times.

Robbie started off fast, taking the race on for the first 400m at which point Aldershot team mate Nathan Gibson stepped to the fore and pushed the race on, the weather was, as seems to often be the case, a little blustery and it had an obvious impact on the runners coming down the back straight, that said Nathan kept a good pace, with Robbie sat right on his shoulder, and Bedford’s Ryan Ward sat on Robbie’s. With about 200m to go Ryan pushed out the boat, passing Robbie, and then Nathan and ultimately taking the U20 A race win, with Nathan 2nd. Robbie finished 3rd overall, 1st in the U20 B race in which he was actually competing. So another good YDL result promising an excellent YDL season for Robbie in his first year competing at U20. (Even though he is still U17).

Robbie leading the pack for the first lap.

Robbie leading the pack for the first lap.

Hampshire County T&F Championships 2016

Another 2 event Championships for Robbie, medals expected in both the 3000m (Saturday) and the 1500m (Sunday) with a chance at gold in either of both events. The big rivals for the weekend being Zac Mahamed and Lachlan Wellington, on the weekend though Lachlan was out with a sickness bug, and Zac only entered the 3ooom which left Robbie with high hopes for a gold in the 1500m.

The 3000m was a combined race, both the U20’s and the U17 running in a single event, the U20’s went out and immediately slowed the race to what amounted to a painfully slow pace, with Robbie’s preferred style being a consistent pace, this really didn’t help him at all, a fact that was highlighted in the middle third of the race when the U20’s decided to push the pace, and the only U17 willing to push that early was Zac Mahamed, there were signs of Robbie closing the gap toward the end of the race but Zac’s lead from that middle section was far to great to close. A great run from Robbie, but a great race from Zac saw Robbie taking silver in the 3000m with Zac taking Gold and Kier Sullivan taking bronze.

Hampshire Champs 3000m


The 1500m was short manned enough to run it as a single race, so no heats to deal with, and no U20’s to add tactics to the mix. Robbie took the race on from the start, and it was fairly obvious that Jersey runner William Brown was happy to let Robbie blast the pace and sit on his shoulder, in a windy Portsmouth stadium William took the benefit of that powerful wind on his back down the back straight, with Robbie taking the brunt of the wind in his face on the finishing straight. A situation that gave all the advantages to Will, and made everything hard for Robbie, highlighted by the blast of speed that Will delivered in the last 300m to take Gold from Robbie’s silver and Jacob O’ Hara’s bronze. A great run from all 3 lads, and some excellent tactics from Will. 

Robbie Taking on the race with Will Brown sitting in tight on his shoulder.

Robbie Taking on the race with Will Brown sitting in tight on his shoulder.

Well done to everyone who competed over the weekend it was another great event, with some exceptional performances.

Aldershot District – Inter Schools 1

The first, and likely only, inter-schools event for Robbie this year was held at Basingstoke and for a change, in good weather conditions.

With 1500m being the only middle distance event Robbie prepared himself, once again a very limited warm up time was available, and set his mind to winning the race. A race out front on his own was always likely, even if he took it steady, so with that in mind the aim of the day was to win, be dammed with the time.

As it happened, Robbie took a very steady approach to the race, finishing well in front in a time that was only half a second slower than his PB, though his PB dates back two years after his injury filled summer season last year.

So 1st place in 4:19.0 looking comfortable and feeling good, can’t ask for much more from him. Great run.

Aldershot District - Inter Schools Approaching the Bell

Aldershot District – Inter Schools
Approaching the Bell