Another Week Another Win

Okay I know, another week another photo of Alex Adams but the young man does seem to keep on winning races. Last weekend it was the U17 men’s race at the Midlands XC Championship where he won by a fairly comfortable 11 seconds
A library photo of Ben Kruze, sporting somewhat appropriately Number 1

Talking of another week another win, Ben Kruze triumphed in our very own Not The Roman 9 race last weekend by 15 seconds, a similar margin to Alex.

Ben also ran in the Speedway 10k at Chepstow the previous Sunday, where he lowered his own PB by 44 seconds, finishing in a new club record time of 31.08. He finished 21st out of a field of 227 and his time ranks him 5th in the current UK rankings in his M35 age category.
This week we report on more wins for Alex Adams and Ben Kruze. Alex was successful at the Midland XC Championships in Mansfield and Ben was 1st in the Not The Roman 9, where he also led our victorious men’s team home.

There’s an excellent report from Paul Hawkins on the XC with a full report on NTRIX promised for next week.

As a follow up to last week’s story about George Hendy, we are now able to report that he has been selected for the England U20’s squad for the opening clash of the 2022 Under-20 Six Nations series, as England face-off with Scotland on Friday. Many congratulations George.

Finally we have a selection of photos from the XC, courtesy of Nick Campbell.

Take care

Best wishes

David Jones
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Georgie Campbell on her way to a 4th place finish in last weekend’s Midland XC Championships.
Storm Malik 1 – Club Tent 0. The Midland XC Championships last weekend courtesy of Nick Campbell

Midlands Cross Country Championships

Berry Hill Park, Mansfield

29th January 2022

Adams wins Midlands Cross Country Championships

Report – Paul Hawkins

The Midlands Cross Country Championships are the first of the major championships of the season and represent a step up in quality from the County Champs before the National Championships in February and March.

The course at Berry Hill Park is a regular venue but not for the Stratford team, most of whom were racing here for the first time.

The parkland course was mostly firm underfoot with technical running through the woods on each lap. Unfortunately, the Stratford team was smaller than usual due to injuries and many Covid absences. Nevertheless, there was plenty of quality on show. To add interest Storm Malik provided some very strong winds which blew many of the club tents away.

The highlight for Stratford was Alex Adams who continued his good form in the Under 17 men’s race of 6k over two laps. The slow early pace didn’t suit Adams so after 2k he pushed the pace on and left the rest of the leading group in his wake, as no one was prepared to go with his pace. From then on it was a solo run where Alex focussed on maintaining his lead which he eventually extended to about 150m. He won in 19.45 by one of the biggest margins of the day with second place Solomon Okrafo-Smart in 19.56 closing at the end in the race for the minor places

After a silver medal in the 2020 under 15 championships this was an excellent step up from Adams and a return to winning ways after winning the under 13 title previously.

Taylor Stubbins was disappointed to finish in 31st in a below par performance but still improved from 76th in 2020. Theo Skirvin completed the team in a fine run for 37th place.

After winning the Under 17 level women’s race in 2020, Georgie Campbell stepped up to the Under 20 women’s race where she was surprisingly the only leading under 17 from last time that raced. Georgie featured in the leading group early on in the race before the field stretched out and Georgie just missed out on the medals finishing 4th but will move on with confidence to next week’s British Universities championships.

In the first race of the day, Marijke Tear-Verweij ran well in the under 13 girls to finish 25th to confirm her place in the Warwickshire team for March, although she would have been happier with a longer race than the 3k distance.

A big group of under 13 boys had entered from Stratford but they were badly hit by Covid so eventually only two ran the 3k course. First home was the ever improving Aran Cooper, 24th in 11.27 while Alfie Musk was 52nd in 12 .51 in a very fast finish gaining several places.

The under 15 girls was another category badly hit by withdrawals but the ever reliable Niamh Hillard improved by six places from 2020 to 23rd. Abbi Cooper looks to be getting back to her best and finished just inside the top 50 while Tilly Campbell had a strong race in 71stwhich was 27 places further up the field from 2020.

The under 15 boys were another team badly hit by Covid and injuries but the remaining team members all had strong runs over 4k, led by James Day in 33rd (75 in 2020) followed by a fast finishing Seb Hillard (59 from 89 in 2020) in probably his best race for a very long time. Zak Lambert was running his first race at this level and found the latter half of the race tough going but was still a creditable 67thand will have learnt a lot for the experience. Joe Lewis completed the Stratford team in 73rd.

In the senior women’s race Emma Bexson was the sole Stratford runner and had a very well judged run in the conditions to finish 59thdespite worrying her supporters when stumbling on a steep downhill near the finish. Emma’s run was rewarded with a well placed in a big and good quality field, and was another athlete who progressed well from last time when she was 83rd.

The final race of the day was the senior men’s 12k, run over four laps. Stratford had three athletes racing which disappointingly meant they were unable to complete a team. The first back for Stratford was Adam Linforth in his debut for the team finishing 147th in a time of 46:13, followed by Max Ross (181) and John Raby (207th) who battled for the places for most of the race.

All in all, a good day for the Stratford team who will now focus on their final league races of the season in mid-February, followed by the National Championships in February and March.

Not The Roman 9

We should have a full report on this race next week but for know here are a few comments from Sarah Bland, Matt Burdus-Cook and race winner Ben Kruze.

Sarah Bland : A lovely day for it and there were 303 happy finishers. Special mention to Sally & Gavin Bliss for their sterling efforts to get all the marshals to the right places at the right time. Believe me, it’s a big job. Also a mention to Richard Eden & Nick Campbell who got given the road closure on the Banbury Road and consequently didn’t get to see a single runner!

Our own Ben Kruze won the men’s race and Kate Wright was second lady. Our men’s team of Ben, Rich Shephard, Matt B-C & Alex Pester also won the team prize. Matt was the MV45 winner and John Peacock the MV65 winner. Well done to all.

Matt Burdus-Cook: Not much to report from me from an individual perspective as I ran it feeling pretty tired and fell well behind my race plan within the first 2 miles, so I knew it wouldn’t be up there with my best runs.

The support from the marshalls and public helped me no end. It is worth commenting that the marshal’s being from the club really make the race a brilliant event to participate in. From a runners perspective, the organisation and on course marshalling was seamless, and support as a “home runner” was brilliant. I know from experience that some of the marshall points really do need active management of runners and sometimes impatient and unthankful traffic which was managed superbly by everyone out on the course.

Winning the team event was once again testament to the new generation of endurance athletes that we have coming through the ranks, as Kenilworth put in a very strong squad which would have beat our men’s team had it not been for Alex Pester’s 18th position showing a very well executed and strong run over the distance and course, which would be very easy to get wrong with it’s undulating profile. He showed a racing maturity and calibre beyond his years.

Ben Kruze: Just a brief note but last weekend was great fun and very well organised and supported as always. Myself and Matt are busily preparing for two England Masters qualifying races in February so we were using this as part of the training build up. Given this it was nice to get out there and feel pretty strong and be able to put some good times in and help Stratford win the Mens team prize.

For the full set of results please follow the link below>
An update on last week’s item about George Hendy
Four Saints named in England U20s team for Six Nations opener
England Under-20s head coach Alan Dickens has named four young Saints in his matchday 23 for the opening clash of the 2022 Under-20 Six Nations, as England face-off with Scotland on Friday (4 February, kick-off: 8pm).

An all-Saints centre partnership will see Ethan Grayson and Tom Litchfield line-up side by side in the midfield as England open their campaign; lock Tom Lockett also starts the match in the engine room, while George Hendy is set to enter the action at The Dam Heath Stadium, Edinburgh from the bench.

Fresh from making his European debut for Saints, 19-year-old Litchfield will add a third cap at U20 level to his tally on Friday evening after featuring for the Red Rose last summer. But for Lockett, Grayson and Hendy, the clash with Scotland will mark their first international involvement at that level – with the trio all in line to earn their first England U20 caps in Edinburgh.

And Finally

Photos from last weekend’s Midlands Cross Country Championships
Hunting in packs – Niamh Hillard, Tilly Campbell and Abbi Cooper.
Niamh and Seb Hillard
Marijke Tear-Verweij and Abbi Cooper
Tilly Campbell and Emma Bexson
Taylor Stubbins and Theo Skirvin
Aran Cooper and Alfie musk
James Day and Zak Lambert
Joe Lewis and Adam Linforth
Max Ross and John Raby