Westbury Harriers athletes showed no signs of over-indulgence, pre- or post-Christmas, as they continued racing with great success and enjoyment throughout the festive period, and well into what has so far been a very mild and runner-friendly January.
9th and 13th December: Weston Winter Westburies
Kicking off the seasonal fun was the highly popular Weston Christmas Cracker 10K on 9th December, with Christmas fancy dress more or less compulsory in a field of over 2000. Ian G, himself sporting an elegant ‘Santa in chimney’ hat, reported:
“We had elves, snowman, fat Santas, Christmas trees, even the entire cast of the nativity. Once again though the award for ‘Most Inappropriate Costume to Run In’ goes to Robin Phillips. Robin wins for his Rudolph, the red nosed reindeer onesie, I’m amazed he did not overheat in that costume. The course started from underneath Weston Pier, did a couple of big loops of the beach, before turning off at Uphill and heading back along the road. The surface, in horse racing terms, was ‘good to soft’ with soggy sand to contend with.
Some very impressive results with 7 Harriers getting top 10 category positions. First over the line for the club was Alan Uren (38:02), with Rudolph not far behind. Sophie Voller (41:38) was top Westbury woman and first in her age category and Clare Eskell (46:49) was third in category.”
A few days later, more Harriers were back down in Weston-sur-Mer for Round 4 of the Weston Prom 5 mile series, a Club Championship race but also the aperitif for the jolly Christmas meal expertly organised by Sandra B-G. Racer-diner Mike Mewse:
“There was a good turnout of over 20 Westbury athletes for December’s Prom 5 mile race. The lure of fast times and the annual post-race Christmas Meal were incentives to brave the cold winter winds. It was a good night for running and a really good atmosphere for the meal.
Robin Phillips (29.56) outsprinted Ewan Paton (30.05) to be first Westbury athlete home with Jullian Bailey-Gard jnr (31.05) our third male finisher. Vicky Waters (33.06) was first Westbury lady with Tamsin Chick (34.36) having an excellent run and Clare Eskell picking up the FV50 prize in 35.10.
Some good running from Marilyn Palmer (3rd FV60) and Gill Anagnostakis (5th FV60).”
Christmas and Boxing Day fun
After a brief rest for festivities, families and a few grape-based isotonic sports beverages, many Harriers couldn’t wait to get out of the house and back in their running shoes. Most things are closed on Christmas Day itself, but not the Chipping Sodbury parkrun, where Robin (pictured) got to wear his reindeer onesie again (hopefully washed since the Cracker), accompanied by Linda Phillips, David George (1st VM60 in a tidy 22:00), Anthony Glover (3rd) and young Henry Watson (1st JM11-14).
[pictured: part of the large Westbury contingent at Clevedon; and Joe Connors on his way to the top 10]
Robin, and several other Harriers, were back out the next day for the ever-popular Clevedon Boxing Day 4 mile Race. In a strong field of over 1000, young Joe Connors (pictured) ran to an impressive 9th place (in in 20.44), not too far behind the winner, ex-Westbury and now GB athlete Dan Studley (in a scarcely credible 18:50). There were also good runs from Ben Rawlins (19th 21.42) a reindeer-free Robin (41st 23.18) and Richard Noble (43rd, 23:29). Top Westbury lady was Rhiannon Paton (27.13) followed by Shirley Hume and Trudi Johnson.
Juniors Josh Morland (3rd) and Tom Reed (8th) had also had good runs in the 3k race.
No Harrier Hangovers on New Year’s Day
Weston and coastal North Somerset really was the centre of the running universe during these weeks. As if Crackers and Prom Runs were not enough, 13 Westbury Harriers took part in the annual Weston Hangover 10k, run around the quieter Kew Stoke end of the Somerset Riviera.
Robin Phillips, clearly now feeling the full benefit of the reindeer onesie training regime, finished an impressive 8th overall and scooped the prize for 1st MV40 in “unusually calm, sunny and warm weather”. Not far behind, and 2nd MV50, was Ken Ham (23rd, 40:51). Congratulations also to Shirley Hume, 1st VF60 in a cracking 50:24
South West Cross-Country Championships: Yeovil Country Park, Aldon Hill, Yeovil: 6th January 2019
[pictured: Westbury women; Aidan attacks the hill; Dave heads for the finish]
This was the first major regional cross-country race of 2019, run in surprisingly mild and dry conditions over the “challenging” (i.e. a couple of brutal climbs) Aldon Hill course. The men’s and women’s teams were slightly depleted by illness and tiredness, but it was a day when the Westbury juniors stole the show.
Unusually, the men went first, and in the words of non-running manager, reporter, photographer and biscuiteer Mike Mewse:
“Well done to the Senior Men and U20 Men from Westbury Harriers who raced over 8.5k at the hilly Aldon Hill course.
First home for the club was Joe Connors (31.53). The Birmingham University student has been in fine form and had another very good run. Next in was Ben Rawlins (33.22) , whose run gave him a team bronze medal for the Avon County Under 20 team. He was followed in by fellow U20 Aidan Noble in 36.19. Our V40 racers Robin Phillips (36.46) Richard Noble (37.01) and Ewan Paton (38.00) all finished strongly with David George V60 (42.54) narrowly missing a medal with a fine 4th place.”
The women put out a “compact” but highly impressive quartet, just missing out on a team medal but all of whom ran very well. Special mention to Katie Hughes (22nd overall in 22:04), who picked up a prize for 3rd F45 and a team silver medal for Avon. Not far behind were Kirstie Hamilton-James (34th 23:05), Jayne Pemble (50th) and Tamsin Chick (52nd).
What about those juniors, though?
This was a regional event taking in clubs from a vast area, from Cornwall to Wiltshire, but in the girls’ races in particular, our little club stood out with some superb individual and team performances.
In the novices race, Estelle Lowe continued her impressive form of this season by winning the girls’ race, with Felicity Lowe not far behind in 6th.
The U13 girls then produced an unexpected, but thoroughly deserved victory in the club team event, with superb running from Clemmie Lee (4th overall), Charlotte Warren, Laura Chance and Steph Hamilton-James. Clemmie, Charlotte and Laura also combined to win the County team gold medal for Avon.
In the U15s, Dalis Jones finished an impressive 7th overall, and there were also brave runs from Grace Horswell and Amelia Chisnall on an unusually tough course.
The U17s girls completed a great day for Westbury. The excellent form and consistency of Rosie Hamilton-James saw her clinch a hugely impressive individual 3rd place and bronze medal, staying in the breakaway pack of three throughout and narrowly missing out on silver. Rosie had the rest of a rock solid team not far behind her, with Lottie Livesey running brilliantly to finish 12th, just ahead of Emily Whitaker (15th) and Rhiannon Paton (16th). That was good enough to clinch the club team gold medal by just 10 points, and a silver County medal for Avon too.
There were slightly fewer boys running, but all those who turned out deserve great credit. The standout performance of the day was from Abdi Hasan in the U17s, who outsprinted a Cornish rival to claim 3rd place and a bronze medal, telling a Bristol Post reporter that “I am really pleased with that today, and felt strong”. Well done also to Greg Hayward and Tom Reed – if just one more runner had joined them, Westbury would have had another team medal.
It was a similar story in the U13 boys, where George Peacock, Theo Hester and Soloman Scott all ran well and represented the club with distinction, but for an incomplete team. No novices or U15s took part. These events are tough but great fun, and it would be good to see some more boys taking the plunge. It’s not all about medals and places, and everyone is very much encouraged to give it a try.
A Rollicking great effort: Riverbank Rollick, near Thornbury, 13th January 2019
9.6 miles (with 120m of ascents, and 80% off road) in strong January winds, over hills, trails, woods and through a stream? No bother for several intrepid Harriers who managed to bag places in this popular Thornbury AC race. A massive well done to Vicky Waters, who finished 12th overall in 1:10:57 and was 1st female finisher, 30 seconds ahead of her nearest rival. Vicky’s superb effort was followed by great runs from team mates Sophie Voller (2nd FV40 -1.13.01) and Maria Hobbs (4th FV50 1.20.31). Alison Rogers was 4th runner in for Westbury with a fine run (4th FV40 1.23.47). Westbury also scooped the ladies’ team prize.
Well run also to Trevor Fitsall (1.24.37), first Westbury man home, Helen Sawyer, Ian Derrick, Juliet Milne, Linda Phillips, Nicola Derrick and Jed White.
Avon Schools Cross-Country: Failand, 19th January
Cross-country races can take in breathtaking coastal or rural scenery, twisty woodland trails and turns, or challenging climbs up muddy and rain-drenched hills.
Or you can just do repeat laps of some school playing fields.
Despite the somewhat uninspiring layout, several young Westbury Harriers ran very well on a cold and damp day just over from the (closed) suspension bridge, with very large numbers making the Avon Schools teams for the South West and National competitions. Full results are still pending, but highlights of the day included a ‘clean sweep’ for Westbury athletes in the girls’ categories, with Laura Chance winning the junior race, Dalis Jones the intermediate (with Rosie Hamilton-James a close 2nd) and Ellie Hobbs the senior. Seamus Robinson won the boys’ intermediate race by a considerable distance, and there was also an exciting sprint finish victory for Abdi Hasan in the seniors.
Stop press….Doynton ‘Hard’ Half Marathon 20th January 2019
Finally, and hot off the Facebook press (thanks to Ian G), congratulations to Alan Uren for a fine 3rd place (in 1:35.02) in this tough off-road race, said by its organisers to be a “hilariously hilly and marvellously muddy” run “through rivers swollen with winter rain and over hills with hellish climbs and wicked descents, in fields, forests, farm tracks and forgotten footpaths” (that’s a lot of alliteration). Well done also to Brendan Moroney (7th in 1:40:33), Alan Osborne 2:10:53, Michelle Bower 2:10:54 and Tim Carr 2:33:44.
As ever, keep the results coming in, on Facebook or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you won’t blow your own trumpet, we’ll do it for you.
Thanks to Ian G, Mike Mewse, Jason and all others for updates, reportage and photos on Facebook, some used or paraphrased here with thanks.