ROUND three of the Chiltern League saw Leighton Buzzard Athletics Club worrying about a lack of numbers with some members sunning themselves in Lanzarote, and running now and again whilst there.
The pleas to turn out and support the fixture were certainly heard though as with 17 senior men’s names written on the declaration sheet, it was their best turn out for that category so far this season.
That number was boosted by help from two new members, James Bell and Mark Haynes in their inaugural runs for the club – Mark running for just the second time in a number of years, the first time being Wednesday night’s training session.
As always the club’s juniors got the day’s proceedings underway, and with a temperature of just -1°C on arrival in Slough, they were all glad to have their gloves and hats.
Thankfully as the day went on it warmed up a bit. Three U11 girls, Ellie Rabbits, Chloe May and Elspeth Eley had very good runs, but the increased number of teams and runners in teams from the Shuttleworth meeting didn’t reflect the performances given.
Ellie led the girls home in 29th place followed by Chloe in 56th and Elspeth 74th.
The U11 boys saw their number depleted with other members of the team competing in the network sportshall competition. But Dominic Grimshaw and Max Rose, both running a year young in this age category, ran well in 48th and 71st respectively in a large field of 82 runners that finished.
There were over 100 runners in the U13 girls’ race which was great to see, and Leighton’s three girls did the club proud with strong runs from Sarah Plummer (who has been selected to represent Bedfordshire) Emma Evans and Penny Grimshaw who are improving every race.
Kieran Philpott turned the tables on Henry Mead in the U13 boys’ race, showing his preference for fast, flat and hilly courses. Both ran really well to add valuable points to the club’s tally.
It was great to see Izzi Bidlake-Hull and Rebecca Mead competing in the U15G category, similarly reversing their finish order from the previous meeting, and with two races to go their league placings are identical.
So an interesting battle between those two is to come over the last two events at Wigmore, Luton on January 12 and Wing on February 9.
Lloyd Milliken, running consistently together with Patrick Clay in the U15B category, had them both running more relaxed. Training and race experience are working and their results will more than likely improve over the remainder of the league and championship events to come.
The U17 boys were the last of the juniors to run and a depleted squad of just two runners saw them drop one team place from the previous meeting with excellent runs from Jordan Clay and Charlie Mead who both improved on previous results which keeps this age group in contention.
Perhaps the party the night before contributed to this effort! But it’s not something their coach is adding to their training plans.
Before the U17 boys ran was the ladies’ race in which Gail Duckworth continued her good form by finishing 17th backed by Jane Sauer who scared herself as she could still see Gail after the first lap and wondered what had gone wrong, finishing strong in 45th.
Anna Mead had her best run of the season, finishing in 65th place with more to come at Luton, and Lorraine Holloway-Mclean completed the club scoring, having a very good run and the best banana cake and flapjack on the day.
The men’s race as normal saw a dip in the temperature, just as it was time to don vests. Simon Coombes led the team home. However, he had to work hard to get past the speedy Billy Mead who set off at great pace, while Ian Grimshaw also got past Billy as the race continued.
Although there were great efforts from all who turned out, the extra pace missing from those in Lanzarote was noticed in the results, and they can get the beers in when they back for holidaying during league events!
The club’s overall standing in the league remains the same in 9th out of the 14 teams, and those who did run can pat themselves on the back for a fantastic effort.
The scoring 10 of Ian Grimshaw, Billy Mead, Tom Inchley, Tom May, Paul Douglas, James Bell, Gary Stratford, Warren Rose, Nick Clay and Paul Plummer were very well supported, taking valuable points from other teams by Joe Hurley, Dan Webb, Mike Bryant, Chris Dimmock, Jon Hull, Fred Watt and Mark Haynes.
With Slough being their furthest venue and these numbers making the effort to run, just think what they can do at Luton and Wing to challenge Headington for 8th position.
Pictured are U11 boys Dominic Grimshaw and Max Rose.