Wimborne Athletic Club

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Hampshire League Race 1  – 10 November – Farley Mount, Winchester 

The new cross-country season kicked off in glorious sunshine. Farley Mount is a fantastic venue, and it was great to see so many new faces competing for us. WAC XC debutants were Alex Diment, Abbie Hine, Rich House, John Hutchings, Lewis Murphy-Parry and Ryan Walbridge. Harry George has run for us in the Wessex League before but this was his first Hampshire League race. Along with our runners came a sizeable number of WAC supporters which included coach Ed Arnold, who was there to watch our athletes cash in on all that hard work they have been putting in on his Tuesday night sessions.

The meeting kicked off with the under-13 girls race and we had Sharon Hutchings and Abbie competing for us in this category. Sharon has had an impressive track season, but for the past month she has been really poorly. After a break from training to recover, she came back around 10 days ago – and it was clear then that she was still far from fully fit. None of us had any idea was sort of run she would be capable of. The gun went off and she was immediately in the lead group. Abbie set off at a decent pace that saw her placed right in the middle of the pack on her XC debut. The girls disappeared into the woods, there were a few WAC supporters out on the course to shout their encouragement, but most of us waited anxiously to see them re-enter the field in the final stages of the race. As the leaders came into sight it was very reassuring to see a red shirt amongst them. Sharon finished in 8th position and Abbie maintained her mid-field position right until the finish line. This is only our second season in the Hampshire League, which is one of the strongest local cross-country leagues in the country, and Sharon had just recorded the highest ever finish so far for a Wimborne runner in a Hampshire League race in any age group. Abbie’s run was also impressive as over the summer she has trained at many events and hasn’t specialized in endurance/middle distance work as many of the girls she was running against would have done. She finished looking in great shape, and the experience of competing in her first cross-country race at this level will, for sure, see her go even better in the future. What we need to do is to find at least one more runner to compete in this age group so that we can compete for team points – we do have some likely candidates who have trained with us over the summer in Wimborne. The mood in the WAC camp was buoyant after watching these two fine performances. They were going to be a tough act to follow.

Next up were the under-13 boys and there were four red shirts to watch out for here. Of the four, only Jordan Symington had run in a Hampshire League race before. Ryan was well-placed off the start line with Alex, Harry and Jordan making more conservative starts. They disappeared out of sight and, on re-emerging into view, there was another red shirt involved at the sharp end of the field. Ryan had a fantastic run, finishing 9th, the best Hampshire League debut for any WAC runner to date. Alex was in next, with Jordan and Harry within 30 seconds of him. Both Alex and Harry will have learnt a lot from their Hampshire debuts, they are both real prospects and with more race experience they are going to make real progress. Looking at the full results, gains of quite small amounts of time in this age-group will make up quite a few places. It was brilliant to see Jordan competing as we hadn’t seen much of him over the summer. Clearly he has been working hard, because this was probably his best XC run in a red shirt so far. Well done lads, collectively you have got us into 11th place in the team competition.

Our sole representative in the under-15 girls race was Alex Vaughan-Johncey. Alex ran a similar race to Abbie and looked extremely comfortable throughout, and this was despite quite a few interruptions to her training over the summer, well done, Alex.

It was great to be able to field a full team in the under-15 boys race. Old hands Callum Kennedy and Jack Snook were joined by debutant Lewis. Our three runners all handled the start quite differently. Absolutely up for it was Lewis, who took off like a bullet from a gun and found himself amongst the leaders in the early stages. Jack started steadily and was mid-field with Callum a distance further back. This race was unlike all the previous ones, as we got to see the runners run a lap of the field before disappearing into woodland. From the start there was around 200m of flat, before a prolonged and stiff climb, followed by a swift descent prior to entering the woods. By the time our three runners completed that first circuit of the field they were starting to come together with Jack catching Lewis and Callum gaining on both of them. It was going to be interesting to see how the race would unfold. First into view was Callum, with Jack in hot pursuit, and hanging on to the pair of them was a very determined Lewis. Just four places and 16 seconds covered our three runners as they claimed 9th place in team category. It was a particularly gritty performance from Lewis as, if you get your pacing wrong and go off too quickly, it is all too easy to drift back through the field for the rest of the race. You can only really learn racecraft by experience and Lewis will have learnt a lot here. A great team effort.

It was disappointing not to get out a full ladies team, stalwarts Lynn and Maddy need some back-up. Lynn is an absolute Trojan and did a superb job on a tough and demanding two full laps of the circuit. Maddy has been having problems with her feet and this has restricted her mileage of late. The medical advice she was given suggested that she should be OK for a cross-country race, however, as the ground was pretty firm, by the end of the first lap it was clear that she was going to find the rest of the race challenging. Maddy is a very determined character so she completed that second lap and recorded a time, but ended up receiving attention from the St John’s for her troubles. This was Maddy’s first race as a senior and it was disappointing to see it end this way. Once those feet have been sorted out watch her fly.

The final race was the senior men. Almost 300 setting off from the start line for three laps. It was great to see so many WACers out there. Colin Read (Speedy Ready) and Graeme ‘Bionic’ Furley renewed their rivalry of last season, with ‘Bionic’ determined to catch ‘Speedy’ during the course of the season. These two pushed each other, to improve on last year’s times at Farley Mount by a minute. There was more team-mate rivalry between Craig Dixon, Daryl Davies and Graham Whiffen. Sandwiched between these groups was Jerry Shield, making a rare XC league appearance and ‘Mr Consistent’ Stewart Little. New boy Rich House wasn’t too far behind the Craig/Daryl/Graham tussle. Further back Phil Burgess, Paul Hine, Ian Kennedy and Steve Snook were also renewing old rivalries, with debutant John Hutchings in the mix for good measure. John fell into the same trap that Lewis had earlier, for sure he will learn from it. Although there were some great performances amongst our senior men there were a few dramas too. Rich developed a pretty significant nosebleed, the scent of blood seemed to make him run faster though! Steve has plenty of speed in Ed’s sessions but is having trouble translating that to the longer distances at the moment, we look forward to seeing him recover his true XC form. Phil came along to Farley Mount because it was a beautiful day, in what he knew was a great setting, despite not feeling 100%. One lap of this demanding circuit was enough to tell Phil it wasn’t his smartest idea. We look forward to seeing a fully fit Phil for the next meeting. Last year our men won promotion to Division Two in the Hampshire League, we have got off to a great start, there is a long way to go but we currently lie in fourth place. For the veterans the news is even better, we are top of the table in Division Two.

Looking at last year’s results we can see who has made the biggest improvements (of those who took part in the same age-group races). Callum was the most improved of the juniors, gaining two minutes, but the biggest improver of all was Paul who improved by a mighty four minutes – a tremendous performance! Well done to all involved in a great team effort, having such vocal support was a great bonus too.

WACers times and results were:

Under-13 Girls (68 finishers)

8 – Sharon Hutchings – 9:13

37 – Abbie Hine – 10:05

Under-13 Boys (85 finishers) – Wimborne 11th team

9 – Ryan Walbridge – 10:50

53 – Alex Diment – 12:29

55 – Jordan Symington – 12:32

64 – Harry George – 12:59

Under-15 Girls (52 finishers)

33 – Alex Vaughan-Johncey – 12:38

Under-15 Boys (58 finishers) – Wimborne 9th team

32 – Callum Kennedy – 14:42

34 – Jack Snook – 14:50

35 – Lewis Murphy-Parry – 14:56

Senior Women (114 finishers)

67 – Lynn Hutchings – 27:35

96 – Maddy Vaughan-Johncey – 31:38

Senior Men (278 finishers) (Wimborne 4th in Div. 2, Wimborne Vets 1st in Div 2)

62 – Colin Read – 33:10

79 – Graeme Furley – 34:06

103 – Jerry Shield – 35:22

137 – Stewart Little – 36:30

164 – Craig Dixon – 38:09

191 – Daryl Davies – 39:39

204 – Graham Whiffen – 40:09

221 – Rich House – 41:16

233 – Ian Kennedy – 42:06

236 – Paul Hine – 42:29

240 – John Hutchings – 43:09

272 – Steve Snook – 48:35


Full results for the Hampshire League will be found at



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