Wimborne Athletic Club

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Wessex League XC  – Ham Hill – 21 February 2010

Sharon rediscovers her mojo as our juniors turn on the style.

After the really dismal weather we endured at our last Wessex League Race at Salisbury it was good to turn up at Ham Hill and see a bit of sunshine. The course itself is in a beautiful setting, but it is a tough one. The races are made up of a combination of long and short laps. The short lap is a relatively benign one, as long as you remember to duck under the bough of that tree! The longer lap, which the under-15 and upwards have to do, is something else again. The surface is really muddy in some places and stony in others, which makes choosing the right footwear a bit of a lottery. There is a horrendous climb. The descent down to a stile is just as challenging as you run through a gulley which is deep with mud but has great lumps of rock in it. Very tricky, you have to take off your racing head for this section and just make sure your clear this part of the course without incident. There is plenty of opportunity to push later on in the lap.

The first race of the day was the under-11s, who did one short lap. We had two runners in this age group, Grace and Pippa. Grace fairly flew around the course, third runner in, second girl. A great performance as Grace is one of the younger runners in the field. Pippa puts in solid and increasingly more confident performances too. Both girls are on target for Wessex League Fidelity awards with just one race remaining.

Next up were the under-13 girls. Alivia was unable to take part as she had injured a knee playing netball but our three other mainstays of the u13 girls team – Abbie Hine, Chloe and Sharon – were joined by debutant Abbie Logan. The girls had two laps to do. At the end of lap 1 a group of three had broken from the pack and there was a mighty roar from WAC supporters as two of them were in Wimborne red (Abbie Hine and Sharon). On the climb at the start of the second lap Sharon was looking strong as they tackled the gradient. Chloe and Abbie Logan were in the thick of it in the pack as they all disappeared over the hill for a second time around. With the runners out of sight we waited for them to emerge once more. Sharon was the first to come into view, we were willing her on as she ran that final 400m to the finish line. Sharon won by a handsome margin (20 seconds) from Alex Phillips of Poole Runners who had managed to split our top two.

Abbie Hine had to settle for third place on this occasion. Abbie is running with such confidence that we have to remind ourselves that this is Abbie’s debut season and she has made extraordinary progress. Third place is her highest placing so far in a cross-country league race. For Sharon a win couldn’t have been much sweeter. She had an excellent track & field season over the summer, and she started really brightly when the cross-country season opened. In November Sharon was diagnosed with bronchitis and has found it a frustrating time since then. The first signs that things were improving came at Salisbury in the Hampshire League race on 13 February when she finished that race very strongly. At Ham Hill she started strongly but finished stronger. This is Sharon’s first race win in a cross-country league race and it could hardly have been more emphatic. With Sharon and Abbie both selected to represent their county next month, the timing of these results could not be better. Chloe put in another strong performance which ensured that our girls claimed the team prize on the day. For Abbie Logan it was a little bit of a baptism of fire as her first league race was on one of the tougher courses. For sure she will have gained greatly from her experience and she has been selected to represent Dorset in the South West Schools XC championships in Truro. With one race to go it is worth looking at the averages to see who will be challenging for medals at the end of the season. Sharon is currently lying second in her age group, with Abbie Hine 4th and Chloe 7th.

Next race up was the under-13 boys. We have a number of strong runners in this age group, but unfortunately only two of them made it to Ham Hill, which meant that no matter how well Ryan and Piers ran we wouldn’t be able to score points as a team.  Last time out Ryan had recorded his first league win, this time he had to settle for second, just 2 seconds behind the race winner. With two 2nd places and a win already, Ryan has an unassailable lead in the averages so will win his age group in the Wessex League. Piers had another excellent run, he finished 5th but was only 12 seconds behind Ryan. Piers currently lies 3rd in the averages, a remarkable achievement as he is only just 11 years-old which gives him two more years in this age group. Both Piers and Ryan are on target for Wessex League Fidelity awards and have been selected to represent Dorset in the Inter-Counties Championships.

We were a little thin on the ground in the under-15s races. With just one girl – Alex Vaughan-Johncey and one boy – Callum Kennedy competing for us. It was terrific to see Alex back out there again. She has been dogged with bad luck this season, sometimes injured, but at Parliament Hill when she was ‘good to go’ she missed the start by 5 minutes due to train cancellations. Alex is 10th in the averages with one race to go. Callum had a decent race and appears to have shaken off that severe cough and cold that ruled him out of Parliament Hill and set him back for a while. He currently lies second in the averages but has some work to do in the final race if he wants to stay there, he is another of those on target for a Wessex League Fidelity award and chosen to represent Dorset in the Inter-Counties.

In the senior ladies race we were frustratingly one short of fielding a team. This was probably the best race of the season for both of our entrants – Lynn and Paula. Lynn is in 4th place in the averages for the senior women with Paula 7th. Paula and Lynn are both on target for Wessex Fidelitys. Our target for next year has to be to consistently get a full ladies team out there.

We have managed to field a full men’s team in every Wessex League race. Our team had a very familiar look about it with the usual suspects performing, but we were joined by brand new WACer and race debutant Steve Headley. After Steve had recced the route prior to racing he must have wondered what he had let himself in for! Graham, as is often the way in the Wessex League, led the charge for Wimborne. In the averages Graham lies 8th, Ian 13th, Rich House (who didn’t run at Ham Hill) 16th and Paul 17th.

Just one more Wessex League race to come at Avon Heath.


WACers times and results were:

Under-11s (10 finishers)

3 – Grace Copeland – 5:41 (2nd girl overall)

8 – Pippa Hine – 6:30 (7th girl)

Under-13 Girls (10 finishers) – 1st team

1 – Sharon Hutchings – 11:28

3 – Abbie Hine – 12:10

6 – Chloe Morris – 12:39

8 – Abbie Logan – 13:24

Under-13 Boys (12 finishers)

2 – Ryan Walbridge – 10:15

5 – Piers Copeland – 10:27

Under-15 Girls (10 finishers)

9 – Alex Vaughan-Johncey – 18:35

Under-15 Boys (9 finishers)

5 – Callum Kennedy – 13:55

Senior Women (11 finishers)

5 – Lynn Hutchings – 22:58

10 – Paula Hine – 28:37

Senior Men (24 finishers) (Wimborne 3rd team, and 3rd Vets team))

10 – Graham Whiffen – 44:45

13 – Ian Kennedy – 47:31

15 – Paul Hine – 48:59

19 – Steve Headley – 51:38

20 – Gerry Hutchings – 52:41

Full results for the Wessex League will be found at  www.wessexleague.com


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