Wimborne Athletic Club

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Popham  – Hampshire XC – 30 November 2013

A curate’s egg in Race 3.

Popham is an exposed spot, and the temperature there was several degrees less than we’d left behind in Wimborne earlier in the day. Having said all that, conditions at Popham were pretty decent for cross-country racing.

Previous Hampshire League races have had moments of unwanted drama for WACers so far this season. Thankfully there was rather less of that this time around, although somewhat unusually we did manage to record three DNFs over the course of the meeting.

The meeting got underway with the under-13s girls. In the previous Hampshire meetings this season, this has meant that we have started with a win, thank you Grace Copeland. However, with Gracie carrying a cold, she didn’t have the kick at the end to seal the win and had to settle for second place, but remains top of the averages. Race winner Josie Czura of Portsmouth, is a very good athlete and if you’re not 100% you’re going to struggle to beat her. It wasn’t just Gracie that was not quite in the peak of health on the day as several other WACers were labouring under a similar handicap. Jessica Bourne’s cold was sufficient to keep her out of the race – although she was there as a spectator.  Despite Jess being unavailable we did have six under-13s girls racing. The next in were a pair of reds – Bethanie Kingswell-Farr (42nd)  and Fern Morrison (46th) – who are steadily recovering their form. Over the line in 63rd position was Hannah Fairchild. It was great to see Hannah making her first Hampshire League appearance of the season. Our final two under-13 girls – Issie Kingswell-Farr and Elise Gill – improved their performances on the race at Goodwood. Issie in particular, made a spectacular improvement.

We had four under-13 boys. Liam Murphy-Parry got off to a steady start before really tearing it up in the latter stages of the race to claim 6th place – he is also in 6th place in the averages. Liam got excellent support from Elliott Symes who claimed 11th, his highest finish of the year so far in the HXC. The biggest improver of any of the boys in any age group was Michael Johnson. Michael’s results so far have been 24th, 28th … and at Popham 15th. Tom Morrison (43rd) also improved significantly since his appearance at Reading – 13 places. Our under-13 boys were 4th team on the day. Well done guys.

We were one short of an under-15 girls team once again. Lucy Ballam continues to improve every time she runs and she was first WACer home. Improving by an even bigger margin on the day was Maddie Williams. This was the only race in which every WAC runner put in an improved performance comparative to the previous race.

In the under-15 boys category Tom Bourne put in easily his best HXC performance of the season to claim 2nd place. Piers Copeland came in just outside the top 10, despite showing the first signs of a cold that has laid him low since the weekend. Matt Yates claim the third scoring position for the team, although Matt is starting to come under some pressure from a fast-improving Sam Davies. Missing from the team on the day was Joe Miles – not only did we miss the points he can score, but he is one of the big personalities in the squad, and it was a little quieter in the big red tent without him! Joe received a severe spiking injury in the previous HXC race and he was in hospital for four days as a result. However, the way this ebullient character has responded to the trials laid before him since has won him much respect from the squad. Joe’s likely to be on crutches until the end of the year and we hope to see him back in action as soon as possible – get well soon Joe. Tom Bourne’s results puts him 2nd in the season’s averages with Piers 7th.

In the under-17 girls we had three runners at the start line – the minimum we needed for a team score. Abbie Hine led the reds in with her first HXC top 10 finish of the year. On target to finish next for us was Charlotte Bourne. Unfortunately Charlotte developed an abdominal pain during the race and was unable to finish. Charlotte is one of our most committed athletes and I think the pain of disappointment of her first DNF was probably greater than that of the ailment itself. It sometimes takes more courage to make what was the right the decision to pull out than to push on and risk further complications. Becca Skeats became our second U17W finisher – unfortunately she wasn’t able to maintain that massive improvement that she made in the previous race at Goodwood having struggled with breathing issues in the latter part of the race.

The Ladies’ race was next and, as happens all too often, Lynn Hutchings was our sole representative. Lynn has delivered on so many occasions – but on this day she was out of sorts and pulled up – our second DNF of the day.

In the under-17s race were able to welcome a debutant – Louis Coppard. It’s seems extraordinary that this was his XC debut as he’s been an integral part of the training group for a while, although he does tend to concentrate on the 800m and also has footballing commitments in the winter. With Louis’ undoubted speed how would he cope with the endurance element? It was a canny run, he let Jason Sotheran and Ryan Walbridge go tearing off ahead and worked with Josh Downie before gradually pulling away from him. However, the race was plenty long enough for him, and I reckon the last part of the race will be the slowest 800m he’ll ever run! As mentioned earlier Jason and Ryan pulled away, with Jason beating Ryan for the first time in an HXC race this season. This was largely due to a return of form and confidence for Jason, and Ryan not quite able to maintain the high standard he has set this season. Josh has been making steady progress this term – but it just didn’t happen for him on the day.

Louis and Josh at the hairpin

The final race of the day was the men’s race. Callum arrived on the back of a road race win over 10 miles, but here he was a little under par. Having said that he still led the team home and currently lies in 8th position in the averages for under-20s. Steve Wyatt was next and he didn’t quite replicate the fine form of Goodwood, his average for the season sees him placed 9th in the averages for Veteran Men. Mark Copeland was the only senior to run better at Popham than at Goodwood and he just nipped in front of Baz (who was making his first HXC appearance of the season) in the latter stages of the race. Pete Kingswell-Farr lost a little ground on recent massive improvements, probably due to missing a few recent sessions whilst on holiday. Our final finisher was Phil Burgess who it was great to welcome back after a long gap since his previous appearance. Also on the start line for this race was Graham Whiffen. Graham was our third DNF – he was struggling, and after checking with his WAC supporters and establishing we had enough runners for a team score, he pulled up and lives to fight another day.

WACers times and results were:

Under-13 Girls (74 finishers) – 7th team

2 – Grace Copeland – 10:52
42 – Bethanie Kingswell-Farr – 13:19
46 – Fern Morrison – 13:29
63 – Hannah Fairchild – 14:23
68 – Isabelle Kingswell-Farr – 14:43
74 – Elise Gill – 16:18

Under-13 Boys (84 finishers) – 4th team

6 – Liam Murphy-Parry – 10:53
11 – Elliott Symes – 11:06
15 – Michael Johnson – 11:14
43 – Tom Morrison – 12:16

Under-15 Girls (74 finishers)

24 – Lucy Ballam – 15:55
37 – Maddie Williams – 16:49

Under-15 Boys (59 finishers) – 6th team

2 – Tom Bourne – 13:08
11 – Piers Copeland – 13:27
50 – Matt Yates – 15:15
53 – Sam Davies – 15:42

Under-17 Women (31 finishers)

10 – Abbie Hine – 21:11
30 – Becca Skeats – 26:55

Under-17 Men (44 finishers) – 6th team

12 – Jason Sotheran – 17:31
20 – Ryan Walbridge – 18:14
36 – Louis Coppard – 19:31
39 – Josh Downie – 20:02

Senior Men (250 finishers) 10th team in Div. 1

46 – Callum Kennedy – 34:46 (10th of 30 under-20)
79 – Steve Wyatt – 36:56
126 – Mark Copeland – 39:20
129 – ‘Baz’ Andrew Barry – 39:28
182  – Pete Kingswell-Farr – 42:38
232 – Phil Burgess – 48:59

Full results for the Hampshire League will be found at




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