Wimborne Athletic Club

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A golden ticket and then a roller coaster – 19 October 2013

The Hampshire XC season’s opener at Reading.

A splash of colour as Max gets away smartly on a fine day for the
u13 boys’ team. Liam, Michael and Elliott are in the background.

We certainly got off to an eventful start at the curtain-raiser for the Hampshire League cross-country season at Prospect Park in Reading. It was great to have so many WACers making the longest trip we shall face this season for a league race. The threat of showers for most of the day remained just that, until the journey home, but the weather was unseasonably warm. The venue itself is only occasionally used by this league, and it was great to back. Much of the course is flattish, although there are a couple of climbs that do provide a stiff challenge.

Quite a few arrived on the team bus, while others travelled by car, the tent was erected and we got the red flag flying – we were ready to go. The first race of the day was the under-13 girls … and what a start. Grace Copeland was a regular podium finisher last season, but over the summer she has stepped it up to another level. Grace recorded her first Hampshire League win, but it was the manner that it was done that was truly impressive. It was great to see Grace stood at the finish line with her finisher’s ticket with number ‘1’ on it! Is that the best performance we’ve yet seen from a Wimborne athlete in this league? Support for Grace in this age-group largely came from team mates conceding a few years to her. Jessica Bourne put in an impressive performance – the first of three such performances for the Bourne family on the day. Bethanie Kingswell-Farr has been struggling with a sore hip and stood down from training in the week leading up to the race. When she is truly fit we will see all her commitment at training rewarded. Fern Morrison, Isabelle Kingswell-Farr and Elise Gill completed our under-13s team – they finished 9th team on the day.

Grace, seen here with her golden ticket, with Josie Czura of City of Portsmouth

Last year’s under-13s WAC team was dominated by Tom Bourne and Matt Yates, both of whom have moved up an age group this time. With this age-group’s denuded of those two, perhaps we would struggle this time around. Not a bit of it, the team were led in style by Liam Murphy-Parry and Elliott Symes who cut their teeth in the HXC last year. They were joined in combat by five HXC rookies who all made excellent debuts – Michael Johnson, Max Meadwell, Seb Miles and Tom Morrison. In honesty the form of Liam and Elliott came as little surprise because we’ve seen the progress they’ve made through the track season. It was great to see Michael running so well as his summer was interrupted by injury. Max has just turned 11, so was only just eligible to run. This means that he will get three seasons in this age-group, what a fantastic benchmark he set. Seb has really only been training with us for around a month, so his was a terrific debut too and Tom has recently turned his attention once again to endurance – good things will come from these guys. Incredibly with such an inexperienced u13 boys’ team we finished third. This put us ahead of bigger clubs including City of Portsmouth, Southampton, Winchester and Basingstoke plus all our Dorset rivals.

The talking point in the under-15 girls race was the form of debutant Lucy Ballam. Lucy trained with us a year or two back and then drifted away. She’s been training with us for around a month this time, and has just re-signed. She put in an excellent performance against some fine athletes with much more experience. Our seasoned campaigner in this category is Maddie Williams, our girls ran much of the race in close proximity … two fine performances.

Maddie and Lucy at the foot of the climb

As mentioned earlier, Tom Bourne and Matt Yates moved up an age-group into the under-15s category to join their older team mates Piers Copeland, Joe Miles and Tom Boulton. The view held generally is that the first year in a new age-group is one of consolidation, building a base to work from in year two. This is certainly where Matt found himself with a rock solid performance. However, no one told Tom Bourne that! Tom has been on fire since the XC season started, earning himself the moniker ‘The Bournado’ in the process! Tom has gone from HXC top 3 in the under-13s to top 3 in the under-15s at the first attempt … extraordinary. Our most experienced runner in this category is Piers Copeland. Piers found himself well and truly in the wars! He was hit full square in the face by a branch that pinged back on him. He needed a moment to pull himself together, before recovering his composure and pushing on to finish 13th, with his friend and team mate Joe Miles some 20 seconds further back. It was great to have Tom Boulton back in the fold, having missed most of the previous XC and track seasons. Our u15 boys had collectively put in a mighty team performance – 3rd overall, with only Aldershot, Farnham & District and Reading ahead of them. Fantastic! 

A fine run from Tom Bourne

Next off the start line were the under-17 women. A team made up of the  familiar faces of some of WAC’s greatest cross-country stalwarts. Abbie Hine and Ella Hearne had both moved up an age-group with all that entails, and acquitted themselves with distinction. Abbie only just missed out on a top 10 place. Charlotte Bourne made it the third fine Bourne family performance – equalling her highest ever finish in an HXC race. It was great to welcome Becca ’Scooter’ Skeats back racing, having missed her at training for much of the summer. Our u17 women had recorded a fine team score finishing 4th – but a mere four points behind the winning team.

Run out of age sequence – the senior women went next. In the corresponding fixture last year we had no representation in this category. So, with lone representative Lynn Hutchings at Reading there was some improvement, but there’s plenty of scope for more! In the first Wessex League race of the season we were 1st ladies team, and we managed this without Lynn, so there is some cause for hope that we will do better in subsequent HXC races. Well done Lynn, yet another solid performance.

It was the under-17 men’s race that provided us with the unwanted drama. On the face of it, it was a race that we could look forward to with optimism. We had three runners (just enough for a team score), Ryan Walbridge – who had really got his mojo working by the end of the track season, Jason Sotheran – who started his XC season with a Wessex League win, and the fast improving Josh Downie. With a lap done, things were looking set fair. Jason, in particular, had got off to a flyer with Ryan also very well placed. The runners disappeared into the distance. Out on the course Jason collapsed, and was subsequently helped to the first-aiders. After attention, Jason was taken home by the Bournes, prior to a precautionary visit to Poole Hospital. Ryan and Josh got on with the job in hand, with Ryan (15th) looking to have raised his game since the end of the previous XC season.

The final race of the day was the senior men’s. Last year we won promotion into Division 1. It was always clear that we were going to need our strongest team to regular turn out in order to maintain our top flight status. For this race we did have some key contributors missing. However, we did have the added bonus of Ranulph Cameron moving up from the under-17s. Unfortunately Ranulph was having a few issues which denied him the opportunity to show just what he could do. Ran had committed to a series of challenges for charity which culminated earlier in the month with the Bournemouth Half Marathon which he ran in 1:30. Leading up to the half marathon he had a problem with sore shins and had to take a complete rest in the week leading up to the race. He did fine on the day but the shin problem has returned and this time it looks as if he may need a longer lay-off. Ran knew he was in trouble almost immediately at Reading, but he is no quitter so he got round. While Ranulph was addressing his issues the rest of the team pushed on. Callum Kennedy led the team home with great support from Steve Wyatt. Mark Copeland once again bagged team points with John Hutchings next in. It’s great to see Stewart Little back in regular XC action again, and he was next. Pete Kingswell-Farr spent the summer training really hard, and completed his first ever marathon in Bournemouth a few weeks back … Pete must surely be our most improved senior runner. We didn’t quite get a full house of Hutchings, but it was fantastic to see Gerry back in action. Some 40 seconds back from Gerry was Paul Hine, really enjoying his running again after a successful knee operation earlier in the year.

It had certainly been a day to remember with quite a number of outstanding performances from athletes in red vests. But let’s not forget the travails of the likes of Bethanie, Ranulph, Piers and especially Jason … who’ll all enjoy better days elsewhere during the cross-country season.

WACers times and results were:

Under-13 Girls (82 finishers) – 9th team

1 – Grace Copeland – 8:31
37 – Jessica Bourne – 10:28
56 – Bethanie Kingswell-Farr – 10:49
65 – Fern Morrison – 11:05
78 – Isabelle Kingswell-Farr – 11:58
82 – Elise Gill – 13:28

Under-13 Boys (81 finishers) – 3rd team

4 – Liam Murphy-Parry – 9:56
16 – Elliott Symes – 10:30
24 – Michael Johnson – 10:44
29 – Max Meadwell – 10:52
41 – Seb Miles – 11:10
56 – Tom Morrison – 11:38

Under-15 Girls (81 finishers)

34 – Lucy Ballam – 11:33
37 – Maddie Williams – 11:40

Under-15 Boys (79 finishers) –  3rd team

3 – Tom Bourne – 12:31
13 – Piers Copeland – 13:11
25 – Joe Miles – 13:32
54 – Matt Yates – 14:44
75 – Tom Boulton – 16:58

Under-17 Women (35 finishers) – 4th team

11 – Abbie Hine – 15:25
15 – Charlotte Bourne – 15:46
19 – Ella Hearne – 16:04
35 – Becca Skeats – 19:56

Senior Women (111 finishers)

55 – Lynn Hutchings – 24:42

Under-17 Men (54 finishers)

15 – Ryan Walbridge – 18:01
43 – Josh Downie – 20:12

Senior Men (213 finishers) 9th team in Div. 1

41 – Callum Kennedy – 29:44 (12th of 33 under-20)
67 – Steve Wyatt – 31:26
117 – Mark Copeland – 34:18
138 – John Hutchings – 35:56
145 – Stewart Little – 36:17
152 – Ranulph Cameron – 36:48
152  – Pete Kingswell-Farr – 36:49
184 – Gerry Hutchings – 40:12
188 – Paul Hine – 40:56
207 – Ian Kennedy – 45:34

Full results for the Hampshire League will be found at



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