Wimborne Athletic Club

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Inter-Counties XC Championships – 8 March 2014

Reporting from Cofton Park, Birmingham.

Dorset u15 Girls – Lucy, Abi, Bess, Rachael, Bridget, Maddie, Flora and Aiste

It felt like spring had come early at Cofton Park as we enjoyed some of the best weather we’ve seen all cross-country season. The legacy of the very wet winter we’ve had was that the ground was still very soft and so cut up very easily as the day unfolded. More than 60 of the county’s best cross-country runners represented Dorset on the day.

We got off to a flying start in the first race of the day. Chris Perham (PAC) led our under-20s team home in 16th. There was then a well-packed group of six Dorset athletes, headed by David Long (BAC), which included WAC’s Dorset Champion Callum Kennedy. When the team scores were totted up, we finished 4th – just outside the medal positions.

There was strong representation from WAC in the county team for the under-13 boys. First in was Jed Skilton (PAC), with Michael Johnson (WAC) next. A cluster of three Dorset vests topped and tailed by WAC’s Dan Baynham and Elliott Symes brought in the remaining point scorers with Wells City’s Luke Baker sandwiched between the two WAC runners.

Wimborne AC were unable to make any contribution to the women’s team this year. Dorset didn’t field a full team, but with five runners, led home by Verity Ockenden of Poole Runners it was the best showing from Dorset women for a few years.

The WAC runners in the under-15 boys race had a tough old time of it. County Champion Piers Copeland has been struggling with a horrendous cough for weeks now and this seriously impacted yet again on what he was able to do. Sam Davies was our other runner, but he had to pull up with around 500m when he became faint. The county team was led in impressively by Sam Brown-Araujo of Poole Runners (25th).

The under-17 women’s team had the Poole AC pairing of Lissie Hood and Emma Butterworth heading them home. WAC’s Abbie Hine and Ella Hearne were 5th and 7th in for Dorset.

The race with the least runners in, and only two of those were from Dorset, was the under-20 women. Representing Dorset were Anna Roberts Wray (66th) and Wendy Robertshaw (97th).

WAC’s biggest hope of glory was in the under-13 girls’ race – with National Champion 2014 Grace Copeland. While many of us have had our training and races interrupted over the winter with illness, Grace has managed to stay out of trouble. However, Grace’s luck ran out the week after the Nationals and she finally succumbed. It had been a race against time to recover for this event … but it just came too soon. There was much at stake (the Inter-Counties was also the final leg of the British Cross Challenge which Grace had been leading) and so she wasn’t going to give up on her dream without a fight. She ran bravely but could only manage 30th. To compound her plight the points available in the British Cross Challenge were to count double in the final race of the season. Despite this Grace had done enough earlier in the series (with two wins and a second) to remain on the podium. Incredibly she was only two points behind the series winner even with the setback here. Grace’s bronze medal in the British Cross Challenge is the first ever of any colour by a Wimborne athlete.

Grace with her British Cross Challenge Trophy at Cofton Park

Even with Grace not firing on all cylinders, she was still the best-placed WAC runner at Cofton Park and led the Dorset under-13 girls’ team home, although there is a slight feeling of disappointment as Grace wasn’t able to finish her incredible season on a real high. WAC’s Kingswell-Farr twins also represented Dorset. Bethanie has had an injury-troubled season which has held her back, however, once those problems are behind her you will see her fly. Sister Isabelle got a late call (that morning) to step in as a reserve. She did a solid job and enabled Dorset to have a full team of eight finishers.

The charge for Dorset was led by Andy Smith (PR) and WAC’s very own Jason Sotheran in the under-17 men’s race. They were separated by a single second, and a single place. Ryan Walbridge secured 4th (the final scorer) place for the county behind Dorchester AC’s Fergus Johnson. Josh Downie gained some valuable experience with his first race at this level.

Bridget Dence (BAC) did a fine job for the under-15 girls, leading the team home despite being bottom of age-group. Next in was WAC’s Lucy Ballam who was just two places ahead of Bess Bickel (PR). Rachael Jefferies secured the final scoring position. WAC’s Maddie Williams had only travelled up to Birmingham to support her team-mates – so she was caught on the hop when she got called up to run due to a ‘no show’. She didn’t even have her kit with her so she borrowed all that she needed and got out there and did a job for the team. Poole AC’s Aiste Razmaite was a casualty in this race, pulling up with a hamstring injury.

The final race of the day was the senior men. We were fielding the strongest men’s team we had managed for quite a few years. With six to count in the seniors, we needed them all to score. Nathan Shrubb (PR), representing Dorset for the first time, was first in, with marathon man, BAC’s Steve Way, next – Steve ran the 4th best time in the world for 100k in 2013. The 2012 European Junior Duathlon Champion, Richard Horton (PAC), was our third man home. Fast improving youngster Tom Austin was 4th for us, with BAC’s Rob McTaggart and WCH Neil Biss completing the team.

With so many Dorset runners taking part it’s inevitable there are mixed results with some feeling rightly proud of what they’ve achieved and others pondering ‘what might have beens.’ Overall it was a better year for the county teams, with the under-20 men being the star performers and only just missing out on medals. From a WAC perspective the outstanding performances came from some of our least experienced runners – it’s hard to believe that Michael Johnson and Lucy Ballam are in their first cross-country seasons. For both of them the performances here were surely a high point in their cross-country careers so far – they were both second Dorset runner home in their age groups. Dan Baynham’s rise is perhaps just as remarkable – 3rd for the county at Cofton but on nobody’s radar until mid-December when he competed in the Dorset County Championships as an unaffiliated runner!

Dorset results

Under-20 men (180 runners) – 4th team

16 – Chris Perham (PAC) – 26:28
33 – David Long (BAC) – 27:08
40 – Dan Mulryan (PR) – 27:25
55 – Joe Arundel (BAC) – 27:44
61 – Callum Kennedy (WAC) – 27:57
69 – James Sewry (WCH) – 28:09
178 – Brendan Kirkton (BAC) – 37:57

Under-13 boys (300 runners)

21 –    Jed Skilton (PAC) – 11:09
83 –    Michael Johnson (WAC) – 11:43
182 – Dan Baynham (WAC) – 12.13
188 – Luke Baker (WCH) – 12:15
192 – Elliott Symes (WAC) – 12:15
236 – Fred Harris (PAC) – 12:35
258 – Ben Wedlake (PR) – 12:49
296 – Oliver Howse (PR) – 13:30

Senior women (275 runners)

47 –  Verity Ockenden (PR) – 30:49
160 – Katie Allen (PAC) – 33:04
181 – Abigail Jones (PR) – 33:27
273 – Maddy Vaughan-Johncey (PAC) – 43:37
274 – Claudia Howse (PR) – 43:51

Under-15 boys (280 runners)

25 –    Sam Brown-Araujo (PR) – 16:58
108 – Ash Parker (PAC) – 17:56
142 – Dominic Willmore (PR) – 18:14
165 – Piers Copeland (WAC) – 18:31
200 – Andrew Dumbrell (DAC) – 18:50
231 – Michael Biss (WCH) – 19:18
272 – Sebastian Hearne – 20:54

Under-17 women (260 runners) – 1st team

48 –    Elisabeth Hood (PAC) – 21:23
100 – Emma Butterworth (PAC) – 22:18
116 – Charlotte Baker (WCH) – 22:30
148 – Mollie Hansford – 23:07
186 – Abbie Hine (WAC) – 23:48
241 – Leanne Symington (PR) – 26:02
247 – Ella Hearne (WAC) – 26:24

Under-20 women (150 runners)

66 – Anna Roberts Wray – 24:27
97 – Wendy Robertshaw (DAC) – 25:43

Under-13 girls (306 runners)

30 –    Grace Copeland  (WAC) – 12:20
193 – Maddy Johnson  (DAC) – 13:34
221 – Elsa Charlwood (BAC) – 13:50
235 – Emily Jefferies (PAC) – 13:55
243 – Holly Earley (PR) – 13:58
276 – Bethanie Kingswell-Farr (WAC) – 14:21
277 – Katie Corbin (PAC) – 14:21
304 – Isabelle Kingswell-Farr (WAC) – 15:52

Under-17 men (268 runners) –

73 –    Andy Smith (PR) – 20:09
74 –    Jason Sotheran (WAC) – 20:10
111 – Fergus Johnson (DAC) – 20:37
127 – Ryan Walbridge (WAC) – 20:45
196 – Liam Ackerman (DAC) – 21:33
237 – Niall Instone (PAC) – 22:32
252 – Matt Lay (PAC) – 23:09
264 – Josh Downie (WAC) – 24:17

Under-15 girls (276 runners)

39 –    Bridget Dence (BAC) – 18:40
122 – Lucy Ballam (WAC) –19:54
124 – Bess Bickel (PR) – 19:55
140 – Rachael Jeffries (PAC) – 20:06
148 – Flora Johnson (DAC) – 20:16
161 – Abi Rutter (PAC) – 20:24
253 – Maddie Williams (WAC) –22:18

Senior men (276 runners)

22 –    Nathan Shrubb (PR) – 35:51
62 –    Steve Way (BAC) – 37:04
112 – Richard Horton (PAC) – 37:57
145 – Tom Austin (PAC) – 38:38
199 – Rob McTaggart (BAC) – 40:03
272 – Neil Biss (WCH) – 45:50 


BAC – Bournemouth AC, DAC- Dorchester AC, PAC – Poole AC, PR – Poole Runners, WAC – Wimborne AC, WCH – Wells City Harriers


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