Wimborne Athletic Club

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National  Cross Country Championships

Parliament Hill, Hampstead Heath – 21 February 2009

We took a minibus up to Parliament Hill at the end of the 2007/2008 to compete in the South of England Championships and it was a great experience. When the venue was chosen for the National Championships most of those who travelled up last time were up for the challenge once more. All WACers were circulated and the resulting response saw the largest number of WAC entrants ever at the National Cross-Country Championships.

This time around, the increased numbers meant that we needed to travel up in two buses. With so many runners entered it was only to be expected that we would lose a few runners pre-race to injury or illness. This is not the sort of event you should compete in if you are nursing a niggly injury.

Seventeen competitors and a handful of WAC supporters headed off to Hampstead Heath on race day, complete with tent, flag and banners. The course is a fantastic challenge with some serious climbs in extremely slippery and muddy conditions. The weather on the day itself was close to perfect.

Although we left QE at 7am, there was not much spare time to get race numbers sorted for the first race of the day, the under 15 boys. Jack and Callum had just enough time to warm up, before making their way to the start line. The start line itself was probably about 150metres wide. We stood at the top of the hill as the gun went off. It brought a lump to the throat watching 400+ lads come charging towards us from around half a mile away, like watching an army in some film epic. Somewhere in that mass were a couple of WACers. Jack and Callum were the only juniors to travel with us to Parliament Hill the previous season and that experience had been an invaluable one as, despite the fact they had jumped up to the lower half of a new age group, they gave great accounts of themselves. There has been little between these two WACers all season and on the big stage they were split by a mere 11 seconds.

Friends, team-mates, rivals. Callum and Jack immediately post-race

The next WACer in action was Maddy (u17). The increase in WAC numbers meant that it was a tricky job being able to prepare our runners for each race, be there to support them out on the course, and see them home. Maddy has been a fantastic competitor all season, and today was no different. Maddy loves a challenge, and it seems the bigger the challenge the more she relishes it.

At midday it was the turn of the under-13 girls and Sharon was ready for her biggest cross-country challenge yet. Sharon has done superbly in her first season with us and has grown in confidence as the season has progressed. She ran a great race and finally looks to have shaken off the illness that has held her back in the last couple of races.

There was then a lull in proceedings as the next few races had no WACers in them. At 2pm it was Jordan’s turn in the under 13s. Jordan ran a great race and seems to be able to lift his performance when in the bigger arena.

With all the junior races now run, the senior women were next. It was in this race where we lost most of our WAC entrants through illness or injury. This meant that we had just one runner, Lyn Hutchings, making her way to the start line. The lack of team mates added to Lyn’s apprehensiveness, but she went on to put in a sterling performance on a formidable course. Lyn has been an invaluable member of our Ladies’ team this year.

Jerry reaches the top of the hill, while Jordan and Ed look on

It was fantastic to see so many Wimborne vests on the start line for the men’s race. The view from the top of the hill must have been something else, there were around 1500 runners in that charge away from the start. With literally thousands of feet making their way around the course during the day, by the time the senior men got out there the ground had cut up severely. The course took on the look of a rallycross course, with beautiful green grass alongside the race route and an endless ribbon of deep mud for us to run in! The severity of the course took its toll, with a quite a few runners pulling out of the 12k race. Unfortunately the tricky conditions gave Steve Snook some problems with the recurrence of a back injury and Steve was one of those who had to retire.

Steve looks strong in the early stages of the race

Jerry and Graeme were the first WACers home, as they had been at Salisbury in the Hampshire League. There were great performances throughout the team. There was a particularly interesting duel between Graham and Daryl, as there has been for much of the season. Graham edged it by a single second. WAC were the only Dorset club to field a complete team in the men’s race. The team score is based on the first 6 runners so Stewart, Richard, Graham and Daryl all scored points for the team. We finished 79th out of the 112 6-man teams. We were 37th (of 46) in the table for nine-man teams and in that category Pete, Craig and Ian also scored points.

100 per cent all the way to the line from Richard

A fantastic day, we had terrific support from Claire Newby, Jerry Hutchings, Ed Shield and the V-Js and it was great to see a surprise appearance from Neil and Katy Hopkinson who were also there to shout their encouragement. How great would it be to see those two in red vests next time we go back for the cross-country championships!

It was almost 9pm by the time we got back to QE and some weary bodies tumbled out of those minibuses in Wimborne.

WACers times and results were:

Under-13 Girls

273 – Sharon Hutchings – 16:11

Under-13 Boys

297 – Jordan Symington – 15:14

Under-15 Boys

380 – Jack Snook  – 22:18

382 – Callum Kennedy – 22:29

Under-17 Women

161 – Maddy Vaughan-Johncey – 26:51

Senior Women

469 – Lyn Hutchings –47:49

Senior Men 

542 – Jerry Shield – 50:26

601 – Graeme Furley – 51:15

749 – Stewart Little – 53:24

927 – Richard Atkins – 56:16

962 – Graham Whiffen – 56:55

963 – Daryl Davies – 56:56

1056 – Pete Lemon – 58:20

1092 – Craig Dixon – 59:02

1135 – Ian Kennedy – 59:53

1274 – Jeff Hinsley – 63:16

1358 – Danny Symington – 66:36

Full results for Nationals can be found at 




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