Wimborne Athletic Club

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South of England Cross-Country Championships – 25 January 2014

Reporting from Parliament Hill.

Grace, Abbie Ella, Maddie and Scooter –
ready to battle the challenging Parliament Hill course

Wimborne AC’s red army marched off to Parliament Hill (the home of English cross-country running) in the greatest numbers yet. Over all the age groups, 24 of us competed … what’s more Grace Copeland’s  4th place in the under-13 girls’ race was the best individual finish from a Wimborne athlete to date … but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Some went up by car, while others travelled in the team buses, which were employed to ferry our athletes and their supporters to London. We arrived to find the course it’s usual muddy self … although, bearing in mind just how wet this winter has been it could have been worse. It was dry and there was little wind as we erected the tent on the top of the hill. From our camp we had a great view of the start line and the city of London beyond.

Racing got underway with the under-15 boys at 11am. The first Wimborne vest over the line on the day was that of Piers Copeland, Sam Davies was next and Tom Boulton completed the WAC contingent in. With the increasing numbers of WAC runners in the junior age-groups, this was one of the races where we came tantalizing close to fielding a team – something to aim for next year!

While the under-15 boys were out on the circuit, our under-13 girls were warming up for race 2. It was great to see that we had six racers entered … and all of them were present. Wimborne AC can boast the South West England Cross Country Champion in this age-group and inevitably the team was led home by Grace Copeland. Frustratingly Grace finished just outside the medal positions, but her 4th place is the best ever race from a Wimborne athlete in the club’s history at Parliament Hill. Fern Morrison was next in, she’s seen a fantastic upturn of form since the start of the year and her performance in London more than continued that trend. Hannah Fairchild claimed the third team scoring position with a determined performance. Completing the scoring for the team was Bethanie Kingswell-Farr. Beth’s race got off to an unfortunate start. Beth had to stop after around 400m as she was losing a shoe. Twin sister Isabelle clocked what was happening and was in two minds of what to do – she did the right thing and continued. By the time Beth had got the shoe securely back on she was dead last with a significant gap to the rest of the field. The determined manner in which she set off in pursuit of the other girls brought her warm support from the watching spectators, who respected her commitment and determination.  Beth flew from there on, she caught the back of the field and then made up more than 40 places before reaching the finish line and claiming the final team scoring position for Wimborne. However, her finishing position of 251st is not a true reflection of her ability. Isabelle was next home, followed by Elise Gill with a typically gritty performance. The U13 girls’ team came 32nd.

We were also able to field a team of under-13 boys, but with four to count we needed everyone to finish. No problem – the boys were 19th team on the day and led home by Liam Murphy-Parry. Elliott Symes and Michael Johnson were 2nd and 3rd for us and were only separated by 10 seconds. However, there were so many runners approaching the finish line, the 10 seconds was worth 26 places! Bringing it home for the team in the final point-scoring position was Tom Morrison. Tom was making his Parliament Hill debut, he wasn’t the least bit overawed by the occasion, he finished ahead of almost 90 runners – a fine performance.

Lucy Ballam and Maddie Williams represented WAC in the under-15 girls’ race. It was another great day for Lucy, who was first WACer home, in what is her rookie XC year. Seasoned campaigner Maddie Williams was unphased by the deteriorating condition of the ground and delivered another rock solid performance.

Dorset County Champion Ryan Walbridge (48th) led the WACers home for the under-17s. Having run such a well-judged race at Cardiff the previous week in the British Cross Challenge, Ryan did it again here. Jason Sotheran (66th) was next in, but he was spiked in the latter stages of the race, and his first concern once he crossed the line was, ‘Where’s the first aid tent?’ Josh Downie completed the WAC contingent in the under-17 men’s race.

Abbie Hine missed out last year, when the race at Parliament Hill was postponed and she couldn’t compete on the substitute date. It was great to have her back leading the team home (52nd). Ella Hearne completed in London last year as an under-15, she distinguished herself in the higher age-group, being less than a minute behind Abbie. Becca ‘Scooter’ Skeats completed the WAC entry in the under-17 women’s race having, hopefully, conquered the breathing issues she’s been with hampered with in recent races.

A feisty wind started to develop as Callum Kennedy, another Dorset County Champion, raced to 42nd of 105 runners. He was our sole representative in the under-20s men’s race.

By the time Mark Copeland and Pete Kingswell-Farr made their way to the start line the wind had strengthened. The course was now cutting up badly. They had a massive 15km to do in the increasingly difficult conditions. The gun fired and they were off. The red tent, which has served the team so well over the XC season, took a major hit from the weather, and during an attempt to get it down before too much damage was inflicted, it ended up in a crumpled heap. No sooner was the tent down, then we felt the first drops of rain! Mark crossed the line in just under 70 minutes, whilst Pete was around six minutes behind him. By the time they finished it was lashing it down!

We made what must’ve been one of the fastest exits ever from Parliament Hill as the rain developed into an awesome storm. Fortunately for us, we were already on the minibuses by the time the thunder and lightning reached its spectacular climax.

Parliament Hill had once again given us a day to remember, and there were some very weary bodies by the time we got back to Wimborne. Impressively a few of our youngest racers turned out again for WAC for a Sportshall fixture at Canford the following day (and one of those – Tom Morrison – is even a County Champion!), for sure they would have slept well on Sunday night!

Footage of the day’s races can be found here


WAC results

Under-15 boys (258 runners)

37 – Piers Copeland – 17:20
213 – Sam Davies – 20:16
250 – Tom Boulton – 22:36

Under-13 girls (292 runners) – 32nd team

4 – Grace Copeland – 12:36
157 – Fern Morrison – 15:27
238 – Hannah Fairchild – 16:42
251 – Bethanie Kingswell-Farr – 17:05
277 – Isabelle Kingswell-Farr – 18:06
281 – Elise Gill (WAC) – 18:42

Under-13 boys (285 runners) – 19th team

34 – Liam Murphy-Parry – 12:39
94 – Elliott Symes – 13:25
120 – Michael Johnson – 13:35
196 – Tom Morrison – 14:26

Under-15 girls (285 runners)

89 – Lucy Ballam – 17:38
196 – Maddie Williams – 19:31

Under-17 men (209 runners)

48 – Ryan Walbridge – 22:53
66 – Jason Sotheran – 23:24
191 – Josh Downie – 27:27

Under-17 women (151 runners)

52 – Abbie Hine – 23:19
76 – Ella Hearne – 24:11
135 – Rebecca Skeats – 28:13

Under-20 men (105 runners)

42 – Callum Kennedy – 22:53

Senior men (986 runners)

520 – Mark Copeland – 1:09:51
731 – Peter Kingswell-Farr – 1:16:11

Full results can be found here:



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