Jessica Eve Kennedy reports from Hampstead Heath
attacks the climb at Parliament Hill Fields
Before now, any comments I've made about Parliament Hill have been
prefaced with the fact that I'd never actually run it. I'd heard.
I'd watched. But never had I felt quite brave enough to run the
We've all heard the stories – almost folklore by now. Tales of
spike horrors, of rolled ankles and mud-swallowed shoes. So, why on
earth would anyone enter a race like this?
that I've finally entered and run it myself, I still don't really
have an answer for you.
While I can't make sense of my own choices other than to say I'll do
a lot to justify a Burger King Bacon Double Cheeseburger to myself,
I'm not alone in my madness. The team was a 44-strong contingent
this year – a new record, building on the 43 we had last year. To
break that down a little, that meant we had athletes on the start
line of all but one of the 10 races. I hastened to add, there was a
particular display of #girlpower at Parliament Hill, with every
single ladies' (sorry, all the single ladies') races
delivering noteworthy performances – from a podium position to top
most impressive result of the day is hard to dispute. In her
Parliament Hill debut, Emily Shaw claimed second place in only the
second race of the day, marking Wimborne AC's first ever individual
podium result. Amidst the hive-like hubbub in the club tent, there
was a sudden, heightened buzz as the words "Wimborne AC" boomed from
the tannoy to announce Emily's triumphant result. Fellow under-13
girls Sarah Graham and Abbi Slade followed in 152nd and
biggest turnout of the day came in the under-15 girls’ race and led
to an impressive 7th place result in the team standings. A
10-strong team fought their way around the hilly course to finish
Abbie Lovering 31st, Amy Mercer 51st, Holly
Nixon 69th, Martha Pawson 81st, Anna Kelliher
96th, Bethanie Kingswell-Farr 118th (and in
one piece), Demi Goddard 138th, Hannah Fairchild 188th,
Izzie Kingswell-Farr 192nd and Emma Graham 253rd.
You'd be forgiven for thinking it was the club's biggest team score
of the day. Instead, bucking the trend of the season, the under-17
girls showed up in force and were led by Grace Copeland – earning a
bottom of age-group 8th – to an incredible 6th placed team result.
It was Hannah Slater (52nd), Minty Stubbs (71st),
Caitlin Rogers (99th), Romilly Carrick (152nd)
and Charlie Radford (153rd) who filled out the rest of
the team, proving great depth of quality in the age group.
we'd had one more athlete in the under-20 ladies' team, that success
would have continued up through the age groups. We would almost
certainly be talking about a podium position. I point that out not
to highlight disappointment, but rather point to potential.
Something to build on. Emma Martin was first in, placing 17th,
followed by Olivia Manson (53rd) and the club’s resident
X.C. O.G. Abbie Hine (58th).
round out the #girlpower trend, the ladies' race smashed any
previous attendance records with three of us storming or, in my
case, struggling our way around the course. We even outnumbered the
men this time – unheard of in any cross-country season but this
one. Hannah Acquah led the charge, not that I could see her for
more than those opening few seconds as we stampeded out of the
pens. Behind Hannah came Alicia, seeming utterly unphased by
horrors of the swamp-like mud and hill after massive hill. I came a
little after that just glad to get to the line, broken, defeated, as
melodramatic as ever. And this is what it’s like on a dry year?!
There were plenty of impressive results from the boys too, including
another big top 20 finish from Harry O’Donoghue who came 13th
in the under-15 boys race. Behind Harry, we had Ben Martin (120th),
Josh Davey (151st), Seth Lake (173rd), Charlie
Davies (192nd), Sam Hughes (208th) and Zach
Fenwick (218th), proving that the girls weren’t the only
ones who could go big on the numbers.
under-17 boys put out a solid team, too, with Joey Kelliher coming
in an impressive 32nd and Dan Baynham (93rd),
Elliot Symes (143rd) and Edward Dart (147th)
also running well to earn an 11th place team finish.
Elsewhere, our under-13 boys were led home by Ollie Rawles (98th).
Joe Goodwin was quick on the chase with one shoe less than he
started with, placing 103rd, while Joe Healey (193rd),
Ben Harwood (223rd), Matthew Lissenburg (261st)
and Jay Dunn (273rd) rounded out the team. After the
score was settled between friendly rivals Ollie and Joe, there was
to be a second Rawles rivalry to finish off the day.
Rawles and Pete Kingswell-Farr were the only runners we had in the
15km men’s race; I can’t possibly imagine why. From the moment they
set off, Rob seemed determined to stay in front of Pete, while Pete
endeavored simply not to injure himself on the course. And so,
after the unfortunate KF tradition of injury last year, this year’s
trend was one of Rawles rule. Rob came 794th, Pete 810th
but merrily unharmed.
After my ragged eight kilometres, anyone able to get around 15km of
that course has earned my greatest respect. Respect shown by, err,
packing up the tent and going back to the coach before they’ve even
climbed the hill… but respect nonetheless. (Sorry, guys! We got a
service station banquet to get to.)
Well. 44 runners across nine races and every single person in a
Wimborne vest made it to the finish line. That’s no mean feat, even
in drier than usual conditions. We can all at least say we did it.
went, we saw, we conquered – or in my case, conked out.