Wimborne Athletic Club

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Wessex League Race 2  – 29 November – Salisbury 

Ryan wins as juniors turn on the style in the rain.

After a week of torrential rain, driving conditions to Salisbury were hazardous. The venue has many rugby and football pitches and usually on a Sunday, there are hundreds of people taking part in sporting activities of different types. We arrived early in order to erect the tent and walk the course as one rugby match was coming to an end, but all other games had been called off due to the conditions. Needless to say it was definitely game on for our cross-country runners.

It was great to have so many supporters along with us to cheer our red shirts on. One of these was making his first appearance, Bertie the bear! Bertie was won by Sharon in the raffle on Friday’s awards night, and come Sunday he had been adopted as our new team mascot and was proudly sporting his ‘Wimborne 10’ shirt. He turns out to be something of a fair weather supporter though as it was deemed too wet and muddy for our precious bear (he spent the day in the car), but not so for our runners! One thing that did feel a bit strange was to turn up at a cross-country race with no Vaughan-Johnceys with us, Alex was laid low with a bug and Maddy looks set for a longer lay-off to allow a bout of tendonitis in her foot to clear. As the races approached we were subjected to occasional downpours and a wind with a real chill to it. Our team tent was to prove itself invaluable.

The first race was the under-11s. Having made a great debut at Kings Park a month ago, Liam once again put in another excellent performance to be our first ‘red’ home. Grace was the second place girl. Phoebe is starting to run with much more self-belief and this was easily her best performance for us in a cross-country race so far. We had a full complement of Hines for race day and Pippa was the first to run and despite some pre-race nerves she put in a very determined performance.

For the past year our dominant performer in the under-13 girls category has been Sharon Hutchings. Although on paper her results so far look decent (8th in a Hampshire League race is no mean achievement) they don’t reflect her true potential as she has been struggling with colds and viruses. After Goodwood Sharon was diagnosed with bronchitis and was put on a course of antibiotics. That was a couple of weeks ago and so this race was always going to be about getting out there and seeing how it went. Up until now we haven’t been able to back up Sharon’s performances with a full team in this age group, but that changed with an exciting crop of new talent. Abbie competed in only her second cross-country race for the club, while Alivia and Chloe both made their debuts. Abbie’s rate of progress has been excellent, while Chloe and Alivia gave a fine display of teamwork on their debuts. With little to choose between the girls this should make for a tightly-knit group who can work really well together in training and make real progress. The big disappointment in this race was that it was quite clear that Sharon has far from recovered and after a steady start she struggled, and using a good deal of common sense she pulled up. We can’t wait to have a fully fit Sharon racing hard with her team-mates.

The first Wessex League race of the season showed that we had a number of runners with the potential to a win a race in this league. The question was, Who would be the first to do it? The under-13s race was to provide the answer. Ryan had a quiet confidence about him gained from the experience of the last few races. He got to the front very early on and then steadily built a lead, and once he got to the front he was under no serious threat as he comfortably claimed his win. What was also encouraging was that in what was a longer race than at Kings Park, Piers managed to close the time gap down on Ryan as he and Alex got involved in a tussle to see who could be the next red shirt home. The matter was settled as Alex found an extra gear on the approach to the finish line (surely Alex’s best race for us so far). Well done boys first team on the day.

The next race with WAC interest in it was the under-15 boys. We only had two runners in this one Callum and Tate. Callum’s recent form gave him the confidence to take the race to the rest of the field as he and Keiron Young of Mendip AC forced the pace and steadily built a gap between themselves and the chasing pack. At the end of the first lap both leaders came down heavily on a sharp and slippery right-hand bend, picked themselves up and got on with the job in hand as the gap to the pack continued to grow. On the second lap Keiron slowly eased away from Callum and he eventually had to settle for second place. This was probably Callum’s best run so far in a Wimborne vest  and although the Wessex League season is only two races old, sees Callum currently top of the averages in his age group as do Ryan and Grace in their age-groups. Tate has only just started running XC again after a long lay off and he too came down in the treacherous conditions. Tate went over on the muckiest part of the course at the gateway to the field where the cattle had been kept. He didn’t allow this to distract him as he stuck resolutely to the task.

We had seen an excellent turnout for the junior races but for the seniors we were a bit thin on the ground. We only had two ladies running, one shy of a team and for the men we had the minimum required for a team score, which would bring its own problems come the race.

Lynn as usual led the way for our ladies and it was great to see Paula running in her second Wessex League race in a row too. Paula showed a marked improvement from last time out, even if she did find the distance a little daunting.

The role that Lynn plays for the Ladies is fulfilled by Graham for our men’s team in the Wessex League and he was easily the first Wimborne runner home. Although the field wasn’t large there was some quality to it as Mike Grist of Poole Runners who had been involved in a duel for 1st/2nd place in the first race of the season had to settle for 5th on this occasion. Paul got off smartly but after the end of lap 1 (of four) felt a twinge in the calf and was forced to back off. He knew we needed three finishers to record a team score so wasn’t going to quit if he could help it. Ian was able to run at a consistent pace and was able to catch Paul on the second lap. We finished as 5th team overall.

Despite the filthy weather we saw some inspiring performances, particularly from our juniors. WACers times and results were:

Under-11s (22 finishers) – Wimborne 3rd team

5 – Liam Murphy-Parry – 6:45

10 – Grace Copeland – 7:01 (2nd girl)

15 – Phoebe O’Mahony – 8:06

17 – Pippa Hine – 8:36

Under-13 Girls (10 finishers) – Wimborne 1st team

5 – Abbie Hine – 8:33

7 – Alivia Gillard – 8:50

8 – Chloe Morris – 9:06

Under-13 Boys (7 finishers) – Wimborne 1st team

1 – Ryan Walbridge – 10:23

4 – Alex Diment – 10:46

5 – Piers Copeland – 10:48

Under-15 Boys (6 finishers)

2 – Callum Kennedy – 14:58

6 – Tate Young – 20:31

Senior Women (8 finishers)

5 – Lynn Hutchings – 27:43

7 – Paula Hine – 32:29

Senior Men (23 finishers) (Wimborne 5th, Wimborne Vets 3rd)

13 – Graham Whiffen – 33:22

19 – Ian Kennedy – 36:34

22 – Paul Hine – 38:39

Full results for the Wessex League will be found at




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