Wimborne Athletic Club

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Ham Hill  – Wessex XC – 24 November 2013

Job done at the most challenging XC league race.

Ham Hill, with its ridiculously steep climb on the big loop, is definitely the Marmite fixture in the calendar – you either love it or hate it. Fortunately for us, almost all WACers love it! It was a decent enough day for competing, a little chilly, but with almost no wind. The sticky, muddy sections in the wood were also a little easier than we’ve seen in the past too.

We managed to field a fantastic 32 athletes on the day – and this was despite a serious fixture clash for our seniors with the Dorset Road Race League, and some key members of younger age-groups being unavailable. As this fixture is the most geographically remote for many of the clubs it tends to be the one with fewer competitors, although Yeovil and Wells City usually have good numbers here, particularly in the seniors’ race. Having said all that, numbers competing at Ham Hill have near doubled over the last three years since the revival of the fortunes of the Wessex League as a whole.

Proceedings got under way with the combined start for the u17/u20/seniors’ race. The u17s and the women had a short lap, and then one large lap, the u20s and senior men had an extra large lap to complete. The first finishers were the under-17 men. It was great to see such a high standard of athletes in this race. The race was won by Andy Smith of Poole Runners with Wells City’s Sam Somerville next. First WACer was Ryan Walbridge in 3rd who led our winning team home for the first time this year in the Wessex League. Just behind him was Jason Sotheran, despite losing his footing a couple of times. Completing the team victory was Josh Downie in 6th place. Our under-17 men’s team has won both times we have been able to field these three athletes. Our under-17 women’s team recorded their second consecutive 1-2-3 of the season. Abbie Hine took an impressive win, while Charlotte Bourne and Ella Hearne are having a proper tussle, with Charlotte taking the honours for second place this time.

Our senior women were next across the finish line, with Lynn Hutchings, the rock of our ladies team’s for a number of years now, just a few seconds away from under-17 Ella. Making her second XC appearance for WAC, and her first in the Wessex League was Lisa Keay. With Lynn second Female Master on the day and a solid performance from Lisa we claimed 1st placed team in the Female Masters category and they even managed to come 3rd placed team overall.

The senior men’s was the category most hit by the fixture clash with the Dorset Road Race League. However, the damage could have been much worse than it was. We were very pleased to see Iain Donnelly who travelled up specially to compete from his new home in Devon. Indeed, it was Iain who led the team home. Next in was XC specialist Graham Whiffen attending his first race this season. Our next three runners are the men’s team’s big improvers – Pete Kingswell-Farr, Daryl Davies and Paul Hine. For Daryl it was like turning the clock back 10 years as his mum and dad came along to cheer him on. I wonder if his dad, Gordon, still has those running shoes!

Our under-15s teams were a little depleted for this fixture – two boys Matt Yates and Sam Davies, and only one girl – Lucy Ballam. Matt recorded his highest placing yet with a 4th place, and with good support from Sam in 7th – we were second team on the day. Lucy recorded her first podium finish in an XC league race with a good third place.

We’ve had really good turnout from under-11s in the Wessex this season, but due to fixtures clashes and the distance to travel we had a few less at Ham Hill than we might have hoped for. Max Meadwell resumed his duel with Ryan Symington of Poole Runners – Max recorded another second place but he’s now reduced the gap to six seconds. The massive improver in this age-group is Charlie Davies, reward for the commitment he is putting in to his training sessions. Charlie claimed a podium place, in his first Wessex race this year he was 20th and he followed that with a 14th, so 3rd place is fantastic progress. For the girls Abbie Lovering was first red home in 6th place against tough competition from some Southampton AC girls. Next home for Wimborne was Chloe Fleming, despite having turned an ankle. Ava Keay has competed in all the Wessex races this season, and this was her best performance so far. Aimee Figg was making her second Wessex race in a row, and she was next in. Completing our under-11s was Lydia Hughes. Lydia’s strong finish suggests that with more experience of judging pace, even better performances will come.

The last race of the day was the under-13s. Liam Murphy-Parry won in the opening fixture of the season, but wasn’t able to compete in Race 2. This time Liam came up against Jed Skilton of Poole AC who was racing the Wessex League for the first time this season. Although Liam led our team home he had to settle for second place overall. The big improver in this race was Michael Johnson. Michael has competed in both Hampshire races this term, but this was his first in the Wessex League. It was easily his most impressive performance this season. It’s satisfying to see one of those who really gets stuck in at training sessions seeing some tangible reward. Tom Morrison and Robert Hughes put in good solid performances too, and our boys claimed second team on the day. Jessica Bourne led our girls home with the sort of determined effort we have now come to expect from her. Looking much more like her old self was Bethanie Kingswell-Farr, who was only six seconds back. Hopefully Beth is finally getting over that niggly hip problem that’s been bugging her for a while. Fern Morrison was next in, Fern has recently stepped up her training, expect to see gains for her at the next race. In 11th place was Chelsea Fleming with a very encouraging debut, having put in some serious work at Blandford track over the past weeks. Next in, with a much-improved performance was Issie Kingswell-Farr and Elise Gill completed our under-13 girls team. Elise is the only one this year’s under-13s to have competed in the same race as last year at Ham Hill – her time improved by over a minute and half!

WAC results

Under-17 men (8 runners) – 1st team

3 – Ryan Walbridge – 17:03
4 – Jason Sotheran – 17:18
6 – Josh Downie – 18:54

Under-17 women (3 runners) – 1st team

1 – Abbie Hine – 20:58
2 – Charlotte Bourne – 22:05
3 – Ella Hearne – 22:13

Senior women (16 runners) – 3rd team, 1st Women’s Masters

5 –  Lynn Hutchings – 22:17 – 2nd Women Master
10 – Lisa Keay – 25:08

Senior men (51 runners) – 8th team, 4th Men’s Masters

18 – Iain Donnelly – 35:37
32 – Graham Whiffen – 39:10
34 – Peter Kingswell-Farr – 39:28
36 – Daryl Davies – 39:51
40 – Paul Hine – 40:47
49 – Ian Kennedy – 47:16

Under-15 boys (10 runners) – 2nd team

4 – Matt Yates – 14:09
7 – Sam Davies – 14:26

Under-15 girls (9 runners) – 4th team

3 – Lucy Ballam – 15:05

Under-11 boys (13 runners) – 1st team

2 – Max Meadwell – 5:03
3 – Charlie Davies – 5:29
7 – Jack Moss-Wilcox – 5:51

Under-11 girls (18 runners) – 3rd team

6 – Abbie Lovering – 5:34
9 – Chloe Fleming – 5:49
12 – Ava Keay – 6:25
15 – Aimee Figg – 7:05
17 – Lydia Hughes – 7:19

Under-13 boys (23 runners) – 2nd team

2 – Liam Murphy-Parry – 10:10
5 – Michael Johnson – 10:34
14 – Tom Morrison – 11:38
18 – Robert Hughes – 11:47

Under-13 girls (16 runners) – 1st team

6 – Jessica Bourne – 12:09
7 – Bethanie Kingswell-Farr – 12:15
10 – Fern Morrison – 12:37
11 – Chelsea Fleming – 12:59
13 – Isabelle Kingswell-Farr – 13:18
15 – Elise Gill – 15:03

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