Wimborne Athletic Club

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Cross-Country Awards Night 2008/2009

Our annual cross-country awards were presented on Sunday 5 April at Wimborne Town Football Club. There was an excellent turnout on the night with most of those who played significant roles in the club’s cross-country season in attendance, plus friends, supporters and other WACers along too.

The evening started with a skittles match – won by Claire Newby – before we moved onto the awards.

The 2008/2009 season was the first where we competed in two leagues – Hampshire and Wessex. This gave us our busiest ever winter schedule. We have traditionally awarded ‘Fidelity ‘ awards to any of our runners who have competed in every league race. As the number of races had doubled it was decided that there would be Fidelity medals for anyone who had competed in every race in either league – these went to Ian Kennedy (Hampshire) and Lynn Hutchings, Annemarie Pearson and Maddy Vaughan-Johncey (Wessex). To have competed in all 10 league races required terrific commitment and perhaps a little luck that you could avoid illness or injury. We awarded a brand-new trophy the ‘Super Fidelity’ to reward that level of commitment. Three ‘Super Fidelitys’ were achieved – very well done to Sharon Hutchings, Callum Kennedy and Graham Whiffen.

The next trophy to be awarded was the ‘Best Newcomer’. This went to Piers Copeland. Piers competed in four of the five under-11s races in the Wessex League. His first race was at Kings Park, where he finished fourth. He then ran in the final three races of the season – Salisbury, Ham Hill and Avon Heath. He recorded convincing race wins in all those races. Piers, and indeed his younger sister Grace, are great prospects.

The ‘Most Improved’ trophies were awarded next. For the girls this went to Maddy Vaughan-Johncey. She finished 2nd in the season averages in the Wessex League and recorded her first WAC XC race win at Langport. This upturn in form was noted and she was asked to compete for Dorset at the Inter-Counties Cross-Country Championship where she ran a great race. The boys award went to Callum Kennedy, the hard work he is putting in is starting to pay dividends and he has closed in on his under-15 team mate Jack Snook and they have had some great tussles as the season has developed. Callum and Jack formed the spine of our under-15 team and also competed at the Inter-Counties at Nottingham.

The Top Female Runner Award went to Sharon Hutchings. Sharon only joined us at the end of the summer and she has made terrific progress since then. A good run at Kings Park in November seemed to give her a great boost of self-belief and from that point on she ran with real conviction. Sharon ran a particularly bold and brave race at our final meet at Avon Heath where she forced the pace. Sadly, Sharon was laid low by a 24 hour bug and so her award was collected on her behalf by proud dad, Gerry.

Our Top Male Runner was ‘bionic’ Graeme Furley. In a number of the other categories there had been strong competition for the trophies – but this one was absolutely nailed-on right from the outset. It is hard to believe that Graeme spent almost a year confined to a wheelchair after a road accident in mid-2006. In fact, Graeme’s immediate target after the crash was just to pull through, and he sustained multiple injuries which included a broken arm, two broken legs and internal injuries. The medics rebuilt Graeme’s broken body, and he returned to WAC, as a mentor to our juniors at the Saturday morning sessions, at the start of last season. Slowly at first, Graeme started to regain his mobility (he had been Dorset Champion at under-20 in 2005). Graeme did manage one race last season – he found it a frustrating experience as he couldn’t achieve the high standards/targets he was setting himself. This year has been very different.  Graeme finished top of Wimborne’s averages in the Hampshire League as we became involved in a season-long battle to win promotion. Our promotion was finally secured in the final race of the Hampshire League season by a wafer thin margin. Graeme’s 2008/2009 season has been the stuff of fairy tales.

The final award of the night was the prestigious ‘Jean Frost Trophy’. This is awarded to someone for the role the play in the life of the WAC cross-country team, not necessarily a runner – someone who helps to make the team tick, and whose input has a very positive impact on their team-mates/coaches and their performances. This year it was presented to a runner (and a fine one at that). In winning the award, Maddy Vaughan-Johncey, at just 16 years of age, is far and away the youngest ever winner of this trophy. Maddy’s sheer love of running is infectious and raises everybody’s game, in training and on race day.

That wraps up another cross-country season. We should be carrying all that endurance work into the new track & field season and over the summer work on the speed prior to a fresh assault on the Hampshire and Wessex Leagues. Bring it on.



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