St Albans Striders faced a two-part season finale to the formal cross country season at the weekend.
Saturday 9th February saw the final fixture of the 2018/19 Chiltern XC League, taking place in undulating Campbell Park, Milton Keynes, where the senior women raced 3.3 miles, followed by the senior men running 5.0 miles.
In the women’s race, Jen Conway was the first to complete the distance, in 23:19, coming 17th in Division 1. She was followed by Wendy Walsh (24:53, 28th), Zoe Lowe and Deb Steer in 42nd and 43rd, Ruth Kent 62nd, Deirdre Heydecker 73rd, Mandy Attree 86th, Diane Hunt 102nd, and Julianne Nightingale 109th. On the day the women’s team finished 6th out of 14 clubs, and 5th at the end of the five fixtures.
It was a similar picture for the men’s side, as young star Will Bowran was the first Strider to cross the finish line, in 30:54, enough for 20th position in Division 1. Bowran was accompanied by Jamie Abbiss (31:08, 37th), Joe Dunn 51st, Doug Hobson 54th, Mike Martin 67th, Gareth Parker 78th, Tim Searle 92nd, Thomas Halling 94th, Richard Evans 104th, Tom Neill 105th, Nigel Aston 114th, Derek Fowler 134th, Martin Halling 142nd, Colin Braybrook 154th, Mark Travers 187th, with Anthony Bunker and Mike Jack in 190th and 191st respectively. Likewise for the men, they came 6th on the day, which was enough to hold onto 5th position overall in the league after the full five fixtures.
Together with junior athletes from the St Albans Athletic Club, Striders came 5th overall in the very competitive Division 1 of the league, against 13 other clubs from the wider region. Individual season-end prizes for Striders were as follows: Wendy Walsh claimed 2nd FV45, Zoe Lowe 4th FV45, Mandy Attree 6th FV45. Deirdre Heydecker was 4th in the FV55 age category, Martin Halling was 4th MV60, Nigel Aston was 10th MV50, and last but not least, Jen Conway was 7th Senior Woman.
The final fixture of the Seniors Sunday Cross Country League took place at its traditional location of Therfield Heath, Royston on 10th February. The course was 5.5 miles in length and most runners struggled in slippery and wet conditions, but within the contingent of St Albans Striders were Doug Hobson who had a fantastic run to come in at 36:51, Mike Martin who finished in 38:03, Richard Evans 39:32, Nigel Aston 39:57, Tim Searle 42:11, Graham Smith 41:21 and Jen Conway 43:11. At the time of writing full results were still to be announced, however it was confirmed soon after the race that St Albans Striders had won the Veteran Women’s competition after all five races.
In other news, Stuart Middleton completed his 200th parkrun during a visit to Aldenham. Jordan Lister was first finisher at Jersey Farm parkrun, with a new best time for that course of 19:00.
At the Love Welwyn 10K, nine Striders completed the race, with the first home being Richard Witter in 43:05, followed by Michael Wilkins in 50:08, and Veronica Bodell in 51:06, being the club’s first female.
Jack Brooks ran the Charles Darwin Day Marathon in Shrewsbury in 4:46:48. Conditions were described as rainy with strong winds.
Report by Howard Bull
Photo of Striders at the Royston XC by Katie Bunting.
Photo of Ruth Kent with the Vet Women’s team trophy by Richard Evans.