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Cross Country
Birmingham XC League, Div 3, Race#2, Gloucester, Sat 2nd December 2017 Print

ImageCraig's verdict: This week's star baker runner was Mark Williams.

A return to Plock Court after the first league fixture. Many thanks to Severn AC for hosting again.

A much improved performance for the team and many individuals. Nearly all of the team that ran both fixtures finished higher up on the return (albeit with a very marginally smaller field). Everyone should be very proud.

The only down side was a  injury to Craig which meant he had to pull out after a lap but was able to offer encouragement from the side lines. Again, thanks to Gavin for recording and token duties and Paul as chief cheerleader.

 8 Darren Riley 
 23 Mark Williams 
 50 Paul Webster
 64 Tahir Ahktar
 67 Stuart Underwood 
 73 Nick Stringer
 Barry O'Neill
 80 Andy Manning
 81 James Hannon
 Andy Wadsworth
 94 Andy Law
 95 Graham Hygate
 Rob Mills
 130 John Goulding
 156 Barry Crowley

The team finished 6th on the day and are 6th overall after 2 fixtures. Impressively, our 'b' result was 2nd - only a point behind Nuneaton in 1st.

Full results can be found here .

Midlands 7 & 5 Mile XC Championships, Bulwell Hall Park, Nottingham, Sat 18th Nov 2017. Print

ImageCraig Writes >

The annual Midland 7 and 5 mile races were held at Bulwell Park (just north of Nottingham) on Saturday.  The course was changed from last year with a wooded (uphill) section added and the ditch excluded.  I like the course which has testing sections but also sections where you can get into a good rhythm.  It is also really good for spectators with you able to stand in one place and support your club members in 4 locations on the course.  The men and ladies gave each other excellent support which was a great boost.

There were 68 finishers in the ladies’ race with the team finishing 7th out of 8 completed teams.  I know Vicki will find this difficult to believe but it was a great run.  It was a determined performance and in finishing 12th Vicki was only 13 seconds off being in the top 10.  The ever improving Pauline was 28th looking nice and relaxed.  Jenny was 49th and found the last lap tough but received good support (legal) from Shippers.  Manisha was 58th and at the moment is running better than she has done for a couple of years.  Well done girls.

 Vicki Bone 
 28 Pauline Hygate 
 49 Jenny Price
 58 Manisha Parmar

There were 153 finishers in the men’s race with the team finishing 11th out of 13 completed teams.  Mark Williams stepped in late in the day to finish 74th which is a really good run in what was a quality field.  Mark, we need you in Gloucester.  Tahir was 96th and for all his moaning he appears to be running well at the moment.  Barry fancied his chances against Tahir and wasn’t far behind finishing in 101st.  Considering the injury problems Barry has had over the last few months this was a pleasing performance.  It should be noted that Barry and Tahir swap notes on their injuries.  Andy Law might be starting to get his pacing better and finished a creditable 122nd.  7 miles was a long way for Andy so this will set him up nicely for Gloucester.  I managed to haul in an injured Rob on the last lap with us finishing 135th and 136th.  Credit to Rob for keeping going and credit to me for having little sympathy as I passed him but plenty at the end.

An added bonus was the chips.  They were kindly purchased by the girls and were devoured by the boys.  A good afternoon out enjoyed by all.

 74 Mark Williams 
 Tahir Ahktar
 101 Barry O'Neill 
 Andy Law
 135 Craig Hinks
 136 Rob Mills

Full results can be found here .

Birmingham XC League, Div 3, Race#1, Gloucester, Sat 11th November 2017. Print

ImageA fine day at Gloucester greeted us for the first race in the 2017/18 Birmingham League season.

A good turnout with 16 runners starting (unfortunately Andy Carroll had to pull out on the first lap).  The course was in the main pretty firm but with some testing stretches where a few inches of wet mud made grip difficult.  Most definitely a course that suited spikes.

We came 10th out of 18 clubs (B team 5th out of 6) with 361 points.  Taking into account that we had some key runners missing I consider it to be a really good performance.  There is plenty of scope for us to score better at the next race.

Well done Darren, still Sparkhill’s number 1 and what a great run to finish 10th.  It was a real bonus for Simon to be able to run and finish a fabulous 48th.   Paul and Nick are both coming back from injury so it bodes well for the next race.  Tahir, having passed photo responsibility to James, ran well to be our 3rd counter.  Our 6th and final counter (not including the B team) was Andy W who I think will have benefited from the course not having too many twists and turns.  Graham has started the season in good form and I’m expecting him to push on in the next race.  In a sprint finish who would put money on Andy M beating Andy L?  I’d have lost my money. John and Rob had good runs taking into account that they aren’t where they would like to be fitness wise.  I had a good run and I have to admit it’s given me a bit of a fillip for the rest of the season.  Mick, Mark and Barry all backed up really well and I expect it has been a while since we’ve all been in before 50 minutes.   

 10 Darren Riley
 48 Simon Hodges
 56 Paul Webster
 67 Tahir Ahktar
 85 Nick Stringer
 95 Andy Wadsworth 
 Graham Hygate
 109 Andy Manning
 110 Andy Law
 122 John Goulding
 125 Rob Mills
 144 Craig Hinks
 155 Mick Edwards
 160 Mark Arnold
 161 Barry Crowley

Full results can be found here .

Thank you to those who came along to support – Shippers, James, Margaret, David and Gavin.  It always helps to receive encouragement.  Gavin is mentoring James on collecting the team’s discs and writing down our places.  I know it’s a big job Gavin so I’m grateful for your patience.               

Well done all and see you at the next race on 2 December.  It is Gloucester again so you’ll be able to compare times.



English National XC relays, Mansfield, Saturday 4th November 2017 Print

ImageA good day was had by all the Sparkhill athletes running at Mansfield.  The course was pretty firm under foot but with its undulations and tight corners it was still very testing.

The ladies raced first but unfortunately didn’t have a complete team.  Emma in her first national ran well and with a big smile afterwards said she enjoyed it.  Manisha spent time before the race making me go ‘shopping’ with her at the hoody stall.  I couldn’t contain my excitement.  Did it detract from her performance?  No, she ran very well and had enough energy later on to organize, with Tahir, the photographs.

The men completed two teams.  On the first leg Andy M was running his first national and kept James in view most of the way.  It was a commendable first run and I expect he’ll be back for more.  James (I’m not running well) put in a good run.  I really must learn to ignore him when he gives me his pre-race predictions as to his likely performance.  On the 2nd leg there was Tahir chasing John and according to Tahir it didn’t take him long to overhaul him.  I’m hoping that arms weren’t used.  Tahir ended up running 0.6 seconds faster than Andy M – talk about cutting it fine.  John bought some chips later and gave me 1 with tomato ketchup so he’s in my good books.  On the 3rd leg were Daniel and, wait for it, Shippers.  Daniel had a good run and was 4 Seconds faster than last year – well done Daniel.  Shippers made the mistake of saying he would run and borrowed shoes and vest to run.  It’s fair to say that Shippers isn’t in the best shape so congratulations to James for offering the required touchline encouragement to get Shippers to the finish.  Andy L and I ran the glory legs (okay the winners had finished before we started).  Andy said after that he was getting his pace judgement better.  I’d have been the judge of that if I’d been able to see him.  I ran one of the quickest legs of the day (9:48 as recorded on the results) but I think it is only fair to say that I didn’t run one lap that quickly and that they might have made a mistake.  I ran about 25:15 so credit to me because that is over 2 minutes quicker than last year.

I’m expecting some great photos from Tahir – so thanks to Tahir in advance.

Shippers – well done.  We completed a team because of you.

Daniel – when I say hold on to the tent hold on to the tent.  For those not there, there was a strong gust of wind as we were packing away.

As usual we were the last tent down.


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