Men’s Surrey cross-country league, Div 1, Race 2, Mitcham Common, 11 Nov 2017

Quality at an All-Time High

 

The race had the quickest of starts in what is a narrow first mile. It’s Andrew Connick leading the Bels contingent, with Will in the background and then AJ, PO, Nick and Ed in the bunch. Paskar later said he spent most of the first mile in the 30’s! Pic by Chaiyla Norville-Whyms

 

In another Surrey League race of phenomenal quality, our neighbours to the left and right threw huge punches at Mitcham’s 24 ups and downs.  More than ever, our paucity of numbers is being ruthlessly exposed by the brilliant communications and organization of Hercules, Thames, Ranelagh, Clapham and SLH.  Not forgetting Herne Hill, still a well-oiled machine who dominated the League for a decade; and then there’s Kent who’ve won it 5 times in a row!

The slippery slope to anonymity is a steep one and can last not just years, but decades (as we saw from circa 1975 to the millennium), so hopefully we’ll elect a club Marketing and Publicity officer ASAP, in a role that has lain vacant for a year.  It’s been pointed out I should be assuaged that we’re providing the individual winners in the men and women’s races but one athlete can’t carry an entire team, certainly not in 10 to score and it’s problematic in 5 to score too.  “Spirit” is also an oft used word to laud the bravery and application of our teams, but no amount of spirit can counter-act a lack of ‘boots on the ground’.

The injury and illness in both squads continue to run wild and poor Wicksy succumbed to a bug just as his calf was on the mend. A mother and mother-in-law’s birthday also deprived us of crucial forward men.  Happily though, the top 6 from Reigate all returned.  This gives rise to the theory that once a man gets the taste for the race course and is “in the zone” he’ll be back, but of the dozen or so we hoped may fill the gaping holes after the sixth man from match 1, not a single one could make it, and what with losing Garret to work, our 8th and 9th men actually both moved up a pip.

There’s no better example of the priceless nature of “getting someone out”, than Nick Goolab.  Just one Surrey league between Nov 07 to Oct 17, but now two on the spin!  Marvellous.  The outstanding Lewis Lloyd kept close order all day, but Nick’s experience and brilliance carried the day, with the always strong Maud in 3rd and Paskar a clinical and watchful 4th.  This was the 10 year anniversary of Nick’s debut for Belgrave – I recall it well, had him in my back pocket till the last mile when he cruelly went to work on me.  Alan reports of the 10 Nov 2007 race:  “…but not on the agenda was the forward running of 17 year-old Nick Goolab, training partner of “Sharpy” and cruising home in 11th, scoring 10th.”

Our four strong back-up men took a deep breath and handled the ferocious fare as best they could.  AJ had five plumb in range, less than a fortnight after going low 2:24 at Frankfurt; oh how he’d have loved to scuttle round for a 4th time.  The skipper recovered from a bad fall to track Andy Connick (who jarred his knee) all race, while Fyfey set off more circumspectly and had a much nicer time for it.

Then a looooong gap before Will became the third man in Surrey league history to reach 70 scoring runs (level with Harran of Herne Hill and behind SLH’s Major on a remarkable 87).  Patrick ran well, as did the ever-reliable Tom O’Beirne, with the solid Alex Mills seeing us home.  Arne Dumez has been diagnosed as anaemic so needs to up his iron intake and will only get better, chased every step of the way by Rob Norville, and then the feisty Steve Addicott.  Thereafter it was “Belgrave 1987” as Phil Carstairs, Alex Luce and Frank Ward took us back to the days of Reagan, Thatcher, Cram and Coe.

Although Ranelagh pipped us on the day, we actually strengthened our hold on 5th with SLH stumbling and can be proud that despite all our trouble we’re ‘hanging on’ in the mayhem all around.

1 N Goolab 26:40; 4 P Owor 27:36; 19 A Jaksevicius 28:22; 40 A Connick 29:35; 43 E Auden 29:42; 57 A Fyfe 30:14; 111 W Cockerell 32:03; 133 P McDougall 32:39; 141 T O’Beirne 32:54; 154 A Mills 33:33; 174 A Dumez 34:35; 175 R Norville 34:40; 185 S Addicott 35:17; 209 A Luce 36:39; 223 P Carstairs 37:36; 231 F Ward 38:23.  250 finished.

1 H/W 218; 2 Ken 247; 3 THH 327; 4 HHH 398; 5 RAN 490; 6 Belg 493; 7 SLH 523; 8 CC 606; 9 Reig 793.

Overall:  1 H/W 534; 2 Ken 565; 3 THH 636; 4 HHH 732; 5 BEL 907; 6 SLH 1033; 7 RAN 1077; 8 CC 1160; 9 Reig 1546.

 

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