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Cross-country at Aldridge airfield Saturday 11 November 2023

Ladies – Midland Women’s League Division 2

Men – Birmingham League Division 3

What a different day from January earlier in the year We were met by a blue sky and no wind. The lack of wind was I think a first for a cross-country race at the airfield as the airfield is exposed.

Tents were put up, enabling the men’s tent to dry out after the previous Saturday at Mansfield.

A walk round the course established that it was going to be a different race from the January mud fest. I must admit to being surprised at how firm the ground was following all the recent rain. One or two areas looked like they’d cut up, but overall very good conditions.

The ladies ran first and how well they did. There was a field of 245 and the finishing places for the ladies were:

67th Jane

105th Meg

130th Jenny

131st Manisha

The team was 21st out of 27.

Jane started off nice and steady and worked her way through the field significantly on the 2nd lap. Jane does appear to float over the ground. Meg had a really determined run and was involved in a dramatic sprint finish with several other ladies. Very exciting for me watching. A battle royal between Jenny and Manisha. I didn’t see it, but Manisha did pass Jenny on the second lap. Jenny’s strength in the end paid off with a determined finish resulting in a gap of 20 seconds. What will happen next time?

What a great turn out from the men, with 15 finishing. Even Andy W made it to the start line on time.

Out of a field of 250 the men’s finishing positions were:

112th Nick

117th Darren

133rd Patrick

134th Andy W

135th James

161st Sas

166th Roman

184th Charles R

285th Tahir

201st Andy M

219th Andy L

224th Andy C

226th Graham

237th Rob

241st Stuart

Because of a fabulous turn out we finished a B team.

The team positions were:

A 17th out of 20

B 8th out of 8

The last time we finished a B team was 8 February 2020. It warms the heart to have done this again for the first time in nearly 4 years.

You might have noticed from the finishing positions there was quite a lot of bunching. I can assure you that as a spectator I saw no chatting on the way round.

Nick had his usual gutsy and noisy run. Darren after his accident did so well. I expect that by Gloucester Darren will be higher up the field. The gap between Patrick, Andy W and James was only 5 seconds. I witnessed the last 400 and all three worked really hard. A great battle. Plus, the performance from all three was much better than earlier in the year. Sas listened to me and went off steady and moved through the field well on the second and third laps. This was his first league race and a great achievement to be 6th counter. Roman admitted to enjoying the race. The flat course helped. For Charles R this was his first league race and how well he did to keep going to the end. A little more endurance will see Charles moving up the field. After a good run at Mansfield, it was another good run from Tahir. Andy M was correct with his prediction for the Andy finishing positions behind Andy W. Andy M worked consistently through the race, Andy L had his usual nippy start and as it was Andy C’s first league race for some time it was a good marker for future races. Graham hasn’t been back training long, and as with Andy C I expect Graham to move up the field as the season goes on. Rob and Stuart know the importance of having a good team spirit and backing up other Sparkhill runners. This is so important if another Sparkhill runner is not able to finish. Stuart wasn’t feeling too well, so well done to finish.

Thank you again to Graham Heeley. Graham’s attendance at the league races on the official side means that we as a club do not need to provide further officials on the day.

A fair number of us went to a local pub after the race where ’if only’ stories were a plenty.




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