The third fixture of the Hampshire Cross Country League season took place at Prospect Park Reading on Saturday 14 January. A lot of rain had fallen in the days before the race, and on the morning itself so that, although the rain has ceased by the afternoon, the course had become a mixture of thick deep mud and, alongside the playing fields, a soggy wet surface which was just asking to remove the athletes’ shoes.  Whether it was these conditions, or the distance to Reading, or competing fixtures which led to a limited BAC presence at Reading isn’t known but those who did make it were certainly made aware of what a true cross country course is!

Barry and Harry Dolman ready to race

The senior men’s struggle to remain in Division 1 is still alive, thanks in no small part to the last minute appearance of Henry Bramwell-Reeks, who stormed round the course to finish 30th, a tremendous achievement in a very strong cross country league. Not far behind Henry was the ever present Szymon Chojnacki, with Barry Dolman, another regular, the third BAC finisher.  Ross Smith has made, for BAC, a very welcome return to athletics, after a very successful few years in mountain biking, in which he has represented his country, and, although Ross claims not yet to be back to full running fitness, he still had an excellent run at Reading to finish as BAC‘s fourth senior man.  Patrick Kingston, who also regularly turns out to support his club, completed the BAC team – Patrick‘s run made a significant difference to the team’s position in Division 1.  On the day BAC were 8th of 10 teams, with an aggregate position for the season of 8= of 10 teams, which is effect means joint last, as three teams (BAC, Poole AC and Reading Roadrunners) are 8=.  Without Patrick (and, indeed, every one of the team), BAC would have been 10th, last, out on its own.  So there is still the opportunity to save BAC‘s Division 1 status with strong team performances at the next two fixtures (Popham, 11 February and Kings Park, 4 March).  The situation for BAC‘s veteran mens’ team is much healthier.  The team of Szymon, Barry and Ross were 6th veteran mens’ team on the day with an aggregate position for the season so far of 6th of 23 teams.  Of the individual veteran men, Szymon is 6th after three fixtures.

Szymon Chojnacki in action

Szymon Chojnacki in action

Also featuring in the individual rankings is Hugo Richardson, who is 8th U17 man.  Hugo had a typically strong run at Reading, leading in BAC‘s U17 mens’ team, which was completed by Nathan Mearns and Harry Dolman

The mud just got everywhere!

Turning to the ladies, Kirsty Drewett, Jola Denerenda and Jayne Wade battled through the mud to claim a team position.  BAC‘s ladies were 15th of 15 teams on the day, but it must be borne in mind that most of the competing clubs did not field a team at all.  Looking at the aggregate for the season so far, the team is in quite a healthy position, lying 13th of 20 teams.

Two of BAC‘s youngsters ran extremely well at ReadingConstance King was an amazing 13th of the 35 U13 girls, and Edward Davies was 17th of 41 U11 boys.  The U11 races are not actually part of the league, so congratulations also to Edward King who made the long journey to Reading to take part.

Szymon after completing the senior men's race

Szymon handled the slippery conditions very well

Many thanks are due, once again, to Simon Hearn and Simon Saunders for their support and the provision of the BAC tent which makes so much difference to the day’s experience, and also thanks to those who ‘taxied’ – particularly Jud Kirk who drove much of the senior mens’ team to Reading.

Full results (BAC): S/VM: 30. Henry Bramwell-Reeks 36.50, 42. Szymon Chojnacki 37.48, 84. Barry Dolman 41.36, 96. Ross Smith 42.42, 107. Patrick Kingston 43.19, 178. Jud Kirk 50.39, 210. Ian Graham 62.20; U17M: 12. Hugo Richardson 20.09, 22. Nathan Mearns 21.49, 25. Harry Dolman 22.26; U11B: 17. Edward Davies 10.52, 31. Edward King 12.22; S/VW: 60. Kirsty Drewett 26.33, 75. Jola Denerenda 27.27, 105. Jayne Wade 36.40; U13G: 13. Constance King 13.09. 

Mud to the front……

……and to the back!