Freeze a jolly good fellow

Ilford AC runners ignore conditions at Braintree

TEN BRAVE Ilford AC athletes battled against the elements at the fourth Essex League cross country match held at Braintree on Saturday.

The conditions were so severe that the hill which characterises the challenging Great Notley course had to be omitted due to dangerous ice on the steep slopes.

In the senior men’s category, the team was led home by Malcolm Muir in an exciting head to head with veteran rival Spencer Hempsted.

Muir is always in his element in the harshest conditions and he worked his way steadily through the field as he fought the driving snow to finish seventh, passing Hempsted in the final kilometre.

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Hempsted lost places in the closing stages as he miscalculated the distance, but still managed a highly respectable 11th place.

Behind the leading pair was excellent support to earn the club their highest position of the season with equal fourth place overall.

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In 32nd place was veteran Ray Dzikowski, pursued closely by Darren Bottrill who was rewarded for his recent period of intensive training with an excellent 37th place.

Kevin Newell was also on great form managing 50th place, while super veteran Tony Nixon belied his 60 plus years just four places further behind.

Terry Knightley, who is more at home on the road, found the surface not to his liking and slipped back in the latter stages, but still recorded a commendable 55th place, while Steve Parker finished in 84th place.

In the boys’ under-15 category, the club had hoped for a team of four, but the weather had halved this number. Taschan Peart and Ricardo Silva performed well in a high class field and both finished strongly for 19th and 21st respectively.

The previous Saturday, Ilford AC’s Iain Campbell continued his recent good form at Biggleswade when winning the SEAA male over-50 cross country championships in a time of 33 minutes and 50 seconds, adding to his county title of two weeks ago.

Campbell’s dominance over the rest of the field was reflected by his margin of victory which was well over a minute on second placed man Chris Finill of Harrow and Chelmsford’s Mike Bridgeland.

Another Ilford athlete doing well was Hempsted who avenged his county defeat by Colchester’s Alan Smalls by placing ninth in a top class over-40’s field, clocking 33.40.

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