Ilford’s mini-marvels get set for marathon effort

�Ilford’s young athletes are due to take part in the country’s largest race in two weeks time, following some excellent performances at the London mini-marathon trials in Newham at the weekend.

The star showing came from Alex Richards, who has overcome years of injuries and illness to show sparkling form this season and displayed his talent with an electric sprint finish to win the race, beating competitors from Redbridge, Newham, Waltham Forest and City of London.

His time of twelve minutes 50 seconds over the four-kilometre course, which took in the sights of the spectacular Olympic Stadium, will put him in good stead for a good showing on Marathon day itself.

Jack Maher was also a victor, this time in the under-13 category, just ahead of team rival Israel Olujnimi, with a clocking of 16.15, which beat many runners his senior and was reward for months of hard training.

Kelly Mavididi was the pick of the Ilford girls, coming in second with 17.48 in the under-15 group after leading for a good part of the way, but succumbing to the fast finish of Redbridge rival Eleanor Foster.

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The under-15 boys’ category was highly competitive with Redbridge runners filling nine of the top dozen places, a testament to the excellent partnership work which has been taking place between Ilford AC and James Roberts, the dynamic coach at Seven Kings High School.

Leading the way for Ilford was Sharmaarke Adan in fourth place with 15.37, who surprisingly managed to head talented athletes Ameer Mer, five seconds behind in fifth, and Ricardo Da Silva in eighth with 16.03.

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They will be joined by the talented Tom King, who was match tied, but pre-selected to ensure a strong showing on Marathon day.

Michael O’Callaghan also had a good run to join Alex Richards in the under-17 squad with eighth place, while Jaydah Alexander made an excellent debut in the under-13 girls’ to book a place in the team.

Regan Henry-Owen was unlucky to miss out finishing in 11th, while Rohail Najam and Cameron McIntosh also finished well.

The mini-marathon course takes in the final three miles of the famous marathon route, finishing in the shadow of Buckingham Palace in front of an excited crowd of thousands of spectators.

Meanwhile, a small contingent of Ilford athletes made their way to the Sunflower Clare Hospice near North Weald for their annual fundraising 10k race.

The sun was shining and a field of about 500 set out on an undulating course through the local countryside.

Neil Crisp was first man home in 16th (37 minutes, 53 seconds), closely followed by Gary Floate in 32nd (40.02), while Robin Davis (63.00) closed the men’s team.

Dianne Crisp was the first lady home in 104th (46.26) with Natalie Crisp in 166th (50.28), Pam Jones 233rd (54.40), Meredith Floate (58.14) and Carol Muir (60.18).

The previous day Kevin Newell ran 18.33 in the seventh staging of the Valentines Park run held over 5k on the flat and scenic two-lap course.

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