Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
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Inter-Counties Championships - 8th March 2014 (Part One)

RICHARD GOODMAN, the British Universities and Southern Champion raced away from Steve Vernon, the Multi-talented cross country runner for the last 12 years, in the last 400m at Cofton Park (8/3/14).
  The race was run on some pathways, with stretches of mud but mostly on a dry fast, undulating course, with a very steep incline at the finish.
    Goodman, although not mentioned in Athletics Weekly as a contender in their preview, to my mind was the favourite to win without a doubt, after the way he demolished the field in he Southern but to be up against Vernon most people I talked to before hand were convinced Vernon would win!.
  After the initial start in the 12,000m event, in the front of the group, was Adam Hickey, Johnny Hay, Steve Vernon and Dewi Griffiths with Goodman not in the first six at that stage but by half way both Vernon, Griffiths and Goodman, to-gether, had pulled clear of the rest with a 20 metre gap to Nick Torry who won the last two ATW Metropolitan League races, having easily his best Inter-Counties ever. The three leaders were running 'stride for stride' till the final lap when Goodman made his move and although Vernon was fighting, as he always would, it was not to be as his crowning glory had come for him in the National at Nottingham. Griffiths was pleased to be third and be top of the overall rankings for the Cross Challenge Final award.
RICHARD GOODMAN
I know you really wanted it to-day?
  "Today I kept up and finished the season a Champion"
Back in October you had your first real victory in the ATW Metropolitan League at Claybury, after you been plagued with terrible injuries before that"
   I was so thankful. I was very disappointed I did not win the National Cross so, in the last two week I trained so hard. Maybe, if I had won the 'National' I would have sat back a little bit. I was really focused today. I had really trained hard, right up until the Thursday afternoon session"
MICK WOODS now coaches you. he seems to have a magic understanding!
    "We have very similar training philosophies. We train just hard enough without getting injured."
This Summer you will do track races?
   "I need to stick to the shorter stuff to keep my speed work up. Experiment with 5,000 and 10,000 distances."
I see you as someone who could get in the first 10 in the World cross country!
    "I think so too. I am still only 20 and 21 in April. I still have so much running in my legs I really had a good turn over today. I think if I can stay being as constant, I am more than confident I can do well in the future."
MICK WOODS (A coach with tremendous understanding of his charges, who, as a young man was several times was inside 2:21 for the marathon and won the tough Isle of Wight Marathon and was a good club cross-country runner. Mick Woods never thought of himself as a 'Great runner' but had a very good understanding of athletics and now in coaching good athletes, to get even better. He was a canny reader of a races too. He thought his runner Johnny Hay ran well to-day, after he had fallen back but then catching Torry at the right time in the race and securing fifth place in the end. He also remarked that Johnny was talented as he ran 64 minutes for a half marathon and about 3:42 odd for 1500) He added:-
"Goodman has huge talent. You watch what happens to him on the track this year. It is a good thing he is at St Marys. There is a good opportunity there. A good group of athletes. It suits him as he is not far from there."

STEVE VERNON

How is your wife Elly Vernon (Baker). She ran well here last year!
   "She is Alright. She is doing the Trafford 10k tomorrow (She did 33:33 for that)
"You achieved monumental things with your 'National' record BUT I remember asking Steve Ovett about running again in the 1500 Final in Moscow in 1980, after winning the 800 and he really thought it was difficult to get himself up again so soon for another Gold in the 1500 and as history dictates Coe won the Final and Steve was third!
Did that happen to you after winning the National!

     "Absolutely. I was absolutely emotionally drained . I did what I wanted to do.I thought. 'How can I get myself back up again' I ran as hard as I could today. He wanted it more than me today. It was 'Great' to see youngsters coming through and knock me off my perch."
You are still in the frame.
    "Definitely.and I love cross-country."
As you say Cross-Country is your love and you don't have to do the track. You are fortunate because you are a different kind of animal to many track runners. They are not always very nice to each other when they run track, as opposed to cross-country where it is more friendly?."

     "However. I think cross-country is pretty brutal.You have to punish people when you are hurting yourself. You are hurting on a hill and you have got to make them hurt as well. It is a tough sport. Not a lot of track runners do that I think. All the 'Big' World Class runners do though"
If you had to point out the races that have meant most to you of all those races you have done what would your highlights be?
"Coming top 10 in the European was something quite special. That is a big achievement 10th in Europe. Winning the recent 'National' has not sunk in still. That was really special. To me winning the'8th medal. Winning my fifth Northern title was very, very special. That broke a record as well."
He also said "I collect all running books. 100's of them. I can read them over and over again"

DEWI GRIFFITHS

 "I was happy with my run."
"How would you place this one amongst the races you have done?"
  "This was definitely one of my best runs. I won the Under 15s here many years ago in Nottingham. This is the second medal I have had in the Inter-Counties."
 "It was a good race between the three of you"
 "Definitely. I had a feeling that they were stronger than me. The longer I stayed there the longer I had a chance of second."
"You love running. What is your favourite distance, country or track?"
  "I go through phases. I enjoy cross-country more than track but I will enjoy the track for a bit as a change of scenery. I look forward to the cross-country more than the track because of my success."
"Someone I know very well who was a really a'Great' Welsh runner was TONY SIMMONS. Is he one of your heroes?
  'Yes like Steve Jones. I think the way they worked back then. Everyone was pushing themselves every race and the standards kept improving. Hopefully that it is a sign of things to come in the next few years. Goodman is only 20 and Johnny Hay is only 21. Hopefully things will come in the next few years We are all pushing ourselves to get better every year.'
Where do you train?
  "I train a lot on my own to be honest. I meet up with my coach once a week with a couple of guys.
   I live in quite rural West Wales. Carmarthen way. I live on a farm as well so there are places to run. My Father is a farmer. We are doing lambing a whole lot at the moment. It has been quite a busy week. I try to taper down. It might not be ideal. You make the best of what your are given"
1 Richard Goodman (Middlesex) 33:54; 2 Steve Vernon (Greater Manchester) 34:03; 3 Dewi Griffiths (West Wales) 34:11; 4 Andrew Heyes (Yorkshire) 34:30; 5 Johnny Hay (Surrey) 34:33; 6 Nick Torry(Surrey) 34:46; 7 Jonathan Thewlis (Yorkshire) 34:52; 8 Adam Hickey (Essex) 34:59 (276 ran).
Teams 1 North East 132; 2 Middlesex 163, 3 Surrey 205. (52 Counties completed a team.).

Senior Women 8000m (Lily Partridge's mother won the Inter-Counties back in 1985.)

LILY PARTRIDGE came 3rd and KATIE BROUGH 4th in the 'National' at Nottingham so they would obviously be two to look for, which it proved to be, as they came in first and second and they were in a group of three for half the race. The other person in that group was with RHONA AUCKLAND the Scottish cross country Champion this year and last year.
TO LILY PARTRIDGE"I thought you would have that confidence to-day knowing you were third in the 'National' at Nottingham?
 "I have done some of my best sessions in the last couple of weeks. I knew it would be tough because Katie has got a massive fight."
MICK WOODS COMES IN HERE"On a Tuesday night at Aldershot we have got Steph, Emelia, Lily and Beth Potter. There are others in there but those four are working hard, training hard together. It is inspiring Steph chooses not to run today but, those girls training together, they have got to work off one another. you would not get a group like that anywhere. Emelia has been ill but coming back to form."
Lily- With the good people at Aldershot you train with must be a lot help for you. Such a good collection of athletes.
"Training with the girls has given me so much confidence for 18 months to two years. We are all running so well. We motivate each other and push each other and there is a competitive edge there.
Her Job "I work as a Teaching Assistant. Got a place to start my teacher training."
Teaching can fit in well
  "I have worked full time for a couple of years and I never found it too much of an issue but outside of running, becoming a Primary teacher is one of my goals. It would mean a lot for me to be able to do that with my athletic goals at the same time."
When did you first start running?
  "I think I was running before I could walk. Both my parents were international athletes. So I have got pictures down the club when I was a baby. RICHARD PARTRIDGE and RUTH SMEETH (Inter-County Champion in 1979 and '85). I have always been around running. I suppose I joined about 8. That would be as long as I can remember."
MICK WOODS who coaches so many including Lily "They all know if they get a race strategy and you have that. It is like Lilly she was told to sit and wait and let the other people do the work. Katie took it on and pushed it forward and when Lilly makes a move it is a decisive move, pre-planned. She was never going to take it on till 2k to go.
KATIE BROUGH
"When you came to the Inter-Counties, you knew because you were 4th in the 'National' you had a chance."
  "I felt really good and then it was the last race of the season today. I really wanted to give it everything and I wanted to come away with a medal."
"What is your memory of the race
  "I felt really good about half way through I realised Lily was really really fit and that she would come with me. I felt I had nothing to lose and I got information on the course the gap was increasing but when Lily passed me it was still good enough to gain a medal.
When she started running"When i was 20, then retired early and did not do anything for 8 years."
Do you think, in a way, that gives you hunger again and a joy to do it more?
   "Definitely, seriously now and a lot more committed. I appreciate the days when you have not got a niggle. When I was younger you always trying to get out of training sessions. And with ANDY CARTER down at Vale Royal club as well. He is amazing with the group as well.'
Since you came back in 2010 what would consider your best results
 "Probably to-day actually. When I first came back I finished 120th. I used to watch the likes of Charlotte Purdue and Gemma Steel go out and blast it coming in the first three. I thought that was a dream of mine."
RHONA AUCKLAND (Born 11/05/83)  "I had a good run It was really steady and I took it on fast on the second lap and it strung out the girls. (It was then the first three went clear together).
Do you think your Scottish win this year was your most satisfying result
  "It was really an unexpected win there, I thought top 10 so, I was delighted with that. I am 20 and 21 in May."
Rhona Auckland comes from Aberdeen, Deeside "It is nice cross country. I train at Edinburgh University (Studying Medical Sciences). Train round Holyrood along the canals."
  Other races she has done that she was proud of "The Europeans (At Belgrade when she was 7th). We got a team Gold there and I was part of that."
When did she first start running
  "When I was 9. I did not take on running seriously till I was 17 and met my coaches KEN HOGG/JOYCE HOGG"
A lot of miles!
  "A fair amount. Build up gradually. Quite a lot this Winter and I have found that beneficial."
(270 Completed) 1 Lily Partridge (Surrey) 27:26; 2 Katie Brough (Cheshire) 27:31; 3 Rhona Auckland (Scottish East) 27:40; 4 Charlene Thomas (Yorkshire) 28:17; 5 Emily Wicks (Surrey) 28:18; 6 Rosie Smith (North East) 28:21; 7 Georgie Bruinvels (Surrey) 28:23; 8 Gemma Kersey (Essex) 28:31.

Alastair Aitken

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