Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
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North London Cross Country Championships (22/11/2014)

November 22nd at Alexandra Palace

GLENN HUGHES led Serpentine RC to a clear individual and team victory.
Hughes, who is a mountain racer on the New Zealand team and a geologist for an engineering company in the UK, was behind Mathew Grant for the initial 800, before they climbed the steep hill on the first of three laps and then, used his skills to open up a lead of 15 metres over McKinlay, who was then a good second. At the start of the third lap Hughes, who was second in the London the previous Saturday, had a 400m lead over McKinlay who was 40 metres ahead of Hugh Torry and John Franklin, running together. The only thing that changed after that was Hugh Torry went into third, pulling away from Franklin who had a fall on the slippery mud, where it was difficult to get a foothold at times without crampons!
The First North London cross country Championship for men was run in 1904.
This year there were 159 finishers. First 6 were Glenn Hughes (Serpentine) 25.22; 2 Ryan McKinlay 26.24 Highgate Harriers); 3 Hugh Torry (Serpentine) 26.30; 4 John Franklin (Serpentine) 26.33; 5 Jon Laybourn (Highgate Harriers) 26.50; 6 Samuel  Thompson (London Heathside) 26.59. (This was a race that Highgate Harrier Ben Pochee decided was not a ‘Beacon’ race so, it was unlikely Highgate would win, which they might have done if they had strongly supported it!)

First 3 Teams Serpentine 66; London Heathside 114 and Highgate Harriers 117.

Glenn Hughes “I was not going to lead for a lap but when I got to the hill -  It was a Shaftesbury guy to begin with, down the back end of course at the lake.’
Coming 2nd in the London must have helped a bit?
"I just wanted a hard run. I have done already three hard cross-countries in the last three weeks. At Mansfield I ran the first lap and came in 13th, about 15.21 for the 5k, then the Met League and then the London. It will probably be the next Met League in December for me."
HUGH Torry "It was alright. I  had a week off. Almost 2 weeks because I was ill, a couple of weekends ago and I did a half marathon that went rather badly last weekend and, I have almost not run this week as I felt really horrible. So, I was pleased to-day. A Nice course."
JOHN FRANKLIN "I fell at the top of the hill, Hugh was ahead of me. He was going to have me on the descent so, I thought I would give everything"
RYAN McKINLAY    ‘The Idea of racing a lot?
"I am just trying to get back into it. After the Summer I had a bit of injury, shin splints, I had to give up a lot of time and not able to train so, it was frustrating and so I thought I would get back to some fitness. To do it weekends out training to get fit"
You had two impressive results in the last weekend, leading the Highgate winning team in the London CC and then jointly winning a Multi terrain race the next day with Tom Beedell of Woodford Green & Essex Laadies!
“When I won this race in 2012 I thought I was stronger then at cross-country. I did not have too good a track season then but it is all relative.”                            

Hannah Viner, an 18 year old junior, who ran well to come third in the London the previous Saturday, was running with Sarah Pemberton behind Charlotte Maling for the first 600 before Pemberton and Viner, running together, disputed the lead for the first of two full laps then Viner started to draw clear on the hill and came home to a safe win. The big surprise of the 87 finishers was, the third placed woman, 31 year old, Naomi Dews, who was running her first cross-country and only took up running in May.
First 6: 1 Hannah Viner (Highgate) 20.24; 2 Sarah Pemberton (Serpentine) 20.42; 3 Naomi Dews (Eton manor) 21.07; 4 Jo Singer (Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets) 1st Vet 21.19; 5 Sue Rust (London Heathside) 21.21; 6 Emma Burgess (Highgate) 21.27.
First 3 Teams London Heathside 38; Serpentine Runners 50; Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets 88.

HANNAH VINER, First in her age group Under 20 in the Met League “Sarah and I went round a lap together which was good. It really helped having someone then, at the end of the first lap, going up the hill I was ahead of her by about a pace or something like that. I started to push it on the flat and I guess the gap got a little bigger.’
Coming third in the London at Parliament Hill the Saturday before must have given Hannah a bit of confidence
“Yes, definitely.”  
“I am on my gap year a teacher assistant at a Primary school."
JACK BAYLISS is my coach but he does not write schedules for me.’
SARAH PEMBERTON (28) “It is better than I have been in the past when I have run here. It felt good but the hill is quite tough. I managed to stick with Hannah for a lap and a half. I think we had a good race. It felt like we were pushing each other.”
Met League?
“I have placed 7th for the last couple of years. I have been coming 6th/7th in a couple of Met Leagues.”
Her best race in her career?
“I did the marathon for the first time this year. My target was sub 3 and I got 2:58 so, I was very happy with that. I have been racing since I was about 12 so there have been a lot of races over the years I have been happy with.  Regarding the London. It was because My Dad is a marathon runner. I have been watching him for years so, I grew up with him running the London Marathon. That is one of the races I am proud of.”
‘I usually do the Met League. I grew up with the Surrey league so I am familiar with those races. I ran it as an Under 13 up to senior women. I have been with Serpentine 3 years now. It’s a great club.”

Alastair Aitken

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