Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
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METROPOLITAN LEAGUE CC FINAL MATCH (February 2015)

MOHAMUD AADAN, the Middlesex cross country Champion won the Final Metropolitan League senior race of the season.
It was in the cold and exposed course but firm going, at Wormwood Scrubs on the 7th of February.
      It was evident, as the 377 senior men set off Audun Nordtveit and Michael Calligari would be two runners at the front of the field, knowing that the position they finished in would dictate who received the top money prize, for the most consistent and highest positions over 4 of the 5 league races contested. That money will not be available next year!
However, Nordtveidt was even more interested in his team Highgate Harriers winning the league.
In the race, first of all, a group of 7 who finished in the first seven, broke clear but then there were five and Michael Calligari was the one who dropped off, suffering with back pain which he has had since warming up for the Edinburgh International. It was in the second lap Nordtveit, Aadan and Phil Wylie, the International triathlete, were out ahead. In the last kilometre Aadan upped the pace and went for home.

Wylie, who improved on his two third places in the league last year went past Nordtveit for second place and then came Glenn Watts, running an unusually controlled run, to move into fourth with Calligari and Shaun Dixon behind that.  Aadan was quite sharp, having raced indoors recently, when he did two personal best times (1500/3000) but considered he was more endurance based recently. He did not think he had a good run when coming sixth in the Southern, losing a spike in the last half mile and after that he had trouble running properly.

Glenn Watts who was 4th:- "I did not go off too quick as I did in most of the races."
You were very competitive in the group?
"It made a difference to stay with them. It makes you go a lot quicker when you have people around you and then you get stuck in. I knew Michael Calligari was not feeling very well, as he has got a bad back. I sheltered him from the wind a bit as we were getting blown around. I felt good and confident."
You stayed with Shaun Dixon for a long time
"He was ahead of me for most of it. I overtook him going round those trees, near the finish. I just managed to get past him. He was trying to keep with the top couple  with a lap to go. He stayed with them and then he suffered for it.
I tried to pace myself."
Audun Nordtveit who was 3rd:- "The thing is that, since I was injured in December and then ill during Christmas I really struggled with my situation. Also I had so much to do at work and passing an exam for my MBA Application.
I am applying for some programme starting after Christmas next year so, my training after Christmas was quite bad. This week I only ran on Tuesday and Wednesday."
"I was only after the overall victory. For that I had to beat Calligari. That was my concern then, I felt okay. I knew that I could not go too hard. I just tried to get a steady run in and that was enough to get away from him. Moh and Phil Wylie were a bit stronger than me. I did most of the running in the front so, altogether I am happy, I am not in my best shape at the moment and I am more looking forward to the track this Summer. I am just really happy with the overall league victory for Highgate. I think to-day we did very well."
Phil Wylie, who was 2nd:- You have had a good season
"Not too bad. Cheltenham is my first claim team now, as I have moved from Bristol. My coach is Dave Newport. As I am travelling around the country I go to his sessions a lot. I am an Educational Consultant. I used to be a teacher and now moved up. A secondary teacher for Primary as well. Working with kids up to 18."
What are your memories of the race to-day "I was a little bit concerned. For a couple of weeks I had not been training as well as I had done up to the Birmingham League race. I was not sure what my form was like but it felt Okay. When it set off I felt Okay and was able to sit in. I was fairly comfortable the whole of the first lap. (2 lap’s race). As we moved into the second lap there was a change of pace and it broke up. I had to really dig deep to be with Audun and Aadan and I had to close that gap into the wind. Once I got with them it was a three horse race for a long, long time. Mohamud Aadan ran a really good race. It was with a kilometre to go he really turned his legs over and ran really strongly for about 400m and we could never quite catch him. He never moved far away. I caught Audun at the end with 100 metres to go."
"I do duathlon and triathlon. From the middle of March onwards I am working towards the duathlon season for a team in France. That is where I do all of my racing. One a month between March and September. For the last 7 years I have managed to be selected for the British team for the European Championships.
Highgate has a another good triathlete Danny Russell?
"We room together at the World’s and Europeans. He is a good friend of mine and team mate."

"LOOKING FORWARD TO THE MET LEAGUE WHEN THE SUMMER IS OVER"

That may sound a strange comment to some but not to Ex-St Albans and Verlea runner, who is now running for Herts Phoenix in the Met League-John Steed.
John came 375, ahead of two younger men in the Metropolitan League at Wormwood Scrubs.
"In May I will be 80 and would like to be the first ever 80 year old to complete a Metropolitan League race in the 50 years history of the event"
As a young man he won the Herts County 10 mile Championship in 50.05 in 1973 and, was a good racing cyclist. He remembered cycling in an event from London to Holyhead which was a 268 miles ride, amongst other things.

Highgate Harriers won for the third year in a row but had not won overall before that since the league began in 1966. On the day they nailed it with 5 runners in the first 11 and all 12 in 48.

Naomi Taschimowitz, who came seventh in the Southern, feels she is coming back to her best form, after settling down with her work pattern at the Treasury in the Civil Service.
She led from start to finish at the Scrubs but Sarah Pemberton, was overtaken by Tracy Barlow and Lisa da Silva, running together. That was before entering the second lap.
Highgate Harriers had won the team event nine times since the Women’s League began in 1994 but had to be content with third at the Scrubs behind the surprise winners London Heathside with Shaftesbury Barnet second.
Highgate though did win the Howard Williams Senior Cup for Women and Men combined and the Junior one went to Enfield & Haringey.

There were impressive runs in the younger age groups. Thomas Butler has improved as the season has gone on. He came 4th in the first Met League at Claybury but won well at the Scrubs but he had opposition from Lucillo Burrell (more a 1500 runner)s, in the early part of the race, inter changing positions several times.  

Thomas Butler "I just went off hard. I knew that would break the field up. Hopefully things have come right at the right time. Some people peek at different times. I think I have been helped by not doing all the relays early on in the season. Later in the season you don’t remember who wins the London or earlier races. You remember who wins the big races. I am not saying I will do that. I am now running every day apart from Friday’s and on that day is a gym session. It is going well at the moment."

Under 13 runner Finn Harvey won all the five Met Leagues under 13 and hopes for a top 10 in the National.
Of the 5 Met Legues would he say was the toughest for him?
Finn Harvey:- "Probably the first one at Claybury. I was not that confident and I could not lead it out. I had to really stick with them till the last 100m. It was quite tough today and Luke Minale (VPH &TH) who was second ran really well to-day and was trying to sit with me.’
What had Finn been doing in the week?  "On Thursday I did the IAP cross country and I won that. I had a football match on Wednesday. Tuesday I did a little running training. Quite a hectic week I suppose."

Another to impress was India Weir and the Thames Valley Harriers team, who had their first 4 runners in the first 5 home. Weir considered her run when coming 3rd in the Knole run at Sevenoaks, for her school Godolphin and Latymer that came second, was an important result for her.
Both Radus sisters won at Wormwood Scrubs Lia Radus in the Under 13’s and Maayan Radus, the first girl in the Under 11 race. They had 4 wins in the league. Jeremy Sothcott is the coach for Lia and Tony Smith the coach for Maayan. The Boys and girls joint development race was won overall, for the fifth time out of 5 by Rairi McGonagle of London Heathside. At the Scrubs race he led from the front and found the race was the hardest of the five for him.
"I had been with the school mountaineering in Wales in the week and my legs were very tired after that".

Jeremy Sothcott is also a coach to Jamie Harper of Shaftesbury Barnet, who was the 2nd Under 15 but won every under 13 Met League last year.
He had a brilliant run coming 2nd in the National Cross Country last year?
"Very good." He has been up and down this year with illness."
"It is a hard task when you are a first year Under 15 and running against the 17 year old’s. He is just getting used to the slightly over distance - it had been all 3k and it is all 4½K so we have upped his training a little bit and when he has a good day he does very well."
When he was in the first year of the under 13’s he used to be beaten by Jamie Phillpot, who was at the end of the age group.
You must have been very pleased with his second in the National

"He was very upset himself but I said second in the ‘National’ that is no mean feat. If he is not doing well he beats himself up about it so, he has got real determination. If he could have a good track season and stay in good health hopefully, as a second year, next year, he will do well. He is not written off. He now has got the English Schools in Blackburn. He had to pull out from one of the races that qualified him for the Inter-Counties so, he is a sort of first reserve. Hopefully he will get a place and there is the ‘National’ in two weeks time."

Next year it will be a celebration of 50 years since the league began and Terry Driscoll and I remember doing the first one ever at Hainault Forest.
One must congratulate the Administrator for the ‘Great’ work he does on the Met League and also the website manager Martin Bateman. One hopes someone else comes up with money prizes for the league next year but even if that does not happen there is no doubt this is one of the best leagues and possibly the highest standard league in the UK!

Alastair Aitken

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