Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
Interviews and

START FITNESS Metropolitan League (February 13th 2016)

PAUL MARTELLETTI, on 100 miles a week and, six days after his very clear victory in the hilly Watford half marathon in 67:32, won his first Metropolitan League cross country, at 36, having done his first one in 2009. Paul Martelletti explains “I came into the second lap and ended up third.  I was trying to make up the ground I lost on the hills.’
‘This is good. Shaun has beaten me in the Southern and the last Met league.
‘On the third lap to-day I could see I was not really losing a lot of ground up the hills. He was tiring’.
You were about five minutes ahead in the Watford Half marathon last Sunday. You must have been very comfortable, as you were that far ahead?
“I never like to go to these things and just dawdle to win it. I like to put in a good time. So, 67.30 on a hilly course, on my own. I had already done 100 miles before that race so, at the end of a big week I was happy.
It is another big week with over 100 now already. This year things have gone well so, I am on a roll not like last year when, I was on too much of a roll and burnt myself out a little. I am 100% sure I could run under 2:15 to 2:14
BUT everything has got to go right. It is a tough ask still, I am not saying it is at all easy and, I have tried and failed many times to do 2:15 it is hard work.’
‘If you are prepared to put in the hard work you have got to go for it” (He has done 2:16.49 in 2011).

The Senior Men’s race is always full of intrigue, with no defined winner beforehand, except in the case of Richard Goodman who won three times this season and Nielson Hall, four times in 2012.
In the final league race of the season at Alexandra Park it was often drizzling but in really harsh icy winds.
In the senior men’s, for the first 600 metres, Thomas Butler of Barnet, the leading junior led but, after nearly a mile, a group headed by Bradley Goater and Mohamud Aadan were ahead.
When they descended the large hill there was still a large group ahead with Bradley Goater, Shaun Dixon, Andy Greenleaf, Glenn Hughes, John Eves and Tom Aldred all in contention but Martelletti was back in the 20’s and beginning to work his way through the field.
As they came off the hill in the second of the three laps Dixon, looked the most comfortable ahead and, having his best Met League race of the season. Along the bottom of the fields, after about another 800 metres Martelletti, briefly moved up to join Dixon. Then he fell back a bit. On the third lap, as they came off the last hill with 900 to go Dixon was leading by 20 metres from Martelletti. As it was a flatter part of the course Martelletti felt that he should try and catch Dixon, which he duly did and, came home a couple of seconds clear. Pete Chambers moved away from the chasing group, after coming down the final descent.

Shaun Dixon “The pace was punishing at the beginning. I thought I had got it but I was not making the decisive move. I think if the ground was a bit firmer coming in I might have got closer.’
‘I did really enjoy the race as I felt smooth all the way round and, on the hills I was quite strong. I think I ran a good race but I lost to a better man on the day really.
He added “I had a good run to-day but his run was slightly better than mine”
Peter Chambers who was third and started further back! “That was the problem. I let Shaun and Paul get away. I was closing on them at the end but you can’t leave about 15 seconds to try and catch them. The ones near me all beat me at Horsendon Hill and I beat them at Wormwood Scrubs. I knew when I am on form I can run well. Highgate coach Jacky Bayliss said you are good on the hills.
At Alexandra Park his confidence in his ability was restored, after having couple of bad one’s. His third ‘Start Fitness’ sponsored prize of £325 was good.
Pete added “The hills are my strong point really. It is when it is really heavy underfoot I find I can’t get any power down. My stomach held up to-day. At the BUCS last week and the Southern it was not good.
At the Southern I was fine going up the hills but going down it was really shocking. It was a really uncomfortable pain and, I could not get my knees up and get moving.”

John Steed was the first over 80, which he has achieved in all five Met Leagues and, remarked to me that his Mother died at 104 so, there must be longevity in the family (356 runners finished in Alexandra Park).

Dixon had good compensation for only coming 2nd  when he received the ‘Start Fitness’ prize of £575 for his highest aggregate position in the league races and, the same top prize money went to Svenja Abel, who had another good win. She went away from the opposition on the first big hill, Stacey Ward was in second place all the way and, it only looked at one stage, she would be caught at all by Hannah Viner, the leading junior, who was 18th in the British Universities race the previous weekend.
Svenja Abel “I am not very good down the hills. Up hill I am fine so, I thought I better get a lead before the hill.“
She had a great race in the Southern, coming a good second in definitly one of the best results of her life “In the Southern I was comfortable all the way round and, even though I was tired by the time of the last final climb down, I knew I would not be good going down the hill. The winner Naomi (Taschimowitz) is a track runner. If the last bit had been up the hill then maybe, I could win but as I knew I could not go down Parliament Hill so well. She was a better runner on the day.”
Svenja Abel has had a wonderful season over the country so far and said “I am enjoying it and I loved to-days race”
Svenja still thought the Southern was her most enjoyable race of all “Because I did not push the last little bit as, I was not mentally ready to go with her in the last 500 metres but I really enjoyed it.
I always run well at Parliament Hill. I think I came 12th in the ‘National’ once so, I quite like Parliament Hill as a favourite course. To-day it was flat with a steep hill in it so, it was enjoyable.”

Hannah Viner, Coached by Chris Rainsford, was the first junior in the race and third overall “It was good. I have had a cold for the last week and have not done a session and had BUCS last weekend.‘
As she was 18th, How did she go in that one? “I was chuffed and really happy. I never expected to do so well. It was a really flat course.“

Tracy Ward was 2nd in the race at Alexandra Palace “I was worried about the course for a couple of weeks because the boys at Hillingdon AC that I train with warned me about the big hill in it. I was slightly apprehensive. I felt a bit heavy and a bit tired but I settled in. I did not want to go with Svenja because, I knew she was strong. The first hill felt quite tough. The second time I knew which were the muddiest bits and then I felt quite strong in the second lap and then stayed second to the finish.” (137 completed ).

Highgate Harriers had a Bonanza in the senior ranks, winning the Men’s and Women’s Leagues overall and, were awarded the Howard Williams Trophy for their combined score. It was interesting to note that Highgate’s’ four yearly wins in the Men’s league equalled Woodford Green & Essex Ladies previous four wins in a row, just before that. (2nd overall was London Heathside who got 38 points with Serpentine RC 3rd also on 38 point too. Both clubs appeared to have a strong Vets section. There were 22 clubs competing for that prized Howard Williams Trophy).

Thomas Day of Slough won the Under 11 race out of 45 youngsters, six seconds ahead of the next runner over the 1.5k course
“This is the first league I have done this year. I go to St Georges School. I am 10 now. I go to the cross-country club on a Monday and do other sports. This is the second time I have come first and got a third and a second.”
Luca Stubbs of Shaftesbury Barnet won the under 13 boys race by 5 seconds. It was over 3k “I went ahead half way in the first lap. I am at St Albans Boys School. George Harrison coaches me. At school I have not had much training time but during holidays yes. I do two times training a week and one at school. Last year I was doing the Met League and coming between 10th and 13th in the Under 13’s. His Father “We have not being coming to a lot of these because of school commitments and racing commitments. He has done some of the North West London’s and two Mets last year. This is the first one he has done this season. He came 2nd in the first North West London League and he won the next one.” (Shaftesbury Barnet were the winning team in the Under 13 Boys)

Terry Fawden (U17) for the winning club in the Under 17/15 Division who were highgate Harriers had a convincing victory but considers his best race ever was coming second in the Southern Inter-Counties race.
When did he go into the lead at Alexandra Palace? He had this to say. “I went into the lead up the big hill.’
He did not have such a good Southern as he would have liked?
I found it hard to run on the mud. At Parliament Hill I find it very difficult.

Shaftesbury Barnet’s, Gabriella Kyriacou (U17). She was in the winning Shaftesbury team that won this Division for Under 17’s. She had won all her four leagues she competed in. She only missed one, because she was ill. So, how did she find this race, as opposed to the other Met Leagues she did
“I found this quite a good course. I quite like hills, so I went well on the hill. It was good the hill was in the first lap.”
Jeremy Sothcott coaches you so, what are his strengths with his coaching?
“I think endurance. He is good for the coaching.”
At Queen Elizabeth’s school do you do much athletics?
Some but not much. I am in the sixth form“

Ava White of the winning Under 13 team, Thames Valley Harriers, won all her five (U13) races and was eighth on the Wednesday in the London Schools at Parliament Hill Fields. “I went into the lead fairly near the start to-day. Having done all of them, it was much colder today, the mud was really heavy round the trees and so it was a harder run. Roy Claridge is my coach. ‘I really liked the London Schools on Wednesday. It was really good fun. I came 8th and the top eight get into the English Schools.

In October will be the first Met League of next season, which will celebrate the league being exactly 50 years old, since the first was run in 1966. (The ’66 race, I did that one, as did Met League Highgate Harriers official Terry Driscoll & Hillingdon’s Gerry Archer).

The Junior Howard Williams trophy this season was very close with only one point separating all the first 4 clubs. Shaftesbury Barnet, was eventually declared the winner from Enfield & Haringey, Highgate Harriers and  Herts Phoenix.

Janice Bowman took on the role of being the new Administrator of the league this season, after Gavin Collett of Hillingdon AC had resigned as the Administrator before that. A huge task was set regarding collating the results, as Gavin was superb with his results system.
Could it be done again? It was a difficult act to follow regarding producing the results in good time. One must add that Martin Bateman of Hillingdon AC is the very useful website man for the League.
Janice Bowman (Trent Park RC) comes in here regarding her first year with the immense task of filling her important roll as league Administrator

“Everything has gone very smoothly.”
Was it a problem taking over from Gavin “It was in the beginning, just due to administration but, we got there in the end.  Regarding the overall result I am very pleased with.”
What gave her the most pleasure “To see everyone come to the presentation and, everyone being here. It has been really enjoyable.”
Are you going to take it on being Administrator next year?
“If I am voted in at the AGM I will stand. I was Chingford League Administrator from 2004 to 2008 but this is totally different. I have loved every minute of it.”
She had this to say “It is a team of people who make it work smoothly and run smoothly, not just one person.”

Alastair Aitken

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