Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
Interviews and

Surrey Masters Cross Country Championships (2017)

MATT ATKINS, followed up his victory of last year with, another win, in a tight race in Richmond Park, on the 21st of October.
In strong headwinds and, as they started to run down the wide pathway, Andy Weir (M50), Ben Paviour and Matt Atkins were prominent. When they came through the first lap, at half way Ben Paviour, was looking relaxed and, running alongside Atkins at the front, with a gap of 40 metres to Paul Cheetham (who won the M45 Gold in the European Masters marathon in Poland, a couple of weeks before). Cheetham was running with Andy Weir at that stage.

Atkins and Paviour had a ‘Nip & Tuck’ battle all the way, till after the last hill with 200m remaining when, Atkins went ahead to win. Gary Ironmonger was first M55 in 10th of the 92 finishers. Matt Atkins said ‘I did sit on his shoulder but when we moved and he upped the pace, I thought, ‘You could hear him and you still think ’O Gosh! he is still there!’

Atkins added ‘I have been concentrating on the shorter stuff on the track; progressing  from the year before but, still more to come’(2017 PB’s 8:59.55; 15:44.61 for 5k). Like Ben Paviour, he has children and remarked ‘Busy lives and hard to get the training in but I am enjoying it.’

After a long gap, Matt Atkins, still remembers when he was young and 14 and, running in the Home schoolboy international for England before, really giving it all up, going to University, getting married, having children. He came back to running with Park Runs in 2015 and then club running for Kingston Poly in 2016.

After a lap in the Over 60’s, last year’s winner Andy Fay was leading the second runner Ray Marriott, by at least a 100 metres. It was after the ponds, going up the hill, on the final lap Marriott, who first started competing at 14 years of age, passed him to win his category. Tall, musician, Peter Giles, (An intellectually-spiritual man) was again impressive as an M70 winner, as was, the well known, successfaul sandwich maker over the years, John Garber, who won the M75 title in the race. (John was BMAF 1,500 M60 Champion in 2002 and the same year was Surrey & Vets AC M60 Champion).

Ray Marriott points out “it is still lovely to be running.’ Ray was in the winning team for SLH in the Southern ‘Over 60’ Masters relay, at Crystal Palace but, which races that he has done stand out for him since he was 14?
“Orion 15 that I won in 1983. Mud half way up your shins, not far off your knees in some parts. It was always heavy. When I was 42, I won the Mitcham 15. It was in 86 or 87 minutes. I was pleased because, I beat Will Cockerell (Belgrave Harriers & a Grandson of Harold McMillan). He was upset because he was 27 then and, I had a little joke with him recently about it. It is lovely to be running because I have had a lot of injuries. I can’t give it up.
We are lucky to be able to do it.”

The oldest man in the race, who brought the field in, was Brian Shave, who had something interesting to say “In 1962 I came 4th in a half marathon in 67 minutes (Gerry North was in the first three) and ran 28:52 on the road for 10k. I got no prize, like today’s runners do, not even a finishing medal!”

Claire Grima, a part-time personal trainer, with two children 5 & 7, led all the way to win the women’s race as a W40 runner. It was her first ever veteran/Masters race ‘I was in denial about being a vet before that.’ Her favourite event is the marathon and she has run 2:43.01 in the London of 2016 and 2:43.20 this year. (Although she is not expressly coached, Dave Clarke, one othe UK’s most brilliant cross country runners of all time, gives her some sessions sometimes)
April James-Welsh, was a good for second, after half way and, her younger W35 club mate Jo Vickers got the 3rd spot. They both contributed to SLH’s triple team victory, as the club took the W35; W45 and M60 titles. April said afterwards that her favourite result was anchoring SLH W35’ team to victory in the National Masters road relay “We were second when I started. For that one, I could not see the girl ahead of me, as the course was a winding one.
It was quite windy so, as soon as I caught sight of her I thought ‘Right I have got to go!’ I quite like a strong finish which I did on that 4th anchor leg” That was pretty good, as she has only been club running for a year.

First W50 Sue Macdonald was a highly placed fifth in the race; Dee Smale was first over 55 and two, who always appear to run well in this event, Anna Garnier was the first over 60 and Ross Tabor the first over 65.

Alastair Aitken

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