Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
Interviews and

Start Fitness Metropolitan League (February 2019)

Alexandra Palace
9th of February 2019

WILLIAM RYAL-HODGES and ROGER POOLMAN ended the fifth senior league race, finishing  more like high hurdlers, with  both Ryle-Hodges, who was fourteenth in the BUCS cross country the previous Saturday and, Poolman , both timed at 26:55  as they really leaned into the finish to try to get an advantage . However, Poolman’s progress in the league season was impressive 11, 8, 2, 1, 2 and it gained him the top league money prize for his 4 best races of the five and, he was awarded a £375 cheque and £200 Start Fitness vouchers.

The first to go ahead in the field was Matt Grant but it was Jamaal Seyful who lead, as they wound up the very steep hill with, a group of Shaftesbury striped vests seen in the group just behind.
After that, coming down the  hill and, rounding the corner at the bottom of the hill  Jamaal Seyfu,  was cutting out the pace 30 metres ahead but was soon joined by, 800m runner, Jeremy Dempsey (U20).
At the half way point Seyfu and Dempsey were together but there was a group just behind them that included Phil Crout, who did lead for a while, plus Paul Martelletti, (who was conserving some of his energy for the Seville marathon on the 17th of February), Ryle-Hodges, Chris Wright and Poolman.
As they came round the last corner five were battling it out over the last flat half mile or so and, it was Ryle Hodges & Poolman who then got into a tight finish with Phil Crout, also running well for a good third.
The oldest man in the field was Hillingdon’s, Doug Milsom, who will be 80 in May. He was 437 of the 441 finishers and, that was not bad as he runs with a pacemaker in his chest.
London Heathside was the victorious team on the day but overall Highgate had amassed 5377 points to Victoria Park’s 4621 and third London Heathside 4163. It was Highgate’s 7th consecutive  overall league victory.

Hannah Viner tore off after the start of the women’s senior race and, looked unlikely to be caught but, although Jasmin Goater was a good second for quite a long time, the fast Revee Walcott-Nolan finished ahead of her and,  Rachel Thomas, came through the field for third. Hannah Viner had some illness, fairly recently and decided to give the BUCS Championships a miss so,, she could train and get her legs turning over again, and   that certainly happened “I was pleased with today’ she said afterwards.
London Heathside won the Women’s league from Victoria Park and Highgate Harriers. However, it is worth noting that since 1994 Highgate have only been beaten three times. Now twice by London Heathside (2014 & 19) and once by Serpentine (2013)

For those who won all five league races. Freya Stapleton in the Under 17’s, who was the youngest of the first four home in the Southern, ,according to her coach Jeremy Sothcott an, she won well at Alexandra Park. (Jasmine Palmer of TVH was a clear second)

Jimmy Geller (Under 13’s), who won all five on the trot, came in  crying as he was in considerable pain, after  a spike went through his toe during the race, with blood seeping out of his shoe and yet, he still won by seven seconds!

John Stow, the Woodford Green coach said that Abigail Reid, the Under 13’s winner and Tilly Major, who was 2nd, are so talented they will both make internationals! “Abigail; said “John does not push us. He is a good coach”

It is worth mentioning that in three starts out of three -Welwyn, Uxbridge and Alexandra Park, Brent Rushman of Hearts Phoenix, was a good winner in the Under 17 Junior races. He comes from a running family and his Father was introduced to serious running by the late Mike Turner ‘The Guru’ of athletics at Cambridge University.

The Howard Williams Senior Cup for combined men and women, went to Highgate Harriers (5 wins). Woodford Green, with 18, won the Howard Williams Junior cup with Shaftsbury Barnet 2nd with 6 wins.

Janice Bowman the Administrator of the league was pleased with the way things have gone and also said there was 200 more runners coming in for the popular high standard event.

Alastair Aitken

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