All posts by Steve Parsons

Tough Competition at MK Cross Challenge

Three of the clubs leading athletes ‘Sam Gentry, Callum Smith and Ollie Lock’ made the long trip to Milton Keynes for the 2nd event of the 5 race British Cross Challenge series. These races attract the top dozen or so athletes in the UK at every age category and Ollie continued his good run of run form to finish 20th in the U15 race, whilst Callum also ran well for 27th place in the U17 race. Sam was not at his best in 57th place in the same race, but his focus for the season will be the English Schools and if he can peak at the right time and run to his potential, there is every chance of an England vest for the talented young athlete.

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Athletes Out In Force At Brecon XC

Despite a number of last minute withdrawals a full coach made the journey to Brecon for the 2nd Gwent League meeting of the season, and in the shadows of the Brecon Beacons a total of 50 athletes made it a successful day for North Somerset AC.

First up were the U11 Boys who were led by the talented Elliot Jeston, whom having found himself hemmed in at the start, worked impressively through the field for a very promising 9th place. Backing him up were Zeki Harston and Jacob Forsbrook who both ran very well for 20th and 33rd, whilst bottom age youngsters Max Weatherly and Rowan Preen should be chuffed to bits with their 47th and 55th places respectively from a 115 strong field.

The U11 Girls team were without North Somerset Schools champion Millie Redman, but six girls lined up at the start in determined fashion.  Leading the group, Mia Darlington and Lyla Briffitt worked tremendously together in their first cross country race for superb 30th and 31st places respectively and they’ll no doubt be relishing the next opportunity to race. Rosa Ford was net to finish in 55th place, closely followed by Ellie Seigle 60th, Xara McKinnen 64th and Willow Preen 68th with only 9 seconds separating the 4 girls in another huge field of 121 runners.

The U13 Boys were lying in 2nd place after the first fixture, and first home for the team in 6th place (and top club performer of the day) was Ollie Campbell to consolidate his own top 10 position in the league standings. Ollie’s competitive edge took him to the front early doors, whilst more experienced athletes sat in behind content to save themselves for the later stages. But he’ll learn very quickly I’m sure, as great things lie ahead for this young athlete.

Newcomer ‘Charles Broadhurst’ looks full of promise too and an impressive 17th place saw him finish just a few seconds ahead of Louie Brunsdon who also ran very well in 20th. Ever-present Will Maine, handicapped by a heavy cold, battled bravely throughout, with excellent support from team mates Sam Holloway, Herbie Alexander and Will Sandiford seeing just 14 seconds separate the four from 40th to 51st place. Bottom age youngster Oliver Haley completed the team scores in his first ever race finishing 81st.

The action continued in the U13 Girls race with the ever improving Keira Devereux running amongst the leading group throughout and securing a superb 9th place finish, whist Daisy Manners-Lolley was another to impress, finishing very strongly in 34th place. Working well together Poppy Adams and Abigail Taylor finished 46th and 47th respectively, as did Bella Clark and Blythe Jones in 55th and 51st. Simone Manners-Lolley completed the team scores with her 58th place finish.

With leading U15 Boy Ollie Lock missing, 12 U15 Boys rose to the occasion with a great team effort to make up for the loss of their team mate. Leading the team home in 14th position, Alfie Hocking continues to show huge improvement and he thoroughly deserved his best finish in the country to date. Close behind and working well together were equally impressive newcomers to the country discipline, William Scott and Ben Hamblin in 19th and 22nd respectively. Max Davies has also made huge strides and his 42nd place was a major improvement on his 70th place in Cardiff. Callum Day was another big improver in 47th whilst debutant Alistair Sinclair looked a very able runner in 52nd place. Emile Swanson finished in 54th and was followed in by the younger Sinclair ‘Harry’ who also looked very comfortable in 59th.

Cameron Baker-Perry was next through in 61st with Jamie Va-de-Velde in 62nd making a vast improvement from his first race in Cardiff. Jamie Pass and Louis Carr completed the team scores in 64th and 68th respectively.

It was a team full of bottom age U15 Girls that lined up at the start and despite losing momentum after a very heavy fall at the half way stage, Steph Brookes recovered well to grind out a solid 33rd place finish. Holly Avery has made great strides this year and was 2nd of our girls to finish strongly in 40th. Ella Johnston and Alysha Forsbrook worked together well throughout and a fine sprint finish from the pair up the home straight took them past rival athletes to finish in 46th and 51st respectively just 6 seconds apart. Connie Ballentine completed the teams scores in 60thplace.

In the combined U17/U20 race the large contingent of U17 Boys available at the club were largely missing. Only Will Cheek and Jacob Faulkner were present to score team points, with both showing great strength of character in worsening conditions underfoot. Will in fact had his best race to date and will no doubt be extremely happy with his 30th place finish. Jacob braved the conditions despite very little training of late and he should take heart for digging deep to finish 36th from a field of 47 runners.

Megan McCrum and Issy Gall likewise were the clubs only U17 girls in the combined U17/U20 Ladies race with Megan finishing 12th in her category and Issy looking very comfortable amongst all around her in 18th from a field of 24.

WINTER SEASON STARTS IN STYLE AT MIDLAND ROAD RELAYS

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NSAC had a record 10 teams competing at the annual Midland Road Relay event held in Sutton Park Birmingham last weekend. In what is the annual curtain raiser to the forthcoming cross country season, the clubs athletes gave a very good account of themselves with many athletes having their first ever competition race.

The U13 boys opened proceedings, and Will Maine finished the first leg in 19th position. Louie Brunsden picked up 3 places in the 2nd leg before newcomer Ollie Campbell ran a storming final leg to bring the team home in 11th place overall in a time of 14:46, which was 16th fastest of the 104 runners….not bad for a first attempt!

The U15 Boys fielded two teams with 4 athletes competing for the first time. Ollie Lock led the teams to finish as leading scorer in a time of 13:21 as he finished the first leg in 8th place and was 9th quickest of the 127 runners. Alfie Hocking and Ben Hamblin recorded excellent times of 14:59 and 14:31 respectively to bring the A team home in 11th position. Max Davies 16:14, Louis Carr 16:44 and Cameron Baker-Perry 17:03 completed the B team scores and enjoyed their first taste of competitive racing.

The club put out three teams of U17 Men, a sure sign of the strength in depth of this age group. The A team of Sam Gentry, Callum Smith and Jaylan Bacon ran very well as a team, finishing 8th overall, with Sam completing 1st leg of the 3.8k course in 12:44, Callum 13:13 and Jaylan 13:12.

Kes Pitchers 14:21, Jacob Faulkner 15:16, Jamie Carroll 15:22, Will Cheek 15:27 and Jonah Murray 15:44 completed the teams scores

The U15 girls fielded three teams with Steph Brooks leading the scores in a 1st leg time of 16m dead with Holly Avery showing great recent improvement next quickest in 16:56. Ellie Redman was in good form prior to this race but she encountered a knee problem during her leg and bravely battled to finish in time of 17:25.

Ella Johnston 17:48, Ruth Day 17:58, Sophia Murray 18:08m, Ruby Murray 19:12, Connie Ballentine 19:15 (another victim of knee problems), and Alysha Forsbrook 19:19 completed the U15 scores.

Megan McCrum led the U17 Women with a time of 15:50 with Lucy Maine 16:51 and Maisie Squire in 18:55 bringing the team home.

The teams will now go forward to Nation Road Relays on 7th October before the Cross Country season kicks off just a week later in Cardiff for the opening Gwent League fixture.

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GOWER TRAINING CAMP 2017

The clubs Endurance Squad recently returned from a training camp at Port Eynon on the Gower coast. This  was a first for the club and proved to be a  fantastic success, with every aspect of our weekend away far exceeding expectations.

Huge thanks to the coaches and helpers whose efforts ensured everything ran smoothly without any hitches. However a special mention must go to Luke and Ellie Murray who fed all 35 of us with amazing fare, and Luke in particular must have been exhausted after the weekend. When he wasn’t coaching the athletes he was either in the kitchen or putting extra miles in along the coast paths in preparation for the Manchester Marathon.

The athletes were a credit to themselves, you as parents and the name of our club. Everyone took part in all 5 training sessions and although they must have been shattered when they arrived home their commitment was second to none.  They all had down time for rest and play and their behavior in and outside of the accommodation was exemplary.

I asked the athletes to send me their favourite memory/aspect of the weekend, so here are a few:

“I absolutely loved the weekend and my favourite memory was the sand dunes, because running down them was so fast and fun. Also running on top of mountains on Saturday because it made me feel free” (Harrison)

“My favourite moment was when I was running as fast as I could down the massive sand dune. My legs took control and I was going so fast it felt like I was flying. It was incredible and good fun! I hope to be able to do it again!” (Emile)

“I had an amazing time and thank you very much for organising it. I would love to do it again next year! My favourite aspect was the sand dunes, it was so fun but also challenging and it was brilliant that we all worked together as a team never leaving a man behind and always encouraging each other to persevere. Thanks again I really had a wonderful time!” (Ellie)

 My favourite part of the training camp was the run up the huge hill on Saturday in a field with sheep, the view from the top of the hill was beautiful and the run was challenging, but I felt great when I got to the top”. (Steph)

Some great memories for all of us and I know they are all itching to do it all again next year!       (see gallery in ‘News’ tab above for photos)

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Victory in Bridgewater Half for James

North Somerset AC’s James Rodgers won the Bridgewater Half Marathon for the first time on Sunday after his recent return from injury. He was over the moon with his performance, particularly after only a few weeks back at training. A winning time of 01:11:55 saw him finish 2 minutes clear of the 2nd placed athlete. James remarked “The undulating course was a good test and the event itself we’ll supported considering it rained pretty much all the race, but I just loved being back out there despite the conditions”. 

James is now hoping he can take this form into the 10K road races that he favors in an effort and reduce his PB. 

LONDON TO PARIS CHARITY BIKE RIDE FOR HEAD COACH – JULY 19TH – 24TH 2017

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With exactly one month to go I am increasing my fundraising efforts in an attempt to raise the £1,500 that I pledged to charity. I would therefore be extremely grateful to accept any support you can offer, whether corporate or personal.

The Charity and donation page if you would like to sponsor me is:

https://www.action.org.uk/sponsor/chrismillard2017

I will also have sponsor forms with me at all coaching sessions, if you would prefer to donate this way. So please just ask me, and I will be happy to hand one over!

I am riding with a team of 36 from London to Paris, covering a distance of over 500km/300 miles with 4 days to complete the task. We have targeted a minimum amount to be raised of £50,000 for our selected charities, and we are currently standing at £43,000.

For those who do not know me…I was/am (depending on injury!) an International Sprinter, both as a senior athlete for Wales, and as a Master (35+) for Great Britain. I have won plenty of medals etc at this level, and in 2004 I decided to set up our own Athletic Club (North Somerset Athletic Club) that now boasts a membership of around 400. A year later I created North Somerset Athletics Academy (210 athletes) and have been Head Coach of both ever since.

My training, since 1993, has been based on improving my explosive ability (weights, sprints, plyos etc), so this bike ride has been a massive personal challenge due to it being ‘the exact opposite’ of the training I’ve been used to the last 24 years! I purchased a road bike for the first time since I was 14, and after my initial struggle I have managed to ‘be-friend’ it and hit some decent mileage in the last few weeks (over 100 miles a couple of weekends ago). Trying to squeeze training into a manic work schedule has been among the most difficult areas for me (6am starts some days), with the summer being ‘key athletic season’. The ride remains a massive challenge, and will test my mental and physical ability. Day One of the ride will be on my birthday… What a way to spend your big day!

So please sponsor me if you can! If you have already, then many thanks for your support, it’s very much appreciated…

THANK YOU IN ADVANCE!!

Chris Millard

Sam Selected for South West Team

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U15 Sam Gentry has been rewarded for his successes this winter with selection to compete for the South West region at the London Mini Marathon later this month. All the top junior endurance athletes throughout the UK will be competing against each other in this high profile annual prelude race to the London Marathon.

Sam has had a remarkable winter season in the Country, culminating in a fantastic 22nd place in the English Schools Cross Country Championships Inter Boys race a couple weeks ago. Competing as a bottom age athlete at this event, he’ll have another crack in the same age group next year and who knows where he’ll finish!

A week prior to wrapping up the Individual U15 Boys title in the Gwent Cross Country League, Sam also appeared (along with many others representing the club) at England’s premier Club National Championship event in Nottingham. Finishing just 2 seconds shy of the 3rd placed athlete and a podium finish, his superb 5th place was a sure sign that Sam is a top athlete to be reckoned with in the Country discipline.

We all wish him well for London, and look forward with relish to watching Sam repeat his winter feats on the track this summer!

Top 10 for James at Cardiff 10K

James Rodgers finished as top local runner at the Cardiff 10K on Sunday with a superb 6th place. James fell short of his PB by just 6 seconds in a  time of 31mins 22secs.

Training is going well for road specialist James and he’ll no doubt be looking forward to the Bristol 10K early next month. The club should have a fair few men running the race this year and it’ll be interesting to see how we fare in the team event.