Report by David Dibben
Pictures courtesy of Cathrin Westerwelle
SEV KONIECZNY and Rob Corney were the toast of Reading Roadrunners after the club’s inaugural Thames Valley Cross Country League event at Ashenbury Park, Woodley.
Corney convincingly won the race and then led the plaudits for race director Sev.
“Huge credit to Sev, who I know had worked really hard to organise the race,” he said. “The course was superb… proper cross-country.”
Rob, who also won our final home TVXC fixture on the old
Crowthorne Woods circuit, stormed home with a massive 94 seconds to spare from Datchet’s James Sansom, with Richard Price, of Wargrave, just denying our own Mark Apsey a place on the podium.
Then Rob revealed one of the big secrets of his success. “I had 15mm spikes on, which definitely gave me an advantage over most of the field,” he said. “Most people were in normal trail shoes.”
For the star of Roger Pritchard’s You Tube home movie, it was the second great performance of the weekend.
He had finished a highly-creditable fourth on his debut in the hugely competitive Hampshire League fixture at Prospect Park the previous day.
Rob said: “I had heard it was a fast league. Mark Worringham mentioned that a top-ten finish would be a good result and I knew a couple of the quick guys who usually run were up in Scotland for the international so I made a solid top ten my target.
“For 9.2km it was bloody tough and I’m not looking forward to Parliament Hill and 12km of that sort of pace.”
Next morning, hardly surprisingly, his legs felt heavy and he didn’t want to run. But, like so many of our good clubmen, he said: “I was down for helping with the course set-up, so I dragged myself out of bed and down to the park.
“Once you get on the start line everything else takes a back seat. It was nice to win the home fixture for RR.”
What made the occasion all the sweeter for Sev, her hard-working committee and Katie Gumbrell’s ‘green army’ of marshals and volunteers was the news the following day that Roadrunners’ men had been declared winners of the event.
After the provisional results had been announced it was spotted that our third man over the line, Seb Briggs, had not been recognised in the veteran category.
Thanks to a superb run by our second ‘vet’, Fergal Donnelly, Roadrunners packed all six scorers in the top 22, pipping the strong Datchet outfit by just three points.
With our ladies, led by Gemma Buley, finishing fifth, that placed the club second overall on the day.
Afterwards there was as much praise for the race director as the race winner.
Social media was hit by a tsunami of acclamation, typically this from Chris Drew: “Lots of love coming your way, Sev. An absolute triumph.”
And this from Ashley Middlewick: “That was a proper RR XC event in every sense… tough, muddy, undulating course, superbly marshalled and supported, with a fantastic turn-out and great food afterwards.”
While the TVXC roadshow moves on to Tadley this week with Roadrunners in second place in the season’s competition, the club are in an even stronger place in the veteran’s division of the Hampshire League.
With only one race remaining at Aldershot on February 10th, our vets… spearheaded by Mark Worringham, Ben Paviour, Andrew Smith and Lance Nortcliff… are top of the league, leading from the mega-strong Aldershot, Farnham and District side.
For the weekend’s champion Corney, however, there are even bigger fish to fry. His season’s targets include a sub-2hrs 30mins finish in the London Marathon and then “maybe a nibble” at Keith Russell’s club marathon record in Berlin in October.
Links for all the results:
Hampshire League & TVXC Combined Results
Roger’s Race Video available here