Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Metropolitan League XC 2018-19 – Race 1 Claybury Park, October 13th

Highest Met League turnout ever gives Simeon a send-off to remember!

The first Met League opener at Claybury is always a special and hot one, but last Saturday was one for the history books – it was Simeon Bennett’s last match in charge as Men’s Club Captain. Post-race over a double croissant, Simeon reminisced about the, ‘days when he used to text everyone (from a phone with buttons) to persuade them to attend’ and paid tribute to the spirit of VPH&THAC. Today nearly every other runner seemed to be sporting the jade/blue singlet, testament to Sim’s hard work, effort and patience over the years.
Sim saluting the VPH support on one of his many London marathons

The spirit was out in full force for a record attendance on the inevitably dry, undulating mixed terrain course. The Under 11 boys had a solid start finishing in 3rd place overall with Louis Reynolds coming an incredible 2nd place by the narrowest of margins. Definitely one to watch for the rest of the season. The Under 11 girls went one better to finish in second spot in the team competition and Ruby James had an excellent run to finish in 2nd place. The under 13 girls and boys finished 4th and 12 respectively. First home for the Junior men was Luca Minale in 22nd helping them to obtain 12th position overall. The Junior women with another second place overall in the team standings and a fantastic run for Myla Stiling who came 5th overall in the individual competition.

In the Ladies event, project V was bearing some fruit, even with some notable heavy weights missing. Newcomer Laura Kaye had a storming run and effortlessly worked her way through the field to finish an impressive 6th. Returning member Kat Gunderson also put in a strong performance to finish in 13th and was the first V40 by some margin. Rachel Thomas 5th, Kelly Clarke 29th, Hazel Norton Hale 32nd (with her highest met league finish to date and only a week after Bournemouth Marathon), and Hannah Somani 33rd secured 3rd spot and a promising start for our A team.

The Ladies B team compiled of Holly Weir 39th, Annaka Charters 44th, Steph Velez 63rd (debut run), Cheryl Evans 67th and Charlotte Maling 77th also produced some sterling runs to finish in equal first spot in Division two. Even the possibility of having 2 women’s teams in Division 1 is remarkable as only 2 seasons ago the Women’s A were locked in a relegation battle and the B team were only promoted last season.

The team performances of the day go to our Women’s C team and Vets both leading the charge in their respective competitions. Newcomers Rebecca Fode, Lydia B-Sawyer, Annie Gammon, Christa Ronan, and Kay Verdon (returning), all contributed to a fantastic team effort which ladies club Captain Cheryl summed up as, “an excellent turn-out of all 31 ladies working hard, throughout the field against the competition.”

Despite the delayed start the men stayed focused to match the women’s third spot with Yusef Bizimana stepping up to the senior level to lead the men home in 24th place (4th U20), followed by Joe Dale 28th, (of Love Track fame), Aaron Mcgrady 35th, Fabien Lassode 40th, Steve Hobbs 41st (1st Vet), Carl Selya-Hammer, 43rd, William Kirk 48th, William Stanley 56th and Andrew Barrington 61st , Neil Cook 83rd (7th Vet), Anthony Withstandley 92nd , Gareth Evans 95th and David Jones 100th . The B and C teams are currently dominating the top 2 spots of Division 3 and as always are trusty Old Gits (sorry Vets) annihilated their nearest rivals by 25 points to finish 1st spot.

Sim putting in a 'Sim Surge' up the hill

Our success across the board is further shown in the Howard Williams trophy at both Senior and Junior levels sitting in 3rd and 4th respectively.

The next Met League fixture takes place on November 11th in Welwyn Garden City a spicy course with an assortment of grass, woodland, undulations and some short, sharp hills and mud if the weather forecast is anything to go by. Last year we managed to pull off some scalps here as the journey outside of London put some of our rivals off. Let’s keep up the hard work and continue with the great turnout at the next fixture as this is what really makes all the difference with the results.


Friday, 19 October 2018

Newsletter 119 - Of Course, October! Nice, November!

Hello all

Welcome to Autumn! Don't worry we've got a really busy few weeks ahead of us to take our minds of the worsening weather and fading light... Starting very soon with:

This Thursday 18th October:

Project V - 7pm depart from the clubhouse

Project V returns for another a week. A challenging training session led by resident coach Steve Hobbs. The session is open to all but we particularly encourage women to attend as it is developed with them in mind. The club strives to develop its excellent current and future women during the cross country season. Please be ready to depart the clubhouse at 7pm promptly in order to run the session and be back in time for the club AGM.


Club Annual General Meeting - 8:30-10pm

The annual general meeting open to all first claim current members. It usually lasts around 90 minutes. More details including agenda and minutes from last year can be found on the club website here. I do hope as many of you will make the effort to join us as we reflect upon the previous year and look ahead to 2019 and beyond. This is also a chance to ask questions of the board of directors and make your voice heard, or just to find out a little more about the club if you are new.

Saturday 20th October

Chingford League - Race #2 - Jubilee Park, Leyton - ~5 miles - 2:30pm start

The second fixture in this mixed road/XC league and we're running locally at Jubilee Park (E10 7BL) hosted by our friends at Eton Manor AC. No need to pre-enter this race, please arrive by 2pm to collect your number, get ready and warmed up. More details on the Chingford League Facebook page.

Thursday 25th October:

Monthly 2.9 mile Handicap - 7pm depart from the clubhouse

As usual, the last Thursday of the month will be the handicap; a chance to battle it out over the classic 3-lap course around Well Street Common. Hopefully our incredible juniors will join us as well to make this a fun an inclusive event open to all ages and abilities. New and regular members alike all welcome. Please get to the clubhouse by 7pm in time for a departure up to the Common at 7:10 to get the event under way. As usual, previous results can be viewed here:

The Great VPH Bake Off - Club Bar after the evening session 8:30pm ish

Back for yet another event, the annual carb-loading fest is an opportunity to show-off both your baking and consumption talents. Organised once again by mega-Mum Charlotte Bewley, members are encouraged to bake and bring along their offerings. If that's not your scene, then please come along with an empty stomach and full wallet, ready to contribute and raise funds for the excellent Medecins sans Frontieres, a fantastic charity for whom we have raised many hundreds of pounds over the years. £1 a slice (minimum) but you are encouraged to give what you can. Last year's winner was the incredible Susan Leese with her chocolate and raspberry brownies.

Emergency medical aid where it is needed most. Independent. Neutral. Impartial.


Most Improved Athlete Award - Club Bar after the evening session 8:30pm ish

At some point during the evening, we will also award the Most Improved male and female Road & XC athlete. This eaglerly-awaited award is given each year to the athletes nominated by their fellow club members deemed to have made the biggest improvements over the previous 12 months. Last year's winners were Matthew Walker and Rachel Thomas. As usual we invite members to get in touch (with me or Women's captain Cheryl) and nominate athletes they think have made good improvements over the year (regardless of their actual times). We have delayed the award until the week after the AGM, this is because many athletes will be running half or full marathons at Amsterdam this weekend. Nominations are open until SUNDAY EVENING 21st OCT. Please supply supporting details to back your nominations where possible.

Saturday 27th October

North of The Thames XC Championships (and Lydiard Trophy) - Fryent Country Park - 2pm/2:30pm

Another running of this historic race in a lovely venue. It is fairly simple to get to with a tube out to Wembley and a 15 minute walk to the start area. Women will run around 3 miles, starting at 2pm. Men will run around 5 miles, starting at 2:30pm. There are team and individual prizes up for grabs and entry is free to all paid up club members. Hurry though, as deadline for entries is very soon. Please complete this simple form: You will need spikes or nobbly training shoes at least to run this grassy course.

Saturday 3rd November

Veterans AC Local Mob-match - Loughton AC - 11am Start

This annual one-off XC race held on the familiar course at Loughton at a much more sensible time of 11am. Open to men age 40+ and women age 35+. It is free to run and registration is on the day. A few more details can be found on the Veterans AC website. There are limited changing facilities at Loughton (short walk from Loughton tube) and usually someone selling tea and cake afterwards. What more could you ask for in this crazy and complicated world?


North London XC Championships - Hackney Marshes -1:45pm / 2:30pm

This race returns a local venue for 2018 so what better reason to attend? The event will be based at Hackney Marshes centre and use a course set out around the Marshes and Wick Woods. Women run approx 5km starting at 1:45pm, Men will run approx 5 miles starting at 2:30pm. Individual and Team prizes are up for grabs as usual. And, as usual, there will likely be some essential re-hydration occuring in a local hostelry afterwards. You will probably need nobbly shoes or short spikes for this flt course. If it has been dry up to the event you may well get away with trainers. Either way, YOU MUST PRE-ENTER by completing thissimple form: - deadline is this weekend

Tuesday 6th November

Chingford League Race 3 - Redbridge Cycle Circuit - 7:30pm (women) / 8:00pm (men)

Back at the cycle circuit for the third fixture, after a successful first race here in October. Same arrangements as before. Please keep an eye out for more details and lift-sharing opportunities nearer the event on the club Facebook page, as led by our excellent Chingford League Captain, Joyce Berry.

Saturday 10th November

Metropolitan XC League - Race #2 - Welwyn Garden City - 1:55pm / 2:35pm

After possibly our most impressive starts to a Met League season ever, let's keep up the incredible momentum for race 2. Yes, there's a little further to go to this one, but keep any eye out on Facebook and other outlets for transport and travel details. Travelling together just adds to the fun and team spirit. We return to Welwyn to the pretty Stanborough Park (replacing Stevenage). This is our priority league this season so please make every effort to attend - come early and support our excellent juniors as well. All the details can be found on the Met League fixture page.

Saturday 17th November

London XC Championships - Parliament Hill - 1:15pm/2pm

A chance to run up the hills and through the in one of London's most iconic and scenic parks - Hampstead Heath. Women will run ~6km (1:15pm) and men run ~10km (2pm). Competitive racing, challenging course and a great atmosphere are all guaranteed, you will need your spikes, grit and determination for this one. You must pre-register to run by completing this form:

Saturday 24th November

Chingford League Race #4 - Trent Country Park, nr Cockfosters - 2:30pm start

Oh my days, more Chingford League, you say? They are certainly piling up at this end of the season. Another great course this one, on a journey through time to the end of the Piccadilly Line. Men and women race together around the 5 mile distance, starting at 2:30pm. Spikes will be essential on this hilly and squelchy course. Next Chingford race is not until January.

Thursday 29th November

Monthly 2.9 mile Handicap - 7pm depart from the clubhouse

See details above - same as October

Club Virgin London Marathon Places - Draw

Some of you will know and some have asked about the club marathon ballot places. It seems that for the 2019 marathon, the club will be allocated 5 places . The details are not fully confirmed yet (the places are not officially available at present and the number may change) but please keep an eye out on the noticeboard and Facebook page for details of how to enter the ballot. In the meanwhile, please familiarise yourself with the requirements. The criteria and draw process have been updated since last year to ensure a fairer distribution of places between men and women.

That, as they say, IS IT.

Happy running, you beautiful people

Men's Road & XC Captain, VPH & TH AC

Friday, 16 February 2018

Metropolitan League XC 2017-18 – Race 5 Trent Park, February 10th

Trent Park provides VPH with a fitting finale for the final Met League!

The closing fixture at Trent Park didn’t fail to deliver and rounded off a fantastic season for the VPH&THAC with a testing lactic inducing course. For some it was their first taster of X Country and undoubtedly a true X Country experience, mud, hills, rain, wind and pure guts!


The heavens opened as the Juniors commenced and the conditions worsened as the afternoon went on. The Juniors, brilliant as ever didn’t let this deter them proving depth and talent across all age groups and tribute to all the hard work put in by coaches Cornelia and Charlie. The Under 11 Boys rounded off a successful season finishing an impressive 2nd overall with brave runs from Edgar Sayers (8th) and Tom Scott-Gall (15th). The Under 11 Girls nearly matched them finishing 3rd overall with 2 top ten performances from Ruby James (8th) and Sophie Whiteside (9th).


The Under 13 Girls dominated their competition putting in the team performance of the day with some outstanding individual runs to finish 1st and second overall.  The very talented Keira (Arsenal girls superstar) finishing 1st for the second time already this season followed by Ruby in (3rd) and Anoushka in (8th).


In the Junior men’s competition Yusuf was back on fine form romping along to yet another met league victory, pursued by Luca in (5th) and Benjamin in (9th) rocketing them to 2nd place and 4th overall. The Junior women also put in a good shift finishing 4th and coming 3rd overall to add to their remarkable stash of bling and finish third in the Howard Williams Trophy.


The ladies meant business and donning coordinating jade ribbons courtesy of Sophie battled the elements to finish in 3rd place, narrowly missing 3rd place overall in Division 1 (which is a team personal best for the club and a monumental improvement of 8th place from last year). Mandy on her new favourite course relished the tricky conditions to finish in (17th) and 1st V35 with Rachel (7th), Sophie (22nd), Helena (23rd), Hannah (29th) and Annie (35th) all working together to power up those hills. The depth of the Ladies which has been evident all year was confirmed by the B team, with Kelly (41st), Sue (55th), Faye (58th) and Ellie (62nd) demolishing the opposition to secure promotion to the Second Division. Other notable performances was Emily Catmur on her Met League debut.


The Vets were also on fire and came second by a mere point and completing the season finishing 3rd overall in Division 1 with Helen and Agata also adding all important points.

The Ladies jubliant post race!

The 35 strong Men’s squad had some tough acts to follow but equalled the Ladies scores with a season’s best display in 3rd spot, bagging 5th overall, showing that numbers in this league really do make all the difference. The first ten home were all impressively inside the top 100, Paul M (7th), Josse (29th), Ewan (47th), James (50th), William S (54th), Andrew B (57th), David J (61st), Hobbs (75th), William Kirk (78th), Tony M (85th). The B team buoyed by Mike’s return from Dhaka notched the 3rd spot and maintained 3rd position overall in Division 3. Promotion to the next division looking like a strong possibility and goal for next season.

Josse battles the bog to a seasons best finish!

The Old Gits put in a great shift to finish in 3rd and put us in 2nd overall showing that we not only have youth on our side. The B team also destroyed their opposition to finish top of Division 3 and gain promotion to Division 2 (please no one take an early retirement over the summer). 


It was a glorious ending to the X Country season which pitted us against the biggest and the best that London had to offer. Well done to all those that ran, marshalled, baked and supported and contributed to its success and helped us finish 4th overall in the Howard Williams Trophy (7th last year). Best of luck to all those running at the Nationals on Parliament Hill on February 24th and if you are already getting Met League withdrawals don’t forget the Chingford League on Saturday at 2.30pm on home turf where you can get your running/supporting or marshalling fix! #UpthePark #VPH4EVA

Friday, 2 February 2018

Newsletter 112: Feeling Fine February

Time for another newsletter, the first of 2018 in fact. Plenty of events this month, plus LOTS of baby news to share as well.

This Saturday 3rd Feb - Club 10 Mile Champs - 10am for 10:30am start - Victoria Park
The penultimate event in our own Winter series, and a nice break from XC running for those who need it.  10 miles of fast, flat, traffic-free running against yourself or your fellow club members.  Please get to the club house by 10am as we will depart the club house at 10:15 for a prompt start.  The course is a measured straight + five '2 mile' loops, finishing in front of the White Lodge.  There are cups for the winners + tea, cakes and glory in the clubhouse bar afterwards. What's not to like? Club members may bring a guest to run, please wear your club top if possible and DON'T FORGET YOUR GREEN NUMBER if you have one.

We already have a few kind volunteers but we could always use a few more to help out.  Otherwise, maybe bring or make a cake for afterwards?   Please get in touch with Cheryl or I.

Saturday 10th Feb - Metropolitan XC League - Race 5 - Trent Park - Seniors 1:55pm / 2:35pm
Can you believe the finale of the Met League is almost upon us?  What a great season it has been. After four races, our incredible Senior women's team are in 4th place in Division 1 - such results were unheard of in recent years. So well done women, please cement your highest-ever place in the league by remembering to turn up and run on the 10th!  Meanwhile the women's B team are poised for promotion to League 2 - I'm almost breathless now - again, missing one race and we could lose a lot, so race 5 is the opportunity not to be missed.

A similar story for our amazing men who sit 5th in Div 1, again, another first for us. A big push and we could steal another position, that means ALL of our first men need to TAKE ACTION. You have no excuse now. Meanwhile our Men's B has a chance of promotion, but this means EVERYONE needs to get out to run, not only to score points in their own right but to diminish other clubs.  Get to it Men.

Trent Park is easy to get to on the Picadilly Line, a pleasant countryside Tube ride and a fantastic modernist station awaits you at Cockfosters, followed by a short walk to Trent Park.  All the fixture details are here.

Saturday 17th February - Chingford League - 5 Mile Race - Victoria Park - 2:30pm start
Runners Needed: It's our turn to host in this fantastic mix-terrain league. So with a race on home turf there's no excuse not to shuffle down to the park on Saturday afternoon.  You won't even get muddy as all five miles are on tarmac!  As usual, bring your trainers, your club top and a desire to run as fast as possible. No pre-registration required.
Helpers Needed: As usual, I'll need help to stage the event, either before, during or after the event.  Either helping to set out the course, marshalling during the races, or afterwards clearing away or helping with the tea/cake stall.  Even if you'd like to run your help will still be valid, you can even bake a cake if you like.  Please get in touch or look out on Facebook nearer the time.

Saturday 24th February - English National XC Championships - Parliament Hill, Hampstead Heath - from 1pm
The 'Nationals' are back in London this year, and we have a good strong entry or seniors and juniors running once again.  Entries are closed and complete now but even if you don't plan to run, why not get yourself down to the Heath for some fresh air, shouting and the possibility of a cheeky drink afterwards.

Other news:
VPH & TH in print
Club member and advocate Helen Croydon has written another book, this time about the transformation in her life when she discovered endurance sports.  The club gets a mention or two within its pages; I'm sure Helen would happily sign your copy next time she's down at the club.  The book is available to buy here (and other places) and you can find out more about Helen here.

Typical, you wait for months for a club member to have a baby and then three turn up at once.  January has been a fertile and productive month.  

Firstly Congratulations to former women's captain Laura Morgan and running demigod Sam Humphrey (who met at the club) who welcomed baby Josie Lea to the world on 17th Jan after entering this world via Homerton Hospital.  Congratulations to you all, we hope to meet Josie very soon.

Secondly Congratulations to club stalwart and 'oldie' inspiration Paul Gaimster and his partner Helen, who welcomed a beautiful baby girl in to the world on 16th January, announced via the magic of Strava.  Hopefully a name will be revealed soon  and Paul will take a minute out of his busy diary to come down and say hello!

Thirdly, big congratulations to long-time club member Erica Brown-Vasey and her partner Lee who welcomed their baby son, Berry in to the world on January 9th. Erica maintained contact with the club helping out whenever she could all through her pregnancy, and brought him for his first visit to the club just last week. She's unstoppable.  Welcome to the world Berry and best wishes to you all.

That's it for February news but loads more news to come soon, so keep your eyes peeled for more news in a month.  In the meanwhile keep your eye on the channels below for updates in the meanwhile.


Men's Road & XC Captain

Find out what your clubmates are up to on the Club Facebook page
Get the latest news and updates, follow @VPHTHAC on Twitter
Get news, updates and race results on the club noticeboard - handicap results are here:
Keep an eye out for forthcoming fixtures on the club website

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Metropolitan League XC 2017-18 – Race 4 Wormwood Scrubbs, January 13th

VPTHAC X Country Teams Scrub up well at Wormwood!

The penultimate Met League Fixture saw 33 men and 13 VPH women descend to the iconic Scrubbs for a fast, flat and furious race set against the backdrop of the prison.  Unusually there was a distinct lack of mud for this time of year which provided for some spectacular finishes and some very speedy individual times were clocked. It also marked the highest turnout ever for a 4th met league fixture for the men with 540 and an overall record of 260 for the women, testament to how popular x country is becoming and the high standard of this league.


Again it was the juniors who stole the show with some heroic team efforts. The Under 11 Boys finished in second and are first overall with the title firmly in their sights as we head towards the final fixture. The scoring quartet were Edgar (7th), Edison (9th), Tom (14th) and Jaydon (19th) all having fantastic cross country seasons. The Under 11 girls also had a good run out finishing in 4th on the day and cementing 3rd place in the overall standings. But the team performance of the day was undoubtedly the under 13 girls who finished in first spot led home by Ruby Naughton (2nd), followed by Kiera, Nancy and Amina. In the Junior Men’s race Luca had a very strong run to finish inside the top ten with Keo and Theo in (30th) and (31st). The Junior women rounded off a successful afternoon putting in another consistent performance and a cracking individual run from Myla to finish 9th and help the team get 4th place and maintain 3rd spot overall.

Under 13 Girls

Despite the Women’s A team sagging to 4th spot they were able to hold their own in a very strong crammed field, Rachel in (12th), Sophie (26th), Annie (30th), Hannah (32nd), Kelly (37th) and Emma (47th). A high turnout at the next fixture could see us back in contention for third spot. On the other hand our B team are looking unstoppable at the top of Division 3 with storming runs from Jo (65th), Catherine (73rd), Faye (76th) and Cheryl (104th). Special mention to Catherine who was in the throes of bronchitis yet still managed to run and cheer (shout) on the men and even used her vocal ability to help the officials with crowd control at the finish funnel.

Alison fending off a Serpie


In the men’s event a bronzed Paul Martelletti made a welcome return to the Met League and didn’t fail to disappoint his fans smashing it around to finish very strongly in an impressive 4th position overall. He wasn’t the only one with a strong finish and David Jones nabbed the fastest Strava finish segment of the day and made up about ten places with a devastating sprint to the line in (66th). Aaron continued his fine form and just seems to get better and better after every race (one to watch for next years Most Improved Athlete), finishing in (37th), shadowed by Josselin in (38th), James Cordwell (55th), Ewan (72nd), Andrew B (73rd), Paul (75th), Steve (82nd), Fabien (90th), William Kirk (93rd), Andrew Hodgetts (127th) and Tony MacDowall completing the team in (132nd).  Another consistent performance from the As meant a 5th place finish on the day and 6th place overall in Division One.


A solid effort from our B Team meant that they finished in 3rd spot with our C team also doing well in 7th in Division 3.


We are fast becoming the Club for ‘Old Gits,’ with the standout team performance for the men being the VETs who finished top of Division 1 and the B team top of Division 3, with some fine running from Anthony, Simeon and Andre to add to the points tally.

David Jones - almost too quick for the camera

It was a great team effort for the club continuing the high bench mark we set in Claybury back in October, let’s keep the pressure on for the 5th and final fixture at Trent Park on February 10th. The course is guaranteed to be, lumpy, muddy and hilly with some great views and there will no doubt be some celebratory drinks to toast an excellent X Country Season in a local drinking establishment after.