Blackheath and Bromley HAC young athletes had their most successful National at this year’s classic cross country course in Nottingham, winning three team medals and seven athletes placed in the top 20.

Nearly sixty BB youngsters spent the weekend together in Nottingham and brought the curtain down on the club winter season in superb fashion with all our athletes excelling, reinforcing our position as one of the strongest athletics clubs in the country.

After a good coach journey up, a gentle training run, a splash in the lovely hotel swimming pool, dinner and a good nights sleep it was down to business at Wollaton Park.

The 16thcentury Wollaton Hall was an impressive back drop to a traditional cross country course made up of grass sections, wooded areas, lakes, streams and tons / gallons of liquid mud. Those who managed to stay on their feet still finished looking like they had fallen!

First up were the U17 girls and solid runs from all our girls ended with the team tied on points with London rivals Herne Hill Harriers, but victory was ours (on count back) as all our four scoring girls finished ahead of all the HHH girls. A tight result but a well deserved gold. Katy Ann McDonald led the team home in a fine 16thplace with Madalina Samoila a strong 26th and Yasmin Austridge and Millie Smith ran well placing 37th and 49th. Great runs also from Lottie Weitzel in 69th, Genny Allan in 87thand Grace Scopes in 120th.

The U13 girls continued in winning ways comfortably securing the gold medals with two inside the top 10. Fabulous runs from Anwen Thomas in 4thand just 3 second behind in 6thNaomi Toft. Ellie Dolby was a strong 25thand Maayan Radus a great 43rd. Heidi Forsyth continues to improve and placed a high 63rd. Lily Meers was a solid 77th, Daniella Harper on the come back trail was 113thand Olivia Berry placed 146th. Ever improving Kelsey Pullin crossed the line in 164tha second in front of her room mate Holly Sutton Trot in167thand who was making her winter debut for BB and great to see Sofia Elliot completing a very strong squad.

It was to be three medals from three races as the U15 girls competed strongly to claim the team bronze. Another gutsy performance saw Morgan Squibb earn a well deserved top 20 spot placing 16th. Yasmin Marghini was a fine 28th, Lia Radus ran well to finish 67thand Amy Miller had another fantastic run and powered through the field on the second lap to finish 70th. Another athlete making her BBHAC debut was Lucrezia Polloni finishing well inside the top 100 in 89th. Zoe White was a strong 113th, Jess Neal was 122ndand Niamh Milmo placed 217th. Abbie Leeves crossed the line in 241stwith Issy Bridge in 270th, Lily Tappenden recently back from illness and injury was 280thand completing the squad was Emily Davis in 288th.

The U20 women only had two running and so couldn’t record a scoring team but this didn’t stop Jess Keene from running a superb race in a high quality field finishing 11th. Good to see Sam Leighton taking a break from studying and ran well to finish 130th.

Twenty six boys made up the BBHAC contingent over the four boys age group races and recorded their best set of collective team results.

Highest placed of them was the U15 boys team finishing an fabulous 5th. Matthew Francis running in his first National for BB ran a sensibly paced race and look strong in the closing stages of the race and crossed the line in an impressive 17thplace. The ever determined Peter Guy fought his way to a solid 37thand Joe Georgiadis ran well finishing 125th. Cameron Swatton looked good throughout and scored his highest ever National finish in 148th. Jake Leng ran well finishing in 221stwith Justin Strover 236thand the unrecognisable Ben Gardiner, after a fall in a particularly muddy section, placing 250th.

The large U13 boys squad combined well to finish a respectable 8thled home by Tom Brash having had a brilliant run in an impressive 15th. Sam Reardon backed up well in 43rdand Thomas Penlington recorded a great run at 103rddespite not being at his fittest. Proving we have strength in depth three seconds separated our next three athletes. Max Gregson was a solid 172nd  and Matt Smith was 177th.  Matt entertained the BB supporters producing a perfect dab as he ran past the team tent. Ben Campbell also ran well in 179th. Great to see three black vests bunching together well. Jamie Sears had a great National debut and with two more years as an U13 his 240thwas impressive as was Oliver Robertson 273rdwho still has another year in this age group. Nick Paddington worked well throughout the two lap course and completed the strong U13 squad.

The U17 boys only had four runners and with four to score we had no room for errors or injury and our boys didn’t disappoint combining well to place 13thin a very tough age group, won by local Kent rivals Tonbridge AC. Lewis Mills ran hard to finish a pleasing 82nd, Angus Harrington on his way back to fitness will be happy with a 106thfinish. Tri athlete Michael Eagling put his running to good cause placing well up in 155thand consistent Oscar Hussey ran well crossing the line in 157th.

Our U20 men’s squad is normally depleted due to university commitments (among other things) but this year we were blessed with seven athletes. Unfortunately GB international Will Fuller had to pull out due to a niggling injury but fortunately Will was still able to join us for the National supper in the evening. The other 6 all ran well and produced a decent 13thplace finish. Joss Barber led the team home in a great 82ndand Charlie Davis had his best run of the winter placing 116th. Team captain Marco Arcuri ran a solid race placing 147thand Tom Desborough’s long journey up from Brighton university was rewarded with a 168thfinish. Also great to see Bertie Harrington make the journey down from Newcastle university to run in his first National (and first time in a BB vest for over a year) running solidly crossing the line in 177thjust two places in front of James Crawley in 179th.

The Blackheath and Bromley squad not only left their mark on the 2017 National with some terrific results but they also left their mark all over the hotel carpet!  Once showered it was back to the pool and then dinner where we were joined with many Past Presidents, parents, siblings and supporters. A few good words of the days successes from our President Bill Forster were followed by an eloquent speech from former girls team captain Niamh Bridson Hubbard, as she paid tribute to the many years Andy Frankish has served the club. Andy (Niamh and many of the girls coach) has been a team manger at the club for nearly four decades and has decided to call it a day so he can fully concentrate on his many coaching commitments.

A disco followed with not a Barry Manilow song in sight; followed by an impromptu MacDonald’s buffet, supplied by Marco and Niamh BH!

This fantastic weekend would not have been possible without the invaluable help from a few and huge thanks go to Hanna Cordell for organising the hotel accommodation, Disco, coach travel and husband Dave (that one slipped through the net!). Also thanks go to Dave Cordell and Ken Daniel for putting up the team tent in a fantastic location near the start and finish, and for clearing at the end of the day. Nick Swatton our summer boys team manager stepped in seamlessly to help throughout the weekend, surely ready to take on the winter role full time? Many thanks also to Gillian Radus, Lia and Maayan’s mum who provide the whole squad with a plentiful supply of bananas.

Nic Corry must also be thanked for ensuring the U17 boys had a full compliment of scoring members and even had time to run the senior 12k National as well. Nic wasn’t quite up to holding off fellow upper age group boys team manger Rod Harrington who now leads 2-0.

Final thanks go to two young athletes who truly helped make the weekend a successful one. Marco Arcuri and Niamh Bridson –Hubbard worked tirelessly and continually with our young athletes before, during and after their competition and we at BBHAC are very proud of them as athletes and as young adults. They are great ambassadors for our club and are tremendous role models for our young athletes.

The National completes the domestic winter for club athletes and now we just have remaining the English Schools and National Inter counties cross country Championships and many of our athletes have been selected to represent their counties.