CROSS COUNTRY 2016/17

Hello everyone, thank you for coming along this evening to celebrate a fantastic Winter season.

I’m here along with Richard to talk about what we’ve been up to at cross country since September, we have plenty to talk about and lots of goodies to give out.

The cross country section of the club is open to all members and any new members who join during the Winter. We have athletes who train and compete but we also have athletes who only train to maintain and improve their fitness ready for the Summer season.

I can’t advertise enough about the benefits our sessions on a Sunday morning give athletes for their Winter and Summer fitness. I’m not just talking about distance runners but also sprinters, throwers and jumpers. We do a mixture of prolonged running, sprint work, pace improvement, hill work, all of which improves fitness and strength. We also however do strength and conditioning work which is so, so important for all our athletes regardless of event choice. Many athletes already in the last few weeks have had me for sessions on strength and conditioning, I hope you’ve all been doing your bottom clenching guys……………… We also did some work on understanding heart rate as well talking to the athletes about injuries, the dreaded stitch and so on. Next season we plan to change the title of our Sunday sessions to reflect everything we do and hopefully encourage those athletes who don’t come because they think we just run lap after lap around a field………………………

We also pride ourselves on helping the athletes to grow as individuals. Yes we celebrate successes and trophies but the cross country team aim to provide a fun and inspiring environment where athletes not only grow in ability but most importantly in confidence and aspirations. We have athletes ranging from rising 8s to 18 year olds, this actually helps the coaches as the athletes react well to training with different ages and helping and encouraging each other.

As always none of the Sunday sessions would happen without the adults who bring the athletes in ALL weathers so thank you for your commitment. Also we do rely heavily on adults staying and helping us particularly from a safety point of view so thank you to everyone who did this at some point this season. On that note we are always looking for help at the club. We are all volunteers either coaching or on the committee. There is plenty of ways you can help depending on what time you can offer, don’t be scared and please speak to one of us if you are interested.

Clearly I’m not a one woman set up during the Winter. Rich puts up with a lot more than just planning and delivering the sessions with me, he’s always there reminding me to breathe when the difficult emails from the leagues we compete in come through amongst plenty of other things. Angela, Nicki, Paul, Tom and James were also regularly seen with us in ALL conditions at training and races, coaching alongside us and constantly offering ideas to help us move forward and improve. At this point I must also highlight the fact that if all goes well this Summer we will be losing Tom to university in September. I’m sure all the coaches will agree he will be greatly missed in all aspects of the club but for me it is going to leave a huge hole at club and training, I’m not allowing myself to think of home yet, never mind who is going to help me with the tent on those Chiltern league Saturday mornings! GIFTS

Each season we compete in two cross country leagues, the Oxon league and the Chiltern league. 5 races in each taking place between October and March. Another thank you to all the adults who bring the athletes sometimes quite a distance to these events and thank you also for supporting ALL our athletes in all the races.

A massive thank you however must go to each and every one of you who answered the call I put out regarding the Oxon league match we hosted with Banbury Harriers at Bo Peep farm. I think in the end Bicester provided more than 20 volunteers either on the day or over the weekend setting up plus all the planning we did beforehand. It was a massive success for the club and Banbury, so much so we have been asked to host the county championships next season so please put January 7th 2018 in your diaries now! Stealing a comment from Mark Welby we’ve gone from grass roots to premier league in one season! The club hadn’t hosted a cross country event for many years but we answered the call from the league to find a venue and host it. The league are still in desperate need of venues, we only did 4 races in the Oxon league this season due to lack of venues, so if anyone here knows someone who has land they wouldn’t mind 600 athletes and 600 cars descending on please let me know. Trust me it can be done…………..

As for results in the leagues huge congratulations to everyone who raced at some point. The courses were varied and the weather just as varied but you all were amazing. I have some participation medals the league issue for some u11s who did at least 4 of the 5 Oxon races, Imogen Cox, Alanna O’Neill, Freddie Rendell, Harry Rendell and Owen Stocker. If you are here please come and receive them plus if any of you who collected them at Hill End are here come out too and we can take a photo. As for overall league podium positions in the two leagues Ben West secured the under 17 man title in the Oxon league as well as the same in division 2 of the Chiltern league. We also secured overall under 15 boy bronze in division 2 of the Chiltern league, well done Max Nicolle and overall under 20 bronze in the same league for Tom Gould. We somehow also came away with two team titles in the Chiltern league even though we only had one athlete in each of the relevant age groups. Not sure we’ve quite got our head around the scoring system but well done to Ben and Tom anyway on their 3rd and 2nd place team titles.

Due to race three of the Oxon league not taking place the county championships had to be merged with the Beds and Bucks championships at Stowe school. It was a spectacular venue with extremely challenging courses, quiet apology there to the athletes who ran, you’ve all ran since though so I think you secretly enjoyed it………….. Well done to Ben West who won county gold and Max Nicolle who won county bronze. We also won some team prizes and John Sear has asked me to pass on his congratulations and your medals. Under 13 girls, Amelia Cox, Amy Willis and Imogen Ansell, under 13 boys, Freddie Taylor, Edward Jolliffe, Michael Cadle and Ben Groves.

As with every season our athletes were busy outside of the leagues too.

The club were once again involved in the Primary schools cross country event at the Bicester school. I know Steve Flynn, our chairman who couldn’t be here tonight would like me to pass on thanks to all the coaches and committee who had time off work that day to help.

The club hosted alongside Alchester running club, the Andy Reading 10k and children’s races, another successful event and great to see so many of you in the children’s races.

Lots of athletes represented their primary and secondary schools at the schools partnership cross country finals and then lots of you qualified from these and ran at the Oxfordshire schools games last week in Abingdon where I know you won medals for your schools.

We supported the town Santa fun run again, this a great pre- Christmas event and lots of you ran down sheep street dressed as Santa. It was a 1, 2, 3 for the club and Richard Gould was finally knocked from his Santa perch. Congratulations Ben, a truly epic day…………….

We had athletes run for their county in truly dismal conditions at Horspath in the South of England championships so well done to everyone who wore a county vest there.

We entered the Berks, Bucks and Oxon championships to be held in Reading but unfortunately just before we left Bicester we got notification the event had been cancelled due to a travelling community camping out on the course and parking overnight. It was a first for us………………

Lots of you were named in the county squad for Intercounties this year held at a new venue in Loughborough. The venue turned out to be a good choice and congratulations to everyone who was named and then to Tom Gould, Ben West, Max Nicolle and Millie Couzens who were available to run that day.

The English schools championships were in Norwich this year, congratulations to Ben West, Max Nicolle and Millie Couzens who qualified from their county school events to be selected to wear a county school vest.

Before I move to certificates and trophies I want to mention that myself and Paul Groves have regularly volunteered at the Bicester park run which was started a year ago. I know lots of you have also run at this Saturday morning event. I can’t recommend this event enough especially as a great way to get the family out together. Please have a look on line and come and have a go, it is for all abilities either walking or running and we always need volunteers, a good idea if you are doing Duke of Edinburgh or other volunteering qualifications. We celebrate our one year anniversary on Saturday 15th April and I’d love to see lots of you there either hard core regulars or newbies. It’s free!!!!

PRESENT NICK, CERTIFICATES AND MOMENTOES

TROPHIES

The exciting bit but also the hardest to put together and decide on.

Everything is taken into consideration in the decision making, training, competing, attitude, commitment, results, enthusiasm, team spirit and so on.

So, here goes.

BEST JUNIOR MALE

Even though this obviously was an easy decision this persons achievements should be recognised for the outstanding level they are. We haven’t had a male runner like him in the club for quite a few years and I’m convinced he’s still got more to come. I was looking at the speech I gave last year and at that point we were still trying to persuade him to give up football and concentrate on his running. Well, we succeeded and he’s gone from strength to strength this year. This year’s winner is BEN WEST.

BEST JUNIOR FEMALE

This young lady is another talent we are extremely proud of. She’s not only a fab runner but she’s strong and determined with a mature competing head beyond her years, oh, and she’s also a fairly good cyclist. She managed to compete in more races this season when her first passion of cycling allowed her to. She constantly finished in the top 4 in her races and represented her county at Intercounties and English schools. My favourite moment for her was the race at Harwell where she took on the other girls and totally smashed the entire field. This year’s winner is MILLIE COUZENS.

BEST PERFORMANCE FOR AN UNDER 11

For the first time in quite a few seasons we didn’t seem to have the same high number of under 9s and under 11s competing that we’ve had previously. Plenty came training and we had a lot of new young athletes which was fantastic, so next season it would be great to see a few more of you out there competing if you can. The winner of this trophy has finally reached the end of her under 11 athletics career. It honestly feels like she’s been an under 11 forever, I can remember her training with us when the family first joined the club and she hasn’t lost any of her cheekiness and charm! She also hasn’t lost any of her determination and drive which saw her place as the highest overall under 11 in the club in the Oxon league. I’m quite excited at the prospect of her being an under 13 next season along with a few others who are moving up. This years winner is IMOGEN COX.

MOST IMPROVED PERFORMER

The recipient of this award had a fantastic season which saw them get better and better every time they stepped out onto a course. They’ve been with us for a couple seasons now and we feel they’ve not only improved in ability but they’ve grown as an individual and have developed into a charming confident young athlete. They also have a wicked sense of humour which kept a few of us entertained on the long and slightly strange journey to Keysoe this season. They too have worn county vests this season and we believe they can only go on and on and improve more. This years winner is MAX NICOLLE.

BEST CONTRIBUTION

This trophy isn’t about performance it can be about many things that makes an athletes show us how important athletics is to them, it can also be about a team effort or an individual who helps us in many ways. This season the winner of this award has been with us since he was little and from day one his passion for cross country has been unrivalled. He’s always disappointed when the season finishes and he’s had great seasons and not so great seasons but has always fought on and remained loyal to the club.  He regularly trains and competes and brings experience and ideas to our training sessions. He is also part of a lovely group of older athletes some, like him, who have grown together in the club and some who have joined later and have been welcomed by this athlete and the rest of the group. His family are also so supportive of everything we do and try to achieve. He isn’t actually here tonight which is some ways is a blessing for me as from September he is moving schools which means he may not be around as much and at the moment every time I speak to him I get all emotional. Cross country for me is summed up in everything this athlete does, this years winner is FREDDIE TAYLOR.

BOY MEMBER OF THE YEAR

Another award not about performance. We look at all aspects of the athletes before we award this one. The winner this year is new to the club this season and has trained hard and raced well since day one. They have also shown a keen aptitude to learn and fitted in with the longer standing athletes with ease. They always contributed to sessions where we asked the athletes questions and thoughts on what we were doing. He is polite and respectful showing a maturity higher than his years. We hope he continues to train with and learn from us as we think he has real potential and the right attitude to be a fab athlete. His family have also been very supportive towards us and didn’t even think twice in putting themselves forward to be part of the team of volunteers at Bo Peep. This years winner is OWEN STOCKER.

GIRL MEMBER OF THE YEAR

I wouldn’t say cross country is a passion for this young lady. However she understands why it is important to train during the winter and even though dad coaches she decides to train because she wants to as I can’t imagine her parents could make her. I have seen a change in how she conducts herself this season when she trains and races which I hope continues over the summer and onwards. I know from first hand how hard it is to watch your child fight on at the back of a race, not only once but race after race. However, slowly persistence pays off, not only in cross country performance but in whatever event they turn their true passion to. Character building and confidence is as much of if not more important than ability because if a child is self doubting all the ability in the world eventually means nothing. This young lady is slowly learning how to apply herself so this years winner is KATIE GROVES.

Thanks everyone.