TPLR - Tony Phillips League Review (22/02/2016)

Tipton Harriers completed the cross country league season last week with the fourth and final meeting at Wolverhampton.

The senior men's team finished in the half way position, 8th out of the 16 clubs in Division 1 of the Birmingham and District Cross Country League.

Tipton's team final league position after the four meetings was 6th, with the 'B' team in 7th overall. During the season 26 runners turned out in the league, with satisfying final results. Ian Williams led the team in the first part of the competition, and Mike Aspinall finished the leading runner in the final phase.

These two runners laid the basis for a reasonable overall performance. Two young runners made their their mark, with Luke Vine making the team count with a best placing of 17th, and Gareth Griffiths also made the count with a best of 47th, his appearance being limited by university fixtures. Both these are junior age group runners.

Tom Holden was the most consistent runner finishing in the count in all four races with a best of 43rd. Adam Soley made a solid contribution, with counting team runs in three races, and a best place of 36th. Dean Bate also made the count in two meetings and a best of 59th.

In his first season Richard Powell made good progress with a counting team place and two just outside in 7th position, and a best of 84th.

Another newcomer, Gary Whitehouse ran in all four races and improved from 140th to 100th. Work commitments limited Ben Gamble to one race, in 19th place, and Liam Roberts also one in 33rd.

The last meeting was at Wolverhampton's Aldersley Park, over a testing course including a mixture of good flat grassland paths, soft and muddy patches, sharp turns and slopes requiring extra effort. Conditions were as expected at this time of year, fine and cold weather.

The two universities dominated the race, Loughborough winning the league from Birmingham University. A revived City of Stoke took third place, followed by Cheltenham and County, with Birchfield just in front of Tipton.

Mike Aspinall led the Tipton team, always in the top ten, another good performance following his Midland achievement, this time in 9th spot. Young Luke Vine ran his best race in the league, and mid way was in 11th place, running hard but losing places in the run in to finish 17th, a fine effort.

After his promising run in the MIdland Shaun Barnsley was the team's third counter but dropped out in mid race leaving Dean Bate to move onto the count in 59th place. Tom Holden put in another effort to finish 64th, and the count was completed by Richard Powell, 84th, and Gary Whitehouse, 100th, both having having had hard runs.

James Jefferson 111th missed out after a fall. Tom Acha continued his improvement, 120th. It was a satisfying to see Tipton completing a 'B' team in 7th place on the day and overall.

The club cross country season ends this weekend at Donington Park, near Derby, so let us hope Tipton's team ends the season with a good performance and turn out. It's a short journey from the West Midlands to the well known venue, only an hour's drive, so all should turn out to end the season on a high note.

Tony Phillips