Newmarket Joggers finish 4th in valiant bid to retain men’s Suffolk XC Championship trophy

Suffolk XC Championships, Sunday 9th January: It was a cold but lovely sunny afternoon at Nowton Park in Bury St Edmunds for the Suffolk XC Championships. The undulating course, over grass and through woods, was extremely muddy in places, with lots of twists and turns and a crater thrown in for extra fun. The men’s race was over a three-lap 10K course and the women’s race over a two-lap 8K course.


Above left: NJ Gazebo. Above right: Looking towards the start in Nowton Park.

Men: The odds were stacked against the Joggers’ men’s team when Neil Pollard, one of its pivotal members, had to self-isolate in accordance with Covid-19 rules. When Newmarket Joggers won the men’s team trophy in January 2020 (the last time the Championships took place due to cancellation in 2021), Pollard won the race outright, including the men’s M40 age group trophy, so his value to the team cannot be overstated.

NJ Men’s Team. Back row from left: Mark Hayward, Jason Beeton, Marc Walker, Brian Munns, Joey Bendall, Paul Holley, Jamie Rule, Neville Clarke, Jimmy Smith, Charles Jones, Rob Hawkins. Front row from left: Chris Aylmer, Phil Blundell, Tom Elton, Jeremy Reader, Baz Colley. Thanks to Nicole Smith for the photo.


For the men’s first team, 6 members had to be nominated by team captain Brian Munns, of which the first 4 would be counted for position points, with lowest total points to win. Our first team members in order of finishing were: Jimmy Smith 37:59, 12th of 139 overall; Mark Hayward 38:33, 15th; Paul Holley 40:03, 22nd; Joey Bendall 40:34, 26th Jamie Rule 42:20, 36th and Jason Beeton 46:48, 75th. All members stepped up to the challenge well, with new club member and novice cross-country runner Joey Bendall managing to stay close behind the ultra-experienced Paul Holley all the way. In the end, the Joggers were edged out to 4th place of 19 competing teams on a total of 75 points (12+15+22+26), with the top three clubs being Ipswich Jaffa on 58 points from Ipswich Harriers 58 points and Saint Edmund Pacers 71 points. Though the men’s team trophy was not retained, the Joggers’ men fared very well in the individual age group awards, with Jimmy Smith and Mark Hayward 1st and 2nd in M40 respectively, Paul Holley 1st in M55 and Neville Clarke 2nd in M65, so plenty of reason to feel encouraged.


Trophy winners: Top left Jimmy Smith 1st M40, top right Paul Holley 1st M55, bottom left Mark Hayward 2nd M40, bottom right Neville Clarke 2nd M65. Many thanks to Nicole Smith for these photos.

Women: For the women’s first team, 4 members had to be nominated by team captain Jan Holmes, of which the first three would be counted for position points. Our first team members in order of finishing were: Olivia Carter 37:32, 13th of 77 overall; Sarah Boneham 40:39, 34th; Suzanne Bailey 47:04, 62nd and Bridget Wallwin 48:01, 66th. This gave us 109 points (13+34+62), putting us 8th of 15 competing teams, with the top three clubs being Saint Edmund Pacers on 14 points from Ipswich Jaffa 25 points and Ipswich Harriers 56 points. The two best age group performances were by Olivia Carter, who finished 9th of 27 in SW (20-U40) and Sarah Boneham 5th of 13 in F50.

NJ Women’s Team from left: Olivia Carter, Sarah Boneham, Angela Brennan, Sianie Painter, Jan Holmes, Suzanne Bailey. Also, Bridget Wallwin and Pearl Fay not in picture. Thanks to Nicole Smith for photo.


Other Joggers representing the club were women’s B team: Jan Holmes F55 52:55, 72nd; Angela Brennan 57:19, 75th; Sianie Painter F55 57:56, 76th; Pearl Fay F60 1:06:18, 77th. Men’s B team: Charles Jones M60 50:09, 90th; Neville Clarke M65 50:40 92nd; Tom Elton M50 52:52, 105th; Brian Munns M55 53:33, 107th; Jeremy Reader M45 54:50, 114th; Phil Blundell (retired unwell). Also: Marc Walker M50 54:49, 113th; Rob Hawkins M55 57:20, 121st; Baz Colley M50 1:00:52, 132nd; Chris Aylmer M70 1:07:18, 139th. Phil Blundell unfortunately had to pull out after 2 laps feeling out of sorts; hopefully nothing too serious and we wish him well. Well done and thanks to all those representing Newmarket Joggers; also a big thank you to all the Joggers who were volunteering as marshals or other helpers, giving lots of encouragement to all the participants. Nicole Smith was Joggers’ official photographer and helped to support the team too. Jan Holmes provided some very tasty sausage rolls, with assorted mini chocolates for dessert, while Bridget Wallwin generously offered delicious mini Green & Black chocolate bars.


Above: more sunny scenes at Nowton Park.

Dubai Meydan Super Sports 10K, Saturday 8th January: Newmarket Jogger Dan Hutchison put in a great performance in this high profile race in the United Arab Emirates, finishing 4th of 78 runners in a time of 34:25, 1st of 28 in M30-39. Hutchison is new to the world of competitive running and only joined the Joggers last September. He has done promisingly well over 5K (16:36) and 10M (58:27) distances recently but this appears to be his first official 10K race. He obviously has every chance of improving to an even higher standard. Out of interest, the equivalent women’s 10K race in Dubai was won by none other than Team GB Olympian Eilish McColgan (who trains out there) in the amazing time of 30:50, faster than the winner of the men’s race.


Dan Hutchinson in the Dubai Super Sports 10K, close to the Meydan stadium where the Dubai World Cup horseracing event takes place.

Dorney Lake Half Marathon, Saturday 8th January: Andy Fryatt put in an excellent time of 1:34:09, finishing 6th of 29 runners overall. He was really aiming for a sub 1:30 half marathon PB but the wind conditions were difficult on this flat but exposed course; without the wind it can be very fast. Fryatt is another recent recruit to the Joggers and to the world of running, having spent most of his sporting life playing and coaching football. He has already shown a lot of natural talent at distances from 5K to Half Marathon.

Essex Runfest, Carver Barracks, Sunday 9th January: Sarah Kinston (1:06:07) opted for the 10K (2 laps of the old RAF airfield) and enjoyed a reasonably relaxed race, running with a friend; no doubt good training for the Cambridge Half Marathon in March. Annie Morris (1:15:40) took on the 15K (3 laps), finishing 6th of 17 overall and 3rd female of 11, so a good effort. The 15K is quite an unusual distance for a race in the UK but very popular in the rest of Europe, the UK equivalent being the 10M at 16.1km. Then again, the 30K is a popular distance on the European continent whereas the UK is more likely to have 20 mile races.