Road access to 5th fixture of Suffolk Winter XC League hit by heavy rain and floods

Suffolk Winter XC League, Sunday February 18th, Southwold: The heavy rain and flooded roads caused havoc to the road journeys of many of our runners to the 5th fixture of the Suffolk Winter XC League at Southwold. Newmarket Joggers (NJ) and Sudbury Joggers (SJ) combine in this league to form team N&S. In the end, N&S had 13 men and 3 women competing in the senior race, with several arriving just in the nick of time, while 3 of the men had to start well after the gun had sounded; others had to turn back home in their cars. For the men, this left one complete 1st team of 7, plus an incomplete 2nd team of 6, while the women had only one incomplete 1st team of 3 (normally 4). Further to the woes of the N&S team, the men were lacking two of their fastest runners due to injury. Despite this rather dire situation, all the N&S runners seemed to enjoy the challenge of the 2-lap course, which was tough to say the least, with driving rain, soggy grass, lots of mud and bog, flooded paths and uneven terrain. There were about 250 runners in the senior race, with a course distance of ~8.7km (~5.4mi). Before the senior race, Newmarket Jogger Cerys Bithell FU17 competed in the junior U17/U15/U13 race, which was over ~3.7km (~2.3mi).


Above: Cerys Bithell (centre, in red cap and blue top) on her way to first female finisher in Southwold junior XC race. Many thanks for the photo on Strava.


Official results for Southwold are not out at the time of writing but we know the positions of our N&S runners: Cerys Bithell did exceptionally well to finish 1st Female in the junior race and 14th overall. This will consolidate her position as leader in the FU17 age group category, which she has dominated since the 2nd fixture of the season at Stowmarket in January. In the senior race, the N&S women’s 1st team positions were as follows: Nicole Smith NJ F50 181st of ~250 overall; Ruth Cowlin SJ F55 185th; Belinda Schofield NJ F65 196th. The men’s 1st team positions: Joey Bendall NJ MS 4th overall; Jimmy Smith NJ M40 8th; Greg Davis NJ M60 50th; Marc Drury NJ M50 57th; Steve Edwards NJ M55 65th; Rob Hawkins NJ M55 143rd; Neville Clarke NJ M70+ 152nd. The men’s 2nd team: Tom Elton NJ M55 159th; Steve Cousins NJ M65 176th; Liam Elvidge NJ MS 230th; Chris Aylmer NJ M70+ 240th; Brian Munns NJ M60 241st; Jim Withers NJ M65 242nd. Note that Liam Elvidge, Brian Munns and Jim Withers all started late.



Above: The N&S women’s senior 1st team at Southwold XC, from left: Belinda Schofield, Nicole Smith and Ruth Cowlin. Many thanks for the photo on Strava.


The official results of the 4th fixture at Pakenham have just been released. We now know that N&S men’s 1st team have lost the league lead they had after the completion of the 3rd fixture at Haverhill in January. They now stand in 2nd place to Saint Edmund Pacers. The combined N&S women’s and men’s 1st teams have done well to maintain 2nd place in their separate table. The N&S women’s 1st team have succeeded in holding onto 8th position in their table. The outcomes at Pakenham and Southwold have fallen a little short of expectations, not all under our control and not due to anyone performing at less than their best for the team. Nevertheless, 2023-24 has been a good season for N&S in the Suffolk Winter XC League, with a good likelihood of some silverware to come. The final fixture will be on March 3rd at Framlingham (if it goes ahead, re the latest news of more flooding), which unfortunately clashes with the Cambridge Half Marathon, a favourite race for many Newmarket Joggers. N&S still have a decent chance of a top three finish for the men’s 1st team and for the combined women’s and men’s 1st team. There is also a good possibility of an individual age group trophy for several of our N&S runners. The following senior members all look to have realistic chances of a top three age group place, provided they have run the minimum number of 4 races, and partly depending on whether Framlingham goes ahead: Belinda Schofield NJ F65, Ruth Cowlin SJ F55, Joey Bendall NJ MS, Rob Dobson NJ M40, Jimmy Smith NJ M40, Mark Hayward NJ M40, Greg Davis NJ M60 and Neville Clarke NJ M70+. So, still plenty to look forward to….


Ely Runners Junior XC Championships, Ely Country Park, Sunday Feb 18th: Six junior Newmarket Joggers were invited as guests to take part in these championships. They joined 16 junior Ely Runners to make 22 runners in all, with 9 girls and 13 boys. The distance was approximately 3km. It was raining hard and the course was very muddy and waterlogged but the youngsters seemed to revel in it. Of the NJ boys, Harvey Thomas (12:26, 1st of 22 overall, 1st of 13 boys, age 13) had a great run, followed by Oliver Cleary (12:50, 3rd boy, age 12), Alex Balmer (13:43, =5th boy, age 11) and Lewis Stinger (13:43, =5th boy, age 10). For the NJ girls, new member Isabelle Knowles (14:33, 4th girl of 9, age 11) and Sophie Blundell (15:17, 6th girl, age 11) both put in excellent efforts. Maybe this could become a permanent annual fixture for the junior Newmarket Joggers?


Above top left: Isabelle Knowles just ahead of Sophie Blundell; top right: Harvey Thomas going through the water; bottom left: Alex Balmer just ahead of Lewis Stinger; bottom right: Oliver Cleary and Harvey Thomas after the race. Many thanks to Phil Blundell for the great action shots.