Hannah Viner, 21, and Bini Bloom, 14, braved the winter winds to set massive parkrun personal bests over the holiday period. Viner was beaten by just one man at Hampstead Heath, her time of 17:23 placing her 8th in the UK U23 rankings. Bloom recorded 18:51 at Oak Hill, to win the junior event and place fourth overall.
Gilad Nachshen, 14, jumped straight to the top of the U15 indoor national rankings by recording 55.86 for 400m in the Lee Valley New Year Open. The Shaftesbury Barnet Harrier followed this by taking the South of England U15 800m indoor championship in 2:15.03. "The 800 was a tactical race rather than a time trial", Nachshen said, "and altogether it has been a really good start to the year".
Lia Radus, 16, set an 800m personal best of 2:18.70 at the Lee Valley New Year Open and placed second in the Middlesex U20 cross country Championships. She commented, “I was very happy with my solid start to the season in the 800. I don't enjoy cross-country so much, and could perhaps have performed slightly better in the Middlesex race, but I was mentally tired from my GCSE preparations". Younger sister Maayan, 13, recorded 2:31.83 for the New Year’s Day 800m and placed fifth in the Middlesex U15 Cross Country despite illness earlier in the week.
London Heathside athlete Jack Davis-Black also placed fifth in the Middlesex U15 boys Cross Country championship, while Bini Bloom, 14, produced an excellent time of 18:18 in the St Albans parkrun.
Richard Goodman, 24, and Hannah Viner, 21, beat huge fields to win the men's and women's races in the Metropolitan Cross Country League at Wormwood Scrubs. It was Viner's first ever win in a league whose every race attracts hundreds of competitors from London and the Home Counties. By contrast, Goodman’s Metropolitan outing simply maintained a long winning streak.
"Wormwood Scrubs is a flat course and the ground was not too muddy, so I realised it would be a fast start", Viner reported. "I kept to my plan of sitting in the lead group for the first third of the 6 km race and then taking the lead. With 2 km to go I stretched out further, and had the speed and strength to reach the line first. It's a nice confidence booster for the British Universities Championships next month".
A niggling injury had meant that Goodman was unsure about entering the 8 km race. "I picked up a hamstring strain a few weeks ago and lost training and fitness", he said. "I only decided to run five minutes before the start, and wanted to run conservatively. So I sat in with the lead group and only pushed the pace over the final kilometre. I was challenged in a sprint finish over the last hundred metres, for my closest ever win".
Eden Davis, 18, placed fourth in the South of England indoor U20 60m championship at Lee Valley. His time of 6.86 was his third personal best of the day, having improved through the heats and semi-final. "It couldn't have been a better start to the year", Eden commented. "I feel strong and ready for the season ahead".
Idan Gal-Shohet, 17, took fourth place in the long jump in the South of England U20 Championships, setting an indoor personal best of 6.57m. "I didn't have enough speed on the runway", he commented, "and the performance didn't really reflect my current form in training. I do believe everything will come together soon".
Hannah Viner placed 10th in difficult conditions in the South of England cross-country Championships at Brighton.
"It started pouring as soon as the gun went off and the rain seemed to only get heavier", Viner reported. "The course consisted of one small and two long laps, and included steep inclines both uphill and downhill. It was very soft in some parts, gravelly in others, so it was altogether challenging and uncomfortable. I felt strong on the first lap, tucked in the leading group. I struggled a bit on the long hill on the second lap and dropped to 13th place before rallying towards the finish”.
Also taking part in the Championships, Adam Firsht and Jack Davis-Black performed well in the U15 and U13 races respectively.
Idan Gal-Shohet, 17, placed third in the U20 long jump at the London Indoor Games at Lee Valley, setting an indoor PB of 6.60m. Eden Davis, 18, took bronze in the U20 60m in 6.87, just 0.01s outside his best, while Gal-Shohet improved to 7.57 in the same event. Lia Radus recorded 2:20.85 for 6th place in the U17 800m.
David Stone, 16, took silver in the Middlesex Schools cross country Championships at Harrow, content to do just enough to qualify for the England Schools Championships.
Lucie Wolfenden, 16, made a clearance of 2.78m at the Vault Manchester event at Sportcity in her first pole vault competition of the year.
Hannah Viner placed 14th in the British Universities' Cross Country Championships at Hillingdon, competing against possibly the finest field ever to contest the event. More than 700 runners completed the race, and nine of the top ten finishers have represented Great Britain this winter. Continuous rain had transformed the 6.9 km, two lap course into a mud bath, including one particularly treacherous, steeply banked river crossing.
"I was in the front group at the start, but lost a bit of ground on the first downhill and then found myself in a small chasing group", Viner reported. "The river crossings were fun, though not for the girl who took a dive as she was trying to overtake me on the final crossing! Overall, I am happy and I am looking forward to the National Championships at Parliament Hill later this month".
Pole vaulter Lucie Wolfenden, 16, placed fourth in the Sale Harriers Open Meeting at Sportcity with a clearance of 2.80m.
Hannah Viner and Richard Goodman prevailed against cold winds, driving rain and a hilly and muddy Trent Park course to become the 2017/2018 Metropolitan League Champions. Viner took her second successive win, while Goodman placed second in the men's event, in the final League race of the season. Both runners were clear winners of the overall title, based on the best four placings in the five races of the series.
“The conditions were really tough”, said Viner. “My plan was to just see how the race played out and go for the win. It started comparatively slowly so I hit the front almost immediately and a gap grew without my really trying to pick up the pace. I worked hard up the next few hills and the race was won.” Viner had built up a 42 second lead by the end of the 6 km race.
“I was more relieved than happy to cross the line", Viner commented, "and I was absolutely chuffed to win the League. It's always been something I'd wanted to do but I never thought I'd win it so soon!"
Goodman's second place brought an end to a 14-race Metropolitan League winning streak going back to 2008. Nonetheless, Goodman achieved his main objective. "It was a must-run race for me in order to win the title, since I had missed one fixture earlier in the series," he explained. "Coming at the end of a hard training week, I ran it for the points, and trying to avoid injury. Peter Huck, of Newham, took the race out really hard. I tried to close the gap but the mud was a bit too heavy, and so were my legs. I'm looking forward to the final race of the cross country season, the National Championships this weekend."
Their title victories each earn Goodman and Viner a cash prize of £375 plus an additional £200 in sports vouchers.
Roger Bruck, 78, took high jump and long jump gold and 200m bronze in the Southern Counties Indoor Veterans Championships at Lee Valley. Bruck’s high jump clearance of 1.21m at his second attempt set a new championship record. "I was delighted with this season opener by an old man nearing the end of his age group", Bruck commented wryly.
Hannah Viner, 21, brought an end to her successful cross country season by placing 22nd in the English National Cross Country Championship at Parliament Hill. Viner admitted to slight disappointment, despite a strong showing in her second season as a senior. "I felt quite tired and wasn't running very smoothly for most of the race", she explained. "I set off well, getting inside the top 20 up the first hill, but my legs were fatigued. I found myself drifting backwards in the field quite early on. Luckily the support was amazing. Being a member of Highgate Harriers, most of the marshals were friends and they cheered enthusiastically. This helped me over my bad patch and I had a really strong finish, coming through from outside the top 30 and overtaking 5 people in the closing stages.”
Shaftesbury Barnet Harrier Lia Radus placed 38th in the U17 race while her sister and teammate Maayan came 77th in the U15 event.
Idan Gal-Shohet, 17, improved his indoor long jump best to 6.70m when placing ninth in the U20 England Athletics Indoor Age Group Championships at Sheffield. Eden Davis, 18, placed fourth in his 60m semi-final in the same Championships, recording 7.00.
Adam Firsht, 15, will represent London South Region at the Independent Schools Association cross-country Championships this weekend, having won his regional championship last month.
Rosalind Zeffertt contested the 60m, 200m and long jump at the South of England Veterans Championships at Lee Valley, achieving marks of 10.01, 36.38 and 3.50m to enter the National V55 rankings in each event. Roger Bruck, 78, won the V75 high jump and placed second in the long jump at the same meeting. Returning to Lee Valley to represent the Southern Counties at the Masters Inter Area Match, Bruck made a 1.20m high jump clearance to reinforce his position as the country's leading V75 jumps athlete.
JFS pupil David Stone, 16, has been selected to represent England in the ISF World Schools' Cross Country Championship in Paris next month. Stone earned his place following his victory in a close and dramatic race at last month’s Under 17 National Cross Country Championships at Parliament Hill. He took home from that race a trophy won eight years ago by former JFS pupil Richard Goodman, and in the more distant past by athletes such as Mo Farah and David Bedford. Shaftesbury Barnet athlete Stone also won junior 3000m gold in last year's Maccabiah.
Roger Bruck, 78, achieved his highest jump since 2016 in taking V75 gold at the British Masters Championships at Lee Valley. His clearance of 1.24m took the Barnet & District athlete to the top of the National age group rankings. Bruck commented, "I think my improvement was due to a longer and faster run up, and also helped by my giving the 60m event the miss". Bruck also secured 200m silver and long jump bronze.
Shaftesbury Barnet multi-eventer Rosalind Zeffertt gained two bronzes in the V55 age group, recording 9.76 in the 60m and a distance of 3.52m in the long jump. "I am working towards running the 60m in less time than it takes Bolt to run 100m," Zeffertt mused.
Hannah Viner was first lady and second overall in the Hampstead Heath parkrun, recording 17:46.
(Note: ISF = International School Sport Federation)
Hannah Viner moved to third in the British Under-23 10K rankings when finishing third in the International Villa de Laredo race in Spain. Viner's time of 34:15 cut 35 seconds from her previous best for the distance, set in the same race last year.
"I wasn't expecting a PB after my long and tiring cross country season", commented Highgate Harrier Viner. "But it was a fast course, two laps consisting of straight flat roads and sharp turns. The conditions were far from perfect, with blustery winds and heavy rain, but it was certainly warmer than England!
“I ran without a watch and was surprised to pass halfway in 16:44, just 7 seconds shy of my 5000m PB. I knew I would slow a bit in the second half so I tried to stay concentrated one kilometre at a time. Luckily the wind was in our favour for the last two kilometres though we did face a gale in the final straight. Standing on the rostrum with some really classy runners and receiving a massive trophy really topped off the evening!"
Battling weather conditions more normally associated with a climb of Mount Everest, Lia Radus contributed to Team London's overall win in the England Schools Cross Country Championships. Radus placed 46th out of 339 finishers in the Intermediate Girls' race at Temple Newsam Park, Leeds.
Radus reported “The start was tricky as I was in the fourth row in the pen. But I managed to regain the lost distance quite quickly and move into the top 20. For most of the race I was well positioned and protected from the snow and gales by other runners in front and behind. However the strong winds did affect my breathing. I lost several places on the downhill to the finish as I could not catch my breath. Although I am slightly disappointed with my finishing position, I feel proud to have contributed to London placing second in this race and winning the overall championship”.
Southbank International School student Idan Gal-Shohet took U20ý long jump gold in the Middlesex indoor championships at Lee Valley, achieving a jump of 6.49m. Shaftesbury Barnet Harrier Gilad Nachshen likewise secured U15 300m gold in 39.72. Also competing for Shaftesbury Barnet in the senior division, Rosalind Zeffert took long jump gold, 200m silver and placed fourth in the 60m.
David Stone capped an outstanding season by earning team silver in the World Schools Cross Country Championships in Paris. Competing against athletes two years his senior, Stone was the only Year 11 member of the six-strong England team. Stone finished in 31st place, completing the 5.5 km course in 17:08, an average speed of 19.2 km per hour. With 105 runners representing 18 countries contesting the race, team gold was won by Morocco.
Running in warm temperatures over a flat and dry course, Stone faced very different conditions from those of his domestic races this year. "The race started fast and I did not feel too good, although I moved up a few places later on. I really think I am better suited to the mud and the hills," Stone commented. His mastery of those conditions saw him win the England Under 17 title in his first year in the age group, as well as winning the Schools Home Nations International last month.
Gilad Nachshen and Maayan Radus began their track seasons by setting personal bests that placed them top of the national U15 rankings. Nachshen recorded 2:03.28 for 800m at the Highgate Open Meeting at Parliament Hill, while Radus set a 3000m time of 10:20.41 at Watford. At the same meeting Biny Bloom, 14, set a mark of 4:42.52 for 1500m while Rosalind Zeffert moved to top of the national V55 rankings with a 100m time of 15.88. Hannah Viner set a parkrun personal best of 17:12 at Hackney Marshes.
Australian walker Jemima Montag, 20, took the Commonwealth Games 20 km gold medal at the Gold Coast, setting a time of 1:32:50. Including fellow Australian Jewish athlete Steve Solomon amongst those who had inspired her, Montag has been a medal winner on the global scene since age 16. Montag had been contesting the race lead with fellow Australian Claire Tallent, and was assured the gold when Tallent was disqualified after her third "lifting" offence as the race neared its end. Steve Solomon himself placed seventh in the 400m final, recording 45.64.
Last year's Maccabiah double gold medallist Eden Davis, 19, opened his outdoor season with a victory in the Southern League at Harrow. Herts Phoenix sprinter Davis raced 200m in 21.9.
Lia Radus, 16, recorded 10:22.13 for 3000m at the Watford Open Graded Meeting.
Maayan Radus led Barnet home to team gold in the Virgin London Mini Marathon Under 15 Borough Challenge. In her first year of the age group, Radus placed sixth individually, recording 18:08 for the officially measured 3 mile course in unseasonably hot and difficult conditions. The previous weekend Radus had demonstrated her fitness by cutting her 1500m best to 4:55.7 in the Eastern Young Athletes League at Watford. Remarkably, that same morning, she had placed fourth in a duathlon (1500m run, 7.5km bike ride, 1500m run) setting the fastest time in the age group across both girls and boys for the second running stage.
Lia Radus and David Stone both placed eighth in their U17 age group in the Mini Marathon Borough Challenge. Their times were 18:02 and 15:50 respectively, with Radus suffering a quadriceps cramp in the latter stages.
Jack Davis-Black finished 14th in the U13 event in 17:56, leading home the Islington team. His mother, Sara Black, completed the full marathon in 3:24:51. Despite drinking a lot of water during the race, Black suffered sunstroke and severe dehydration and was admitted to hospital overnight.
Gilad Nachshen finished 27th in the U15 Borough Challenge in 17:11. The previous week he gained a double victory over 300m and 800m in the Eastern Young Athletes League at Watford, setting a 300m PB of 39.1. Nachshen followed that up three days later by reducing his 800m best to 2:01.48 at the Watford Open Graded Meeting, reinforcing his position at the top of the national U15 rankings.
Submitted January 2018 but unpublished: Book review: My Life in Athletics (Paperback) by Mel Watman
Given the commonly-held perception of Jewish Sport, it may come as no surprise that there is just one living Jewish inductee into the England Athletics Hall of Fame. The holder of that distinction is Mel Watman, probably the finest journalist and historian of the sport throughout the last half-century and more. His recently published book "My Life in Athletics" is a comprehensive and very readable account of world athletics over the last sixty years. Drawing extensively on the interviews and analyses that Watman has conducted throughout his career, the book gives the interested reader new insights into the feelings and struggles of the major figures in the sport’s history, as well as into issues of the sport’s governance. Extending over 500 pages, it is a book that can be dipped into at random, to provide many hours of interest and enjoyment to any athletics enthusiast.
My Life in Athletics (Paperback) by Mel Watman, priced £12.99, available on Amazon or by contacting the author Mel Watman at 13 Garden Court, Stanmore HA7 4TE.