Wells City Harrier member Oliver Fox ran for TeamGB at the World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus, Denmark, last Saturday, March 30th. Lining up in the 6-man senior men's GB team against the cream of the running fraternity from across the globe, Oliver had an excellent run to finish in overall 58th place, 4th finisher from the GB team.The course was a throwback to the tough courses of yesteryear, with steep hills and mud to challenge all the runners speed, strength and endurance. For the global TV audience and the course-side spectators it made for a great athletic spectacle.
Earlier in the month there was also some great running by numerous Harrier juniors competing for Somerset Schools at the prestigious English Schools XC Championships in Leeds.
Photo by EmmaCollinge& Phil Gale for TeamGB
Oliver, aged 22 from near Wedmore, and now studying medicine at Cambridge, comments "I very much enjoyed the race - great atmosphere. I'm satisfied with 58th place - I couldn't have run any harder and coincidentally that position is exactly the same, 58th, as when I first ran as a 14 year old in the English Schools XC Championships., so I've managed to come a long way in the intervening years!".
Oliver joined the Harrier's as an 8 year old and was a regular at the Harrier's Monday night training sessions for juniors. He was made an Honorary Life Member of the Club when he gained his first TeamGB vest as an u20 athlete back in 2015. He comes back to the Monday sessions every so often to help inspire the next group of youngsters coming along.
In the past few years he has not only had to cope with the pressures of his tough academic studies but also with a diagnosis of Crohn's disease in 2017
"Managing the condition can be intense, but then so is competitive sport.I always used to get nervous before races, but I’ve now learnt how important it is to enjoy sport. To anyone who’s getting into athletics I would recommend keeping the right perspective and being patient." See below for Oliver's view on keeping things in perspective - a great lesson for us all.
Oliver is the 9th member of the Harriers to be selected for TeamGB in the past 20 years - either for Cross Country or Track & Field events and the Club has experienced coaches looking to ensure that the youngsters coming through have the same opportunities to train hard whilst also enjoying athletics. You can read about all the others on the Potted history section of the website.
English School XC Championships, Leeds, March 16th
Al Thorner reports :
"For the second successive year on Saturday 16th March 2019, Temple Newsam House in Leeds provided the magnificent backdrop for the prestigious culmination of the English Schools Cross Country Championship season. The undulating course in the grounds of this stately home provided a tough test for the thousands of qualifiers for the event on what turned out to be a wet and windy course. Two proud Wells City Harriers were given the honour of boys and girls team captains, namely Dylan Dukes and Elise Thorner both competing for the final time in the senior age groups. Elise, who was also celebrating her 18th birthday on the day, finished in an excellent 6th place out of 215 athletes in the Senior Girls event although many other Wells City Harriers also had excellent runs on the day, as follows:
Junior Girls - 47th Hannah Blundy, 61st Daisy Pellow, 107th Mackenzie O'Dea, 165th Jasmine Caley. Intermediate Girls - 110th Poppy Pellow, 168th Lizzy Ingram, 190th Holly Bigger, 304th Anya Evans. Senior Girls - 6th Elise Thorner, 286th Harriet Fox. Junior Boys - 38th Bradley Glover, 276th Jack Harvey, 233rd Tommy Hummel. Intermediate Boys - 104th Matthew Quarterman, 140th Charlie Cook, 210th Daniel Maydew. Senior Boys - 209th Dylan Dukes."
Yeovil Half Marathon Sunday March 31st
Meanwhile, there were 15 Harrier's competing at the Yeovil Half Marathon this past Sunday. The team was led home by u20 Ben Lloyd in 76.41, finishing 5th in the big field of 1619 runners. Zak Hurrell was next home in 7th, 77.22; whilst Rachel Glaisher was 5th woman in 93.08.
Other finishers:Chris Searle 98.19; Mike Bosley 1.42; Robert Moore 1.45; Martin Bailey 1.49; Jessica Pate 1.58; Alice Knight 1.59; Karen Shears 2.03; Michael Coombs 2.04; jade Irvine 2.11; Sharon Bowles 2.13; Heather Seager 2.22; Kim Parish 2.36.
Well done all
Entry forms for the Butleigh 10km multi-terrain race on April 14th and the Wells Fun Runs are now available on the link from the tab Street 5k and other Harrier supported races.
Action from the English Schools XC Championships - Elise coming 6th in the senior girls (photo by Al)
ENJOY YOUR SPORT!
Prompted by me, Oliver Fox has kindly written the following so that we might all reflect a little on what it takes to be a TeamGB athlete, and more importantly to realise that we've got to keep enjoying what we do! It also reveals how he has had to cope with Crohn's disease and remain positive.
"I joined Wells City Harriers when I was 8. I’m now 22 and studying medicine at Cambridge. I competed for the England team as both a junior and senior as well as racing for Britain 4 times, most recently at the World Cross Country Championships. Running has been an intrinsic part of my life for 10 years. Its acted as an antidote to the intensity of Cambridge and allowed me to form some of the best friendships I could hope for. However, competing at a high level puts you in a fragile position. You need only slip by 10 seconds or so over 10k to go from winning to being just another runner.
In my second year, the most intense academically I’ve had to deal with, I was getting significant abdominal pain after food. There are acute causes of abdominal pain such as gastroenteritis. Other causes are incurable such as Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative Colitis. These happen when the immune system erroneously breaks down the gut wall leading to ulceration. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in November 2016. The disease itself is unpredictable with unknown aetiology. Treatment therefore has the somewhat blunt aim of suppressing what might be considered an overactive immune response. I’ve had numerous courses of prednisone, a steroid with lots of side effects. I’m on Infliximab which I get as an infusion in hospital and Azathioprine, a drug that works in a similar way to some chemotherapies. Suppressing the immune system comes with its own problems and I seem to get more infections which can impact performance if you don’t pick them up early.
Managing the condition can be intense, but then so is competitive sport. I know a lot of people who have taken time out from work or education to reach their targets. A number of whom have become mentally or physically ill because they’ve trained too much. As a teenager this is an easy trap. If you train harder than everyone else, it becomes trivial to be the best in the country. However, one need only look at the rate of attrition from the sport to see how flawed that approach is. For about a year after my diagnosis I struggled to run further than a couple of miles and now that I’m on treatment that works I’m able to appreciate having essentially a normal lifestyle. Rather than being worried about training harder I can feel happy and satisfied to be on the start-line because personally that’s a big achievement.
I always used to get nervous before races, but I’ve now learnt how important it is to enjoy sport. To anyone who’s getting into athletics I would recommend keeping the right perspective and being patient. Work hard at it, but make sure you keep everything else that matters in life. See friends and enjoy education as that’s the best way to keep a healthy balance. In the long term it will serve you better than all those who train too hard and invariably struggle to reach the senior level which is where it really matters. The community you’ll become involved with is special and one of the friendliest you’ll ever find. Above all, find enjoyment in a sport where uniquely the best athletes in the world are motivated by self-improvement and not monetary gain. "