In fact, if the rules had permitted two teams to score for the team competition, Reading’s second team would also have medalled, such was the performance of the Reading boys around the 8km course on Hampstead Heath.
The achievement is a first for the Palmer Park based amateur athletics club, which has produced some of the country’s greatest athletes, notably Olympic 800m gold medallist Ann Packer, since it was established in 1881. More recently Jonathan Davies has secured European Gold in XC.
While there may have been no outstanding individual performances in the younger age group, Reading’s lads rose well to the challenge of the Parliament Hill course at the South of England Championships on Saturday, even though the teams were again hit by illness and injury. Although the course was much drier than usual, the runners still had to contend with the testing hills, and the U13s finished 21st, the U15s 17th and the U17s 16th.
In the 4.5km U15 race Ollie Craggs ran determinedly to lead the team home in 53rd place in a time of 16.33, while not far behind with a fine run for 84th came Laurie Baker in 16.53. Aryan Gupta’s battling effort gained him 141st place with 17.40, and the team was completed by Ben McCabe, who kept going well for 202nd to give Reading a finishing position of 17th.
For the U13s in their 3km race Edward Lewis was again Reading’s leading runner, although his good effort for 107th place in 12.50 was almost matched by the improving Samuel Lindsey-Halls, who recorded 12.53 for 119th.
Third to finish for Reading was George Urwin-Mann with a strong run for 167th place in 13.15, and Nick Haldane ran well as the final scorer with a time of 13.21 for 179th, which gave the Reading team 21st place. Jacob Sheikh in only his third run for Reading again showed promise with a time of 14.33 in 285th position and Elliott McCarthy persevered for 304th in 15.12, while Adam Tivey showed great determination to finish the course after injuring his ankle, coming 313th in 15.32.
Ben Rollings led Reading’s U17 team home in their 6km race, running strongly to finish 100th in a time of 24.24, and second for Reading was Joseph Mott with a good effort for 132nd in 25.20. Triathlete Alfie McGlennon ran well for 176th place in 26.24, and the team was completed by Sam Kral-Waters, who kept going well after twisting his ankle to finish in 219th with 28.48, giving Reading 16th place in the team competition.
So Reading’s lads once again showed they can compete well at this level, and now look forward to the final Hampshire League fixture and the National XC in Leeds next month.