The men from Ealing Southall & Middlesex AC played a dangerous game last week - but came up with a winning hand.
Marooned in the Metropolitan Cross Country League drop zone for most of the season, they played a get-out-of-jail card in the final fixture on Wormwood scrubs to survive by the skin of their teeth.
They finished one place ahead of the relegated, and by the equivalent of a couple of runners making the final push to pass a couple more after five months of racing.
Mohamud Aadan for hosts Thames Valley Harriers (TVH) won the 8k by seven seconds. Ealing were led home by Mo Hashi, producing his best League finish of the season, followed by Sam Ashcroft, achieving an impressive top 50 finish after a long injury lay-off. Pete Flewitt was next to cross, also taking third veteran place in the race. Another notable performance was that of new recruit Mark Kencroft, taking the ninth scoring spot for the club in his first cross country race since schooldays.
For the U13 girls, Lucy O’Brien’s fourth matched her best result in the League for 2014/15.
In the combined U17/U15 race, following her outstanding win at the previous race, Nicola Ravenhill had to settle for third.
With the return of the Weir twins, India and Kosana, at TVH, Nicola knew she had a battle on her hands, but it was a fine run, confirming her improvement.
The senior women’s team was boosted by the return of Kat Mertens, who ran a strong race to finish 24th, the second highest position for the team this season.
Second-scorer Sarah Richardson achieved one of her best ever Met League placings in 33rd. The veterans continue to be the backbone of the women’s team, and they finished fourth in the veteran ranking.
In the combined U17/U15 boys’ race, U15 George Kerry put in another competitive run to finish 11th overall and fourth in his age group, while U17 Conor McCarthy showed ` return to form and land second scorer for the team. Luke Adar crossed the line just ahead of team-mate Rainak Mainali for the first time in the League, with the team finishing fourth overall.
Results, ES&M only: U11: 22 Kyriese Willis 7:35; 23 Najiib Hersi 7:37; 39 James McNamara 9:22;
U13B: 37 Mikey Kouwiloyan 15:57; 40 Kirk Lebdiri 16:58;
U13G: 4 Lucy O'Brien 14:00; 14 Anisa Ibrahim 14:47; 30 Sarah Freegard 16:49; 33 Nicole Goolab 17:20; 39 Niamh Lynch 19:16;
U17/U15M: 11 George Kerry 13:43; 29 Conor McCarthy 14:47; 31 Luke Adar 14:50; 32 Raunak Mainali 14:55; 41 Matthew Lynch 15:20; 43 Naoki Kanai 15:28;
U17/U15W: 3 Nicola Ravenhill 15:17; 12 Laura Stewart 16:13; 22 Cameron Thomas 17:30; 24 Martha Hayward 18:00; 31 Leah Kelly 19:11; 33 Roisin Lynch 19:47; 34 Jennifer Connelly 19:54; 38 Elsa Stocking 21:44;
Senior women: 24 Kat Mertens 27:55; 33 Sarah Richardson 28:44; 34 Fiona Kennedy 28:46; 60 Nicola Shelley 29:54; 78 Shona Cowper 30:52; 96 Carol Jones 32:23; 101 Jane Ruhland 32:46; 132 Patricia Thomas 35:05;
Senior men: 39 Mohamed Hashi 27:24; 49 Sam Ashcroft 27:55; 54 Peter Flewitt 28:04; 88 Steve Elson 29:06; 94 Christopher Hepworth 29:18; 111 James Hughes 29:40; 119 Florjan Bakalli 29:57; 122 Angelo John; 29:58; 162 Mark Kencroft 30:56; 181 Robert Brown 31:29; 189 Andrew Dodd 31:45; 218 Tom Yates 32:28; 231 James Steel 32:51; 261 Ian Leslie 33:38; 302 Keith Freegard 35:18; 324 Darren Halford 36:27; 353 Phil York 40:42; 365 Graham French 42:07