Today was going to be an interesting Janathon day: I was heading to Middleton Cheney for the Oxford Mail Cross Country League Round 3. Needless to say, I wasn’t taking part – I’m not quite up for dashing around muddy fields on a cold Winter’s day. Instead The Wife and I were there to see local running superstar, Steve Naylor; an old schoolmate and close friend who has taken the local running scene by storm since he started club running in November 2009.
Steve has always been fit and active but had never really taken to running, preferring his football and mountain biking instead. He joined me and a couple of other mates for a Great North Run some years ago and easily blitzed round the course with very little training so we all knew he had some talent but it took a number of years for him to get into running.
He kicked off his running career by winning his first race, the Eynsham 10k, becoming County 10k Champion at the same time. Not bad for someone wearing an old England football top with a Woodstock Harriers vest over the top and his now trademark, Sheffield Wednesday shorts. In his first full year he was only beaten by 2 people, Matt Ashton and ex-Olympian Anuradha Cooray, and went on to secure the 5 mile County Championship as well as defending his 10k County Championship.
Last year he was introduced to the world of Cross Country and didn’t disappoint, securing the Oxford Mail XC series and picking up another County Championship title in the form of the Oxfordshire XC Championship. He went on to come 42nd in the National Cross Country Championships and secured a call up to the England team following a 22nd at the Inter Counties XC Championship. He went on to pick up team gold for England at the Home Countries XC International.
His road racing continued to improve and entering bigger races came onto the agenda. He finished 22nd at the BUPA 10000 in London, only 89 seconds behind the legendary Mo Farah and in front of the all the elite women, including Jo Pavey, Gemma Steel and Paula Radcliffe. He built on this by breaking into the top 10 at the BUPA Great Yorkshire Run and sacrificed the chance to secure a hat-trick of 10k County Championships to compete at the McCain UK Cross Challenge in Liverpool, to finish in 49th in his first race coming back from injury.
This afternoon he comfortably picked up his second XC County Championship in succession, in the blue and white of his new club, Bedford. Next weekend sees him travel to Cardiff to compete in the next McCain UK Cross Challenge race, which The Wife and I are travelling to cheer him on.
The other lovely surprise today was being able to cheer on The Wife’s cousin (well, second cousin or cousin once removed – I’m never sure which way round it works), Ryan Meredith compete in the Senior race and qualify for the Oxfordshire Inter-Counties team by finishing 4th in the under-20 category. It was great to be able to cheer him on and also catch up with Steve, Jackie and Mitch.
After watching all this running I was shattered! But I knew I wouldn’t be able to get away with counting that for my Janathon activity so I dragged myself off the sofa to get a 5km loop in. This has taken my running challenge total to 858km, to match my fundraising total of £858.
It’s now only 11 weeks to the climax of my challenge. I’m finishing on the 25 March at the Carterton 10k. If you fancy like joining me on a great PB-potential course please read my earlier post containing the PDF entry form.