As I’m sure most of you already know, the London Marathon is a prestigious event that takes place annually in late April and is one of the five founding marathons for the World Marathon Majors in 2006. Everybody knows that the marathon distance is a challenge for most runners, but prior to the 26.2 mile event, kids ranging from ages 11-17 from all 33 London Boroughs along with 13 teams from the ten English regions and three Home Countries take part in the sister event that to The London Marathon, The Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon. For most children across the UK, The Mini Marathon is their Olympic equivalent and has been the opening chapter for many success stories over the years. Looking to start writing their own success stories were the junior athletes of Orion Harriers.

At 8:55, the U17 men’s race was underway with 7 athletes from Waltham Forest, Enfield and Redbridge looking to run some fast times and place high in the London Borough Challenge. Having finished 17th last year, Jake Callis was the first Orion Home for the second year running, finishing in 7th place with an 11-second PB in a time of 15:55, a performance that helped Enfield to finish 2nd in the Team Challenge, 4 four points shy of winners Bromley. Second Orion and Waltham Forest’s first scorer was Jordan Chrisostomou (15th) with a 16-second personal best of 16:23, a big improvement from 34th last year (just need to translate this into track season Jordan). With Redbridge’s first scorer winning the Borough Challenge, Redbridge’s second scorer Daniel Richards (21st) was the next Orion to cross the line, clocking a PB of 16:36 for the 3 mile distance and beating his 39th place finish from last year. Having not done very much training leading up to this race, Joshua Iton (23rd), despite not running a PB, still put in a great performance to be Waltham Forest’s second scorer, matching his London position from last year in a time of 16:41. Running just a couple of seconds outside of his personal best was Waltham Forest’s third scorer George Day (36th) in a time of 16:51, bettering last year’s 50th place. Not far behind George, Waltham Forest’s 4th and final scorer Eden Coleman (42nd), despite making his Mini Marathon debut, produced arguably one of his best performances to date to finish in a time of 16:54 with another year left in the U17 age group. Having literally handed in his membership form on the morning of the event, Niklas Mckerrell (80th), having remembered to bring his shorts this year, improved his 3 mile time from 18:55 to 17:54 (the difference a pair of shorts and a bit of training can make).

After the men in black, it was time for the U15 boys to take on the 3 mile course. After a sublime cross country season that saw him consistently finish inside the top 4 in his age group, Joseph Owen, having ran a time of 16:35 to finish 15th in London and 62nd overall, produced one of his best performances and Orion’s best performance of the day to win the London Borough Challenge and finish 3rd in the British 3 Mile Road Championships, with a blistering time of 15:01 (a time that would have also won him the Borough Challenge and placed him inside the top 20 in the U17 race). Although he was only a second away from second place, Joseph said that he was very pleased with his performance. “Coming into the race, I wanted to make the camp, but now I’m happy to have beaten Zakariya” (Zakariya being one of only 4 kids in the country his age that have actually beat him this season – it was only a matter of time before Joe put a stop to that). As a result of his outstanding performance, Joseph won about £100 worth of vouchers, an invitation to attend a young athlete’s endurance training camp at St. Mary’s University, Twickenham, a trophy (of course) and the chance to meet Prince Harry (don’t know who should feel more honored). Congratulations Joseph – fantastic achievement(s). Representing Redbridge, Joseph Clark (21st) ran a superb time of 17:04 to finish as the second Orion and Redbridge’s second scorer (yet another PB for Orion). Both finishing in a time of 17:33, Waltham Forest’s Cory Ugbomah (36th) equaled his personal best from two years ago and Redbridge’s James Wood (37th) ran a personal best to finish just behind Cory. Despite having run a 1500m PB the day before, Jay Shotter (59th) ran a big personal best of 17:55 to finish as the third scorer for Waltham Forest. Not far behind Jay were Waltham Forest’s Liam Brockway (63rd) and Jessiah Hercules (64th), running respective times of 18:01 and 18:07. The prize for the biggest improvement in the space of a year has to go to Saul Ashon (126th) who went from 22:00 last year to 19:37 this year (Nice One Saul).

After the boys in blue, it was time for the youngest of the boys, the U13’s, to contest the last 3 miles of the illustrious London Marathon course. Unfortunately, there wasn’t that many U13’s from Orion running. Despite this, Luca Minns (87th) was the first Orion home in a time of 19:16. Also running for Waltham Forest was Tommy Callagher (155th) in a time of 21:19. Not far behind Tommy, Ben Myers (159th) ran a time of 21:32 to finish the 3 mile course.

After the runners in red came the women in white, the U17’s. Redbridge’s Isobel Mills (67th) was the first home from an Orion perspective, running a time of 21:42. The second Orion runner to finish was Emily Sharpe of Waltham Forest (102nd) in a time of 22:44. Also running for Waltham Forest and finishing in a time of 25:56 was Katherine Myers (146th). A few places behind Katherine was Ellie Matson (148th) and Asha Stobbart (149th) who ran 26:03 and 26:04 respectively. Orion’s fifth runner to finish was Courtney Reid (158th), in a time of 27:29. Melissa Cleary (162nd) wasn’t too far behind in a time of 27:48.

After the oldest of the girls, it was time for the U15’s (maybe you lot can think of an alliterative phrase for girls wearing yellow). Finishing inside the top 20 was Waltham Forest’s first scorer Annalie Cole (16th) in a time of 18:41. Orion’s second U15 girl was Scarlett Pochet (84th), posting a time of 21:22. Shortly after Scarlett was Redbridge’s Aoibheann Pearce (88th) in 21:32. Finishing closely in times of 22:58 and 22:59 were Waltham Forest’s Bethany Chambers (121st) and Charlotte Grant (122nd). Evie Painter (130th) was the next Orion across the line in a time of 23:29. Scarlett’s sister Capucine Pochet (148th) ran well in a time of 24:26.

The final race of the day, the U13 girls, started at around 9:30. Becci Leddy (74th) was the first Orion home in a time of 20:54. 10 seconds later, Redbridge’s Maisy Silverstone (86th) finished in a time of 21:04. Finishing very close together were Ciara Pearce (142nd), Jasmine Offiler (143rd) and Rosie Shaw (146th) in a time of 22:47 for Ciara and Jasmine, whilst Rosie ran a time of 22:55.

Overall, another successful day’s racing for both the juniors and the seniors who took part in the main event. A lot of personal bests, fast times and impressive positions from everyone that took part. Well done to everyone that ran, volunteered or supported from or in the streets of London. Hope to see most of you at the first UAG YDL meeting at Ashford on Sunday 1st May.

Thomas Young