Elmbridge Assessment Race

Yesterday saw the final assment event before the World Marathon Championships in Crestuma, Portugal. Without a doubt it was the highest quality racing we have seen all year and looks a lot more promising for the GB team than earlier in the year.

In the senior mens event with one place already booked by John Sawyers who has performed well all year there was only one space left and several guys had the quality to fill it. Tom Daniels from Reading has pretty much moved over to marathon now having had a spell inside the Performance Programme, Ben Brown with a 4th place at the Worlds a few years ago has also been training with this selection as a goal, added to that there were two guys fresh from the Sprint Worlds, Ben Farrell and Ed Rutherford both of proven quality but maybe with not enough recent miles on the clock to make the distance.

The senior womens racing this year has been pretty weak in terms of numbers and quality but the return of Louisa sawyers and Lani Belcher from the sprint system added in the quality even if the numbers are still embarrasingly low.

The Junior mens racing has been of pretty high quality this year with times being close to the seniors. Dean Terry has been the best since Ed Rutherford moved up to senior racing and Mark Childerstone  has impressed in a few events this year, notably a record time at the Medway Marathon a few weeks back.(Pretty much every record holder at this event has medalled at the Worlds) He has also been taking some time down at Elmbridge training with the seniors and doing some good work.

The junior womens racing this year has been dominated by Illidge and Swallow who have won everything so far .

The races were all in the new multi-lap format which does mean you get to see the race unfold to a certain extent, only time will tell if this really does bring in more crowds and/or media.

The mens race ran pretty much to form with Sawyers, Brown, Farrell, Daniels and Rutherford and Pendle making the front group, Tim Pendle was impressive  hanging on for a good few laps always being given the worst of the washes before the inevitable happened. Ed Rutherford also paid the price for his lack of distance training  and Ben Farrell was the next to crack. Once the group was down to three the real race was between Brown and Daniels. With only one spare place the result was going to be harsh on someone. Ben Farrell who had retired by now rated Daniels as the likely winner, his leads had been strong and he had been dominant in the group. In reality the guys were all pretty much the same ability and the winner was going to be decided by who was in the right place at the right time. With local knowledge this always favoured the other two and it was Ben Brown who was leading when the group came round the final corner, Daniels' positioning was unfortunate and he was always going to come third albeit an impressive third. As it turned out Tom Daniels was given the chance to race in the Under 23 category at the Worlds and possibly a K2 with Sawyers in the senior event. This is a well earned reward and Tom can only get better. The other two will race senior K1 and I think they are both capable of improving on on our recent level of results.

The womens race was pretty much a procession with Sawyers and Belcher having everything their own way. Nicki Taylor put up a reasonable fight to stay within a respectable distance of the other two but in reality the speed was very low and highlights the fact that there is room for the women who are not making the sprint teams to step up to the mark and get some racing done. There is no doubt there is room in the marathon team and surely it has to be more fun competing in this than being a second rate sprinter and getting to race just 4 times a year at Nottingham as a reward for all their training!  Lani and Louisa will both go as K1s to the Worlds and will double up in the K2 event. Possibilities of medals are high but they will both need to get some distance work done in the next few weeks or they may suffer the same fate as Farrell and Rutherford who could not make the distance once the speed was higher.

Both junior races came down to a two boat finish, in the boys it was Childerstone and Terry who broke away. Terry, would on paper be the clear favorite but it was Childerstone who impressed by getting the lead at the right time and not relinquishing it despite Terrys' best efforts. With this win under his belt and the record at Medway you have to give Mark the chance of a good medal at the worlds. He may be let down by his lack of experience and rather hesitant portageing but his paddling is up to speed and with a few more weeks learning I for one would like to see him do well. Dean terry also has good chances of medaling and still on paper is probably the favorite to do so.

For the junior women it came down to a two boat race between Katie Williams and Jenny Illidge. Again Katie had got in front for the final section, probably another beneficiary of local knowledge, and managed to hold off the pre race favorite very convincingly. Both will earn a trip to the Worlds which will be an eyeopener for them but a great experience. Jenny Illidge will also pair up with Jenny Swallow in the K2 event. These are the girls who will have the chance to step up to senior racing very soon and if they can keep their mind on the job should close the gap on our seniors pretty quickly.

Overall it was a pretty encouraging display from all the classes, for me the stand out performances were Mark Childerstone in the junior men and Katie Williams in the junior women. Both beat people they would not be expected to beat and both definately finished off their respective races and opponents in a very decisive way. Ben Brown in the senior men did his job very efficiently and with a couple more weeks training can only get better.

The team to go to the World is

Senior Men

K1 John Sawyers, Ben Brown

K2 Tim Pendle/Jon Simmonds, John Sawyers/Tom Daniels

U23 Men

K1 Tom Daniels

Senior Women

K1 Lani Belcher, Louisa Sawyers

K2 Lani Belcher/Louisa Sawyers

Junior Men

K1 Dean Terry, Mark Childerstone

K2 Dean Terry/Mark Childerstone, Mat Welch/ Tom Simmons

Junior Women

K1 Jenny Illidge, Katie Williams

K2 Jenny Illidge/ Jenny Swallow


This is a very strong team and I would hope for a good haul of medals. The best chances are in the senior womens and the junior mens classes but with a little luck dont write off the senior mens K1s!


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