Ben Mason led by example in our annual Academy curtain-raiser around Richmond Park, but our new Under 18s captain was quick to reiterate the important mental and psychological effects it will have upon the squad.
Right-back Ben, who can play anywhere along the back line, took the run in his stride on Friday, as he breezed home in a time of 44 minutes and 28 seconds. The second-year scholar improved his time by 31 seconds, having previously finished runner-up to last year’s skipper Isaac Ogundere.
Both players went on to help cause a cup upset, when the young Dons beat Burnley in the FA Youth Cup at Plough Lane last season.
“To do this was a challenge”, said Ben after the team bonding event. “To play at Plough Lane was a challenge, but we knew we could go through it because of tough times like this. When we get through it, we know that when we have to play in big games like the Youth Cup - we know we can do it.”
Midfielder Abdi Ali, who impressed in the Youth Cup games against Burnley and Tottenham, claimed second place – just ahead of Welsh youngster Morgan Williams, who maintained a top three finish having crossed the line in third place last summer.
Top-3 in Richmond Park Run (approximately seven miles):
- Ben Mason (44.28)
- Abdi Ali (44.59)
- Morgan Williams (45.10)
Our Under 15s/16s squad attempted the course for the first time the week before. Pre-scholar and Wimbledon fanatic Tom Wilson set a new record of 42 minutes and 11 seconds.
Our picture shows race runner-up Abdi Ali, first home Ben Mason (centre) and Morgan Williams, third place for the second year in succession
You can watch race highlights and in-depth interviews with Ben Mason, Under 18s Head Coach James Oliver-Pearce, goalkeepers Aaron Jones and Harry Griffiths and forward Obed Yeboah below, via the link to our official YouTube channel.