TRXCL Lord Wandsworth College

Large frozen ruts, deep icy puddles, shoe-swallowing mud, lung–busting hills. Twice, as it was a two-lap course. This was the 4th round of the Today’s Runner Winter League cross-country at Lord Wandsworth College, organised by Hart Road Runners.

Before the race only those who had raced in previous winters could begin to imagine the severity of the course after December’s rain and recent harsh frost. They then found out from marshals, who had to smash the ice on all the puddles, that there had been a good deal of forestry work in the area, meaning the ruts were even deeper than usual.

Almost 300 competitors set off and coped with the conditions with varying degrees of success over the five-mile route. Farnham Runners came out on top, winning both men’s and ladies’sections, to head the league after four of the seven races. The five scoring men all came in the top twenty, while the three first Farnham ladies were in the top ten. A beaming Sarah Hill won the ladies race and announced on finishing “I really enjoyed that”. All deserved admiration for tackling the course, especially those new to cross-country running. Two had to retrieve shoes and one his glasses from the icy water.

Andrew Ellison led in the Farnham team in a fine 5th slot, with Ian Carley 8th, Mike Anderson 9th, Charles Ashby 11th and Simon Loughnane 20th. They were backed up by strong efforts from Dan Smith 24th, Steve Kitney 32nd, Tim Cummins 55th, Nick Hitchcock 64th, Paul Beesley 69th, Mike Walberton 79th, Terry Copeland 85th, Matt Burns 87th, Tim Clover 97th, Malcolm Fitzsimmons 119th, Hillary Carter 172nd, Richard Sheppard 176th, Andrew Perrin 182nd and Peter Strange 186th.

After the excellent result from Sarah Hill the Farnham ladies winning team comprised the intrepid duo of Jane Georghiou (6th) and Angela Epps (8th). Not far behind were Gabi Hitchcock in 20th and new member Emma Whittaker-Axon 30th. All made a huge and commendable effort: Emma Drinkwater 45th, Emma Doven 50th, Sylvia Harper 53rd, Kay Copeland 55th, Julie Russ 59th, Helen Cathie 62nd, Wendy Carley 76th, Elaine Ashby 78th. Caroline Freeman made her usual effort to support the team but the conditions were too treacherous this time and she was forced to pull out.

Many stayed for the very welcome post–race refreshments though some admitted that their feet did not warm up till they got home. All appreciated Hart Road Runners’ efforts in organising the race so well.