Three hundred runners from 18 clubs descended on Farnham for the second round of the Today’s Runner Winter League cross-country. Farnham Runners’ race director, Charles Ashby, now experienced in course lay out and all the myriad of things that need to be organised, took it all in his stride. After hard work the previous day and early morning to mark the 4.8 mile course meticulously, he and his band of volunteers could finally relax after finishing in good time. Mild weather and lack of rain meant the surface was in good condition, with no treacherous ice to break up or route to be changed as last year. Members turned out to help and fulfil the essential role of marshalling.
Social secretary Sylvia Harper took charge of the “sandwich-making machine” that started operation at 8am to produce enough for the hungry hordes after the race and members brought along homemade cakes.
While racing in this league is more about friendly competition and making sure everyone enjoys the events, there is still a keen contest between the leading clubs. This year Farnham Runners are locked in battle mainly with Midhurst Milers, which are doing exceptionally well for a small club. As one race result of the seven is discounted at the end of the season and so subtracting the worst result already, Farnham Runners and Midhurst Milers tie at the top.
Farnham Runners dominated the mens’ section with their first five across the line giving a tally of only 63 points to second placed Midhurst’s 108. All was reversed in the ladies race with Midhurst Milers three scorers all in the top ten of the 119 ladies., giving a total of 14 to Farnham’s 23.
Matt Gordon from Havant AC claimed victory, followed by Will Clark of Midhurst Milers 2nd and James Harwood from Liss Runners 3rd. Midhurst Milers’ Emma Taylor- Gooby led in the ladies ahead of Farnham’s Sarah Hill 2nd and Emily Alden (also Midhurst Milers) 3rd.
Although with none in the top three, it was consistency that paid off for the home club’s men as all five scorers placed in the first 20. Ian Carley (5th) is no stranger to leading them in and Charles Ashby gave a valiant performance for 8th. Mike Anderson (15th) headed a trio with Andrew Ellison (17th) and Richard Strode (18th). Backing up this team were Mike Walberton (34th) who gave his all to get ahead of Steve Kitney (42nd). Not far behind were Tim Cummins (45th), Dave Armstrong (46th), Steve Parker (48th) and Nick Hitchcock (49th).
Sarah Hill in second bravely fought off a cold to run for the ladies’ team. Gabi Hitchcock blitzed her way to the finish overtaking a number of ladies in the final stretch to clinch a personal best result of 7th. With some key new figures lost to injury Jane Georghiou made the team in 14th. Debutant Jo Chisholm showed promising potential in 17th, while Sue Boxall (31st) and Suzanne Munton (32nd) had their own private duel.
The following also all made a huge effort to support the club:
Men’s placings: Martin Billett 57, Albert Ellison 62, Steve Murphy 64, Matt Burns 79, Simon Brander 81, Alistair Wilson 95, Terry Copeland 103, Chris Cramp 117, Phil Masters 124, Daren Carter (debut) 136, Neil Powers 141, Steve Payne 152, Bruce Peto 160, Richard Sheppard 179 (sweeper).
Ladies’ placings: Tori Shaw 46, Christy Roxburgh 51, Diane Drewett 54, Emma Drinkwater 59, Abigail Ashby 63, Helen Cathie 69, Sally Lawrence 71, Kay Copeland 75, Shirley Perrett 77, Lina Haines (debut) 93, Mandy Cornelius (debut) 95, Elaine Ashby 103, Jane Adams and Jenny Andrews 118/119 (sweepers).