Almost 400 runners arrived in the Bourne for the third round of the Southern Cross-Country League, hosted by Farnham Runners. The league encourages club runners of all standards, the loudest cheers at the finish for the not so fast who need to dig the deepest to finish the challenging courses.
In Farnham’s race, the wide flat start belies the hills to come and soon the runners are hurtling down a steep slope only to climb back up the other side. Not for the faint-hearted, it continues in this vein, with short flat sections for some welcome relief. Cool but dry after recent rain, conditions were ideal for a brisk winter morning’s jaunt around the woods.
Despite the friendly nature of this league there is always strong competition at the front. Winners for several years, Basingstoke and Mid Hants AC are being tested this season by Haslemere Border AC. They were joint winners on the day but Haslemere Border AC stay ahead on aggregate. Fleet & Crookham A.C’s consistent men’s and ladies scores gave them third on the day, ahead of Waverley Harriers in fourth and Farnham Runners fifth. This moves the host club to joint sixth of twenty-three clubs, with three matches to go.
The first three back were Rob Wood (Basingstoke and Mid Hants AC), Chris Peck (Waverley Harriers) and Dave Taylor (Haslemere Border AC). The first three ladies were Daisy McClements (Stubbington Green), Sarah Cleland (Hart Road Runners) and Jo Wright (Farnham Triathlon).
The twenty-five Farnham men were led in by Andrew Ellison, 27th, who stayed ahead of his younger team-mate James Clarke in 31st. Strong performances from Stuart Haig 49th, Rob Gilchrist 61st, and Mike Taylor 65th gave the men a ranking of sixth. Strong back up came from John Hill-Venning 69th, Nick Hitchcock 72nd, Alistair Hardaway 77th.Colin Addison 78th, and Haywood Drake 79th.
In her fifth race in as many weeks and after four consecutive personal bests, Eloise Stradling settled for a valuable 14th, with Gabi Hitchcock and Kayleigh Copeland pleased to return to racing in 20th and 28th respectively. This gave the ladies fifth spot. Not far back, locked in a close battle were Vicki Clarke 32nd, Fiona Carle 33rd and Lindsay Bamford 34th.
Other Farnham Runner placings:
- Men : John Walker 85, Tim Cummins 89, Terry Copeland 96, Steve Bailey 113, Stephen Elliott-Nicholls 120, Barney Whiter 121, Paul Mackie 149, Terry Copeland 162, Phil Masters 191, Howard Inns 204, Damian Probett 215, Jeff Loomis 216, Robert Drummond 218, Ian Carley 228, Neil Ambrose 229.
- Ladies: Jane Georghiou 53, Anne Snelson 60, Tara Hunt 62, Kay Copeland 68, Mary Denise Fitzgerald 90, Becky Martin 104, Shirley Perrett 111, Victoria Gow 128, Clair Bailey 136, Carolyn Wickham 154.
Emma Doven and Richard Sheppard sportingly acted as tail runner marshals.
Race director, Craig Tate-Grimes thanked all those who gave up their time to help, as without this the race could not go ahead. Jacquie Browne, social secretary, co-ordinated the many volunteers who made the piles of cakes, sandwiches and endless hot drinks for the hungry runners. Kathy Brown and Cyra Parkes took on the onerous task of producing the team results.