SXCL Polecat Alley, Brighton Half Marathon, National Cross Country Championships and Southern Counties Veterans Athletics Club races

SXCL Polecat Alley

For the third year Haslemere Border Athletics Club hosted the final event of the Southern Cross-Country League, with race headquarters at the Royal School. Challenging ascents cannot be avoided in the steep terrain of the Devil’s Punchbowl and Hindhead Common. Runners were warned in advance to anticipate mud but the route had dried out after a week without rain. Forecasts predicted temperatures of zero degrees, feeling like minus six, but brilliant sunshine made it seem a lot warmer.

The start was over rough stones, more difficult when runners are close-packed and cannot see far ahead. The long ascents made the route one of the more challenging of the series, with many competitors not ashamed to walking up some of the steeper sections.

After the penultimate race Farnham Runners lay seventh of the 24 clubs, down on recent years, including 2016-17 when they finished joint third. On the day the men came seventh and the ladies eighth, giving an overall tally of eighth. This kept them seventh overall for the series.

Matthew Morgan was an asset to the team, heading the Farnham men in 38th place. Men’s cross-country captain Matt Dellar was on his heels in 41st, with ultra-runner, Stuart Haig 45th. The ever-improving Harvey Wickham took 50th tag, while Colin Addison completed the scoring in 64th. Tim Cummins provided competent back-up in 66th.

For the ladies Eloise Stradling was a key player as usual in 22nd, with Emma Russ making the race part of her marathon training in 27th. Lindsay Bamford and Linda Tyler in 33rd and 39th respectively confounded expectations with their excellent placings after the gruelling National Cross country race the day before, Lindsay just edging Linda out of the scoring team. Not too far back were Jane Georghiou 50th and Tara Hunt 60th.

Other placings, Men: Haywood Drake 105, Chris Cramp 106, Damian Probett 129, Geoff Brown 133, Craig Tate-Grimes 156. Ladies: Clair Bailey 83, Kay Copeland 84, Jackie Wilkinson 121, Susan MacKenzie 127.

Brighton Half Marathon

On the same day Sarah Hill finished second lady and first F40 in the Brighton Half Marathon in the excellent time of 1:19:47.

National Cross Country Championships

The previous day, four intrepid ladies flew the flag for Farnham Runners at the National Cross Country Championships held at the iconic venue of Parliament Hill. Renowned for its extensive mud, one section resembling a swamp, as well as steep ascents, this is a challenge with no respite. Competitors travel from all over England to take part and the Farnham ladies were pleased to finish a creditable 72nd of 112 teams in their 8km race.

All four are in training for Spring marathons and were thankful of brilliant sunshine though temperatures were chilly.

Charlotte Hanson headed the quartet in a fine 38 minutes 28 seconds, 421st of 1113 finishers. Kayleigh Copeland was just 30 secs off her pace in 39:58 (461st) with Lindsay Bamford in 42:38 (642nd) and Linda Tyler in 45:12 (784th).

Southern Counties Veterans’ Athletics Club races

Sean Smith was the first, as far as is known, Farnham Runners’ member to race at an indoor track. His 2 mins 37.82 seconds for the 800 meters and 5 mins 18:43 for the 1,500, therefore stand as club records. He was third M50 in the 800m and second in the 1,500m in these races at the Lee Valley stadium and he hopes to better these times at the forthcoming British Masters Indoor Championship.