SXCL The Bourne, Farnham

Farnham Runners group before start of 2019 SXCL race at The Bourne, Farnham

Start of 2019 SXCL race at The Bourne, Farnham

After heavy overnight rain, the weather forecast was good for the third round of the Southern Cross-Country League, hosted by Farnham Runners and over 450 turned out from all over Hampshire for some pre-Christmas exercise in the woods. A light shower beforehand gave way to sunshine for much of the race and, with underlying sand, much of the surface water had drained away, just leaving some puddles for runners either to choose to battle through or skirt around.

After a wide flat start soon the first steep downhill had to be negotiated, followed by a steep uphill. A flat section mid-way through the 4.8 mile course was followed by some challenging hills which needed to be attacked for the best results.

All runners gave their all to finish in the best possible time and position for them, though only the first five men and first three ladies score for their clubs. All standards of runner except the very fastest racers are welcomed into the league and enjoyed the spread of sandwiches, cakes and hot drinks afterwards, provided by the Farnham Runners and organised by their chairman, Jacquie Browne.

A huge number of members, relations and friends gave up their time to help in the preparations, including marking out the course in advance and marshalling on the day.

Race director Craig Tate-Grimes warned of the usual dangers of cross country running before a stampede of runners set off.

First runner back was Leo Maliphant of Farnham Triathlon Club, followed by Damon Howard of Portsmouth Triathletes and then Paul Mitchinson of Victory AC.

For the ladies, Hook Runners’ Dawn Hunt was first, with Havant AC’s Corin Bearpark second and Basingstoke and Mid Hants AC’s Becca Sleap third.

With a large trophy to be presented at the final race, the top teams are in fierce competition. With their men’s team second and their ladies’ joint first along with Havant AC, Basingstoke and Mid Hants AC came out on top. Their men’s team first, Farnham Triathlon Club placed second overall.

Farnham Runners gained a season’s best third place overall when men’s and ladies’ team placings were totalled, with the ladies fourth and the men sixth, a relatively even score that benefitted the combined team.

Not at full strength but making an excellent effort first for Farnham Runners was James Clarke in 9th place. Andy McCall came a fine 29th, followed by a “back from retirement” (his words!) Charles Ashby in a very useful 48th. Results co-ordinator Neil Ambrose placed 53rd and Colin Addison made a very helpful contribution to the scoring team in 64th.

Kayleigh Copeland was delighted to lead in a strong ladies’ team in 11th, with Emma Pearson and Gabriella Hitchcock battling for second and third team slots, crossing the line in 15th and 16th places respectively. Billy McCulloch in 34th, Linda Tyler in 35th, Sue Taylor 44th and Lindsay Bamford 47th had all sportingly offered to marshal but were given the chance to race at the last minute as more volunteers took on their roles.

Other Farnham Runners placings:

Men: Tim Cummins 87, John Phillips 93, John Hill-Venning 104, Tim Farrant 109, Tom Geyton 112, Terry Copeland 116, Chris Cramp 120, Steve Bailey 121, Justin Clarke 125, Damian Probett 156, James Goodwin 168, Adam Harrison 177, Andy Brown 203, Clive Frostick 211, Howard Inns 221, Jonathan Salomon 243.

Ladies: Cayleigh Smith 63, Jane Georghiou 70, Kay Copeland 75, Marisa Lutrell 76, Catherine Timson 96, Kate Townsend 112, Alison Yearsley 120, Penny Schnabel 121, Clair Bailey 137, Sue McKenzie 159, Jackie Wilkinson 160, (Tail runners Gill Iffland, Pauline Hamilton 186/187).