Victory 5 and Lord Wandsworth College races, annual Mince Pie Run and Club Handicap

HRRL Victory 5

Farnham Runners group before the 2023 HRRL Victory 5 race

There was a good turn-out of Farnham Runners at the long-established Victory 5 miles, the 77th time this event has been staged. Both the men’s A and B teams achieved an excellent set of results, while the men’s C team and ladies’ A and B teams improved their standing in the 2023-24 Hampshire Road League tables to date. Despite the twisty course, 15 of the 22 Farnham Runners achieved personal best times, five of them racing the 5 mile distance for the first time.

It was a most dismal day, with rain on the way there and on the way back. Fortunately there was a window of dryness before the gun and during the race and most finished before the rain came down again. Although on tarmac paths, there were some muddy corners to negotiate.

In the men’s A team that placed third in division A2 (top on aggregate), were James Clarke in 27:17, James Robinson in a personal best of 27:59, Matt Saker in 28:58 (second M55), and Tony Jones in a PB 32:56.

The B team were all incredibly close in a battle to the line. Ivan Chunnett came in first in a PB 33:29. On his heels was Richard Denby who took an amazing 3 mins from his previous best in 33:30. Justin Clarke was only another second back in 33:31, with Andy Brown next in 33:41. Their efforts were rewarded with a third place in the B2 table, again top on aggregate.

James Goodwin in 35:20, Paul Keogh in 35:36, Chris Allen in 38:25 and Chris Gill in 38:26 comprised the C team, all either getting PBs or racing a 5 mile road race for the first time. This gave them 4th place to lie 5th in the table.

Linda Tyler led in the ladies in a great time of 36:01for third place among the F60s. Candy Waller, Frances Lethbridge (both with PBs) and Bridget Naylor were delighted to be in the A team in 38:27, 39:07 and 40:23 respectively. This A team came 6th of ten clubs in division A1. The B team headed by Jane Georghiou in 41:08 (1st F70) came 4th and lie 7th in table B1. The next five ladies, Meg Grocott in 41:22 Colette Grist in 41:25 and Sandra Hickey in 44:40 for the B team and Penny Schnabel in 45:52 and Julia Tagg in 52:33 all gained PBs or it was their first attempt at the distance.

SXCL Lord Wandsworth College

Farnham Runners group before the 2023 SXCL Lord Wandsworth College cross country race

Two weeks later it was the third of the Southern Cross-Country League events. This was organised by Hart Road Runners at the venue of Lord Wandsworth College, Long Sutton. The weather was kind though mostly dull this year, after atrocious conditions last year. Renowned for its mud, the course was relatively dry with only a few deep puddles that it was quicker to plough straight through and get wet feet.

Thirty–nine Farnham Runners turned out to support the team. Although not able to repeat their victory in both the men’s, ladies’ and overall results of the last round, the club came a very respectable joint 4th overall with men finishing 3rd and ladies 8th.

The scoring team of four men were Joe Collins 5th, Liam McMurray 14th, James Robinson 24th, Chris Cary 30, while Dan Bailey 75th, Sam Angell 77th and Bob Brimicombe 93rd were all in the top 100.

For the ladies team Louise Granell 19th came in first, followed by Linda Tyler 36th, Sue Taylor 38th and Candy Waller 58th. Not far behind were Lindsay Bamford 59th, Sarah Franklin 62nd, Bridget Naylor 71st and Fran Lethbridge 72nd.

Various training and social events

Farnham Runners have also been enjoying their normal full schedule of social events, as well as their training runs and speed sessions.

Farnham Runners group wearing fancy dress before the 2023 Mince Pie Run

Social secretary Clair Bailey planned the traditional fancy dress “Mince Pie Run.” There was a huge turn out with runners kitted out in an array of colourful festive outfits and mulled wine and mince pies were enjoyed at the start and finish. This year the club members, followed the “Reindeer” route of around 4 miles, recording a remarkably accurate shape of a reindeer. The club gave a donation to the charity suggested by the designer of the route.

Club Handicap

Group posing wearing fancy dress before the start of the Farnham Runners 2023 Club Handicap race

On New Year’s Eve, 32 members ran in the annual fancy dress Handicap race, all competing with an equal chance of winning the club Handicap trophy. This year the outfits were particularly impressive.

The first 20 finished within three minutes of each other, and the first five crossed the line within 15 seconds. A jubilant Colette Grist won the battle for first, closely followed by Becky Martin and Linda Tyler. All were presented boxes of chocolates for their efforts.

Terry Steadman was a surprise entrant but a very worthy winner of the fancy dress competition and the first prize chocolates. There were lots of “Barbies” but the attention to detail in the disco costume of Sue Taylor caught the attention of the judges for second, while the hard work of Colin Addison in creating his zebra outfit was rewarded with third.

Drivers couldn’t miss the striking runners’ costumes on the way round and one was very amused by the sight of a turkey (Carolyn Wickham) being chased by a very convincing chef (Nicola O’Connor), whose chopper had to be taken into safe keeping during the run so as not to cause alarm.

Chairman Nicola O’Connor presented all the prizes and thanked all who had helped: Craig Tate-Grimes and Chris Gill who had put up signs along the route, Jane Georghiou aka “Mystic Meg” who along with her crystal ball and crafty algorithms devised the Handicaps, Shirley Perrett and Penny Schnabel who judged the fancy dress and Linda Tyler and Jacquie Browne who had bought and served the refreshments after the run.

See the Photo Gallery 2023 for further photos from these events