MISSING some key players, Farnham Runners had to settle for lower scores than in the first three rounds of the Southern Cross-Country League.

The fourth race was hosted by Hart Road Runners at Lord Wandsworth College and entrants were prepared for mud and deep puddles after the snow and rain of the previous week.

The Farnham ladies came ninth and the men tenth out of the 24 clubs, giving them joint tenth place overall. They still lie fifth on aggregate after the fourth of six matches.

The two-lap course of five miles had only one dry section and that was up a steep hill. For the finale, there was a gruelling ascent up two fields of clay that stuck to shoes, making them heavier and heavier, so a huge effort was required to reach the finish line.

But runners of all standards turned out in their hundreds for the New Year’s Eve mud-fest, followed by a convivial lunch.

A trio of newcomers headed the Farnham men’s contingent. Rob Knapp came a fine 33rd in his first race in Farnham colours, with Harvey Wickham 44th and James Bracey 46th, giving a useful boost to the team result.

Stuart Haig enjoyed the mud to finish 61st and Colin Addison was pleased to remain on his feet and take the final scoring place in 64th.

They were followed by Neil Ambrose in 67th, Matt Dellar 70th, Dan Smith 90th and Michael Stephens, another new member, 94th.

The ever-reliable Eloise Stradling, muddier than most by the end, finished an excellent 13th in the ladies’ race. Linda Tyler came 36th, closely tracked by Lindsay Bamford in 38th.

Not too far out of the scoring were Jane Georghiou, 42nd, and Anne Snelson, 54th, followed by Kay Copeland in 74th.

Other Farnham placings: men – Steve Bailey 111, Mike Taylor 121, Tim Farrant 146, Terry Steadman 150, Barney Whiter 156, John Hill-Venning 167, Spencer Barfield 176, Paul Mackie 182, Tim Cummins 199, Damian Probett 209, Ian Loader 230, Richard Sheppard 247; ladies – Kate Townsend 103, Tina Harrison 104, Clair Bailey 106, Georgi Welch 129, Julie Tagg 137, Victoria Gow 139, Chris Chapman 171.