With an early crisp frost on the ground and blue skies, a team of 46 Haslemere border athletes headed for Alice Holt Forest for the second of the Southern Cross-Country League fixtures.

The course takes runners through a mixed terrain of gravel tracks, forests, muddy trails, plenty of hills, a stream crossing and finally a hill sprint to the finish line.

With more than 450 runners representing 23 teams across the region, the Haslemere team accounted for ten per cent of the runners – an excellent turnout and representation for the club.

Making his first appearance in this season’s cross-country, Luke Brocks bought the men’s team home and with gritty determination finished in eighth place. Just behind in tenth place came James Turner.

Mark Williams and Daniel Allaway made up the final men’s scoring placings, finishing in 24th and 32nd place respectively.

They were followed by Tom Owen, who represented the club for the first time in 44th place. Alistair Rose finished 76th, and Lawrie Baker finished strongly to finish 128th and hold off fellow club member Marco DeCaprio in 130th.

Hot on Marco’s heels was Tim Wishaw in 133rd place.

Richard Spandley finished in 175th place, with Steve Taylor 182nd and Stephen Sutton 196th. Nigel Byrnes managed to hold off Paul Fleming on the hill finish to secure 204th place, with Paul in 206th.

Next came the cross-country team captain Steve Pendegrass in 223rd place, with Steve King 236th.

A close battle between the next three club members saw Greg Reed (252nd) hold of Dave Bateman (254th) and Peter Varnes (256th).

Next home for the men was Pete Surma in 267th place, who could be excused for looking a little weary having taken part in the Southampton 10km race earlier in the day before heading to Alice Holt for the cross-country.

Making up the final two places in the men’s team was Hervey Breese in 274th place and Andrew Gregory in 275th.

First home for the ladies was Christina Archer in 16th place, followed by Philomel Bennett – who thrives on a hill finish and duly sprinted to the finish line to secure 22nd place. Close behind came Tania Corrigan in 25th, with the final scoring place going to Laurel Bray in 29th.

Amy Arthur finished 34th in her first cross country race, and Libby Soper did extremely well to finish 44th.

Izzy Peters finished 61st, with Sam Walker 76th, Beth Sutton 79th, Rachel Sully 94th, Sophie Stevenson 98th and Karen Dixon 118th. Rita Smalley – who had prepared for the cross-country season with mud volleyball while in Finland – made light work of the mud fest out on the course and finished 126th. Tina Laing finished 164th, Karen Sinclair ran superbly to finish 189th having only just recovered from a broken ankle and Lorraine Herring finished 192nd.

Rena Tribe finished 193rd in her first cross country. The final four members closely followed each other, with Emma Bowler 203rd, Suzy O’Rourke 204th, Janet Govan 205th and Emma Moore 206th.

With the team’s strong performance and many impressive individual performances the Haslemere Border team finished in third place overall.

Ann Varnes & Philomel Bennett