AFTER three of this season’s Southern Cross-Country League races, Farnham Runners lie third out of the 24 clubs.

But it’s very close, with the third to ninth clubs within four points of each other.

The second event was hosted by Farnham Runners at the end of November, on a wintry day, and they welcomed almost 400 runners from the 24 clubs.

Race director Craig Tate-Grimes had arranged with Pierrepont Farm, part of the Countryside Restoration Trust, to rent a field near the Bourne Woods to ensure parking was easy.

Luckily the weather was much better than the day before when high winds and rain could have caused cancellation. With close to zero temperatures forecast, it was chilly before the 11am start but in the sunshine conditions warmed up considerably, thankfully for those from each club tasked with writing out their club’s results!

Craig had devised a new route, much hillier than in previous years though it incorporated some of the old course.

Numbers were only slightly down on 2019 and runners were thankful the event could take place.

The league has five races planned for this season but all are based completely outside with no lunches provided because of Covid-19. Instead a van from The Coffee Can based at the Bourne Green pavilion sold coffee and cakes.

Craig and a small team had set up the course with clear signs the previous day and Craig went round to check it that morning. Many Farnham Runners sportingly gave up their chance to race to marshal and family members and friends also helped. Without them the event could not have gone ahead.

Farnham Runners were pleased to be joint third out of the 24 clubs when both men’s and ladies’ tallies were combined to give the final ranking for this race.

First back was Colin Addison, a fine 26th of the 224 men. Newcomer James Morrish proved to be a very useful member of the team in 45th.

Next came Andrew Ellison, pleased to be racing again in 52nd. Just a few steps back was Stuart Taylor in 53rd, while Neil Ambrose was final scorer in 58th. This team placed seventh. Bob Brimicombe in 68th and Charles Ashby in 82nd also made the top 100.

Only three ladies count for the team and they were Kayleigh Copeland in an impressive eighth of the 157 ladies. Louise Granell had to settle for 15th this time, while Sue Taylor was delighted to make the team in 47th. Not far back were newcomer Sarah Dobinson in 51st and Linda Tyler in 54th. The team placed seventh.

The other Farnham Runners’ placings:

Men: Justin Clarke 104, Chris Raby 120, James Goodwin 126, Terry Copeland 128, Mike Carter 131, Damian Probett 132, Terry Steadman 178, Howard Inns 183, Andy Brown 192, Simon Dobinson 197, Steve Collings 201, Jonathan Salomon 222, Bruce Peto 223.

Ladies: Catherine Timson 60, Bridget Naylor 62, Jane Georghiou 64, Kay Copeland 66, Rebecca Lloyd 70, Kate Townsend 82, Vicky Goodluck 83, Colette Grist 98, Carol Dare 99, Alison Lamb 113, Sally Lawrence 121, Sally Kerr 135, Jackie Wilkinson 140, Alison Yearsley 141, Julia Tagg 149, Tori Shaw 152, Pauline Hamilton 153, Tail runners: Clair Bailey 156, Emma Dawson 157.

Hosted by Hart Road Runners, the third event was at Lord Wandsworth College. The course is renowned for its mud and, even after a week without rain, it didn’t disappoint!

Farnham Runner Hamish Maclean put in an excellent performance to win the race.

He said: “It was a lot of fun! As we massed on the start line, the cold mist obscured what lay ahead of us beyond the playing fields – a technical and hilly course, flint-strewn farm tracks and muddy forest paths.

“By the second lap I’d learnt not to bother to try to skip round the series of enormous puddles, finding it quicker to plough through the middle, hoping not to lose a shoe!

“A group of Basingstoke runners led for most of the way, juggling the lead between them while I tried to conserve energy while staying in touch.

“Leo Maliphant (Farnham Tri) and I worked our way to the front with about a mile to go, then as we struck for home across a muddy field I broke ahead and just managed to hold on.

“It was very satisfying to win a tough race like that and I’m looking forward to the next SCCL race at Chawton House, another great course!”

Thirty-six Farnham Runners completed the challenge in the chilly conditions and all gave their best effort. The men’s and ladies’ teams both came seventh, giving an overall tally of eighth.

Colin Addison (39th), Neil Ambrose (55th), Bob Brimicombe (65th) and Ian Marshall (75th) made it into the team as top five scorers. Justin Clarke (92nd), Terry Copeland (93rd) and Chris Raby (95th) were also in the top 100 finishers.

The three-strong ladies’ team consisted of Louise Granell in a fine eighth, Emma Pearson in 22nd and Sue Taylor in 35th. Not far back were Linda Tyler (42nd) and Sarah Dobinson (45th).

Other Farnham Runners’ placings:

Men: Richard Denby 110, James Goodwin 113, Damian Probett 118, Mike Carter 121, Ivan Chunnett 130, Peter Callow 144, Clive Frostick 162, Simon Dobinson 163, Craig Tate-Grimes 177, Jonathon Salomon 185.

Ladies: Lindsay Bamford 51, Jane Georghiou 59, Kay Copeland 63, Vicky Goodluck 68, Tori Shaw 72, Clair Bailey 80, Becky Martin 81, Kate Townsend 82, Colette Grist 83, Sally Lawrence 99, Jane Probett 106, Nicola O’Connor 112, Carolyn Wickham 113, Jackie Wilkinson 114.

The next event is at Chawton House on January 23.

Jane Georghiou