We didn't think we'd get near the incredible turnout of 43 runners last time, but thanks partly to Andy and his relentless pursuing, and partly to the exceptional team spirit of our club, we did - and more. Fifty runners braved the Bourne Woods today to take on the 23 other teams in the league. It's always nice to do well, but it was especially important today as it was hosted by Farnham Runners, who we have a long-standing, very friendly rivalry with - and obviously we wanted to support our neighbours' race too.
The course wound its way through the very pretty paths and tracks of Bourne Woods. It was muddy enough to be fun, but not enough to hold us up much; unlike the sand of course which made some of the almost vertical (possible slight exaggeration) hills even tougher.
Despite it being our very own Christmas Party Weekend, and for many Christmas Party Week, most of us looked fairly presentable when we assembled at a fairly sociable 9.30am - and some of us (Tom Millns) even admitted that they felt much better having raced.
The 23-strong ladies team was led home by Donna Read in an impressive 9th place, followed by Issy Peters in 13th. Perpetual late-arrival Amy Smith completed the Ladies team in a strong 19th place. Sian Dixon was next in 24th. Nu Martinez-Wallace and Theika Botteril continue to get stronger and came in 37th and 41st respectively. We had a good handful of debut performances too: Tanya Wishaw (170) Maria Novell (164), Loiuse Turner (167), Kathy Browne (158), Anne-Marie Greenway (159), Leona Beattie (157), Clair Wadey (124) and Susie Adams (49). Hopefully they will be back for more very soon.
Philomel Pike is making a good return from injury and finished in 46th. Jules Dellar ran well too, finishing in 54th, followed by Siobhain McCleod in 65th. Lisa Blayden promised she "wasn't going to try very hard" again, but again got caught up in the moment, and finished well in 73rd, with Caroline Searle (78) hot on her heels. Rachel Barlow continues to improve, and continues to finish with a smile, this time in 107th. Janice Worsfold, another returning from injury, had a good race and came in 129th. Annick Hollins raced for us again and looked strong at the end in 147th. Unfortunately Briony Dyer got lost so consequently brought up the rear in 175th - we did locate her again before we went home.
Fantastic results from all the ladies. We finished in 2nd place overall.
The battle for top three men was always going to be an interesting one when we saw Tom Mendum, Dave Taylor and Joe Perkins turn up - and some of us placed bets on what order they would finish. It turned out that Dave led the gents home in an outstanding 2nd place. Next in was Joe Perkins in 4th, followed closely by Tom Mendum in 5th. The men's team was completed by Colin Butfield (running very well at the moment) in 20th and Lawrence Hollom in 21st.
Not far behind was injury-testing Dan Allaway in 29th. Lawrie Baker recovered well enough from the Christmas party to finish in a promising 67th. Debut cross country performances for the men also came from Nick Wishaw (286), John Sanders (266), and Tim Wishaw (209) well done to all of them, they all seemed quite happy at the end and we hope they will be back too.
Richard Lee and Tom Millns finished quite close to each other in 91st and 94th. Charlie Barwick was pleased with 122nd, and Dominic Perkins flew home in 178th, followed by Jonathan Barker in 184th.
Completing the HBAC Men's team were Marco DiCaprio (206), Rupert Hollom (207), Enda Holmes (210), Steve Currie (211), Andrew Wareham (213), Roger Cripps (233), John Dickinson (237), Steve Loveday (242), Seamus Geoghan (246), Bob Monteath (252), Cairon Pearson (263) and Dave Card (286)
Fantastic running from all the men. They also finished in 2nd overall.
The combined men and ladies scores today meant that, incredibly, we came in 1st place overall - by a clear margin too. The formidable Basingstoke and Mid Hants were behind us in joint 2nd with Hart Runners; Farnham Runners completed the top three places in 4th place. Full results can be found here - and sometimes they publish individual results too, so watch that space.
Thanks to Farnham Runners for organising and marshalling such a well-coordinated event - and for the banter; thankyou too, and well done again, to all the runners who came today - every single one makes a difference, wherever you place. Next stop is Lord Wandwsorth College on **Monday** 28th December. Two in the same month, aren't we lucky? It's my personal favourite: an abundance of mud and some really nasty little hills...full details to follow very soon....