South of the Thames XC Champs – Race Report

On Saturday 12 Harriers made the slightly torturous journey down to Aldershot for the South of the Thames XC Championships.  Conditions were cold but dry and very soft underfoot.

Everyone runs together at the SoTT races but men and women are scored separately. The race started with 1 3/4 laps of an open grassy area to disperse the field before heading into woodland for the first of 3 large laps.  Host club Aldershot, Farnham & District, had done an excellent job setting the course which was a mix of open ground, single track, bog, and technical twisty-turny bits with several ups and downs. The course turned out to be slightly shorter than the advertised 7.5 miles but nobody was complaining 🙂

First Harrier home, and running his debut race in a Harriers Deckchair, was newbie Matt Ferris. Simon Howden, Nick, Neil, Collin, and Mike followed to make up the six to score. Jillian, who spent the entire race snapping at Mike Russell’s heels, was first lady Harrier, followed by Claire, Ilona, and Carol.

Special mention should be given to Simon Howden and Carol Tsang who made it to the start despite a late night/early morning of corporate festive exuberance in London the previous night and who had had very little sleep.

It was also great to see Claire and Ilona taking on their first XC race on a longer, more challenging course than the usual 5k Kent Athletics Ladies races.  It was good to see Adrian Paisey back racing again too.

There were 229 finishers (160 men and 69 women).

Overall  Men  Women Name Time
1 1 John Gilbert (Kent) 36:58
57 1 Sophie Harrie (Belgrave) 42:31
99 92 Matt Ferris 46:54
113 103 Simon Howden 48:20
121 109 Nick Reynolds 48:56
127 114 Neil Clark 49:56
138 120 Collin Timmins 50:58
163 135 Mike Russell 53:05
164 28 Jillian Holford 53:13
176 142 Simon Holford 54:42
197 149 Adrian Paisey 58:20
203 50 Claire O’Neill 59:05
217 60 Ilona Grzybacz 62:23
221 63 Carol Tsang 66:06

In the Men’s 6-to-score TWH scored 15 out of 18 teams. Unfortunately we were two ladies short of a team so they didn’t score.

Thanks to Ed Steele and Claire’s friend Will for supporting and shouting words of (mostly) encouragement.  The aprés baking was to the usual high standard and Ed’s double chocolate tray bake, which could best be described as a Weight Watchers worst nightmare, was devoured with much enthusiasm.

Possibly a new club record was set as not a single Harrier had any urge to seek out a local hostelry after the race!

Full provisional results attached.  Ed’s photos can be found here:

This was my last race as acting captain as Ed is now back in action.  Thanks to everyone who has turned out for XC so far this season. Hope to see lots of you for more muddy action after the Christmas break.


Simon Holford

Acting XC Captain (retired.)



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