Last season’s XC finished at Parliament Hill with the wettest race I have ever had the pleasure to compete in. Swanley Park started the 2014 season in the same fashion, with a very wet week and overnight storms combined to a torrential downpour during the U20 women’s race. With a drenched team, kit and flag, a number of the team then joined us having sheltered in the car park while we set up for them, drawn out by the sunlight.
Needless to say, the course was eventful, with bollards and slippery slopes causing a number of falls in both the senior men’s and women’s races. Mud was king, but it did make it fun on the new, slightly longer course. 27 harriers competed across the 2 events, with a big showing from Blackheath and Bromley changing up the field this year.
The ladies 5k had some national-level ladies competing, with commanding leads for the Clay sisters throughout the 105 strong field, identical to 2013. A new challenger from B&B pushed captain Alice Heather-Hayes into 2nd F35 and 9th overall, followed by Pru Clements as 2nd F40 in 19th and Jeanette White making the 3 to score in 22nd.
The 6 to score was made up by Jillian Holford (31st), co-captain Lesley Mercer (40th) and Carol Tsang (48th). Finishing the ladies was new member Emma Perry (53rd) in her first introduction to the best and worst XC conditions have to offer. The ladies teams finished 4th/16 and 3rd/10 in the 3 and 6 to score categories.
The V70 (now actually V75) men’s race also ran alongside, with 2 competing and as usual both harriers. Eric Schofield returned to take 1st, followed by Bryon “Spud” Taylor. It was also good to see a return for (now) F75 Jeanette Giles of Istead & Ifield Harriers, 2 seconds behind Spud!
The senior men’s 10k had a slightly smaller field of 182 this year, with another disappointing Australian overtake for myself despite my marathon training and race strategy (but thankfully no slap-happy antics this year). A stunning performance saw the harriers home, with chairman Andy Howey taking 1st M50 in an astounding 38th place. The 4 to score followed Andy with Sam Begg (45th), Christopher Wolton (51st) and Matthew Clements (67th) following his performances from last year.
The 12 to score (or ‘duodec’) was finished by of myself Edward Steele (72nd), Lloyd Collier (76th and not his first race here), Andy Joad (86th) in a strong pre-marathon appearance, Matthew Clark (100th), Simon Howden (113rd), Casper Morris (120th), Michael Tull (121st) and Mark Taylor (139th and 2nd M60). It was also first time out for Andy Page (152nd) and Andrew Boorman (168th).
The men’s team finished 7th/15 and 6th/7 in the 4 and 12 to score categories.
Thanks to Pete and Bob for their support and to Simon Holford as chief photographer (photos up soon), special thanks to everyone encouraging Matt to overtake me on the final lap. Great to see a few new faces as always, XC can be a daunting event but very rewarding and great training over the winter. As in 2013, the White Hart in Sevenoaks provided post-race refreshment, as did a number of other venues in the evening for a select few.
The next race is in two weeks on the 26th October at Somerhill School in Tonbridge, I hope to see you there.
Over 70s Results
A final congratulations to everyone at Ashford today, especially those that did both events.