On Saturday afternoon, while the TWH women were at Swanley, 15 Harrier men took part in the first of two South of the Thames XC races at Beckenham Place Park. Historically known as the Junior Teams race (junior because of the distance, not because of the age of the participants), men and women run together (but are scored separately) over the same 5 mile (8 km) course.
At one square kilometre in size, Beckenham Place Park is the largest park in south east London and provides an oasis of tranquility in this very busy part of the capital. It has also featured many cross country races over the years.
It was a cold but lovely afternoon with clear blue sky and sunshine and, apart from a handful of dog walkers, we had the entire park all to ourselves.
The race stated at the bottom of the hill beyond the Mansion. Nearly 300 runners representing all the big London clubs, as well as clubs from as far afield as Aldershot lined up for the briefing before the gun was fired and the uphill stampede began. After reaching the south west gate we crossed over the entrance drive to start the first of two large, twisty laps, before finishing a short distance from the south west gate.
The constantly undulating course took in mostly open parkland but also some of the woodland near the Stumps Hill Pond, opposite the Mansion. The ground was soft but not overly muddy and on some of the north facing slopes the heavy frost from the previous night was still visible.
Men’s and women’s teams were made up of four runners based on finish order, but unlike the Kent League, with no limit on the number of teams allowed per club. TWH managed to field three teams finishing 24th/37, 34th/37 and 37th/37. We also scored in the 8-to-score competition, finishing 10th/10.
Our first team of four consisted of Alex Holmes, James Sarre, Ken MacSporran and Robin Barwick.
Kannan and Robin kindly provided home made cake afterwards which was well recieved by everyone. We then retired to the Jolly Woodman in Beckenham for a well earned pint before heading home.
Consolidated Harrier results (provisional) and team photo attached.
TWH Men’s XC Captain