Surrey League Croydon and Richmond Park

Hercules Wimbledon win Surrey League 2018/19 in the men’s league while women have best result yet this season in their third fixture at Richmond Park.

Kent AC men third in final fixture but we’re second overall: In addition, Owen Hind is the top finisher over all four league races, and B Team are victorious.  In the women’s league Kent AC finish 9th overall despite injury and illness 

We had to bow to the inevitable and hand over the Championship trophy at the end of this fixture at Lloyd Park, Croydon.  No doubt about it, Hercules Wimbledon have been impressive – they’ve been consistent and competitive.  They won this final fixture with something to spare. However, although we were third in the fixture we were second in the overall standings. As a club we also had plenty to celebrate – not least the fact that after a fine second place, Owen Hind was the individual winner after the four fixtures. His excellent series had seen him place 6th, 2nd, 4th and finally second – very impressive consistency. In addition, on the day, another victory in the B competition saw us come out on top in the B team overall standings.

Once a leading group had splintered on the second lap the race for victory developed into a duel between Owen and Guildford’s John Sanderson. In the end Sanderson ‘s impressive turn of pace on the down hill finish won out. Reflecting afterwards Owen was naturally a bit disappointed not to have actually got a win in the final race. He acknowledged that he had lost out to a talented runner, but still felt it would have rounded things off nicely if he’d have managed a win in the final fixture. Interestingly, though, he felt that his time spent in the States had definitely benefited him in races like this. In effect he felt his period in America had definitely improved his running. And he should certainly be pleased with his season. Owen joins an illustrious group of runners who have been overall Surrey League champions.

Securing a terrific third place behind Owen was John Gilbert. At the Southern’s he’d been a bit further back than we might have anticipated. However, this was typical John – fighting all the way. His run on this course was similar to how he’d run at Mitcham, although there he’d come from a long way back. In this race he was a little off the pace in the early stages but came surging through to take third. He was being hotly pursued by a tight little group on the long down hill but managed to hold them off.

Our third scorer was Dame again, 23rd. It seems that after a bit of a break, the charge to the front of the field is enjoying a come- back. A fortnight ago he gained a bit of notoriety by leading the race up the long drag at Parliament Hill. In this race he again took it out and was at the front of affairs for a little over a mile. Conventional wisdom has it that he should be more cautious at the start. However, there have actually been races where he’s taken a more conservative approach and the end results haven’t actually matched his fast starting races. I guess we should just enjoy the spectacle ( and all bets are off for him taking it on at the National)

With very little between them, our next scorers were Chris Greenwood,28th and Dave Morgan in 30th. Then proving to be a real asset since he joined, Niall Stewart came home in 36th. Employing his customary fast finish Jordan Weaver gained a fair few places to finish in 44th. His finish took him past our next two finishers, Pete Lighting 46th, who just got the better of Alex Dudney, 47th.This has been Alex’s first full season with us and it’s been a very encouraging one. He’s relatively young – certainly compared with some of our long-standing campaigners and hopefully he can keep improving and take some of the weight of some of the regular top finishers. Our tenth scorer for the A team was the proud new dad, Tim Lawrence.  He was just outside the top fifty in 52nd

As mentioned, the final fixture saw us clinch the B team competition. This is an achievement we can be proud of. It demonstrates the strength of our training group and the strong morale in the club. There was some variation for the four fixtures, but the majority of those who were in the B team at Lloyd Park contributed throughout. On the day the B team consisted of Jonathan Tipper 60th, Sean Fitzpatrick 64th, James Bowler 65th, Joe Hartley 66th, Calum Fraser 71st, Neil Phillips 74th, Ben Harding 80th, Ben McGeown 82nd, Stuart Beaney 84th and Ben Cook 90th. Readers will have noticed Stuart got the better of Tim Alexander. It appeared to me that Tim looked a bit off colour. Of course, Stuart would have none of that.  So it looks like it will be the decider at the National.

Post -race we mulled over the season at the nearby Sandilands Cricket and Hockey club bar. We were admonished by the manageress for not letting her know of our visit, but I’m sure she must have been pleased with the bumper takings we must have given the club. Anyway, the tremendous winning streak came to an end as I guess all long runs of success eventually have to. We certainly made a decent fist of things and second in the high standard Surrey League is not something to be sniffed at. We were given food for thought by Hercules Wimbledon. In each fixture we had several top finishers. Unfortunately, we were missing finishers in the teens and low twenties. Can we remedy this for next season?  No doubt it will be exciting to see. For now, though, we can look forward to the National and what I’m sure will be an enjoyable trip to Leeds.

Match Result:

1) HW 198; 2) THH 287; 3) Kent 311 …………..

Final Standings:

1) HW 700; 2) Kent 1029; 3) THH 1251; 4) G&G 1805; 5) HHH 1890;

6) SLH 1972; 7) Bel 2033; 8) Ran 2399; 9) SOC 3301

In the women’s race the day dawned bright but extremely windy. We had a large contingent of Kent AC women in attendance for what turned out to be quite a technical two lap course. The course was an undulating one with a mix of grass, mud, pebbles and tarmac which didn’t bode well for the 12 inch spikes the majority of the women were wearing. With half of the course desperately needing the support of spikes and the other half more suited to trail shoes it was a hard balance to properly race over some of the terrain.

Despite missing some of our regular scorers the women’s team put on a strong performance to finish 9th overall. Fresh from her shiny new 10k PB of 36.50 last weekend at Victoria Park Katie Rowland was first team member home in a strong 13th place against a quality field. She was followed by Teresa Murphy who also had recent success 2 weeks ago winning the Canterbury 10 miler in a brilliant time. For someone who hates hills Teresa doesn’t do badly at them and finished in 29th position. Following on from her was Isabel Bradley who hasn’t been well and has had some foot issues in last few weeks so probably didn’t show all that she was capable of on the day finishing in 43rd position. Fourth scorer was Georgina Wiley in 50th position. Falling and getting spiked 500 metres into the race and almost pulling out halfway with a little pause to check on a team mate I (as the author of the report!) was actually just happy to finish not realising until I finished that I had been spiked and wondering where all the blood was coming from as thought I had just fallen onto my other side. A massive thank you to the Kent AC women and Pete Boxshall for help getting cleaned up and to the hospital. 8 stitches later I have a whole new respect for how sharp XC spikes are and am really appreciative to great team mates. Our 5th scorer was Eliza Grant (51st) who is having a fantastic surge into great form lately with a huge PB in the Vic Park 10k the previous weekend and a great performance at Parliament Hill two weeks ago.

The rest of the finishers on the day were Victoria Buck, Susannah Davies, Joanne Campbell, Susie Fairbrass, Ellie Brown, Abby Clynes, Zoe Gaffan and Annabelle Hadlow.

The women still have one match to go next month in Croydon due to the postponed January meet and as with the men are looking forward now to the nationals in just under 2 weeks.

Surrey League Croydon

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Here are some photos from the Herne Hill photographer: