Herne Hill Harriers’ Stacey Ward made a triumphant return to racing on Saturday, winning gold at the South of Thames five-mile cross country championship.
Apart from a couple of parkruns, Ward had not raced competitively since January 2013 when she finished sixth in a Surrey Ladies’ League cross country match at Mitcham Common. But Ward ended an injury-ravaged period with a fine performance at the South of Thames fixture, covering the five-mile route in 31 minutes, 34 seconds.
Ward was the second female finisher behind Georgie Bruinvels, but the Aldershot runner was a non-counting runner at Wimbledon Common, meaning Ward claimed the gold medal. The 29-year-old led a Herne Hill female quartet also comprising Karen Ellison (ninth), Abby Penlington (39th) and Anna Stevens (51st) to fifth in the team event.
A Herne Hill men’s team were also fifth in the four and eight-man competitions. Mike Cummings, finishing in 27.41, led the Harriers charge in tenth, with Alan Barnes (17th), John Kettle (25th) and Jeff Cunningham (27th) closing the four. Jack Hillier was a non-scorer in 40th. The second quartet of Keith Newton (45th), Jonny Muir (51st) Tom Conlon (52nd) and Jonathan Ratcliffe (65th) helped Harriers to fifth eight-man team, as well as finishing 12th four-man team out of 42. C and D teams finished 16th and 30th respectively.