Victories at Surrey Veterans XC Championships

Men’s and Women’s Team Victories at the Surrey Veterans XC Championships,  Saturday 18/10/2014,  Richmond Park, Petersham.

It was an unusually warm and breezy October afternoon as the small group of athletes established their accustomed spot between Richmond Gate and Sidmouth Wood next to the start of the annual Surrrey Veterans Cross country championship races. The gathering continued to grow in numbers as others went to warm up and do their preparations for the off, warily avoiding a sizeable and grumpy stag deer meandering close to the race start.

Over a hundred of Surrey’s finest Women and sprightly over 60 men veterans gathered to contest a 2 lap, 6 km course. The now necessary safety reminder to tell us this was a cross country race ensued (but failed to mention the bellowing stag still wandering close to the race route) before the group were given the off. The hard earned pecking order was set by the end of the first lap as Herne Hill’s finest chased after Ranelagh’s race winner, Liz Kipling. Mike Mann, in his Dulwich winter outfit, was first to show and on his way to an age category individual 2nd place. Seconds later came the red and black hooped vests in pursuit with Abby Penlington leading them followed in quick succession by Sam Whiting, Steve Knight, and Rebecca Barrow. The three ladies went on to close out the W35 scoring team to be crowned W35 county team champions, magnificent!

Subsequently, Jen Barraclough led an older pack of Harriers across the line in the following order: Mary Setyabole, Bob Healey, Sarah Allen and Sonia Williams. And last, but far from least, additional success for Herne Hill was to come from a fine silver 2nd place for John Garber in the M70 category and a superlative first for Brian Shave still persevering to the finish line in his M80 category. Even though Brian himself admits it nowadays takes him just as long in preparation for a race as to complete it he sets a fine example to any young athlete.

As the racing effectively reached half time, a second pack of M40, and M50 category runners began jostling for position as their 3:00hrs start of the 10km event approached. They sprang off coasting the perimeter of Sidmouth Wood clockwise before disappearing down Sawyer’s Hill and beyond the White House on the first of their two laps. Already spread out as they climbed out from the traverse of Pen Ponds to return to the start, Windmiler’s Keith Macintosh was setting the pace closely followed by a succession of runners vying for the top placings. Herne Hill’s Tom Conlon marginally headed Jon Radcliffe, M45, (and Andy Weir in his THH winter coat) all looking intense as they worked up the climb to maintain their positions and order.

Could Conlon sustain his usual aggressive start which found him leading the M50 race and could marathon-a-week Jon Radcliffe maintain his considerably faster pace for another lap of a mere 10km course? Close behind HHH’s other M50’s chased Conlon with reigning M50 champion Mike Boyle leading Gary Ironmonger and Vic Maughn in further pursuit. The M50 team prize was already conquered and their race became a tussle for which of the individual and 3-man team medals would go to our four M50 HHH race leaders.

It began to drizzle as a seemingly long saw Windmiler’s Macintosh cruise home for overall victory whilst equally impressively Tom Conlon maintained his grip on the M50 race to take gold. Thirty seconds behind, Mike Boyle made an uncharacteristic stumble with less than a mile to go which saw Ironmonger seize the opportunity to take (and hold) second place up the long hill to the finish line. A disconsolate Vic Maughn, clear in fourth place and 20 seconds faster than last year, was left empty handed as was M45 Jon Ratcliffe, who placed a fine seventh overall but agonisingly only fourth M45.

Further solid performances from Ed Barrow, Mark White and both debutants to cross country Andy Simms and Tim Thomas closed out the Herne Hill participation. And the debutants even admitted they enjoyed the experience. (OK, so that was after a couple of pints at a local hostelry at which we had retired for refreshment, race analysis and a bit of banter. A good time had by all.)

Overall placings:
6kms: 1 Liz Kipling (Ranelagh) 24m-15s; 17 Abby Penlington (W35) 26m-35s; 23 Sam Whiting (W35) 27-05; 26 Steve Knight (M60) 27m-11; 29 Rebecca Barrow (W40) 27m-22s; 55 Jen Barraclough (W35) 29m-58s; 58 Mary Setyabole (W45) 30m-28s; 65 Bob Healey (M60) 31m-02s; 69 Sarah Allen (W50) 31m-16s; 79 John Garber (M70) 32m-56s; 83 Sonia Williams (W50) 33m-54s; 102 Brian Shave (M80) 43m-01s.   104 finishers.

10kms: 1 Keith Macintosh (W Windmilers) 36m-07s; 5 Tom Conlon (M50) 36m-53s; 7 Jonathon Radcliffe (M45) 37m-12s; 9 Gary Ironmonger (M50) 37m-25s, 10 Mike Boyle (M50) 37m-28s; 15 Vic Maughn (M50) 38m-17s; 25 Ed Barrow (M45) 40m-17s; 38 Mark White (M40) 42m-20s; 45 Andy Simms (M45) 43m-07s; 58 Tim Thomas (M55) 45m-42s. 78 finishers.

Valdis Pauzers, HHH Veterans Secretary.