HHH men make Reigate Cross Relays our own yet again as women place 3rd

HHH men yet again claimed the winners medals at the Reigate Priory Cross Country Relays at an event we have very rarely lost in the last decade. The standard may not be up there where it used to be and the clash with the English National Cross Country relays at Mansfield, where HHH were well represented with a team of 4 good men does not help the Reigate organisers, although the women’s race at Reigate appears to suffer less from the latter. But at the end of the day we can only beat who turns up and having been given the previous cup for keeps after winning it so many times we are now making sure our name goes on the new shield on an annual basis.

However this sociable event lives on and HHH will be sure to return with the aim of retaining the shield in 2012, although we will also be looking to send more than one men’s team up to the National race at Mansfield next year. A fine effort all round by our men, Mike Cummings, Brian Wilder, John Kettle and Simon Coombes at Mansfield and Reigate, led by Jonny Henderson and veteran international Keith Newton and a good women’s 3rd place at Reigate spearheaded by our UK youth international Katie Snowden’s fine run on 2nd leg.

Jonny Henderson on the strong opening stage was our only man not to hand over in the lead, such was our dominance, as he passed on to veteran international Keith Newton in 4th place, but within reasonable chasing distance of the leader. Jonny’s time of 14.01 was our team’s best of the day and stood up as the 6th fastest overall of the day, while Keith duly caught the men ahead of him to hand over a slender lead to Sam Knight on 3rd leg. Keith’s fine 14.04 was 7th best of the day and Sam kept us in front at the halfway point with 15.03. Alan Barnes had requested a low key run in our B team after recent injury woes, but with less safety in numbers than our men’s squad usually enjoys Alan was clearly an A team man and stepped up with a stint thst took him 14.12 and the 8th best men’s time of the day.

Our 5th leg man, Eric Dol new to this shorter distance racing game, usually running marathons and longer races than the mere 4k sprint on offer here. But with an expected A team member and then his hoped for replacement both withdrawing on the morning of the race Eric found himself promoted into our first sextet and ran superbly to keep us in the lead with a clocking of 16.34. It was then left to Sarwar Khan to extend our lead back out to almost on the anchor leg despite this being his first race back in action after an end of summer break from training and in these circumstances his time of 14.40 was very decent and more than enough to bring our team home to a comfortable win. Our B team placed 27th of 20 complte teams, with Rupert Mainwaring on the first leg being fastest man in this team with 17.31.

Next up for our HHH men is our Surrey League race at Ham Lands on Saturday 12th November.

Below is an account of the HHH women’s team performance at Reigate from our excellent recent recruit Christie Noble, who anchored our A team to 3rd place.

“Saturday saw my first run in a red and black vest, with two teams of women tackling the scenic Reigate cross country relays. The course was pretty muddy but thankfully the rain stayed away! Karen Ellison led the first team off well, coming in in third place and posting the eighth fastest time of the day. She then handed over to Katie Snowden who had a great run (5th fastest time of the day) to bring us up to first place. Sadly I wasn’t quite able to maintain our lead, but brought the team home in third place overall. The women’s second team of Sarah Allen, Sarah Guest and Rebecca Barrow also ran well to finish in 16th place. It was great to be part of the HHH team and I’m looking forward to the next race. Thanks to Sonia for organising the teams!”.