HHH Shine at the Surrey Vets XC Champs 09-10-2021.

Surrey Veterans Cross Country Championships, Nonsuch Park, Cheam 09-10-2021.
The hastily revised venue for the Surrey Masters XC Championships of Nonsuch Park saved the day for veteran racers and what a glorious, sunny, balmy October day it turned out to be in terms of conditions and Herne Hill Harriers’ involvement. (How on earth Merton double-booked the original venue will remain a mystery within the money grabbing realms of their council coffers.) The barely undulating grassy fields and woodland of Nonsuch Park were marked out to provide us oldies a new competition course, a backdrop view of the grand Nonsuch Mansion along with its associated conveniences. ..
Twenty four HHH athletes toed the line, ranging from just turned 40 Tony MacDowall to a born again to race 72 y.o. club coach Steve Knight split between the two races. This represented over 10% of the 230 finishers, so the already the numbers racing including several new veteran faces defined the event a club success!
First off, over two of the 3.1km course were the Women and Men 60+. Our top M60’s immediately made an impact with Tom Conlon and Mike Boyle within the leading pack from the start. Close behind Tony Harran and Mark Bebbington settled into a good packing formation also at the sharp end of the race. Towards the finish fitness over-ruled desire with Mike Boyle overall 2nd M60, Tom C 5th, Tony H 6th whilst forcing a gap over newcomer Mark B whose excellent 7th place and 4th scorer lost out on those M60 team Gold medals, yet promises much for future competitions. Further down the field, the HHH women led home by Mary Setyabule (7th W50) followed by Silver team medalists at W35 Annes Stevens (4th), Jess Winfield (7th) and Sam Whiting (M40 10th) to ensure HHH women were not left empty handed at the presentation. Not far behind Alex Marginean (W35 8th), new to XC, was experiencing the trials of a finish line which would just not come fast enough as her earlier pace declined but thankfully managed enough to avoid Waldy Pauzers (M65 7th) catching her. Sarah Allen (W55 12th) pipped Gillian Wheedon (W60 6th) by a few seconds as Gillian somehow took a wrong turn near the end of the second lap. Ian Strong (M60 24th) and Steve Knight (M70 3rd) commendably closed out the fine spread of Red & Black Hoops.
The sun seemed to shine stronger, the warm still air held onto a summery scent as the 14:45hrs three lap M40, M50, 9.3km kicked off. Vestiges of true cross-country lay in the mud churned up by earlier footfall and shadowed by the treeline around the far end of the course. Once again, two HHH figures were shadowing the eventual winner, Walton’s M40 Duncan Woolmer, at the head of the field with a wedge of runners ever extending from that arrowhead. Andrew Perfect, a new XC racer and fresh (! ?) from his previous week’s London Marathon 2hrs 39min efforts cut the chase winning his M45 individual category drawing away from our own Ben Paviour in M45 2nd place over the last lap. The M40-49 team was not to be outdone, Ben Millar, not only gained yet another individual M40 3rd spot Bronze medal but closed out that M40 team for more team Gold medals! Poor Paul Calver, seven seconds behind Ben, agonisingly missed out on medals but showed his mettle in his rejuvenated re-introduction to cross country. Even closer, and 3 seconds behind came Robin Jones (M45 8th) who had (don’t ask me why!) already run close to 10 miles before he started his race that day. The close packing of the RnB Hoops continued impressively with James Cooper (M45 9th) and Mohammed Haile (M50 5th) less than 30 seconds behind Robin. Duncan Rimmer (M45 30th) and marathoned-out youngster, for this field, Tony MacDowall (M40 14th) closing our nine athletes in this race.
Welcome to the newcomers to Vets competition and Vets XC. Thanks to long-termers that persist. We showed we are not just a good team but a full compliment of earnest club athletes proudly showing our allegiance, mutual support and enjoyment of the sport in the best way we can. A great introduction to XC after also missing a whole season, but cannot and don’t expect to see such a benign course and glorious weather conditions in the races in which, I hope, we are all eager to continue our XC and Veterans adventure.
Enjoy, Well done to All,
Waldy Pauzers,
Vets Team Manager.