South of England XC Champs – Senior Men
In common with many other regular cross country runners I would pick the Southerns, when it is at Parliament Hill, as my favourite race. The longer distance (15k), the challenging hills, the legendary mud and the sweeping views over the city all contribute to make it a great event. This year the initial charge of a field of over 1000 up the first hill from the start line, like a scene from Braveheart, was as exhilarating as ever but the dry winter meant that although the course would still be classed as muddy by any normal standards it was nowhere near as boggy as it can be.
Dean Lacy was first home for the club, his 16th place indicating a long awaited return to form. David Reader was our only other runner to get in under the hour. Perhaps because of the longer distance there were a few changes to the regulars’ usual finishing positions with Christian Poulton finishing ahead of Tarbo Fukazawa for the first time this season and Clem Dixon doing the same to Graham Maynard. Peter St Amour was our 6th finisher taking the 6 to score team to 34th (from 69 clubs with complete teams).
The organizers had warned that this year results in the senior men’s race would only be recorded for those finishing in under 90 minutes and they were true to their word; this meant that two of our thirteen finishers, Mark Newell and Stanley Thomas went unrecorded. This is an unfortunate innovation; one has sympathy for officials having to stand around in the cold all day but timing here is all electronic so the organizers would only have needed to leave the machine switched on for an extra quarter of an hour and everyone would have been happy. One of the great things about cross country racing which differentiates it from most other sports is that it is wonderfully non-elitist: everyone from the fastest to the slowest pays the same entry fee (or their club does), they toe the same start line and they run through the same mud, so I think that they should all appear in the results.
Peter St Amour