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Weekly Update - 22nd Nov. 2023

London Cross Country Championships, Parliament Hill (Sat. 18th Nov.)

Holly Dixon - London 2023 Cross Country Champion

After our visit to the site of a Turner painting at Somerhill, London cross country was at Parliament Hill, writes Rose Baker. I have no idea why the Government has an art collection in government buildings where most people can’t see them; so here for everyone is Carline’s “London from Parliament Hill, Hampstead” just before Holly Dixon popped over the top of the hill in a fabulous lead.

The hills were a challenge, both up and down – kudos to Steph for coming down that hill at pace in trail shoes. A team of 18 more Cambridge Harriers ladies followed Holly home in the muddiest run I ever did at Parliament Hill. We had no journey mishaps, with 13 of us getting there together in the sort of unruly group on a train that other passengers avoid (even before the mud). Angela was glad to have her spikes this time! Not as impressive as the men’s mud, a picture is worth a thousand words (or the 300 I’m limited to) so here is our “after” picture. We would have been more muddy but had the luxury of a shorter course than Kent League (hooray!).

Making up the team were Holly Dixon, Chris Bond, Sue Dixon, Sally Carr, Stephanie Dungate, Angela Ford, Marian Hine, Georgia Huddleston, Sophie Johnson, Christine Lutsch, Maria MacDonald (enough mud even for Maria), Hayley Newman, Jo Parke, Katie Sanders (I have your brolly), Jo Barber, Rupa Ganguli on her debut at Parliament Hill and Maggie Illingworth. Well done everyone!

Women's results can be viewed here

It was team bronze for the senior men at the London Championships at Parliament Hill this year, writes Clem Dixon. Scoring is for teams of four at this one: Tom Brooke had another strong run for 17th place as did Bobby Babaker (24th) thanks to making a more appropriate choice of spike length this time (the longer the better on this course). Dean Lacy and Arthur Roux had a good battle all the way round with Dean opening up a sizable gap at one point but finally losing out to Arthur in a sprint finish, those two were 32nd and 33rd giving a team score of 106, narrowly behind second place Dulwich Runners on 95. Local club London Heathside were comfortable winners on 37.

Bronze team medallists: Tom Brooke - Bobby Babaker - Dean Lacy - Arthur Roux

In all a record breaking 23 from the club answered the call of the hallowed mud, perhaps encouraged by the fact that the Southern Championships seem to have permanently decamped to Beckenham these days which means that other than in years when it is the turn of the South to host the Nationals, the London Championships are the only opportunity that most get to race at this, the most iconic of cross country venues. In addition to the usual regulars we welcomed new member Jonathan Sargent and we welcomed back Lewis Baker after a five year absence, he promised not to leave it another five years before next getting his club vest muddy.

Ben Rew - John Sargent - Stephen Thompson - Luke Ford

Geoffrey Smith - Martin Leat - David Reader

Men's results can be viewed here

As in previous years, the London Youth Games, in which juniors compete for their boroughs rather than for their clubs or schools, were to be held during the morning before the seniors' races. Unfortunately this event was cancelled due to the weather, and not until late the previous evening, a decision that disappointed many, angered a few, and bemused everyone, especially when the forecast heavy rain turned out to be no more than a light drizzle. The organisers cited concerns for the "safety and experience" of the competitors as being central to their decision making but surely if rain and mud are no longer thought to be compatible with cross country running then that is the end of the sport as we know it? Whatever the rights and wrongs of the matter the absence of the juniors gave the event a more low key atmosphere, it also meant that the course had not been churned up by hundreds of little feet by the time the seniors got to run, but with all the rain that had fallen over the preceding days there was no shortage of mud and standing water to cope with.

Surrey Walking Club Open Track Walks, Tonbridge (Sat. 18th Nov.)

Held in damp blustery conditions on the exposed Tonbridge School track, the event incorporated the Southern Area championships over 5000 metres. Hannah Hopper (U23), who was still suffering the effects of a heavy cold, finished in fifth place overall in the mixed race and first senior women, taking the area title in 25:49.9s. Luc Legon (2nd claim) claimed silver in the men's championship in 23:40.3s. Mark Ashby (M60) finished as seventh senior man in a season's best of 32:33.5s.

Brighton 10k (Sun. 19th Nov.)

This years Brighton 10k doubled as one of five qualification races for the 2024 England Athletics Masters Representative International race which is to held within the Great Birmingham Run in May next year. In blustery conditions Julie Backley finished in 331st place and 44th women, clocking 41:40, but more importantly she finished third W50 and well inside the qualification time of 45:30, thereby earning selection for the England Athletics Masters team.

St Neots Half Marathon, St Neots, Cambridgeshire (Sun. 19th Nov.)

Tom Loia travelled to Cambridgeshire for the St Neots Riverside Half-Marathon where he finished in 123rd place in a time of 1:30:15.

Run London Victoria Park 10k, Hackney (Sun. 19th Nov.)

Lucy Foreman crossed the finish line in sixth place overall, winning the women's race by over six minutes with a time of 38:52.


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