London Cross Country Champs – Parliament Hill – Sat 16 Nov 2013

We sent a squad of seven women to the London Cross Country Championships this year. The largely veteran team acquitted themselves well over the testing course at Parliament Hill, finishing ninth out of the 16 clubs. Fiona Kennedy led the team home, her 14th place representing her best finish for some time. Sarah Richardson (37th) was very strong on the first hill and kept Fiona in her sights for the first lap, improving 15 places on last year.

After an exuberant start, Jane Ruhland settled in to the race and ran consistently, making an excellent debut at the event to come home third for the club in 59th. Christine Meek completed the scoring team in 61st, a couple of places higher than last year. Lynn Wilson continued her remarkable comeback from injury, crossing the line just 40 seconds later in 68th, while Patricia Thomas (84th) had a positive and relaxed run. Gill Morgan (107th), a true veteran of this course, completed the line-up for the women.

This championship hasn’t historically featured in our men’s calendar. With a busy fixture list this autumn, some of the club’s stronger runners opted for a race-free weekend. The team of eight who braved the hills and mud finished 20th of 25 teams. Steve Elson (50th) used the occasion for a safe and steady return to racing after his recent marathon. The consistent veteran Rob Brown (102nd) was next to score. He has a good head-to-head record against Tom Yates but had not succeeded in getting past him on the first two fixtures this season. On this occasion, he overhauled him on the second lap, putting 15 runners between the two of them. Tom finished 118th, but watch this space… Meanwhile, Ian Leslie (212th) continued his recovery from a very serious cycle accident back in October, and just held off a fast-finishing Steve Plested (213th) to grab the final scoring place. Steve looks to be over the virus that hampered his season last year, so we look forward to seeing further improvement in upcoming races. The return of his contemporary Rob Howells (253rd) was another welcome sight, Rob finishing in front of cross-country novices Andy Leung (256th) and Armen Kanikanian (260th). Andy managed to take three runners on the home straight. He and Armen both feel stronger already from their exploits over the mud. Pete Drew was notable this week mainly for his absence.

The next morning, Fiona Kennedy was back in action at the Herbert’s Hole 10k, a challenging multi-terrain run through the Chiltern Hills. Placed third for the first half of the race, she moved into the lead during a tough uphill ascent, and won the women’s race by 15 seconds. This is her third victory in an event she first contested 17 years ago.

Full results here