KEEN to get back to competition soon after Christmas, several hundred runners assembled at Lord Wandsworth College at Long Sutton, near Odiham, for the fourth of the six rounds of the season’s Southern Cross-Country League.

Renowned for its mud, this year, with no rain the previous week, the course was relatively dry. This meant calf-deep puddles were only ankle deep and shallower ones were reduced to mud patches. The five-mile course is two laps and includes a steep hill that some chose to walk up, twice.

Lots of exposed tree roots add to the challenge but host club Hart Road Runners had carefully marked them in yellow.

All the Farnham contingent survived, still smiling at the end. The ladies’ team was rewarded with eighth place, the men with ninth, giving an overall tally of joint eighth of the 24 clubs in the league.

Two relative newcomers to the club stormed round to lead in the Farnham teams. Andy McCall placed a fine 27th for the men, while Louise Granell put in an impressive performance as 17th lady.

Charlie Hill-Venning (59th) just got the better of Harvey Wickham (60th) on the last hill to the finish, while not far back Mark Maxwell (66th) and Colin Addison (68th) completed the scoring. Also in good form were Tim Cummins, now with the benefit of trail shoes, in 81st, Neil Ambrose in 82nd, John Phillips in 85th, Phil Barker in 93rd, and Terry Copeland 100th.

Eloise Stradling (33rd) and Linda Tyler (35th) both made an invaluable contribution to the three-strong Farnham ladies’ team, followed by Sue Taylor in 46th, Jane Georghiou in 51st, Sarah McCulloch in 53rd, Lindsay Bamford in 54th, Anne Snelson in 57th, and Kay Copeland in 70th.

Other placings:

Men: Damian Probett 109th, Steve Bailey 130th, Tim Farrant 150th, Justin Clarke 152nd, Craig Tate-Grimes 158th, Terry Steadman 169th, Geoff Brown 184th, David Hay 216th.

Ladies: Helen Bracey 91st, Clair Bailey 110th, Jane Probett 129th, Pauline Hamilton 154th, Sally Lawrence 159th, Catherine Dutt 164th, Jacquie Browne 166th, Carolyn Wickham 168th, Sue McKenzie 170th, Jackie Wilkinson 171st, Kathy Brown 174th.

The previous weekend six Farnham Runners completed the flat Portsmouth coastal marathon, battling windy conditions. No stranger to winning was first lady Sarah Hill in an enviable 3hr 9min 17sec.

Next, Emma Pearson fought off illness for a respectable 3.45.09 and seventh place in her category, F45.

Mike Taylor clocked 3.55.50 while Neil Ambrose recorded 3.56.43 in his third marathon of the year. Craig Tate-Grimes took a massive chunk off his previous best with 4.33.41, sportingly paced by keen marathon runner Linda Tyler whose time was also 4.33.41.