Words by Ethan Kendall
It was a surprisingly warm January afternoon in the sun shine at Beckenham Place Park, South East London for the Southern Cross Country Championships
As the Guildford senior men arrived at the course, they were met with something very out of character for January cross country in the UK – a bone dry course. Previous athletes recommended flats or the smallest possible spike needles available. Alongside the normal pre race prep there was a large number of athletes changing spike sizes and shoes before the start of the race. John Sanderson lending his lucky size 9 needles to Andy CM.
At precisely 2:50 PM the field of 685 runners were let loose onto the course where they would be aiming to complete the 15K as quickly as possible. Starting with a small lap around the start-finish area in order to spread out the field before the narrower parts of the course started. Once the small lap was finished there was then the small matter of completing 4 large laps of the challenging course (Roughly 3.6K per lap)
The course itself was a mixture of rocky trail paths, sharp downhill descents, with a brutal uphill at the backend of the loop. It certainly wasn’t for the faint hearted, as evidenced by the course claiming some early casualties who found the twisting parts of the course especially challenging including the England athlete Daniel Jarvis (Bedford)
During the early stages of the race the leaders stayed as a very compact group aiming to avoid running into the wind as much as possible. The early stages of the race were led by Alexander Lepetre (Highgate Harriers) and Alex Teuton (Southampton)
Heading into the start of the second lap Alex Teuton proceeded to break away from the lead group. This gap looked to be significant but Andy Coley Maud (Guildford), Ben Alcock (Bedford) and Tom Frith (Southend on sea) worked well as a group to gradually close down the gap to roughly 30 metres going onto the 4th and final lap of the course.
During the final lap, Andy Coley Maud closed down on the early leader Alex Teuton and entered first place where he was able to create a 20 metre gap, which proved to be decisive. Entering the home straight, the jubilant crowd were lined up in order to cheer the senior men home. Fortunately for Andy, he was able to hold off a very fast finishing Ben Alcock who was just able to pip Alex Teuton to second place.
The race was undoubtedly one of the most exciting Southern Cross Country races for years with the top 3 separated by just 8 seconds
A huge congratulations to Andy Cole Maud for winning his first Southern Cross Country title since 2017 when he previously won at Parliament Hill representing Highgate Harriers
Andy was joined by 10 other Guildford men who managed to place a very respectable 13th team out of 45 complete teams.
John Sanderson 21st
Another strong showing from John, continuing on from a great performance at the last Surrey League XC. Although running solo for most of the second half of the race John finished in a brilliant 21st.
Tom Foster 57th
After finishing 7th at the South of Thames Championship held at the same venue in December, Tom used his previous experience of the course to finish a fantastic 57th which is a great reward for his consistent training.
Adrien Royer 104th
The award for the most devoted athlete goes to Adrien Royer, who travelled from Edinburgh in order to represent Guildford at Southerns. This was undoubtedly Adrien’s best cross country performance to date.
James Adams 244th
James continued on from his fine run at the Surrey Champs with another good performance on a similarly challenging course.
David Williams (353), Terry Booth (387) and Robin Booth (395)
The next collection of Guildford runners were separated by just over a minute. David Williams, fresh from his second in the 3000m at the British Masters Indoor Championship last weekend, quintupled his distance and changed terrain in order to continue to show his improvements over XC this year. Terry Booth and David Williams had a strong battle throughout the race, Terry once again representing the club for what must be getting close to the 200th time in the last few years. His level of commitment to the club is simply incredible. Robin Boom showed significant improvements from his last Southern Cross Country Championship appearance and finished a very respectable 395th.
The final athletes who competed for Guildford this weekend were Peter Wootton (524) and Brian O’ Kane (660) who both showed their continued improvement with strong performances.
In the U20m race, one second claim Guildford athlete featured. Ethan Kendall finished in a very respectable 59th place in a competitive race. A reward for his improvements in training over the last month.
Full results here
Best of luck to all those running at the final Surrey League Cross Country on the 19th of February.