South of The Thames Cross Country and BMAF 5K Championships

20 January 2024

South of Thames 5m XC Team ‘Junior’ Race – Beckenham Place Park – Saturday 25th November 2023.

Eight G’s raced in cold but relatively dry conditions on Saturday at Beckenham Place Park. Before 2016 Beckenham Park was unfamiliar to us and on that occasion it was the South of Thames’ Championship course which is 12k. In 2017 the South of Thames Cross Country Association returned to the venue for their five mile race (formally known as the ‘Junior’ race). Since then the five mile course consisting of two 2.5mile laps has become a regular fixture on the Surrey League Cross Country calendar and those who competed at the Division 1 match there in January 23 were pleased to record a considerably quicker time on this occasion by comparison. The course in January had been exceptionally muddy, waterlogged and unforgiving. 

On Saturday Callum Job was first home for G&G placing a very commendable ninth to separate Kent AC’s Owen Hind and Ollie Garrod of Belgrave Harriers. Callum has had a strong year notably on the back of his 2hr 25mins London Marathon performance in April. Another strong performer this year and next home in 38th place was Nick Tearle (m50-1) who finished top in the m50 age group and then Terry Booth (m55) in 66th. Four were required to close the 4-to-score team and Ian Davies (m50) was next home in 89th place. In reserve Phil Pryke (m50) finished next for the G’s in a respectable 97th place from 192 finishers in the men’s race.

What is nice about the South of Thames races is that the men and women run together with each race separately scored. The G’s had three ladies out with Rebecca Brennan (w45-2) home first for the Club in 36th place. Lourdes Perez-Barragan was next home in 43rd and Beth Davies (w50) who finished very strongly, crossing the finishing line in 68th position. 
The men placed 7th of 16 in the 4-to-score team race.   

South of Thames 12k XC Championship ‘Senior’ Race – Lloyd Park, Croydon – Saturday 16th December 2023.

To complete the year a few G’s travelled to Lloyd Park for the South of Thames Cross Country Association’s Championship race. Last season at Aldershot our Senior Men recorded their best result ever at this event, when they were runners-up in both the 6-to-score and 12-to-score team competitions. Prior to this and despite the very long history of the event dating back to the 1880’s – the G’s had been on the podium only once before – in 2001.

The team record would not be improved on this occasion as the G’s were only eight strong. Nevertheless, there were some excellent individual performances on the day. Conditions were decent for racing. The playing fields were reasonably dry and firm with muddy conditions only encountered on the first climb and at the back of the course.       

Nick Lightfoot embraced the conditions in his first race at this venue to cross the line in 46th place. Remarkably Nick was only one place ahead Georgie Bruinvels who was the first women finisher. This was a superb result for Georgie competing for her first claim club Aldershot, Farnham & District. She also competes for the G’s in the Surrey League on a second claim basis. 

Next home for the G’s in 54th was Nick Tearle (m50-2) who was denied the m50 crown only by a very fast run by Simon Coombes of Herne Hill Harriers. Mark Tennyson (m60-1) was next home in 72nd and was awarded the m60 title finishing a full minute ahead of Matthew Stone of home club Striders of Croydon. Philip Pryke (m50) had a decent race, recording a 110th place finish and then Ian Davies did extremely well to cross the line in 119th having battled with a sore foot during the race. The 6-to-score competition for the G’s was closed by Dan Milton (m40) – in his first team finish for the club – with a 149th place finish. Peter Wootton (m50) was next for the G’s in 171st place from 201 finishers. 

We had one representative in the women’s race with Rebecca Brennan (w40) recording a respectable 36th place from 62 finishers. 
The men finished 11th from 17 in the 6-to-score team event.

BMAF 5k Championships – Battersea Park – Sunday 3rd December 2023.

Nick Tearle ran a huge 5k PB on Sunday morning but incredibly missed out on an individual medal. However, his run was rewarded with an m35-44 team medal; despite Nick being m50.

On a cold and damp morning that was marginally ‘warmer’ than the freezing temperatures of the previous days, Veterans Athletic Club hosted the 5k event for the second time in little over a year. Last December Vets AC stepped in to host, after the race was cancelled at its regular home in Horwich. 

The sold out entry of circa 260 runners, resulted in the field being split by gender and age group to form two waves – Men 35-64 in wave one and all Women and Men 65+ in wave two. Teh waves were separated by a period of two minutes. 

Nick Tearle (m50-4) was first to cross the line for the G’s in 19th position overall in a quick time of 16:22 (PB). Luke Bishop (m35-15) was next for the Club in 49th also recording a PB with a splendid time of 17:21. Mike Garnett (m40-15) also ran very well stopping the clock on 18:02 in 72nd place. 

The G’s men’s entry included only one runner per each five year age band from m35 to m60 and with three-to-score required for a team, we expected to fall short by one each time. Teams are grouped in ten year bands starting from m35 with Luke and Mike counting for the m35-44 team. However, as mentioned above Nick also counted for the team. This was because the event rules permitted an athlete to ‘down age’. Thus on this occasion Nick effectively counted as an m40 in the team event and this resulted in a Silver team medal for these three based on their cumulative finish times. 

The G’s had one other runner in the m35-60 race – Mark Tennyson (m60-2) who ran well for a 55th place finish in a time of 17:35 which was sufficient for an individual Silver medal in the m60 category.

Teams – M35-44 Performance

1 – Guernsey AC 51:26

2 – Guildford & Godalming AC 51:50

3 – Southampton AC 52:08