Surrey League XC – Match 4

19 February 2024

Surrey Cross-Country League Fixture 4 – West Horsley Place – Saturday 10th February 2024

First place for Suzie and the Senior Women at Surrey League finale!

A fantastic day for the G’s who stepped up to host the final Surrey League Cross-Country fixture at the fitting venue West Horsley Place, writes Mark Tennyson. The season opener last October had been staged at Richmond Park and was followed in November by a trip to Mitcham. The third League match moved to Wimbledon Common, before the G’s then offered to host the final fixture. G’s Race Director Dave Williams found a very enthusiastic host in Matt Link, the Estate Manager of the 380 acres at West Horsley Place.

West Horsley Place was once owned by Bamber Gascoigne, who more experienced athletes may remember hosted the popular show ‘University Challenge’. His catchphrase was ‘I’ll have to hurry you’, when teams were dithering to provide an answer, especially towards the end of the programme as the clock was counting down. The ‘challenge’ this time for the athletes – ranging in ages from U13’s to Senior Men & Women – would be to last the full distance.    

The one lap course on a mixture of private tracks, public footpaths and within fields used for grazing livestock was exceptionally wet and boggy with plenty of deep mud. Fortunately the start and finish area in front of the impressive backdrop of the Grade I West Horsley Place manor house built in 1425 was reasonably dry and firm, making it a pleasant day for cross-county racing. One lap circuits are uncommon in the League and they take an army of volunteers to oversee the event. 

Volunteer Race Director the G’s Paul Sanderson did a splendid job managing and co-ordinating the numerous marshalling points required on the day. This would be the estate’s first cross country match in its 599 year history!

Senior Women

The final race of the day witnessed the G’s best performances with the Senior Women winning the match together with Belgrave Harriers with both teams tied on 53 points. The G’s also had the race winner Suzie Monk, who finished 12 seconds ahead of Belgrave’s Emma Gordon. Suzie had bravely moved into pole position before the halfway stage and never let the lead slip. The Women require five to complete the team and the G’s other ‘A’ team scorers were Evie Warren (U20) in 6th (halving her best previous league finish of 12th ), Eleanor Harrison (9th ), Katie Grinyer (16th ) and Susannah Lecoutre (U20) in (21st). The Senior Women finished the season in 4thplace overall.

The next five G’s – Alice Batchelor (39th ), Emily Relton (53rd), Jilly Raw (2C) (65th), Zoe Roe (81st) on her G’s debut and Christine Robinson (88th) impressed, finishing 3rd ‘B’ team on the day. 

Jacqueline White (120th ), Rebecca Brennan (123rd), Lucinda Smith (141st) and Beth Davies (150th) also ran well from the 187 finishers.

With three matches required to be included for the individual awards Suzie Monk did all four races with her best three results totalling 6 points to win the Senior Women’s title. Evie Warren won the U20’s with three match wins in her age group, while Susanna Harrison won the F60 title with 5 points despite not being available for the last match.

Senior Men

After three fixtures the G’s men went into the match in 5th place hot on the tails of Dulwich and only a few points ahead of Herne Hill in sixth. With 5,050 points at stake per match there was still plenty to play for, although the G’s were missing a few of their high scoring regulars. This was the first season that ten teams were present in Division One after the League made adjustments at the end of last season to balance the number of teams in each of the four divisions. 

It was fitting that Dave Williams handed the mic to Andy Coley-Maud to conclude the pre-race briefing. Andy, who previously ran for London clubs Highgate and Clapham Chasers, before GGAC, and won the South of England Cross-Country in 2017 and 2022, will be departing the G’s to relocate to the north-west of England. He will have plenty opportunity to take up ‘Fell Running’, Britain’s second toughest sport. The first being Cross-Country, of course, particularly the Surrey League. AC-M was given a rousing round of applause by the race participants once the news broke.

Tom Foster was first home for the men in 19th position – Tom had made the bold move of starting fast and leading the field up the first incline to the highest point on the course. Cam Reilly was next for the G’s in 25th. Both have had a very decent cross-country season. Ed Dixon in London Marathon training mode and Colin High were next in 39th and 49th respectively. A resurgent Matt McDaniel was next in 51st – if only he had not been hampered by injury at commencement of the season. Five home, another five required to conclude the ‘A’ team. 

An excellent run by the G’s Marathon Club Record holder Callum Job (55th) claimed the sixth scoring spot, with Nick Lightfoot (72nd) and James Harvey (76th) next. Two more required – Mike Alwin (81st) and Will Ford (98th) were the two.

The ‘A’ team were sixth on the day and finished the season fifth overall.

The next ten G’s formed the ‘B’ team – Ollie Gosden (M45)(103rd), Nick Tearle (M50)(117th), Andrew Crooks (136th), Louis Bell (u20) (141st), Marcus Brimicombe (177th), Mark Tennyson (M60) (185th), Debutant Peter Marshall who mid race cursed ‘’this isn’t road running!’’ (198th), Guy Holcroft (M55) (199th), Ben Gilmore (M45) (214th) and Ian Acreman (M50) (216th) were the ten who took the G’s to sixth ‘B’ team on the day.

A further 13 G’s completed the race from a field of 287 finishers.  

In the individual season awards the men required all four matches to be completed in the Senior, M40 and M50 categories. The G’s M50’s did very well placing three in the top five with Guy Holcroft, Robin Boon and Phil Pryke finishing 3rd, 4th & 5th respectively. 

The U20’s & M60’s were scored on the best three. Mark Tennyson and Dave Williams finished in first and second positions in the v60’s. 

Hercules Wimbledon won the Division One title with Belgrave runners-up. We congratulate both teams. At the foot of the table Clapham Chasers and Ranelagh Harriers drop to Division two and will be replaced by Epsom & Ewell and Woking for the 2024-25 season. 

Lastly, we thank all those involved at West Horsley Place for being magnificent hosts. 

Results for the season and previous seasons can be located here: