Stragglers Surrey League Stampede

Posted by Malcolm Davies on 12 November 2017

Saturday, 11 November 2017 had what was surely a record turnout by Stragglers in recent years in the Surrey league with 70 senior members massing on the start line over the course of the day.

First up were the ladies at Nonsuch Park, with 28 Straggler ladies representing the club in the Division one race.  A normally benign 6 km course in the park had been reduced to a quagmire with heavy rain overnight and during the race.  With division one and two competing together there was a real battle in the field of 540 runners but the Straggler ladies didn’t disappoint.

The A team were led home by Sophie Biggs, with Sarah Winter, Juliet Cleghorn, Pam Whitter and Sonia Bandeira making up the top five. The B team competition was equally fierce with Dee Smale leading that charge closely pursued by Karen Levene, Liz Killip, Julia Snaith and Helen Davies making up the top 10 scorers. 

The combined team performance was enough to move the Stragglers Ladies A team off the bottom of the table above both Woking A and Dulwich A and in hot pursuit of the Fulham RC A team.  With three clubs to go down the second half of the season looks to be entering an exciting phase.

Meanwhile the B team more than held its own against other tough opposition.  The most gratifying part of the day though was the camaraderie of the team further enjoyed in the Nonsuch Park coffee shop before and after the event, which is now becoming a Stragglers haunt.  It was wonderful to have a number of Stragglers new to cross-country taking part, so special mention goes to Jade Parker, Alex Cianciara and Shirley Buckley, who have all promised they will be back for more!  There were a number of new running spikes seeing mud for the first time!  

It was then the turn of the men up the road at Epsom Downs.  Another modern-day record turnout in the Surrey league with 42 Straggler men showing up at the racecourse for a fast canter around the 5 mile, two lap course over the rolling Epsom Downs.

Already it had become apparent that the Division III promotion push was turning into a three horse race and so it turned out in practice on Saturday.  Walton on Thames RC further extended their lead at the top of the table.  The Stragglers were looking to consolidate their second-place in the table but were put under significant pressure by Woking AC (who came second on the day) but the Stragglers just about hung on to their second-place position in the table with half the season gone.

With Simon Ford missing for this second fixture it was left to Jim Lurkins to lead the team home with Rob Wilcox, Paul Bowden, Roy Reeder, Ollie Garner, Matt Coakes, Jonathon Ormerod, Crispin Allen, Richard Carter and Malcolm Davies making up the scoring A team. What was particularly gratifying about this result was that there were a number of different scorers compared to the first fixture and in particular special mention must be made to Matt Coakes and Jonathon Ormerod who were making their first appearances at cross-country since their school days!  Also, a special thank you goes to Rob Wilcox who managed to shake off an injury to put on a heroic performance for the A team.

The strength in depth of the squad was further illustrated by the B team competition with Chris Walmsley first over the line closely pursued by Ben Osborn, with that scoring team made up of Andy Wren, Dean Morley, Chris Coates, Oliver Bowers, Thomas Ziegel, Richard Baggott, Donovan Duffy and Trevor Ford, quite a team!  In consequence there was a pretty strong C and D team effort as well on a very satisfying day for the club.  Special mention to both  Thomas Ziegel and Gerhard Nel who were making their debuts for the club.

With the excitement of the race over a number of team members decided to repair to the local hostelry for post-race analysis and discussions about photo finishes and runners and riders for the next fixture at Roundshaw Downs on December 2nd.

Malcolm Davies

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