Author:  Charlie Dickinson

Sophie Harris notched up her second successive Surrey Ladies League cross country win at a wet and increasingly muddy Nonsuch Park. Saron Haileselase ran her best ever league race too, finishing an excellent 7th. Further down the field there was a very welcome return by the ever-reliable Christina Pennock, backed up by good first league races from newcomers Mhairi Hall and Maddy ShottMegan James had perhaps her best ever league race too, with a blistering second lap, almost catching the two Belles ahead of her.

Photo:  Sophie Harris

The park was originally the site of  Nonsuch Palace, built by Henry VIII in 1538, but demolished in 1682, the materials sold by the owner to pay off gambling debts. Todays Mansion was built in the eighteenth century and extended by Jeffrey Wyattville at the beginning of the nineteenth in Tutor Gothic style. The building, nothing like as impressive as the Hirsel, the Dunglass seat in Scotland,  is now well used locally as a restaurant as well as for weddings and other functions.

 Photo: Christina Pennock
Despite the persistent drizzle, a malfunctioning tent, and a massive queue for the toilet, there was a cheerful positive spirit by the Belles before the start. Wonderful too, to see Vicky Goodwin over to visit relatives from Switzerland joining the team once again. Also the ever cheerful Mhairi McDonald who always brightens the day whatever the weather.

The organisers decided to run the two division races together which saw a record field of 570 at the start line of the senior race. Sophie made her break on the first of the two 3km laps which split the field so that the first ten were all spread out as they started the second lap. Thereafter the positions were largely the same although the gaps had widened. Sophie’s lead had stretched from ten meters to about thirty-five at the end and although not as commanding as the last league race, she always appeared to be in control. Saron, finding difficult with the slippery conditions hung on very well throughout the second lap just losing out to the experienced Chloe Tighe after a ding-dong battle all the way around.

This was Christina’s first race after a stress fracture in the winter and a torn ligament in the summer. Although she was only expecting to score for the B team, she put in her usual gritty performance and with many of the usual engine room runners missing, was the Belle’s third scorer. Although  Mhairi Hall and Maddy Shott lost a few places on the second lap, they both ran well in their first ever league race and gained a great deal from the experience. Megan James did it the other way round, coming through on the second lap nearly catching her teammates at the end. A terrific run from Megan.

Although the Belle’s were 8th on the day, they were only ten points away from finishing 5th so an encouraging performance with so many runners missing through injury and illness.

L:R Charlie Dickinson, Mhari McDonald, Christina Pennock, Vicki Goodwin, Maddy Shott, Sophie Harris, Mhari Hall, Megan James, ( Simon) & Saron

RESULTS; (Division one only)

  1. S. Harris (Belgrave) 20.59,  2. S. Davis (CC) 21.07,  3. K. Hedgethorn (THH) 21.11, ….. 7. S. Haileselase  21.59, ……. 47. C. Pennock 24.33,  59. M. Hall 24.51,  67. M. Shott 25.02,  73. M. James 25.08,  195. M. McDonald 28.48,  243. V. Goodwin 30.54.  301 ran
  1. Clapham Chasers 67,  2. Thames Hare and Hounds 110,  3.  Hercules Wimbledon 114,  4.  Herne Hill Harriers 140,  5. Ranelagh 172,  6. Kent AC 173,  7.  South London Harriers 179,  8. Belgrave A 181.