New faces fire opening salvo: Women’s Surrey XC League Match 1, Reigate Priory

New faces fire opening salvo: Women’s Surrey XC League Match 1, Reigate Priory

Report by Charlie Dickinson

The Belles should be very pleased with their opening league match We fielded two full teams of five and put forward some outstanding individual runs on a damp, drizzly day at the picturesque Priory Park in Reigate. Their performance was even more remarkable given that three of the ten runners were new to the squad and had never run a cross-country race before! Reigate can be a little daunting considering the course starts with a horrid climb, but all enjoyed the race, ran well and contributed to a great team effort.

Leading the Belles home was new second claim member Sophie Cowper. Sophie had previously been responsible for many medal-winning performances at her first claim club, Rotherham. She was born in Surrey, where here parents still live, and she is studying for a medical degree in the South of England. She will be a huge asset in the Surrey League and Surrey Championship races.She finished a beautiful 6th in enviable company, such as Rachel Brown. Just a week after her fastest claret and gold leg at the ERRA Road Relays in Birmingham, Rachel put down her finest race to date for the Belles. Rachel was disappointed to lose out by two places on the final run in mistiming her kick but nevertheless her 9th place was a huge improvement and a top ten finish will give her great confidence for the forthcoming season.

Alice Reed has been training for an ultra endurance event in November by clocking big mileage and voluminous intervals, but she still produced a very strong run in the top thirty despite the heavy legs. Then came Orna McKinley who once again caught herself cursing at the hills. She still finished well within the top fifty, proving that despite being a track pony, she is much more than a one-trick pony.

To complete the A team runners came the revelation of Camilla Barden. She had only recently joined the training group and managed to fit the race in before taking her father out for his birthday treat in the afternoon. Expecting to finish about half way in the field of 232 runners, Camilla started positively way further up the field, then just kept going to finish in 61st place. There is so much more to come from this one, mark my words!

The B team was led across the line by Steph Hewitt. The Scot has had an injury-plagued summer but is now injury-free and using the autumn cross-county races to get fit for another very good indoor season over 1500 and 3000m. This was her first race for many months and her 72nd place will be no doubt be improved upon as she gets fitter week in, week out. She was followed closely by Jojo Rhodes who unfortunately just missed the start of the race having to wait for ages for a taxi at Redhill. She must  have passed over 150 runners on her way to 75th place. This bodes well for the next race. 

Next for the B team came Tasha Tennant and Mimi Corden-LLoyd, running and finishing pretty well together. Tasha had run a few races on the track in the summer after joining the group last Spring, but had never run cross-country. This was a very good start. Mimi has had a very stressful time at work lately and this has affected her running. Nevertheless, she came to support the team and is a very important member of the group who will no doubt be back to her best soon.

Finally, another new member, Imogen Sawyer ran very strongly in her debut for Belgrave. She enjoyed herself, learnt a lot and, perhaps most importantly, closed the B team scoring five.

Team captain Mhairi Hall was suffering from a very heavy cold but she bravely came despite this to support the team and play photographer for the day (all picture credits go to her). Club President John Gladwin with his son Harvey also came as did Alan Black, they were most appreciated.  With the rain largely holding off until the race was over, it was overall a good day for the club.


  1. Clapham Chasers 79,  2. Kent AC 92,  3. Thames HH 122, 4.  South London H 137,  5. Belgrave 149,  6. Hercules W 150
    Belgrave B 529 (5).

6. S. Cowper 25:02,  9. R. Brown 25:18,  27. A. Reed 26:09,  46. O. McGinley 27:22,  61. C. Barden 28:07,  72. S. Hewitt 28:20,  75. J. Rhodes 28:39,  101. T. Tennant 29:44, 102. M. Corden-LLoyd 29:45, 179. I. Sawyer 34:03.