The venue at Stanmer Park is usually a favourite of Belgrave Harriers with happy memories from the last visit in 2015 when both men and women’s teams won silver team medals in a year when Gordon Biscoe was the SEAA President.

This year, however, proved very different. Travel to the venue proved lengthy with both rail replacement and M23 closures, in fact, some  of the clubs decided not to attend. The course far softer than three years before became increasingly difficult as the afternoon progressed with drizzle before the start of the women’s race becoming increasingly heavy throughout the rest of the afternoon. By the end of both women’s and men’s races, the surface had become very muddy.

Photo Credit:  Patrick McDougall ” Start of the women’s race”

The highlight of the afternoon was the 6th place by Sophie Harris. After a cautious start on the first small lap, running comfortably just outside the top ten, Sophie moved up on the first of the two large laps to track the leading group of five, all GB cross country Internationals. On the last lap, Pheobe Law broke away from that group and although Sophie chased as hard as she could to distance herself from some very strong runners behind her, she was unable to catch those ahead. It was however, a very fine performance in an unusually strong field.

Saron Haileselase started well, looking strong on the hills and flying on the downhill sections. On the first lap she was lying roughly in the top twenty. However, on the far side of the course on the second lap she was struck with agonising stitch on the sharp downhill section and had to pull out finding it difficult to breathe. She was helped and driven back to the Belgrave tent by St John Ambulance very upset.

Samantha Amend had a blinder three years ago and usually loves the course with its rolling hills and fast downhill sections. Not this year though. Still building fitness after her long illness, lacking any training over the hills she is building up to ultra distance events in March. Sam struggled in the slippery mud but nevertheless stuck to the task and gave her best in her usual determined fashion.

Finishing within a few places of  Sammi was Mhairi Hall, improving with every race she has now become a really important ‘engine room’ member of the team. Like many, Mhairi has to balance a demanding work schedule with training and that can sometimes mean very early morning pavement runs. Mhairi came through well on the first lap and it briefly seemed that she might even catch Sammi, but in the end experience prevailed.

Another with long working hours is Lizzie Goldie-Scot, gradually returning to full fitness after an Autumn of injury. She was close to Mhairi on the first lap which may have been a little optimistic, but although slipping a few places as the race unfolded, she hung on well to close the scoring team.

Finally, Mhairi McDonald, such a cheerful and enthusiastic member of the team who brightened up those recovering in the soaking wet and muddy tent after the race, then went out to support the men in the pouring rain. Her wonderful quote; ‘ You may not believe me, but I actually enjoyed that race’, brought smiles to everyone.

Photo Credit:  Patrick McDougall ” Start of the women’s race as Sophie and Saron charge off”

RESULTS: SEAA XC Brighton Results 2018

  1. P. Law (K&P)  28.56,  2.  E. Hosker-Thornhill (AFD)  29.18,  3.  C. Christenson (C&C)  29.19,   6. S. Harris  29:56,  68. S. Amend  34:25,  74.  M. Hall  34:48,  128. L. Goldie-Scot  37:14,  246. M. McDonald  43:18.  351 finished
  1. AFD  33,  2.  C & C 68,  3.  Serpentine 148,  9. Belgrave Harriers 271.

Photo Credit: Ross Finlay