Report by Charlie Dickinson
Until last year Morden Park had not been used for XC for several years. The venue had acquired a reputation for being extremely muddy… the autumnal damp certainly made that prophecy come true for us. Still, that did not deter two full Belgrave teams from migrating south to defend our title as defending team champions. Women were only allowed to race in the South of Thames races, the oldest XC organisation in the country, but in that short time the Belles have accumulated many individual and team medals. We arrived on Saturday as red-hot favourites.
Emma Howsham led the team home with a very fine run. in eighth place moving past a couple of runners strongly on the last of the three laps. It is great to see that, despite now living and working in Reading, Emma still makes these fantastic appearances for the team. After a breakthrough track season in summer, Emma is now aiming for a breakthrough on the roads at the Telford 10k in December before a short indoor track season.
There was a bit of a gap to the next scorers after Emma, but team success in XC often comes down to good packing. What followed was a masterclass in packing. Team captain Mhairi Hall, returning regular Iona Cousland and resident badass Felicity Cole finished together in 21st, 22nd and 23rd places. Iona, slightly rusty after a long time away from racing, and Mhairi, still not operating at 100% capacity after illness, both started cautiously and made it their business to overtake many on the second and third laps. The pair eventually just pipped a lightly trained Felicity near the finish. This earned the team a well-deserved silver team medals behind a scarily dominant Kent.
We also had a full B team, which is always sign of a healthy, strong club. Mimi Corden-Lloyd finished 43rd and certainly claimed the ‘muddiest runner of the day’ award. New recruit Natalie Nash was right behind her in 47th, while Tasha Tennant (who had arrived late and had to work hard to put herself in the race) took 66th spot. Mhairi McDonald made a much-anticipated return to Belgrave racing and placed a fine 76th. All of these women braved the conditions very well to finish 11th B team out of a total of 21 complete teams.
INDIVIDUAL: 1. E. Wicks AFD (29:14), 2. C. Baxter G & G (30:10), 3. H. Dixon Camb H (30:31). ….. 8. E. Howsham (31:57), 21. M. Hall (34:10), 22. I. Cousland (34:22), 23. F. Cole (34:24), 43. M. Corden-LLoyd (36:40), 47. N. Nash (37:07), 66. T. Tennant (39:33), 76. M. McDonald (41:02)
TEAMS: 1. Kent AC (56), 2. Belgrave A (74), 3. South London Harriers (87)……11. Belgrave B (213)