Southern Cross Country Championships - the full report

At least to start with, it was a bright and surprisingly warm day for the Southern Cross Country Championships at Parliament Hill, often known as "the home of cross country".

Picture from Southern Cross Country Championships - the full report

However, no-one was fooled...after all the recent rain, we knew a course that is normally pretty wet would be an absolute mud-bath. We were not disappointed!

The women raced first over a muddy and hilly 8k, and, with 22 Serpie women competing, we were the only club to fill five teams. Our A team, comprised of Sarah Pemberton (48), Victoria Crawford (51), Deedee Laforet (63) and Megan Roberts (77) finished in 9th place, closely followed by a B team of Jane Fanning, Helen Palmer, Laura Denison and Sam Ludlow Taylor in 11th, the top-placed B team. Our C, D and E teams were 24th, 34th and 58th, the first C and D teams and the only E team in the competition. While not enough to defend last year's silver medals, this really highlights the strength in depth in the club. A special mention must go to Genevieve Bourke who finished the race bare-foot following a footwear malfunction half way round.  

Our men's team had a great turn-out, with 36 finishers, enough for six complete teams! With our strength in depth and recent performances in the Met League acting as encouragement, the men were keen to see what they could do. With the condition of the course continuing to deteriorate, 15km was always going to make it a very tough race.

However, we could not have been happier with the results. Our A team of Nick Torry (8th), Rich Phillips (15th), Jon Poole (31st), Will Green (70th), Pau Herrero (74th) and Henrik Zietsman (93th) came through the mud in tremendous style, enough to secure third place for the team. In a competition of this standard, this is quite some achievement. It was also great to leave our usual rivals like Highgate and Woodford Green trailing in our wake. Our other men's teams finished 17th, 42nd, 78th, 96th and 108th. We were the only club to field six teams. There were some great individual performances throughout the field and the men received fantastic support from the women at a range of points around the course.

As the men in the middle of the field were finishing, the first spots of rain began to fall. This quickly turned into a storm of biblical proportions, with driving rain, thunder and lightning and even hail. Everyone who ran would like to extend enormous thanks to the marshals, from both Serpentine and other clubs, who had to endure conditions which Malcolm French called "without doubt the worst, by far, I have experienced in 14 years of athletics officiating". Thanks also to Lisa Pettit for being team manager for both men's and women's teams and and to Bev Thomas for handing out numbers on the day.

The teams decamped to the Garden Gate pub for a well-earned drink and a chance to warm up and dry out.

For full Serpentine results see:
Women's results
Men's results

Submitted: 26 January 2014