Newsdesk 2001

 Web site: http://www.surreyweb.net/rharriers

 Our men's team did a grand job on Saturday by WINNING the South of the
 Thames "Junior" Championship at Coulsdon. This is probably the first time we
 have ever won a significant cross-country team championship, so the
 heartiest of congratulations go to Peter Haarer (who very nearly gave us an
 individual champion too), Darryl McDonald, Julian Smith and Marcus Gohar.
 And before the familiar refrain "They're a bit old to be running in a junior
 championship!" begins, we must explain that this race is "junior" by
 standard not age. Various barring clauses based on previous achievements
 exclude certain runners, and indeed our scoring quartet are now perforce on
 the sidelines for three years. Peter Haarer reports:

 "A select team from Ranelagh, reinforced by its Scottish division, took the
 field last Saturday for the South of the Thames Junior Championship. At the
 gun, Darryl McDonald, Julian Smith and I all got clear of the scrum to reach
 the first turning post and join the leading group. Darryl in fact led the
 race for much of the first lap - as he later confessed, the view from the
 front was rather different - quite interesting in fact - perhaps something
 to see more often. The first sharp downhill section of the course thinned
 out the leading group, but there were no Ranelagh casualties and so the
 start of the second lap found Ranelagh packing well and clearly in with an
 excellent chance.
 Darryl had by then sportingly offered the view to other runners, but was not
 far behind and was being closely supported by Julian, who was fighting off
 an acute recurrence of "whole body falling off" syndrome.  The finish saw
 yours truly yielding first place in the last few hundred yards to a
 youngster from Belgrave and Darryl and Julian securing fifth and sixth
 places.  A tense wait for our fourth scorer followed, with one of our
 distinguished ex-captains gnashing teeth, renting hair and preparing to roll
 in dung (available in copious quantities on the course) should we fail to
 win. Anchor-man Marcus Gohar did not fail us in our hour of need.  He had
 been delayed by getting boxed in at the start but powered to the finish line
 in twenty-second place. So we carried home the team trophy and, so I am
 told, Ranelagh's first ever major championship title.
 Alas, we lacked another man to complete a team for the eight to score event,
 but Captain Bickerstaff, Mike Peace and Will Graves all ran decently.
 Finally, I must mention all the supporters who turned out and cheered us on
 so well, making an invaluable contribution to the team success".

 The second Surrey League races take place on Saturday, on Wimbledon Common
 for the men and Tilford (nr Farnham) for the women. Details below. For the
 final two League events, by the way, the men and women are racing at the
 same venue - Richmond Park on December 15th and Coulsdon on February 2nd. We
 started the season pretty well, with the men in 5th place and the women 6th
 so Andy and Sarah are looking for good turnouts on Saturday to cement those

 Ken Powley writes: "October 24th was the 48th anniversary of John Hanscomb's
 first recorded road race in 1953. It was a 3 mile race around Regents Park,
 organised by the Poly, which he ran in a time of 18:12".

 Chris Owens, Mike Hynd, Alastair Sinclair and Eleanor Grey all competed in
 the Karrimor International Mountain Marathon in the Clyde Muirshiel Regional
 Park on the weekend of October 27th and 28th. Chris provides some

 "The Karrimor International Mountain Marathon is the original adventure
 race. Inaugurated in 1968, it now has a few thousand competitors in
 different classes from Elite (you need to be half mountain goat, half homing
 pigeon) to Short Score (done by people in big hiking boots and large rucsacs
 who fry bacon in the morning). The race covers distances from 80k to less
 than 40k and includes a compulsory overnight camp. Competitors have to carry
 a defined list of kit for safety (and finish with it!), together with food
 for 36 hours. The race takes place in wild parts of the UK, usually off
 tracks and paths, where competitors have to find a number of checkpoints in
 a specific order, as fast as possible. Full details of the event, its
 history, and results can be found at www.kimm.com".
 Alastair writes:
 "This was my fourth consecutive outing to this event, but without my usual
 partner. After a bad injury at last year's event in the Lake District, he
 refused to enter but fixed me up with one of his running mates from
 Cheshire. My new partner, Dave Fussell, is a few years older than me. He is
 experienced in these events and so I was pleased to have a solid partner. We
 were doing the "B class" course, as were fellow Ranelagh competitors, Chris
 Owens and Mike Hynd who had teamed up for the second year in a row.
 The location was not an obvious choice for this event, however planning
 begins well in advance, and the foot and mouth crisis earlier in the year
 must have been a consideration in selecting the location. This area contains
 nothing that could ever be classed as a mountain. Although the routes lacked
 significant height to be climbed, they did present teams with considerable
 quantities of bog and knee-deep heather. Needless to say it is tricky to
 make rapid progress on such terrain. The competition area also lacked any
 distinctive features: it was mostly rounded hills, bogs and streams. The
 consequence of this was that even in good visibility we had to use the
 compass frequently in order to be sure we were headed in the right
 direction. Visibility was mixed on the Saturday, but never really bad for
 long. It was fine and clear on the Sunday. Had the visibility been poor at
 all times, then I am certain all courses would have been much harder.
 We did not too badly on the Saturday, we made good progress over the first
 four sections but got a little stuck looking for the fourth control, along
 with something like another 20 teams. I checked the map again and again,
 checked the grid reference and the control description, but the control did
 not appear where I thought it should be. Lots of other teams were also
 getting a little stuck. Eventually we found it some ways from where we
 expected it. I heard one competitor remark to the marshall "I have been
 doing this event since 1977 and this is the first control that has ever been
 in the wrong place!". I was a bit rattled as we had wasted something like 12
 Anyway, we ploughed on through a river crossing where the level of the water
 got just a bit too high for comfort. Once out of the gorge it was a fairly
 long grind through bog and heather to control 5. The next drag to control 6
 was shorter on the map, but in reality we were slow and it took longer than
 it ought to. I was pretty tired by this stage and was finding it tough
 going. It was all downhill to the finish and our time for day 1 was
 7h32mins, which corresponded to 105 out of around 180 teams that completed
 the course. There were some retired teams however their numbers were less
 than in previous years, I guess because the conditions were relatively quite
 good. The lead team in B class was 5h33mins.
 The campsite this year was exceptionally deluxe: not waterlogged, and no
 ankle-deep mud as is the norm. The night was still and clear, definitely the
 best weather I have encountered out of the four times I have been at the
 event. Sunday morning was also calm, just a bit overcast. We started well
 and ploughed from control 1 through heather and bog towards control 2. All
 the time we seemed to be gaining ground on other teams slowly, but surely.
 We picked up control 2 and by now the route in front was looking like a big
 snake, winding its way up over the hill to control 3. We settled into a
 brisk march upwards and passed countless teams who had been reduced to a
 plod. Descending towards the control, I spotted Chris who was looking in
 good shape. I learned he had started about 7 minutes before us, so we had
 picked up time on him and Mike.
 In the timed out section crossing the main road, Mike told me to slow down.
 I figured I'd let my body tell me when it was time to slow down. By now the
 route was quite well worn and the going was a bit easier underfoot. It was
 also straightforward to find the route and the last few controls. We
 continued to make good time, still passing a number of teams at all points
 on the route. Towards the second last control I was wondering how much I had
 left in me. My legs and body were of course tired but the end was near and
 we were almost at the point from where it was all downhill. We continued to
 push hard all the way but did not fade at all. Every time I turned round my
 partner Dave was pretty much right behind me.
 We finished with a second day time of 4h and 32seconds, a little faster than
 Chris and Mike, but only enough to make a little dent in their 35minute lead
 from day 1. I thoroughly enjoyed the event this year. I had a strong partner
 who performed very well, and who worked hard for our team. We both enjoyed
 our strong run on day 2, and were sure we would pick up a few places in the
 final times.
 Chris adds:
 "The details above do not give the full flavour of the event, which is one
 of the more fun things I've done. What does ? Well from this
 - tramping up to the start with hundreds of other people, all looking tense,
 and carrying the oddest selection of food;
 - trying to run through knee-deep heather, where to take your eyes off the
 ground to look at the map meant to stumble, and doing this for five hours
 - mis-reading the map and realising you had one more ridge to cross than you
 thought - especially near the end of the day;
 - getting to camp and realising you had survived the first day in spite of
 wading knee-deep through streams;
 - discovering that 'Pot Noodles' taste wonderful if you are hungry enough;
 - finding no problem at all in sleeping on a mat in a field;
 - being woken up by people snoring in the next tent !!
 - hearing the pipes playing at 6am on an autumn morning to waken people for
 the chasing start (and realising you still had two hours more in "bed");
 - hearing one team saying to another "..what do you mean back, we put our
 watches an hour forward....";
 - finding out the organisers had planned a nice break (clock stopped) where
 you crossed the main road - time for lunch/blister repair and a rest!
 - being able to run a bit on the second day instead of yomping through
 endless heather clumps;
 - getting to the end and realising that you had survived again;
 - seeing the results and discovering the class winners were only an hour and
 a half quicker (how? did they levitate?);
 - finding the website http://www.kimm.com has results and a computer program
 to show your route and time compared to the winners.
 Over the last week the preliminary results have changed a few times, but now
 it looks like they have settled. The relevant results for "B class" are:
 The winning team finished in 8hrs 55mins 53sec.
 Chris Owens & Mike Hynd (both Ranelagh)
 70th position with a time of 11hrs 08mins 27sec
 Alastair Sinclair (Ranelagh) & Dave Fussell
 87th position with a time of 11hrs 32mins 39sec
 There were 190 teams that completed the course, and it looks like there were
 31 retired teams. 

 Eleanor adds her impressions:
 "What is a soft southerner like me doing competing (or, more accurately,
 participating) in a mountain marathon like the KIMM, you may be asking?
 After all, there aren't many steep heather slopes in Richmond Park; and I
 have yet to need a compass to find my way around it.
 Well, in my case I was asked to *volunteer* at the very end of a good
 three-course meal, when there wasn't much wine left in the bottle.  Also,
 this was back in March, when London marathon training was going well, and I
 was deluded by improbable visions of a new, improved and fit self.  By the
 end of a summer and autumn suffering from achilles tendonitis and shin
 splints, I knew better; but pulling out seemed too feeble.  So my partner,
 Sean, and I set off for Scotland, with the aim of getting round, and
 improving our navigation.
 Well, we did get round, though we certainly didn't match the achievements of
 the other Ranelites out on the hills.  Sean and I entered the "C" class,
 where the course is "only" 42 kms (as the crow flies) over the two days.
 Which doesn't sound too demanding.  But the terrain was gruelling: not only
 hilly, but either boggy or heathery, with big tussocks that were difficult
 to run on.  So we walked, mostly - the rest of the time, I spent falling
 over.  There were no paths to speak of.  At the end of the weekend, our
 results were *modest* (and that's being kind): team no. 192 of 241 - or 28th
 out of the 46 mixed teams which finished, which sounds a little more
 respectable.  But yes, it was hard! - for me, at any rate: my KIMM partner
 breezed round dispensing good cheer and sports drinks in equal measure.
 The national park in which it took place was bleak and featureless; there
 were no paths to speak of.  The weather was fairly kind, however; we had
 some heavy or prolonged showers on day 1, and a few on day 2, but there was
 very little mist and generally good visibility, which certainly helped our
 navigation.  Which wasn't too disastrous, on the whole - we were not as sure
 or quick as many, but we only really had one very poor leg and we followed
 bearings with a fair degree of success and lots of surprised pleasure when
 the compass took us to the right point. We probably lost time by trying to
 navigate *properly* - if we had followed the motorway line of C class teams
 which were often filing across the moors, we would probably have gained a
 bit, but since we wanted to learn something from the weekend, this seemed a
 shame. So we did a fair amount of standing and checking the map to be sure
 we agreed on what we were seeing - only to watch the teams that we had
 toiled past, overtake us again.
 I was very well supplied with excellent gear.  Better still, my partner
 carried most of it.  And as a KIMM novice, I appreciated the "top tips" from
 the old hands - especially being told to bring carrier bags for my Walshes,
 for Saturday evening. I would never have thought of that, and would have
 stared at my dry socks and my (only pair of) soggy, boggy, muddy shoes in
 despair ... And I learned that Ready Brek can taste good for breakfast, even
 when you have abandoned it, you thought forever, at the age of 12.  And I
 discovered the value of a woolly hat, quite regardless of the weather: you
 can conceal your bad hair day safely beneath it.
 So here I am back in London.  My colleagues have noticed me hobbling over
 the last few days, but I have told them very little.  I feel that if I tried
 to describe the sight of people wandering round a muddy campsite with
 carrier bags billowing inside their shoes, around their ankles, there would
 be general incredulity.  But perhaps it will make the Ranelites smile". 

 WELCOME to new members Nicola Dupree, Joanne Turner, Lucy Facer, Donna
 Roberts, Robert Wakeford, Simon Gregory, Grant Lemke and Norman Dunroy. 

 More details of all the following from Andy Bickerstaff (07966 552302 /
 norris.hobs@ndirect.co.uk) or Sarah Seal (020 8995 2380 /

 Saturday November 17th   Surrey League - men at Wimbledon Common (juniors
 2.30pm, seniors 3pm), women at Tilford nr Farnham (u15s 12 noon, u20s
 12.30pm, seniors 1pm) 

 Saturday November 24th   Mob Match v Thames H&H at Putney Vale (Wimbledon
 Common). 2.30pm start. There will also be a supper with Thames in the
 evening for all who want to stay.

 Saturday December 1st    Hec Petersen Trophy 5 miles at Ealing. 2pm start.
 Saturday December 8th    Dysart Cup 6km incl club women's championship for
 the Hugh Jones Salver. 2pm start, followed at 2.30pm by the Ellis Cup men's
 5 miles. 

 I set a question last week about which country boasted 127 men inside 29
 minutes for 10km on the track last year and over 300 inside 29:30. A few of
 you e-mailed me with answers, none of them correct. Given that the answer
 was not Kenya, who had 57, the favourite choice was Ethiopia, but in fact
 they were no better in depth than the UK with only eight sub-29. Morocco had
 only three. The surprising answer is....Japan.

 Steve Rowland
 Telephone: 01926 318734
 Fax: 0870 4006901
 e-mail: srowland@calorgas.co.uk