Lark in the Park

Juliet Sutcliffe and Jason Young

King’s College Cross Country Club ran their last race on Wednesday February 25th at Battersea Park. The King’s team was fully up to strength with the exception of Brian Luckie who was absent due to illness, Emma Raynor, Damon Hoad and Claire McVicker, who ran her last race on Saturday February 21st in Exeter as she will be graduating in July. President Paul Willot was also unable to compete. The team were well supported however in the form of a small fan club from Lightfoot Hall who came along to cheer the club on as they ran their last leg of the Reebok League.

The men ran a course of three laps, each just over three km, while the women ran two. The hard park roads made a change from the usual mud and steep climbs of a typical cross-country course, which still took its toll, as several athletes complained of injury troubles. The runners also had to contend with wayward children, dogs and even a rubbish bin, which one of the male competitors sent flying.

The men’s race was won comfortably by Richard Xerri of Brunel UC in 31:59, his team-mates Neil Addison and Dan Wickes coming in third and fourth respectively. Ben Hukins of Imperial finished second in 32:12 to complete the course, which allowed him to claim second place overall in the men’s individual competition.

Jennie Cox of Imperial again won, this time just two seconds ahead of Yvette Hauge., who finished in 23:57. Vicky Frew of Surrey came in third, followed by Jo Kelsey (King’s) in 25:59. Imperial won the team competition in this race, just eleven points ahead of Royal Holloway. Katherine Pageon came in 16th for the women’s team followed by Lydia Bruce-Burgess in 22nd place. Desmond Rhule came 21st for the men’s team in 33:45, followed by James Calghoun in 41st place. Czongor Czaszi came in 50th, followed by Kester Hewett in 54th place, leaving Kenny Roberts in 58th and Neil Walker coming in last for the King’s team in 64th position in 43:20.

The final race of the season was crucial in determining the overall positions in both the individual and team competitions. In the men’s first division, UCL, RH II and the Roehampton Institute were all facing relegation and would have had needed to produce superhuman performances in order to stay up. Because only the five best races of the season count toward the final score, the winners were not known as the runners headed for the pub, but League Co-ordinator Mike Baggs worked tirelessly into the night amalgamating all of the information.

In the first division, the men’s results were as follows: Brunel University college secured victory with a massive 2142 points, followed by Imperial with 2067. Surrey in third position totalled 1661. Imperial II came in fourth position, and Brunel University fifth. UCL, Roehampton and RH II will all be competing in the second division next year, and Hertfordshire University, Reading University and Imperial III all move up. Clayton Bannon of Brunel UC won the men’s individual competition, ending the season just three points ahead of Ben Hukins. Imperial won the women’s team competition with 836 points, over 100 points in front of their closest rivals Royal Holloway. Jennie Cox took the individual prize, scoring 300 points (which equates to five wins) followed by Vicky Frew (290) and Jo Kelsey (280).

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