Our senior teams did not have their best day in this year's Southerns. A combination of travel uncertainties, personal preferences, general availability, etc reduced the men's team to a bare-bones sextet in a 6-to-score race, while we had just 2 women finishers.
This was an old skool Southerns, with 15KM of hills and muck with an increasingly heavy rain setting in once the junior category races were out of the way. One wonders for how much longer the men's race distance will be pegged at 15KM given the drive to equalise distances for men and women, and given the IAAF and Scotland's decision to equalise their championship distances at a "mere" 10K.
For those of our men who made the journey it was a fine opportunity to pick up Ken Bray Trophy points in a season where the competition had, till now, been very close. Angus Holford bagged the maximum as he finished 91st out of 740 finishers. In his previous 2 Brighton Southerns he finished 89 and 92, so remarkable consistency on this course. It was a coincidence, then, to see our next two men fight it out in a sprint finish. Daniel Steel (156) and Harold Wyber (157). For Dan this was better than 3 years previously at Brighton (203) but not as impressive as in our last two years at Parliament Hill (99 and 65). Wyber had been as high as 45th in 2015 at Brighton! Steel's big points haul has put him in pole position to win the Ken Bray Trophy this year. The pair were over 2' 30" down on Holford - food for thought!
Next in was Simon Beedell, another 2' 30" down in 235th place, his lowest Southern placing since joining the club 3 years ago. Then our final two scorers, M50 Gareth Cavell and M60 Alistair Holford, would not normally expect to make our scoring six, but we were grateful to them for their efforts on the day. Cavell was out in the freezing cold for 69 minutes as he placed 414, while Holford was 669th in 82 minutes. They enabled us to feature on the team result sheet, 30th of the 55 clubs to close six men. We had placed 15th in 2017.
Of the three women that toed the line, our leading athlete, Kat Gundersen, DNF'd, which left Rachel Lund to pick up top honours, placing 111 of 351 finishers. Lund is an occasional appearer at Southern Champs, but she always seems to run and place consistently, and this was no exception. Our other doughty representative was former team manager Alex Wardle, who also does not make a habit of running the Southerns. On this occasion she placed 269, higher than a couple of her most recent performances.