event :: surrey hills race

This year saw one of the largest fields for many years to contest theSurrey Hills races on 30th May. The races are an annual fixture in the South East's calendar, attracting a mixture of orienteers, fell runners, and even the occasional road runner. Competitors have the choice of a 6 mile, 10 mile or epic 18 mile race, all starting in Dorking before heading up towards Leith Hill, and in the case of the 18 mile, continuing on towards Holmbury Hill and Pitch Hill, before returning to Dorking. The route isn't marked, so competitors do have to navigate between the points.

In the 18 miles race, Darrell High of SO took an early lead, and hung onto his advantage until the second big climb of Holmbury Hill, where he was overtaken by Mark Wilkins of SAX. Running confidently, Mark extended his lead over Darrell on the ascent of Pitch Hill and eventually came in to win in a time of 2 hours, 12 mins and 9 seconds. Mark had run the course in training several times, and (unlike most of the others) ran without a map, relying on his memory to get the right route. Mark's father won the race many years ago, so Mark was pleased to be taking the trophy back to Kent again. Although Darrell tried to keep his second place, he was overtaken by Jeff Green of SLOW on the final climb, and it was Jeff who had the strength to sprint to the finish in a time of 2.15.50 mins, with Darrell finishing just under a minute behind. As Darrell and Jeff are regular mountain marathon partners, this bodes well for tackling Elite at the LAMM in 3 weeks time.

The first veterans home were Alastair Doyle of GO and Steve Powell of SO, who finished joint 4th overall. They had been running in a pack with Matt Franklin of SO and Jonathon Williams of SLOW, but Steve decided he didn't like being in such a big group and put in an extra effort 3 miles before the end. For Alasdair, this was a chance for a bit of last minute training before he heads off to South Africa to compete in the 56 mile long Comrades Marathon. His partner in that challenge, Jeremy Wilde, finished 14th overall, having stuck to the pre-race plan of "just jogging around" - Alasdair said he ditched that plan as soon as the race started to hot up! Matt Franklin was the first junior home, 7th overall and a very impressive 2.38:09. First woman was Beth Handyside in 2.41:44 - a great result.

On the 10 mile race, it was Jeremy Edwards of WAROC who got the better of Tom Hart, but only by 4 seconds. Jeremy had led since the 3rd control, but was unable to drop Tom. By the highest point of the race, the two of them had built up a lead of 2 minutes and they eventually finished clear of the rest of the field by nearly 4 minutes, in a time of 1.06.48. Third home was Tom Frost of SN. First Vet (and 4th overall) was Gary Walford of TVOC, in a time of 1.10:55. There was never really any doubt as to the winner of the woman's race when Sarah Rollins turned up - the real question was how many men she would beat! On the long climb up to the tower, she was part of the chasing group and reached the high point in 6th place overall. She did lose a few places on the descent, finishing 10th overall in 1.13.02, but in doing so, we believe she set a new women's record time for this course. First junior, and 31st overall, was Chris Wroe of SLOW in a time of 1.46.10.

The six mile race was won by Peter Heywood, an M60 from local club MV. He was the only one of the competitors to get under the hour in 59.12. Second place went to a runner, Ron Marshall of Elmbridge RR, and Jon O'Donnell of SLOW was 3rd. First Woman was Mary Mullarkey in a time of 1.03:52, and first junior was Ingrid Franklin of SO in a time of 1.25:53.

With the races covered by a team from Runner's World, we're hopeful of some good publicity as a result!

Full results on SLOW web page - www.sloweb.org.uk

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