SOME 400 runners flocked to The Bourne on Sunday to compete in the third round of the Southern Cross-Country League, hosted by Farnham Runners.

The league encourages club runners of all standards and the loudest cheers at the finish were reserved for those who dug deepest to complete the challenging courses.

The wide, flat start belies the hills to come and soon the runners were hurtling down a steep slope, only to climb back up the other side. Not for the faint-hearted, the route continues in this vein, with short, flat sections offering some relief. At least it was cool and dry – ideal conditions for a winter morning’s jaunt around Bourne Woods.

There is always strong competition at the front and this year serial winners Basingstoke & Mid Hants are being seriously tested by Haslemere Border AC. The clubs were joint winners on the day, but Haslemere remain ahead on aggregate.

Fleet & Crookham’s consistent scoring gave them third on the day, ahead of Waverley Harriers in fourth and Farnham Runners fifth. This moves the host club to joint sixth out of 23 clubs, with three meetings to go.

The first three runners back were Rob Wood (Basingstoke & MH), Chris Peck (Waverley Harriers) and Dave Taylor (Haslemere Border).

The top three ladies were Daisy McClements (Stubbington Green), Sarah Cleland (Hart Road Runners) and Jo Wright (Farnham Triathlon Club).

The 25 Farnham Runners men were led in by Andrew Ellison in 27th, with team-mate James Clarke close behind in 31st. Strong performances from Stuart Haig (49th), Rob Gilchrist (61st) and Mike Taylor (65th) gave the men a ranking of sixth. Strong back-up came from John Hill-Venning (69th), Nick Hitchcock (72nd), Alistair Hardaway (77th), Colin Addison (78th) and Haywood Drake (79th).

Eloise Stradling, running her fifth race in as many weeks, including four consecutive personal bests, settled for a valuable 14th, with Gabi Hitchcock and Kayleigh Copeland taking 20th and 28th respectively. This gave the ladies fifth spot. Locked in a close battle behind were Vicki Clarke, Fiona Carle and Lindsay Bamford – 32nd, 33rd and 34th in that order.

Other Farnham placings: men – John Walker 85, Tim Cummins 89, Terry Copeland 96, Steve Bailey 113, Stephen Elliott-Nicholls 120, Barney Whiter 121, Paul Mackie 149, Terry Copeland 162, Phil Masters 191, Howard Inns 204, Damian Probett 215, Jeff Loomis 216, Robert Drummond 218, Ian Carley 228, Neil Ambrose 229; ladies – Jane Georghiou 53, Anne Snelson 60, Tara Hunt 62, Kay Copeland 68, Mary Denise Fitzgerald 90, Becky Martin 104, Shirley Perrett 111, Victoria Gow 128, Clair Bailey 136, Carolyn Wickham 154.

Emma Doven and Richard Sheppard sportingly acted as tail runner marshals.

Race director Craig Tate-Grimes thanked all those who gave up their time to assist on the day. Jacquie Browne, social secretary, co-ordinated the many volunteers who made cakes, sandwiches and endless hot drinks. Kathy Brown and Cyra Parkes took on the onerous task of producing the team results.

HASLEMERE Border, who brought 39 runners to Bourne Woods, showed gritty determination and real team spirit to maintain their lead.

The strong men’s team were headed by third-placed Dave Taylor. And there was excellent packing by Haslemere, with Luke Shearring coming fourth, Charlie Rickett sixth, Colin Butfield eighth and Luke Brocks, the last points-scorer, 18th. This gave the men first place.

Other Border results: Harry Wood 28th, Chris Shipley 42nd, Tom Gant 50th, Tom Millns 75th, Charlie Barwick 94th, Dean Kellaway 95th, Marco DiCaprio 112nd, Roger Cripps 147th, Rob Webb 148th, Alastair Doyle 160th, Tim Whishaw 166th, Rupert Hollom 173rd, Dave Bateman 181st, Steve Loveday 192nd, Bob Monteath 196th, Tom Bampton 202nd, Ray Gill 212th. Fantastic running by all put the men in an incredible 1st place.

Seventeen Haslemere Border ladies were out to do their best. Sally Goble came 10th, Isabel Peters 15th and Amy Smith 19th. They were the scoring three and gave Haslemere third place.

Other Border results: Lari Williams 29th, Philomel Pike 37th, Clare Wadey 40th, Samantha Evans 43rd, Susie Adams 54th, Lisa Blaydon 69th, Rebecca Weighell 83rd, Caroline Searle 84th, Rachel Barlow 96th, Janice Worsfold 117th, Katie Spencer 118th, Sara Pennant 133rd, Louise Turner 134th, Anne Marie Greenway 137th.

The next Southern Cross-Country League race will be hosted by Hart Road Runners at Lord Wandsworth College on January 2.