The Farnham Runners’ annual fancy-dress handicap was a very peaceful affair this year. Thirty members, nearly all in fancy dress, completed the traditional course but there was no sign of the usual demons or undesirable characters.
This is a long-standing event that began in winter 1985 during the first year of the club. As this was a handicap race, all 30 were in contention for the trophy which is engraved with the winner’s name each year.
There were also prizes of boxes of chocolates for the first three back, as well as for the best three fancy-dress costumes.
“Mystic Meg” was in attendance as usual. She explained how the alignment of the planets on Christmas Day had sent the handicap calculations awry this year but, assisted by her crystal ball, she was still able to predict an expected time for each runner and so work out their handicap.
The difference in handicaps between the first and last runner to set off was 23 minutes, showing the wide diversity in paces of members of the club over the 4.25 mile route, mostly on roads.
Stephen Dick gave his all in a determined performance to beat the rest of the field by three minutes. Runner-up Bridget Naylor finished with a 15-second gap ahead of third-placed Georgina Anderson, with Debbie Moorcroft, Richard Denby, Matthew Wernham, and 14 more all crossing the line within the next four minutes.
Included in this group was Joe Collins, who started last with a 23-minute handicap but overtook to place tenth, wearing a flight suit much too warm for running.
Jacquie Browne, Carolyn Wickham and Julia Tagg had the difficult job of judging the fancy dress. A great deal of thought and effort had gone into the wide variety of costumes.
The judges chose Colin Addison as a clear winner in a very clever outfit as a mime artist and they observed he stayed in character, even miming at the start.
Richard Denby was dressed as a stunning waitress for second place while the two fastest ladies, Emma Pearson and Sarah Hill, tied for third place, Emma as a bee and Sarah as Heidi.
Jacquie Browne presented the prizes and thanked all who had helped, not least the club’s race director, Craig Tate-Grimes, who had earlier that morning put up the signs along the course and later took them all down, and Jane Georghiou, aka Mystic Meg.
Jacquie Browne, Julia Tagg and Linda Tyler organised the refreshments.
The following weekend it was the first of the year’s Hampshire Road League races, the oversubscribed Stubbington Green 10km, which sold out this year in just a few hours.
Twenty-nine Farnham Runners managed to get places and not come down with any seasonal infections on the day. It was chilly with a very strong wind which, although from the side most of the way, certainly slowed the runners and there was a short unwelcome shower at the start.
Despite the conditions James Clarke was just seven seconds off his personal best in a splendid time of 34.49 for 23rd place overall out of 1,764 finishers.
Next was Chris Matthews in 38.23 with Neil Ambrose in 40.21 and Sam Angell in 40.39 to complete the A team who came ninth in the top A division.
Nick Grist (41.17), Chris Raby (42.42, fifth M60), Ivan Chunnett (44.25) and Richard Denby (44.41) made up the B team while the C team consisted of Justin Clarke (44.53), James Goodwin (46.54), new member Lee Dougall (48.49) and John Phillips (47.53) with Clive Frostick following in 55.15.
For the ladies, making a welcome return to racing in this league was Sarah Hill in 43.14 who paced Emma Pearson to 43.21, the two taking fifth and sixth F45 slots.
Not far back was Louise Granell who clocked 43.53 and Ali Falkiner 45.29. This A team gave a real boost to the series results, as it placed fourth out of the ten clubs in the top flight and it now lies sixth.
For the B team were Bella Weetch 47.09, Jane Georghiou 52.38, 1st F70, Rachel Morris 53.47 and Colette Grist 55.40. Vicky Goodluck 55.27, Tori Shaw 55.05, Carol Dare 57.12 and Penny Schnabel 64.04 made a C team – the first one for the club this season. Nicola O’Connor 65.37 Sally Kerr 69.05, Jackie Wilkinson 71.23 and Alison Mungall 90.46 supported the team.