Philp is top finisher for City Runners

PUBLISHED: 13:41 06 February 2008 | UPDATED: 21:03 26 October 2009

Jenny Gray

Jenny Gray

GARDEN City Runners took on one of the most notorious courses in England at the Southern Counties Cross- Country Championships. This year the Championships returned to their usual home at Parliament Hill, Hampstead Heath, London. The relentlessly hilly c

GARDEN City Runners took on one of the most notorious courses in England at the Southern Counties Cross- Country Championships.

This year the Championships returned to their usual home at Parliament Hill, Hampstead Heath, London.

The relentlessly hilly course and glutinous muddy sections make it a venue which demands not just speed, but strength, endurance and determination.

Although conditions on the day were fine, recent rain and churning up by thousands of runners made it as tough as ever.

In the ladies' race over 8km, Katherine Philp was first home for GCR in 28th with a time of 36 minutes 15 seconds. Jenny Gray finished in 38th in 36.43.

Mandy Livingstone came 55th in 37 mins 36 secs, while Abi Brockhurst was placed 88th in 39.05.

Martha Hall, still battling against illness, did well to finish 99th in 39.54. Caroline Hale was not so happy with her 131st in 41.31, but Celia Pardoe ran a solid 44.50 for 189th out of a total of 326 finishers.

The ladies' team finished in sixth place overall out of 47 teams, with 209 points.

This was an excellent result against top clubs of the calibre of Winchester and Aldershot.

For the men, the extra-long 15km distance and the severity of the terrain make this the most feared and respected event in the cross-country calendar.

But for Graham Robinson, who has been there regularly since the days when he competed in schools' under-16 events, it was business as usual.

He cruised round in 52.09 to finish 51st, ahead of Mark Dickinson in 127th with a time of 55.46 and Andy Holt 143rd in 56.27.

Steve Livingstone's race got off to a less than perfect beginning as he didn't quite make it to the start line before the gun.

He said: "Starting at the back of 832 runners, I fought to get up into the top 250 where I should have been, without wearing myself out, and then moved on.

"I caught up with Bruce Judge towards the end of lap one and we continued to move forward together.

"I think Bruce had got it right. He was able to continue to go through whereas I ran out of steam towards the end of lap two. That made lap three difficult still going backwards. I was pleased to hang on as well as I did."

Bruce, however, got it spot on, finishing 213th in a time of 58.22.

"The key was not to fight it out with others and the mud on lap one but take it easy," he said.

"Come lap three, some sense of understanding between myself and the sloppy mud prevailed and we were able to help each other out.

"It helped running next to Steve for a lap and then closing in on Simon and Terry, plus there was great encouragement around the course from club colleagues and friends."

Terry Fowler was 221st in 58.38, Simon Mace 235th in 58.57 and newcomer Nick Sturge from Tri-Force 244th in 59.2, while Steve was going backwards and finished 280th in 60.50.

Russell Casey was 306th in 61.36, Markus Allen 455th in 65.42 and Patrick Gallagher 499th in 66.54.

GCR's Patrick Bird was 668th in 72.26.

Earlier in the day, he had watched daughter Elizabeth of Herts Phoenix finish 59th of 212 in the Under-13 girls' race in 14.22 for her 3km course.

Steve Williams was 699th in the men's race in 73.58 and Peter Sawko 778th in 80.42.

The GCR A team were 18th with 990 points and the B team 51st of 86.

Bedford & County took the gold, while Newham & Essex Beagles were second, with GCR second-claimer Kevin Skinner 12th in 48.49, ahead of Dave Mitchinson

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