Title heartbreak for GCR ladies team

PUBLISHED: 15:47 20 February 2008 | UPDATED: 21:49 26 October 2009

GARDEN City Runners ladies were pipped at the post to the Metropolitan Cross-Country League title. Going into the fifth and final race they topped the table with a lead of 39 points over second-placed Highgate Harriers. The north Londoners put out one of

GARDEN City Runners' ladies were pipped at the post to the Metropolitan Cross-Country League title.

Going into the fifth and final race they topped the table with a lead of 39 points over second-placed Highgate Harriers.

The north Londoners put out one of the strongest teams ever in the Met and made up the deficit to snatch the title from GCR's grasp.

Katherine Philp battled to hold on to fourth for much of the 6km race at St Albans' Verulamium Park, but in the end was caught by Highgate's Anna McCutcheon to finish fifth in 24 mins 28 secs.

There were two more Highgate runners ahead of Jenny Gray in ninth in 24 mins 50 secs.

Mandy Livingstone was 13th again in 25 min 11 secs with Martha Hall's recovery continuing with 26 mins 23 secs for 23rd.

Caroline Hale was 29th in 27 mins 13 secs and Yvonne Jones ran an excellent 27mins 23 secs for 30th to complete the scoring six.

Other finishers included Suzy Fitt in 35th with 27 min 56 secs, Virginia Bird 60th in 30 mins 02 secs, Celia Pardoe 64th in 30 mins 25 secs, Joy Allen 68th in 30 mins 47 secs and Avis Cowley 95th in 35 mins 8secs.

On the day, GCR were second with 485 points to Highgate's 564, with the vets coming out just on top, 183 to 180.

The ladies waited anxiously for the final league results.

In the end, it was Highgate who came top of the table with 2,654 and GCR second with 2,614.

The vets were also runners-up to Highgate by 759 points to 795.

Team captains Martha Hall and Kath Philp were desperately disappointed at being pipped to the championship after working so hard through the season.

Martha and Jenny Gray had sacrificed a rest day before their Wokingham half marathons so that GCR could field their top team.

Highgate had been clearly rattled, enough for them to call on German international Svenya Abel, who has trained on the Gosling track with Mark Dickinson and Matt Robins. She came second in the race.

But at least the weekend had an upbeat ending for Jenny, as she knocked six minutes off her personal best to run 1 hour 25 mins 55 secs at Wokingham, while partner Graham Robinson also ran a personal best of 1 hour 11 mins 58 secs. David Vaughan was just a few seconds off his own best in 1 hour 12 mins 51 secs.

The GCR men's team had concerns of a different kind as they managed to avoid relegation.

Overall the team were fifth - their best ever Met League placing - and finished ninth in the table. That was a comfortable five place above the division one drop zone.

The course, just short of 8km, took in two laps on the scenic slopes of Verulamium Park, with lots of twists and turns and gruelling ups and downs.

With top duo Graham Robinson and David Vaughan resting, it was marathoner Mark Dickinson who came in first for GCR in 29th overall with a time of 28 mins 13 secs.

He was followed by Matt Robins in 33rd with 28 mins 20 secs and Simon Mace 34th in 28 mins 22 secs.

Another solid run from Andy Holt gave him 28 mins 41 secs for 45th, with Terry Fowler 53rd in 28 mins 56 secs and triathlete Nick Sturge a second behind in 54th.

Steve Livingstone's shoes stayed intact this time, but he still lost out to 66th-placed Bruce Judge, who ran 29 mins 18 secs to Steve's 29 mins 28 secs in 72nd.

The top 12 were completed by Dave Bolas in 115th in 31 mins 03 secs, Martyn Perkins 124th (31.32), Neil Hughes 126th (31.34) and Sean Bowen 138th (31.48).

Patrick Gallagher finished 151st in 32 mins 34 secs, Dave Edwards was 175th in 33 mins 34secs.

Others were: Mark Heaney 185th (34.06); Patrick Bird 187th (34.15); Nick Davis 212th (35.47); Steve Button 233rd (38.14); Mick Smith 240th (39.07) and Trace Allen 255th of 263 in 42 mins 30 secs.

The loudest cheers of the day were for team captain Peter Sawko, as he held off his Barnet rival in a spirited sprint finish for 247th in 40 mins 31 secs.

The vets were fourth and finished 11th overall out of 31.

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