In chilly conditions, a dominant VAC took all titles on offer at the Inter-Area Cross Country Challenge, held in Croydon’s Lloyd Park alongside the second round of the East Surrey Cross Country League.

In an admittedly depleted field, with limited showings from those outside of the south of England, the London-based area club took home the overall team prize, as well as both the men’s and women’s individual trophies.

Harry Matthews, EMAA Chairman, presents the overall trophy | Photo: James Davis

Evans leads them home

On the standard five mile, two lap course familiar to those living south of the Thames, M40 Micah Evans led at halfway and was in the same position at the finish, as he led M50 clubmate Steve Winder across the line, 27:50 to 28:07.

VAC athletes Rich Berry (M45) and Mark Tennyson (M55) also led their categories home in third and fourth, Tennyson finishing eight seconds behind Berry’s 29:42.

Micah Evans comes into the finish | Photo: James Davis

First M60 home was David Ogden of VAC, 32:52 for tenth place overall, while Northern Masters’ sole representative, Thomas Mortimer, made it round as first M35 in 33:59.

In the three oldest men’s age groups, M65 Alan Newman and M75 Michael Davies took age group wins for Southern Counties Vets, with Veterans AC’s Mike Forder the leading M70s.

M60 winner David Ogden mid-race | Photo: James Davis

Fourth-placed Tennyson and second-placed Winder were the men’s athletes with the two best age-graded performances, as Vets AC took a commanding team victory over Southern Counties Vets.

Tennyson narrowly beat his clubmate by just 0.05% to take home the individual trophy, the pair leading the rest of the pack by some 4%.

Harry Matthews with men’s age-graded winner Mark Tennyson | Photo: James Davis

VAC seal men’s team victory

With VAC’s sixth scorer beating SCVAC’s leading man, an average age grade of 83.20% for the men in black and white comfortably beat the 73.46%. average of those dressed in yellow.

Best scoring athlete for Southern Counties was Simon Bean, whose 34:06 to finish third M60 gave an age grade of 79.67%.

Kowal takes women’s crown

Maria Kowal was first woman home, the W40 SCVAC athlete finishing in 33:18 for 13th overall.

Following her home were a trio of W50 athletes, Denise Barnett and Rachel Berry finishing in 34:36 and 34:51 respectively, as Chloe Constantine made it four women inside the overall top 25.

Eventual winner Maria Kowal out on course | Photo: James Davis

Further down the field, there were W55 and W65 wins for VAC pairing Pippa Major (38:35) and Joanna Quantrill (38:56), while Susan Payne of Southern Counties took the W60 crown in 40:08.

The final age group winner on the day was Annie Ross. 53:14 saw her cross the line to win the W70 category as the final athlete home.

W60 winner Susan Payne | Photo: James Davis

Solo Vets AC victory

In the team competition, only Vets AC were able to field six athletes, ensuring they took both the women’s and overall team awards.

The VAC team averaged 80.71% across their sextet, with SCVAC’s two female finishers averaging 77.35%.

Joanna Quantrill led the VAC team home with the best age-graded score of any athlete on the day, her 87.13% narrowly beating Mark Tennyson’s 87.05% for the men’s crown.

Second-placed W65 Anna Garnier was the only other woman scoring more than 80%, losing out to Quantrill by just under 3%.

Women’s age-graded winner Joanna Quantrill | Photo: James Davis

For full results, and individual and team scoring, head to OpenTrack.

By James Davis

James is Track & Field Communications lead for BMAF, as well as an athletics official, event organiser, and sports journalist.