Thames Hare and Hounds Alumni 5 – 14.12.19

Thames Hare and Hounds Alumni 5 mile Cross Country, Wimbledon Common 

Race report by David Phillips.

Thames Hare and Hounds is the oldest XC club in the UK formed back in 1868. Their clubhouse is on the edge of Wimbledon and Putney Common in Roehampton Vale near Kingston and next to London Cornish Rugby Club.

So an early train from Warwick Parkway to Marylebone, underground to Putney Bridge then the number 85 bus to their club house.

The Alumni event is for teams of ex pupils from schools in the UK. My team was Old Warwickians (Warwick School) and there were 8 of us. Henry VIIIth had about 10 runners (ladies and men) but no Bablake this year I don’t think. The usual teams were there from Eton, Harrow, Winchester, Uppingham etc. plus many more making up c250 runners. I well recall sitting on the wall next to some Old Etonians 3 years ago and Henry V111 Coventry’s team of ladies and men joined us. The Etonians were mortified that ladies should be allowed in the XC event or were even at what used to  an “all-male school”. No changes there to this day I think! Ladies at Eton and Harrow? “Over one’s dead body” would be their reply.

The start was on the playing fields of the rugby club but immediately we were in dreadful muddy conditions as we approached the woods. Those who ran last week’s XC at Stratford will recall the mud at the top of the hill after the start. Well most of our 5 miles was like this. Absolutely dreadful plus in one part we had to clamber over 6 huge trees that had fallen over the trails.

Most of the race was in wooded areas on tracks and trails all marked with small white H&H route markers. Thank goodness for these as I was on my own for most of the race (at the back not at the front!).

Some paths in the woods were gravel so not too bad but the last mile was in ankle deep dreadful mud on tracks with many hills and it was getting dark but at least it was not raining.

Eventually the playing fields were in sight with half a mile to the finish.

I looked behind me and saw the marshals bringing home all the race markers, tapes etc. so I knew my position!

We all finished, had goodie bags, showers then the return journey home plus a pint in the bar at Marylebone (£5.70!!!).

Happy days-at school anyway.

So next year (as I’ve said before) let’s have some Massey runners in their school teams and I’ll assist. I’ve done it annually for the last 8 years since we found out about it.

Dave’s time: 66.58.