Alton Runners host cross country at Chawton House


On 21st January Alton Runners hosted the 4th race in this season’s Southern Cross Country League at Chawton House. Previous events held on the course involved snow and ice but this year’s event was held on a windy day after a few days of wet and windy weather. Consequentially the course was quite muddy in places and the wind made it challenging for those taking part.

322 runners from 23 clubs took part in this year’s race  which was won by James Perrett of Alton Runners. 20 members of Alton Runners took part and their scoring team of 5 men and 3 women finished 3rd overall. The men’s team finished in joint 2nd place, level on points with Basingstoke and Mid Hants AC but behind winners Denmead Striders. The women’s team finished in 5th place and the winning women’s team was Basingstoke and Mid Hants AC. Following James in the men’s team were Alex Hall in 11th place, Chris Birch (15th),  Steve Drysdale (24th) and Simon Tickner (39th). First female finisher for Alton Runners was Laura De Lisle who was 8th place woman. The other two scorers in The Alton women’s  team were Wendy Kilner-Smith and Diane Byrne who were in 22nd and 31st place. Race Director Philip Scrase congratulated  the Alton Runners who ran, saying “That was our best result at Chawton House in the 5 years since we started using the course.” It is also one of Alton Runners best results in the Southern Cross Country League.

Philip and Co-Race Director Richard Taylor spent several weeks liaising with the Chawton House Management in preparation for the race and put together a team of 41 volunteers. The volunteers were involved in course preparation and closing down, car park marshalling, tail walker/runner, finish line duties and course marshalling. One of the course marshals Richard Scrase even had to double up as a shepherd on his bike as the course ran through a populated sheep field. Philip thanked the volunteers for their help in making it such a successful event.

Richard Taylor used social media to pass on Kudos to everyone who ran and contributed to the success of the event saying “It was a fun-filled day. I also want to echo Philip's heartfelt thanks to our incredible volunteers. Your dedication, enthusiasm, and effort were crucial in making our 5th annual cross-country event such a success. I counted 41 volunteers handling various roles, including the challenging tasks of 'sheep herding' and ‘gazebo chasing’, both not for the fainthearted! The feedback I picked up about our marshals, the course, and event organisation has been overwhelmingly positive. In particular, Bob from Chawton House expressed his admiration for the club's friendly and inclusive atmosphere.”

The comment about gazebo chasing was prompted by the fact that the Alton Runners gazebo which was situated by the finish line was pegged down but unfortunately not sufficiently enough to stop a gust of wind from picking it up like a kite. It summersaulted 3 or 4 times in the direction of the river before being captured. Finish line official Heather Armitage  said “I couldn’t chase after the gazebo as Jane Scrase and I needed to be on the finish line giving out tokens.” Fortunately though fellow finish line officials Alison Diarra, Donna Mansfield and event photographer Douglas Maclean were on hand to grab the runaway gazebo before it reached the river. Donna was glad that Doug was on hand as she said that without him they wouldn’t have been able to get it under control.

Ian Urquhart echoed the Race Directors thanks to the volunteers for making it such a successful event but added “We could have done with someone herding the deer as well as the sheep as I almost had a collision with one on the field after running up the drive.”

After the race, runners and volunteers retired to the Barn and tucked into Burgers, pasties and hot drinks which were prepared by Chawton House staff.

The next event in the Southern Cross Country League will be hosted by Farnham Runners at Bourne Woods on 18th February. For further information about Alton Runners see