Teenager Ellen Weir concluded an outstanding winter cross country season by leading Surrey to the senior girls team title in the English Schools Cross Country Championships in Tonbridge, Kent, on Saturday, writes Tom Pollak.
The 18-year-old Wimbledon High School pupil finished just outside the medals in the 4.4km race.
She was fourth of the 278 finishers in 14:29, just seven seconds outside the bronze medal position.
A short starting straight before a hard left turn heavily penalised athletes in the left-hand pens, which included the Surrey team. Quite a few runners fell and at least three of the Surrey runners were spiked.
There were no Surrey runners in the top 50 early on and the course was then narrow all the way around the flat fields at the Hop Farm, which made gaining places very challenging.
Weir’s path was blocked by fallen athletes and she came around the first corner in about 70th position but over the next four kilometres she managed to work back to fourth place, just missing out on an individual medal.
Surrey won the six-to-score competition with 289 points with West Yorkshire (317) and Greater Manchester (352) next to finish.
It was the final race of an impressive cross country campaign for Weir. She made a major breakthrough helping Great Britain to the bronze team medals in the European Championships in Dublin in December, the second British runner to cross the line in 14th place.
During a winter in which she collected a bagful of medals, she was also runner-up in the UK Inter-Counties Championship at Loughborough the previous weekend, the English National Championships at Parliament Hill Fields and the Surrey Championships at Denbies Vineyard in Dorking in January.
Although she just failed to pick up an individual medal, the teenager had the satisfaction of beating her great rival Pippa Roessler from Aldershot by 11 seconds at Tonbridge.
A second Hercules Wimbledon runner in the title-winning Surrey team was KCS Wimbledon pupil Albane Fery, who was 75th and fifth Surrey scorer in 15:56.
Kiara Valkenburg was outside the scoring six for Surrey’s senior girls team, finishing 149th in 16:52.
Ava McAndie, a pupil at Ashcroft Academy in Putney, was 157th out of 340 runners representing London in the junior girls 3.2km championship.
Twenty-two Hercules Wimbledon runners were in action in eight parkrun 5km events on Saturday.
Will Woodcock was second of 613 runners on Clapham Common in 17:01, 13 seconds behind the winner.
Veteran Gina Galbraith was second woman finisher in Bushy Park where there were more than 1,100 runners.
Charlotte Lam was also second woman to finish in Crane Park, Twickenham.