The University of Portsmouth Athletics Club won round three in division two of the men’s Hampshire Cross Country League at Popham Airfield in Basingstoke.
The five first finishers from the men’s team finished within two minutes of each other managing to muster enough points to top the table at the end of the race.
Nine runners made the trip to Basingstoke to take on the Basingstoke course.
The race was by far the coldest of the series so far but conditions improved as the race began.
The course was made up of two large fields and a connecting woodland uphill section that was tackled on three separate occasions.
The surface was rough and hard due to the cold conditions, and low light caused a few visibility issues during the race, but overall the UPAC athletes managed to overcome the conditions.
A combination of zig zagging trails and an undulating course makes Popham one of the most mentally draining of the year.
Nevertheless, some impressive times were posted by the UPAC runners over the 10.2 kilometre course.
Club president Paddy Haynes was the first finisher, completing the course in 62nd out of 191, runners and 14th under 20, in a time of 37.19. Improving on last seasons time of 39.44.
On the teams display Haynes said:
“Last saturday marked the best race of the league for UPAC so far, getting the men’s cross country team their first win of the season. Top 5 scorers included Paddy Haynes, Josh Eve, Phil Samuel, Marcus Harding and Dan Slayford. Great running from the whole squad, and special mention to first timers Oskar Scarsbrook and Tim Chappell who ran extremely well too. Well done all round”
Next to finish was Josh Eve in a time of 38.35, ending the race in 82nd position. Josh’s time is an improvement on his time earlier in the season, on a flatter and shorter course.
Josh was followed closely by Phil Samuel at 38.53. The time proved to be Phil’s new 10k personal best.
Commenting on his impressive performance, Phil said:
“The race was really tough. Although, compared to other races conditions seemed to be better and course a little less hilly and boggy. However open fields meant it was tougher mentally as you could see who was so far ahead. Getting a new personal best was something I was very proud of.”
Marcus Harding also improved on his time form earlier in the season, finishing 97th in a time of 39.35
Harding ran with fellow UPAC runner Dan Slayford for the majority of the race with Slayford finishing as the final points scorer, two seconds behind Marcus in a time of 39.37.
After the race Harding said he was pleased with his time, despite of the monotonous course.
An impressive performance by the five points scorers managed to get the University of Portsmouth a division two win on the day, with all points scorers finishing below 40 minutes.
The next finisher was Chris Wilson in a time of 40.29. Wilson ran well, gradually getting faster through the race and picking off runners as he went.
Speaking on UPAC’s team win Chris said:
“I think our club got very good positions considering Popham Airfield is considered one of the hardest courses in the Hampshire League. Its not physically tough, but its mentally tough thanks to the long open stretches.”
In their first races of the season, Tim Chappel and Oskar Scarsbrook ran well with each other for the majority of the race, especially during the final two laps where they pushed themselves to pick up a few more places on the uphill rises.
Chappel caught Scarsbrook on the downhill stretch with the two finishing in times of 43.03 and 43.04 respectively.
Afterwards Tim said:
“It was a chilly start to the day, but thankfully the weather settled down and once the race started, it was great. The whole team finished very strong and ran a great race.”
Scarsbrook declined to comment, clearly still fuming over being pipped at the line.
Edward Baker finished off the impressive team performance in a time of 47.41. In his second cross country of the series, Baker improved on his time from the last race and ran solidly throughout.
“It was a cold day in Basingstoke but the warm atmosphere in the UPAC team made for an enjoyable day on a complicated, but luckily, flat course in which the whole team ran excellently.”
Fellow UPAC regular Luca Chiossone also ran, finishing in a time of 39.07, but league rules mean that he has to run for his home club Basingstoke.
A strong performance then by the UPAC runners, beating nine other team in division 10 on the day. The league continues in 2017.