Matt Peffers heading towards the finish at Saturday's mob match versus Clapham Chasers.
Saturday morning brought a rare treat for QPH’s south London chapter. No two hour drive off into the Midlands, no tube-then-bus-then-confusing-walk-through-the-back-of-a-hospital to get to Wormwood Scrubs; Harriers’ return mob match with Clapham Chasers brought the rest of the club to our doorstep.
Not since the heady days of the Summer League had we been treated to such a lie-in and relaxed start to a club race (or plenty of time for a breezy pre-dawn, pre-parkrun half marathon if you’re Matt D).
A mob match at Gladstone parkrun against our friends at Sudbury Court RC has long been part of QPH’s fixture list, but the meetings with Clapham are new for this year, building on friendships forged at the Green Belt Relay in May.
In August, the club welcomed the Chasers to north-west London and they had the audacity not only to triumph, but to outnumber us on our own patch. So for the return match, revenge was very much on the Harriers’ minds. At least it was until we got there, when revenge was pushed out of our minds by the rain, the eternal 'trail-shoes-or-no-trail-shoes' debate and impending brunch.
21 Harriers lined up at the start among a field of 559 parkrunners–not bad going for an event that’s been running barely half a year–and attacked the two-lap course of gravel, mud, sharp turns and tarmac. Ed Mooney was first home for QPH, 10th overall in an impressive 17:46 given the conditions. Sally Nash led the ladies as 6th female overall in 20:39. Special mentions were also in order for Martin Sigsworth–24:19 on a tricky and unfamiliar course that he couldn’t see – and Mike Wilkinson, who ran 28:07 with a buggy. Martin Haničinec and the rest of the Braine clan also braved the cold and rain to provide enthusiastic support from the sidelines.
The large numbers of Chasers amassing beyond the finish line even just 20 minutes after the start was a testament to a number of fine individual runs by their club runners, but as a leveller, the parkrun mob match competitions are contested on average age-grading. So had the Harriers clawed back some pride after their home defeat in the Summer? It would appear not.
But the most important lesson from the day? Stuff trail shoes; we all needed spikes…