Since 1953, Thames Hare & Hounds Running Club have been hosting an annual Alumni race attracting schools from around the country with strong cross country running traditions.
The 5-mile race takes place on Wimbledon Common and this year, for possibly the first time, Giggleswick entered a team and joined over 250 runners competing from 34 schools.
Our team, some of whom were meeting for the first time, spanned across 37 school years, but united with their memories of Giggleswick.
A very enjoyable afternoon was had by all and we look forward to expanding our team numbers for 2020.
Please see below for a full commentary by our President of the OG Club and Captain of the Alumni team for this event, Mark Ehlinger.
"A team of Old Giggleswickians made history on 14th December 2019, becoming the first ever to enter into the (67th) Thames Hare & Hounds Alumni Cross Country Race, for former pupils from schools all across the UK.
Five OGs, spanning 37 Leaver Group Years (1975 -2012), who had neither run together previously, nor met one another until the morning of the race, assembled in nearby Roehampton, to prepare for this annual race over Wimbledon Common.
The Thames Hare & Hounds Alumni Race is described as having ‘strong cross country running traditions’, although it may be premature to describe the OG team, (informally ‘Team Mighty Phew’), in quite the same terms. Your 2019-20 President assembled a team of five runners, and two lady support crew.
Runners (ascending age)
Support Crew (ascending age)
251 starters representing 34 School Alumni teams crossed the starting line at 2:30pm to endure a 5 mile ‘true cross country course’ over the Wimbledon Common, much of which was under woodland cover, with many hills to climb and steep and hazardous descents, which lured runners into a mud-bath abyss. This is a cross-country course with streams to cross (or leap), and more than half a dozen fallen trees blocking the run route, a good handful of which were fallen tree stumps which one wouldn’t attempt to vault.
The team runners all completed the gruelling 8.5km course. Julian West was the first OG to cross the finishing line with a time of 00:38: 32. Nicole Elliott romped home with a very measured and controlled run of 00:39:05 time; Next to finish was Sarah-Annie Emmerson (00:44:57). The penultimate O.G. to cross the line was Graham Oliphant (00:53:57), recently re-patriated to the UK after a career spell in Seattle, USA, and finally, your OG President 2019-20, and team captain finished the course, flanked by Julian, Sarah-Annie, Nicole, and Graham, all of whom made their own contribution to ensuring that their captain completed the course safely, with a time of 1:00:18
“It was a tough course, made more so by the wet and muddy surface. Unfamiliarity with the course, deprived some in our team any certainty of distance run throughout the race – i.e. no known points on which to monitor one’s progress towards the 8.5km progression. I predicted a 60 minute finishing time, and I was pretty close to this, when the finishing line was crossed. I have seen the photos of myself closing out the race run – they are a textbook item of posture NOT to adopt – shoulders hunched, stooping forward, and with an expression which is far from pretty. But we all made it, each working on what we needed to do, and then digging in, working as a team, doing everything possible to ensure we all finished the course, to contribute to our overall team and scores.”
The stand-out performances are two-fold. Julian West’s performance to be the first OG to finish this course, and both Nicole and Sarah-Annie securing 6th place, overall in the ladies’ race.
“We have already worked out our strategy for 2020 to secure 3rd place in the ladies competition in our 2nd entry to this historic, annual race on Wimbledon Common. We can’t discuss this, openly, outside of the team, obviously” – Mark Ehlinger
Post-Race goody-bag food and liquid, prize giving, lots of photos, hot showers for the few, then a dash down to the nearby Green Man pub for an hour or two of celebration for the team, with many other competitor Alumni – cheek-by-jowl, rounded off a great day.
Next Stop – OG Scarrig 2020 – and Alumni Race next December.
Final word from team captain and 2019-20 OG President:
“What this team demonstrated is that the nature of OG events is evolving, that younger OGs’ a drawn to lower cost, more informal, multi-purpose, activity based conventions, within which friendships are renewed, and networking occurs, naturally.
Team running is one of only a small number of gender neutral activities in which OGs of all age groups, can collaborate, have a positive and purposeful experience, and end the day with a moment of reflection, looking forward to the next outing.
Perhaps we are concluding that In the 21st Century, social media substantively meets Younger OG members’ fellowship and friendship needs, which in the twentieth century, the OG successfully delivered.
The missing piece, for Young OGs, pursuing each’s respective career and life path, may well be a reliable, safe and trusted network within which their desired and positive outcomes are supported – something which is in the OG Club’s grasp to facilitate.”
Picture (left to right); Julian West (Paley 1991), Graham Oliphant (Shute 1993), Sarah-Annie Emmerson (Style 2001), Nicole Elliott (Carr 2012) and Mark Ehlinger (Carr 1975).