Thames Valley Harriers cross country teams have formed the foundations of the club. The cross country season traditionally runs from October until mid-March. TVH provides cross country training and competition for athletes of all abilities and ages. Cross country is used by many coaches to improve their athletes’ strength and endurance prior to the summer track season. However many athletes specialise in cross country running and there are lots of opportunities during the season to take part in this traditional winter past time at all levels.
TRAINING SESSIONS & LEAD COACHES
John Husbands runs the main training group for seniors. The team meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays, starting on the track about 7:15 pm. Athletes of all abilities and ages are welcome.
TVH compete in local leagues and all the major County, Regional and National championships. The club also provides entry to a number of inter-club cross country races held that are mostly in Perivale and Ruislip.
The men, women and young athlete’s teams compete in the Metropolitan League.
Young athletes also compete in the North West Young Athletes Cross Country League.
There is no need to enter for individuals to enter in advance as the club is affiliated to the leagues. Simply come along with a TVH vest, meet up with the Valley team and enjoy running.
North-West London Young Athletes Cross Country League
This league is for U11, U13, U15 and U17 athletes. The league consists of five races from October to February, usually one each month. At the end of the season teams and individuals are crowned champions in their various age groups categories. TVH is the most successful club in the history of the league.
Metropolitan Cross Country League
The metropolitan league is one of the best leagues in the country, currently the league is made up of 22 clubs from Essex, Hertfordshire and Middlesex. This league is suitable for all athletes from the youngest age group (U11s) to veterans. The league consists of five races from October to February, usually one each month, on a Saturday afternoon. Everyone that completes their respective race, no matter what position they finish, scores for their club. These points are calculated after each fixture. After the final fixture the league results are totalled up and the winners are crowned.
Overall TVH is the league’s most successful club, with a fantastic winning record in all age groups. The senior men’s team has the most Metropolitan League victories of any club, being crowned champions on 14 occasions: 1966/67 (founder member and inaugural league champions), 1967/68, 1968/69, 1969/70, 1971/1972, 1973/74, 1974/75 1975/76, 1976/77, 1977/78, 1979/1980, 1986/87, 1998/99 and 1999/2000. The league only induced women into the league structure in 1994 and the TVH senior women’s team have won the league on two occasions: 1998/99 and 1999/2000. TVH young athletes have an equally successful record.
Championship events require advance entry, which is organised by the club. Entries have to be submitted about eight weeks before the races. TVH pays the race entry fees on its athlete’s behalf as part of their TVH membership and also help provide transport. Athletes are advised to tell their team managers that they would like to be entered for any of the events.
These are held annually in early January and are a major event in the club’s calendar, all athletes from all age groups are encouraged to run. The race is used as a selection race for the Inter Counties Cross Country Championships where athletes will represent Middlesex.
TVH is by far the most successful team in the history of the Middlesex Championships with many individual and team victories in all age group categories. The Senior Men have won the Middlesex Championships on 25 occasions; 1927, 1937, 1950, 1951, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1968, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 2005 and 2014. The first senior women Middlesex Championship victory came in 2014 and they retained their title in 2015. There have been many age group individual and team victories too, with the most recent being Kosana Weir with her team U17 women’s team and the U15 girls in 2017.
South of England Athletic Association (SEAA) Cross Country Championship
The ‘Southerns’ are held annually in January and are usually held at the home of cross country running Parliament Hill Fields, Hampstead Heath (these championships are held elsewhere if Parliament Hill is chosen for the National). At Parliament Hill the course is 15,000 meters (9 miles) for men and is very demanding. Ladies run a shorter distance and the same goes for all the age groups. Teams will be entered by team managers but all are welcome to run.
TVH senior men’s team have won this event on three occasions: 1960, 1974 and 1978. TVH ladies best performance was 3rd in 2014 and 2015. The younger age group teams have been equally as successful throughout the years. TVH have had multiple individual champions in the various age groups.
English National Cross Country Championships
Usually held in February the venue rotates between North, Midlands and South of England. The ‘Nationals’ are often held at Parliament Hill Fields when it’s the South’s turn to host. This is a major event which all TVH athletes should aim to enter.
TVH have has a long history in the ‘National’ including individual winners: Steve Cottrell in 1895, Ken Norris in 1955 and Malcom Thomas in 1972. Team successes include wins for: TVH’s U17 men in 1949 and 1982, and TVH’s U20 men in 1951.
TVH members were founders of the SEAA Cross Country Relays in 2011 that complements the established National Cross Country Relays. TVH usually host these relays at their home venue, Wormwood Scrubs, in early October. These relays are now one of TVH’s priority races in the competition calendar. The SEAA Cross Country relays are for age groups: U13, U15, U17, U20, senior men and women.
TVH senior men won the inaugural SEAA Cross Country Relays in 2011 and retained their title in 2012. TVH senior women followed the men’s success by winning in 2013 and regaining their crown in 2014. TVH’s best young athlete result came in 2014 when they won the bronze medal in the U15 girls category, a performance that was matched in 2016 when Charlotte Buckley and Ava White set the two fastest laps of the day.
The National Cross Country Relays usually take place two weeks after the regional championships and have been held in Mansfield since 1989 for age groups: U13, U15, U17, U20, senior men and women.
TVH also enter teams and have a long history of success in the North of Thames, Liddiard and London cross country championships. TVH’s top athletes are also encouraged to take part in various other championships representing their schools, county or country at regional, national or international level.