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Race Report: 2024 Clutton Cup

There once was a cup called the Clutton,
whose provenance was older than mutton,
Annually won in a race, where speed set the pace,
A Ranelagh Harrier tradition that’s far from forgotten

If we had a Clutton limerick, it’d probably go a little like the above. Thankfully we have something better; a succinct paragraph from the illuminating tome that is The First 125 Years of Ranelagh Harriers (1881-2006) by Ron Dassett Callis and Steve Rowland stating:

February 17th (1882) saw the first race for the handsome silver cup presented by the President, JH Clutton, for the Club ten mile handicap. The winner from a field of twenty was S. Smith, on a time allowance of four minutes and the fastest time, 63m. 40s. was returned by WH Coad. A report on the race commented that poor handicapping made the race a dull one with large gaps at the finish.

Fast forward 142 years, 1 month & 28 days to 13 April 2024, and there are some striking similarities; the distance is still ten miles, it’s still a handicap race and the surname of the winner is also – believe it or not – Smith.

But we’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves here.

Anyway, on what was the hottest day of the year so far, the usual gaggle of Ranelights gathered at the hallowed manhole by Sidmouth Woods to vie for the Clutton Cup. A variety of reasons; including injuries to knees, shins and ankles, car trouble and in a certain individual’s case, just being a 🐔; meant that there were almost more marshals & volunteers than there were runners.

In the end 15 runners were set off at their allotted times to Race Director Andy Bickerstaff’s usual laconic ‘Go’. Emma de Heveningham, on her maiden Clutton, led the pack, with young Joe Killip and not-as-young-as-they-used-to-be David Ready and Jonny Smith sharing the honour of scratch some 45mins 40 secs later.

The course is certainly not for the faint hearted; down Queen’s Ride, up and around the Ballet School, onwards round Spankers Hill Woods, down to Pen Ponds, back up again towards the side of Isabella Plantation, before following the horse track to loop anti-clockwise round Sidmouth Woods, to head back to the venerated manhole.

Only to be told to turn around and do it ALL once again.

The warmth was a delight for all the marshals & volunteers; less so for the 15 athletes slogging out there. First to loop round was Emma; keeping steady and moving well. Making up a whopping 8mins of his 12 min handicap was Yann Bonduelle; followed 6 minutes later by a resolute Gordon Whitson (whose Vets AC kit was noted by the stewards in the event of a formal inquiry).

The remainder of the field came through much in line with their starting order; the heat certainly not making things easy for anyone. On they went, back down Queen’s Ride again after some refreshment at the impromptu hydration station.

Impressively, the scratches were not far behind. In a lighting split of sub-31 minutes, David Ready and Jonny Smith, like a pack of super-human mutant hounds, had caught up with a certain D. Lawley Esq; who was feeling the effects of his delayed flight from France the night before. Their faces showed the pressure of the pace being set; clearly no one was taking any prisoners.

14 started their 2nd loop; Joe Killip sensibly retiring following a knee twinge. The timekeepers worked on their calculations; if such-and-such could maintain the pace of the 1st loop; would so-and-so be able to catch them? Only time would tell.

And in the fullness of time, that age old cry ‘RUNNER’ was heard. Coming round the bend, moving steadily forwards was Yann! Would he be the first to cross the line? But then just behind him, a flash of blue – who was it?

A few seconds later, it became clear; it was scratch Jonny Smith. Would he be able to catch Yann or was it too late? Was there enough course left for Jonny to win the Clutton; did he even have anything left to give? Lesser individuals would have settled for 2nd place; given that Yann was a guest, the Clutton would have gone to Jonny anyway.

But no. Not so our determined Mr Smith. He was hell-bent on taking the gold; coming in second (again) was not for him. To the delight of the timekeepers, Jonny gave chase, sprinting like a scalded cat to catch Yann with less than a couple of yards to go. It was a thrilling finish and a well-deserved win for this century’s Mr Smith.

Third to cross the line was Graham Weller, also on his maiden Clutton; with mostly everyone coming home within 20 plus minutes of the winner. There was then an en masse troop back to the clubhouse to be feted by Carol’s much-appreciated tea; as our results boffin Pete Vox crunched the times.

The 3 fastest ladies were Rachel Smith (1:33:09), Wiebke Kortum (1:38:30) and Emma de Heveningham (1:48:28). The 3 fastest open times were Jonny Smith (1:00:27), David Ready (1:01:30) and Graham Weller (1:04:15). The Clutton Cup was awarded (in absentia) to Jonny Smith, with Yann Bonduelle (guest) taking 2nd in 1:34:13, and Graham Weller placing 3rd.

A huge thank you to everyone who helped make this year’s Clutton a success; a Ranelagh tradition that continues to be kept alive only by the exceptional efforts of our many volunteers.

Race report by Narissa Vox (Race Director)

Image credit: Pete Vox & Narissa Vox



💙 Finishing Order:
💛 Speed Order:
💙 Fastest 3:


Clutton Cup 2024 Finishing Order

PositionNameFinished @Started @Race Time
1Jonathan Smith1:46:070:45:401:00:27
2Yann Bonduelle (Guest)1:46:130:12:001:34:13
3Graham Weller1:46:450:42:301:04:15
4Gordon Whitson1:46:590:21:301:25:29
5David Ready1:47:100:45:401:01:30
6Emma de Heveningham1:48:280:00:001:48:28
7Peter Haarer1:50:050:42:001:08:05
8Dave Lawley1:50:130:44:501:05:23
9Amrut Sharma1:52:420:27:301:25:12
10Ricardo Motti1:52:580:22:201:30:38
11Neil Rae1:53:190:34:301:18:49
12Greg Smith (Guest)1:59:320:21:301:38:02
13Rachel Smith2:00:390:27:301:33:09
14Wiebke Kortum2:06:000:27:301:38:30

Clutton Cup 2024 Speed Order

PositionNameRace TimeSplit Time
1Jonathan Smith1:00:270:30:35
2David Ready1:01:300:30:35
3Graham Weller1:04:150:31:52
4Dave Lawley1:05:230:31:26
5Peter Haarer1:08:050:32:52
6Neil Rae1:18:490:36:34
7Amrut Sharma1:25:120:40:52
8Gordon Whitson1:25:290:41:53
9Ricardo Motti1:30:380:44:50
10Rachel Smith1:33:090:46:09
11Yann Bonduelle1:34:130:45:00
12Greg Smith1:38:020:48:01
13Wiebke Kortum1:38:300:40:15
14Emma de Heveningham1:48:280:53:26

Clutton Cup 2024 Fastest 3

Fastest 3 LadiesNameRace Time
1Rachel Smith1:33:09
2Wiebke Kortum1:38:30
3Emma de Heveningham1:48:28
Fastest 3 OpenNameRace Time
1Jonathan Smith1:00:27
2David Ready1:01:30
3Graham Weller1:04:15

may, 2024

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Surrey cross country league standings

LeagueTeam PositionFull details
Ladies Div 17/15league table
Men Div 18/9league table
Ladies Div U159/16league table
Men Div U15/U1716/18league table