Waverley Harriers was formed by a group of athletes from other local clubs at an inaugural meeting in the Devil’s Punchbowl Hotel, Hindhead, in August 1980. The club quickly established a thriving nucleus of middle and long-distance athletes at both junior and senior level. Several young athletes won Surrey county championships on the track and at cross-country, and some were among the top-ranked juniors nationally.
They included Richard Vassall, an outstanding 800/1500m runner; Neil Bellis; Karen Hill, an 800m girls national champion; Samantha Baines who became one of the country’s top runners in her mid-teens; and Lucy Clark, who was second in the girls 1500m national rankings and beat Kelly Holmes a couple of times over cross-country. At track and field Graham Shaw won the Gordon Pirie Trophy for the best under 13 performance at the Surrey County Track and Field Championships and Richard Brown was an outstanding junior sprinter and pentathlete.
In the early days, the Harriers held Wednesday evening training sessions from Guildford and Godalming Rugby Club at Broadwater, and for the keener runners organised punishing hill runs on the steep slopes of Crooksbury Common. Track training sessions were held too at the nearby Waverley Abbey School, Tilford, which served as a headquarters for the club’s cross-country open races on Crooksbury, incorporating the Waverley Schools League supported by schools from around the district. The Common was a testing, hilly circuit and the meetings attracted some top-class athletes. Waverley’s Martyn Flower and Dave Worsfold were often in the mix at the front. The international cross-country runner and three-times national champion Dave Clarke held the course record. The Harriers also hosted a Surrey League meeting there each year, and for a relatively small club managed to field some fairly competitive teams in the league’s senior men’s section. Several of the club’s runners were selected for the annual veterans international cross-country matches – John Chandler and Bob Belmore (England), Martyn Flower (Wales) and Paddy Clark (Scotland).
The Harriers embraced the road running boom that started at about the same time as the club. Waverley turned out particularly strongly in some of the big local road races such as the Woking 10 and the Hogs Back, which in the eighties used to attract a substantial entry from international athletes. Martyn Flower and Dave Worsfold both ran close to 50 minutes for 10 miles. A number of the club’s runners were sub-2:40 marathon men and regularly gained automatic qualification for the London Marathon. They included Mick Ralph and John Geoghehan, who both ran 2:30, Flower and Worsfold (both in the low 2:30s) and Alan Edwards, whose 2:35 gained him a top-six finish in his London Marathon age group. Paddy Clark set a club record of 2:27 in 1984.
These days the club has more of an informal and social emphasis catering for runners at all levels. We do still have a few racing snakes and some dedicated ultra runners competing in mountain races up 100 miles! Penny Elliot is a long term club member who at 70 is competing at the top of her age category for the 5k and half-marathon and putting many of us to shame!