A good day for Belgrave Harriers.With the club successfully hosting a Ladies Surrey league fixture for the first time in many years and another emphatic win by Sophie Harris, this was a day to show Belgrave at its best. A strong turnout from the Belles gave the A team a third-place finish on the day moving them up to fourth overall with just one race to come. Terrific support from the many Belgrave members around the course did much to lift the team’s spirits and provide a great showcase for the club on the day.
Belgrave has a strong history of organising races at Wimbledon with many experienced officials turning out year after year for road and cross country races hosted by the club. Of course many remember the South of England 12-stage road relay, a huge event held here until the mid-nineties. However, that well-oiled machine of Belgravians have now sadly retired or gone and it was largely a new generation who arrived to set things up on the common shortly after daybreak. Megan James and Chris James, Matt Welsh, Warren Lynch, plus of course the ever dependable Don Anderson.The Ladies league has grown out of all proportion since its formation over thirty years ago when there were just over a hundred athletes taking part. This year with senior fields totalling well over five hundred the league agreed to split the two divisions, but with two young athlete races as well, it means the organisers have to put on four races on the day. This produces a very long day for officials and marshals out on the course. Some of our male athletes even stood marshalling and support for the first race then travelled to Coulsdon for their own Surrey league fixture.The Belles had their best turnout of the season with several runners back from injury and a couple of welcome new faces. Vicky Goodwin came over again from Switzerland to help the team as she has done so often in the past. Several had familiarised themselves with the course training on it the week before, paying particular attention to the stiff hill coming up from Queensmere lake. Sophie Harris sat with the leading group for the first half of the initial lap, then took the lead in the woods before the hill. Her lead at the end of the first lap was about 15 seconds which stretched to more than a minute over 2nd placed Lucy Reid, (a 16.30 5km runner) at the end. She has now won all three Surrey league races equalling the record set thirty years ago. Richmond Park to come in February.Saron Haileselase ran her best race of the season finishing in an excellent 6th place. She was cautious in the woods and on the hill but as a 1500m track runner enjoyed the long stretches of a flat path. Once past the last hill and onto the home stretch she just floated past a group of other runners including last week’s Surrey Champion, Isobel Brindson. The Belles two stars were ably supported by very strong runs again by Mhairi Hall and Iona Cousland, reversing their order from the previous week at Denbies. Mhairi almost running herself to exhaustion again, Iona perhaps preferring the hillier tougher courses. Then Lizzie Goldie-Scot, still not fully fit after a long injury, but getting stronger with every race. These five ensured the Belles best A team position of the season.Soon after, a complete B team packed very closely together with Jess Reed, Felicity Cole, Jojo Rhodes, Megan James and Emma Howsham all within sight of each other and less than a minute apart at the finish. Then finally Gemma Wright close behind plus Vicky pleased to get round again without injury.