ERRA Women’s 4-Stage National Road Relay, Sutton Park, 7th October 2017


It may have been the first time that the Belgrave Women have completed two teams of four at the Autumn National relay championships and what an enjoyable day it was, the Belle’s A team finishing an excellent 10th.  All eight runners, plus TM’s and supporters (Simon and Jane’s fiancé Sian) cheerfully met at Euston to travel up to Sutton Park by train. There, the team was met by Don Anderson who had kindly driven up with the new tent which was quickly erected and provided a welcome shelter.

The first leg was it’s usual mad scramble with a couple of fallen runners , but Sophie Harris for the A team Lizzie Goldie-Scot both sat back sensibly on the fast downhill section before the long uphill drag up to the Memorial.  Sophie’s advice was to let the mad rush go, then try to pick runners off as the race unfold. This she did brilliantly, rounding the final bend with just two other leading athletes and finishing in 2nd place a mere second behind Amelia Quirk who had run the fastest time at Crystal Palace in the SEAA relay a couple of weeks before.

Lizzie has had an excellent summer racing on the track producing some big pb’s over 1500m and 3000m. It was not an easy job to mix it on this tough course with the best athletes from all over the country, but Lizzie ran very well finishing in the top half of well over 100 starters.

We wondered how Saron Haileselase would cope going off in second place after an injury ridden summer,  illness most of last winter and so far, a lack of much hill training since returning.  Her advice; ‘ go easy up the hill, don’t worry if a few pass you, then when you get to the top, fly’! This is exactly what Saron did, and what a sight, and many eyebrows raised, when she again brought the Belles home in second place.   Megan Bailey did her class preparation on the train, then ran her usual consistent strong leg for the Belle’s B team, before having to rush back to London. Her social calendar seems almost as full as Sally Underhill’s!  Megan is such an inspiring and popular team captain coming all that way to help and support the team.

It was no easy task for Nelle Quispel to set off on the third leg in second place with many very speedy runners snapping at her heels. So it was no surprise that the team dropped a few positions, but Nelle has a great deal of experience and has run this course before and although suffering a bit from jet lag having only flown in from Japan a couple of days before, she held her run together well.

Katie-Ellen French, new to the group this summer, ran a blinder for the B team, passing no less than 14 runners on her leg. Katie has not run seriously for ten years but is keen to build her fitness this winter and will be a great asset to the Belles.

Jane Vongvorachoti joined the Battersea training group last winter before suffering from quite a long injury. She is a 2 hour 40 minute marathon runner who represented Thailand in the 2016 Olympics in Rio. She has been slowly returning to fitness and aims to compete in the London marathon next April. The final leg is not quite the ‘Graveyard Shift’ of the men’s Spring 12 stage, but by this time runners were well spread out and Jane had to do a virtual time trial. She ran very strongly bringing the team up to tenth overall, ahead of all of our local rivals, a very satisfactory result.

Mhairi McDonald very willingly stepped into the B team at very short notice which meant Belles were able to complete two full teams. Unfortunately there was a great deal of confusion at the change over with over 200 men and women on the course at any one time, and Mhairi set off at the wrong time. However, with a bit of arithmetic her actual time and the teams position were calculated, the B team finishing in 50th place out of a total of 85 completed teams. A very creditable performance.

Sophie Harris’s time proved to be the 6th equal fastest of the day, only just over 20 seconds slower that Jess Judd, National Cross Country Champion and World Championship 1500m runner, and ahead of many notable athletes including Emelia Gorecka. This was a truly ground breaking run from Sophie.

The only non- tired body on the train back to London was Simon, but he was well entertained by all especially Aunty Nelle and Mhairi (who had the Haribos in transit). Thanks to every one for a very enjoyable day and excellent team spirit.


L:R Simon, Mhairi, Don, Jane, Nelle, Katie-Ellen, Charlie, Saron, Sophie

Results;  1. AFD 58.26,   2.  Leeds  59.08,  3.  Swansea  59.26,        10. Belles A  61.55 (S. Harris  14.17 (2),  S. Haileselase 15.19 (2),  N. Quispel  16.40 (11),  J. Vong  15.39 (10)),  50. Belles B (L.Goldie-Scot 16.24 (55), M. Bailey 17.57 (60),  K-E. French 16.01 (46),  M. McDonald 19.35 (50))


Fastest; J. Judd (Chelmsford) 13.55,  2. C. Arter (Cardiff) 14.10,  3. V. Ockenden (Swansea) 14.12,  4. A. Griffiths (AFD) 14.15,  5. A. Quirk (Bracknell) 14.16,  6 = S. Harris (Belgrave) and P.Law (St Mary’s) 14.17.


Spread the word. Share this post!