Author: Charlie Dickinson
Led by our two Sophies, a wonderful team performance saw Belles finish third on the day but their consistent efforts throughout the four matches meant they finished in overall second place for the season. A very notable achievement for a largely inexperienced team.
The usual farthing Downs course had to be moved a mile and a half further into Happy Valley to cope with the large numbers in this league which meant a long trek from the station in freezing temperatures and blustery snow. Some described the view in happy valley as ‘picturesque’.
Our familiar team were joined for the first time by 800m runner Claire Stokes and Mhairi McDonald who comes from Edinburgh so should be used to the cold. It was great to see them smiling through the mud and snow. Ahead of them running very strongly in her best race of the season was Sarah McKelvey who has helped us in all four league races this year. Poor Vicky Goodwin had to pull out with stomach cramps, this was her forth race recently and slowly getting back her fitness.
Another athlete who always smiles in Gemma Farrell, another very solid performance as she contemplates moving up to ultra events. For once leading the B team came Jojo Rhodes, who looked exhausted before the start after very lengthy shifts on the hospital ward in the week. Jojo started positively but just didn’t have her usual energy, but at least had no problem with her troublesome calf.
So what about the A team. Right to the fore, and getting better with every race was Sophie Harris who finished in 7th in division 1. She had a nasty fall too which resulted in some quite deep cuts in her legs afterwards operated on by Dr Dickinson and Nurse Welsh. What upset Sophie the most was losing a couple of places after she picked herself up.
Then, so lovely to see Sophie Carter, far more used to running on the roads, Sophie nevertheless ran a terrific race finishing in the top twenty. She admitted afterwards that she actually enjoyed it!
The team really appreciate the efforts of those members like Sophie, Sammi Amend and Zoe Doyle who have to travel a long way to get to local races. They all have children and need to make sometimes complicated arrangements in order to get away. They make such a difference to the team, thank you.
Our third scorer was Iona Cousland who had probably her best race of the season, now in trail shoes, not trainers, Iona just seemed to get stronger as the race progressed and finished well in the top thirty. She was just ahead of Becky O’Kill who shrugged off the worry of a twisted ankle and had another very solid race to finish in the low thirties.
Felicity Cole was pretty well back to her best form and looking really healthy after spending the most part of January in Spain on a Yoga course, running and relaxing without her phone or emails, lucky her! She brought the A team home in the low forties.
Many thanks to our supporters on this cold day, Mr Goodwin with a special chocolate cake, the O’Kill clan, Mhairi’s mum, Gemma’s future husband, Helen White and Matt Welsh.
It has been a real team effort this year with great support by so many. No less than 23 women have contributed to the teams in all competitions and this means that the pressure to race in every event is taken off. Perhaps we have yet to field our strongest team, but the back up has been all important and the reason why we have been so consistent in the league, always being there or there abouts. South London Harriers were worthy winners this year but we have done brilliantly to finish easily ahead of the rest.
1. I. Brinston (E & E) 28.58, 2. A. Clements (Kent AC) 30.00, 3. C. Grima (HW) 30.11,
7. S. Harris 31.22, 19, S. Carter 32.32, 26. I. Cousland 33.06, 33. R. O’Kill 33.31, 43 F. Cole 34.16, 52. J. Rhodes 34.47, 70. G. Ferrell 35.51, 126. S. McKelvey 39.41, 134. C. Stokes 40.06, 143. M. McDonald 41.40. V. Goodwin DNF.
1. THH 103, 2. E & E 122, 3. Belgrave A 128, 20. Belgrave B 525.
Overall four matches;
1. SLH 372, 2. Belgrave A 550, 3. THH 625, 4. CC 659