Another great day for the Belles at the Priory.
In 2014 after a gap of several years, Belgrave decided to enter a team for the three stage Reigate Priory cross country relay and they won. Since then the team has supported the event every year with great success. This year three teams took part with the A team winning, the B team coming 4th, and great support from the C team finishing in 16th place. Perhaps the best and most enjoyable day of all.
Set in the picturesque Priory Park against the colourful backdrop of Autumn trees on the North Downs and on a challenging course with the excellent organisation of the local club with results appearing on the screen as runners finish each leg, this is really the best cross country event of the year.
It was Keri MacKenzie, back to very limited training after injury, illness and a very demanding job had blighted her performances over several years who set off on the first leg for the A team. Keri often also gets a very debilitating pain in her diaphragm brought on when running down hill, and this happened coming down from the woods into the playing fields at the end of her leg. Keri had run brilliantly and was about to sprint for 2nd place when it happened but in the end lost many seconds and had to settle for third. Nevertheless a fine run.
The Belles ever dependable captain Samantha Amend took over on the second leg and produced exactly the performance the team needed, in fact the 4th fastest of the day and brought the Belles up to second a mere ten seconds behind the leaders Guildford.
The question was; could Saron Haileselase make up that deficit against a very promising young Guildford athlete? The team with supporters everywhere waited patiently for the first to appear out of the woods onto the playing fields. Then she came, it was the bright red shorts of Saron with the green vest of Guilford nowhere to be see. In the end the victory margin was 59 seconds with Saron producing the fastest time of the day by over half a minute.
A fantastic result and perhaps the most delightful aspect was the gold medal won by Keri who had been in that winning team back in 2014 but had been hampered by injury and illness ever since.
But that was not the only success of the day.
The Belles B team also ran brilliantly to finish 4th overall. Stephanie Hewitt, Mhairi Hall and Emma Howsham, friends who train together, support each other and are improving all the time. Stephanie ran a very sensible and solid first leg keeping Keri in sight the whole way. She handed over to Mhairi who ran pretty well the same time even though she is still not back to full training after a summer of injury. Emma took the last leg producing an amazing sub 17 minute time complete with her now trademark blistering sprint finish. They were only overtaken for the third place medals by Surrey Champion Izzy Brinsdsen for Epsom.
The Belles had a third team too with Jurgita Levertaviciute volunteering to run two legs after a late withdrawal. She did remarkably well with only a ten second difference between the two. Sandwiched between was Mhairi McDonald who always brightens the team with her wonderful personality.
Teams; 1. Belgrave A, 47:55 (K. MacKenzie 16:34, S. Amend 16:03, S. Haileselase 15:03)2. G & G 48:54, 3. Epsom and Ewell 50:46, 4. Belgrave B, (S. Hewitt 17:13, M. Hall 17:15, E. Howsham 16:55),…….. 16. Belgrave C, J. Levertaviciute 18:33, M. McDonald 20:30, J. Levertaviciute 18:48.
Fastest Legs; 1. S. Haileselase 15:03, 2. I. Brinsden (E&E) 15:34, 3. S. Monk (G&G) 15:38, 4. S. Amend 16:03.
RECENT BELLES RESULTS;
2014, 1st Place, 51:12; Rose O’Brien 17:24, Catherine Lovegrove 17:13, K. MacKenzie 16:35. 2015, 1st Place, 51:43; Lizzie Goldie-Scot 18:25, Jojo Rhodes 16:46, Zoe Vail 16:32 (2nd fastest). 2016, 1st Place, 48:19; S. Amend 15:46, Recky O’Kill 16:47, Z. Vail 15:46, (Sam and Zoe joint 3rd fastest).2017, 2nd Place, 49:26; S. Haileselase 15:29 (2nd fastest), Katie-Ellen French 17:22, S. Amend 16:35.
Report by Charlie Dickinson