A MAGNIFICENT WIN FOR SOPHIE AND A VERY BRAVE SILVER FOR THE BELLES.
Charlie Dickinson writes:
Belgrave have a fine recent record in this popular Championship race in which many teams struggle to find a strong scoring six runners. With many of the team suffering with illness or injury, the 13 Belles who were entered ended up with only the bare six on the day, with co-skipper Megan James clearly not well but agreeing to run for the sake of the team. Others were struggling too, Lizzie Goldie-Scott just back from injury with a painful stitch all the way around, and Samantha Amend, still not back to full fitness in the middle of moving house and feeling off colour but 'if I say I'll run, I'll run'.
Then, our wonderful new member Mhairi Hall with a blistering final lap, ran herself to exhaustion as did Megan and we had the distressing sight of both being treated by the medical staff at the end of the race. The team put themselves on the line for this race and were rewarded by silver team medals and packed in a good race with Christina Pennock also supporting the team placing, but what a cost.
Yes, we had probably the bravest team performance from the Belles ever with what was " 13 " expected starters to the only six so every finish counted. We were able to also celebrate with an outstanding win from Sophie Harris in what must have been her best ever race and place. Her win was the reward for her patience, confidence and good pace judgment. In contrast to her recent races, she decided to start conservatively then pick the pace up. With three 2.5 mile laps this is the longest cross-country race for women so it was a surprise to see Nicky Taylor of Tunbridge shoot off at the start within the top twenty men. In contrast, Sophie ran her own strong race, but with a comfortable pace so that at the end of the first lap Taylor had a lead of 25 seconds over Sophie who was a clear second.
On the second lap Sophie closed the gap so the two leaders were together as they started the final lap. Looking determined and strong, Sophie then just ran away from the field finishing 43 seconds ahead of second place Taylor, with the five-mile champion Georgie Bruinvels over a minute further back.
Samantha Amend ran her usual strong reliable race for sixth place, then Mhairi Hall who ran most of the race in company with Christina Pennock, in sadly what will be her last race for the Belles, but Mhairi's final strong lap made up several places to finish 14th. Then finally, Lizzie Goldi-Scott and Megan James who on any other day would have dropped out, but they both soldiered on to the end to earn the team silver medals.
A truly memorable day, guts, determination, and Belles laying themselves on the line for the sake of the team.
Many more photos may be found on our Facebook page here; and a video of the race is here.
S. Harris: 42.31, 2. N. Taylor (Tonbridge) 43:14, 3. G. Bruinvels (AFD) 43:39, ....... 6. S. Amend 46:33, 14. M. Hall50:31, 16. C. Pennock 50:48, 39. L.Goldie-Scot 55:25, 47. M. James 58:06.
Kent AC 114, 2. Belgrave Harriers 123, 3. SLH 144.
A somewhat depleted men’s squad probably chose quite a good race to have an 'iffy' day. Aldershot were out in remarkable force on their home patch, fielding last year’s National cross-country champion as their 3rd scorer and packing five athletes into the top 10 and closing in 14.
With National Cross team champions Tonbridge in 2nd and an as usual strong Kent in 3rd, it looked like 4th for us, but as it went we tied with Herne Hill and they edge us by closing in 20 sooner; fair enough.
With Paskar and Andrius taking minor chill pills, we savoured a splendid run by Nick Buckle who defeated AJ and placed just 14 seconds behind PO. What a runner!
Another man to have a great day was Garret who stormed through the field in the latter stages. America claims him back now but thanks to him for the albeit brief memories.
Great to see Alex Miller back to his old self with more strong running and who else to see us home by Tom O’Beirne having a stormer. We’re gutted to lose Tom and Christina to London City AC (I confess I’d never even heard of them), but it’s an arms race out there and we can but take the hit[s] and move on.
Really good packing followed with Ross looking good, a startling run from a visiting Mike Trees (runner-up here 15 editions ago), and Patrick keeping a close watch a little way back.
Lots to work with then in 2018, and plenty of athletes to hopefully return.
Many more photos may be found on our Facebook page here; and [we're spoiling you now] a video of the race is here.
1 J Gilbert (Ken) 36:58; 2 G Duggan (Ton) 37:07; 3 J Sanderson (G&G) 37:09; 16 P Owor 38:59, 17 N Buckle 39:13; 22 A Jaksevicius 39:50; 38 G Lee 41:23; 43 A Miller 41:36; 60 T O'Beirne 43:15; 63 R Finlay 43:20; 67 M Trees M50 43:40; 70 P McDougall M50 44:11. 159 finished
1 AFD 53; 2 Tonbridge 107; 3 Kent 135; 4 Herne Hill H 196; 5 Belgrave H 196. 18 teams closed in.
It is already one of the most remarkable tales in the Belles' 41-year history, how within a year an ex-dancer went from unknown pavement pounder to being snapped with the great Emelia Gorecka in the trials for the Great Britain team.
Yes, racing nous and strategy are still 'works in progress' and going out at full whack in races with porridge-like goop on the ground rather than tarmac is not the blueprint for optimum return, but this courage and aggressive spirit is something that can easily be tempered. What's much harder to work with is race-day nerves and the pessimistic outlook that the race will be hard. Sophie appears to welcome the violence of top level racing, and even revel in it. We all hope this is merely the start of a long and exciting journey as one of the most promising newcomers in the land.
Matt Welsh takes up the story:
On Saturday Sophie ventured up north to the wet and muddy British Cross Challenge in Liverpool; perhaps the strongest field of any race on the British calendar.
Given the depth of the field, this race was all about experience for Sophie. The plan was to sit in towards the back of the first pack and see how the race developed.
After a stampede start, Sophie found herself a little ahead of the plan when she glanced to her side and saw the likes of Emelia Gorecka and Jess Judd who would go on to take gold and silver respectively. Following an adjustment into a more sensible position Sophie sat in and held on to the pace.
However, the start had been fast - very fast and when the mud became a swamp it hit Sophie hard. The conditions were the worst seen at the event for some time and as Sophie lost ground to the more experienced pack, the deep mud along with the punchy start left Sophie in a race of survival losing around 10-15 places in the last 3km. Sophie battled on to the finish and came 40th overall. For some perspective, Olympian Laura Weightman came in 20th.
Although a "safer" run may have resulted in a higher placed finish, this was about putting it out there and seeing how Sophie measured up and she should be proud of her performance.
Sophie said that she loved mixing it with the likes of Jess Judd and the experience has made her even more motivated to keep progressing.
1 E Gorecka 27:59; 2 J Judd 28:06; 3 G Steel 28:16... 40 S Harris 30:00. 326 finished
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The SOT 5m team race may not quite pack the gravitas punch of its big brother in three weeks’ time, but this is still a fiddly fish to fry due to just 4 scorers being required which opens up a whole world of weird and wonderful winners, from as far afield as Cardiff and including the likes of Elliott AC, GEC Avionics, and who can forget the 2nd Battalion Connaught Rangers’ win back in 1914. But some things remain ‘as you were’. On that day 103 years ago, Belgrave lost to Kent by the narrow margin of 4 points. Fast forward to 2017 and the margin is 6.
But what a race. We came to Beckenham Place Park’s superb course with a team as rich in talent as last year’s 24-pointer and they squeezed every last shred of equity out of the contest; but on their home patch, Kent were everywhere and closing in with a 31:39 10k man was a tough proposition.
Paskar had a vintage battle with Chris Greenwood who threw the kitchen sink at our man, and at one stage built up a lead of 50 yards, but PO clawed things back and was then joined by another ‘toughie’ in Jordan Weaver. But approaching his 37th birthday, the Lion remains the best kicker in town and with great surety ran to his 3rd title in as many attempts.
Andrius celebrated his 3rd birthday with the Bels with yet another pitch perfect run. What a stellar contribution he continues to make to our teams; whilst a mere 19 seconds behind Nick Buckle showed his season is entering into white hot territory at the right time. With Andy Fyfe kicking brilliantly on the downhill finish to exterminate five we had posted a total that wins more often than not, but on this occasion Kent were very keen to regain the title we took off them last year.
We placed 2nd in the 8 to score too, with Nick Bundle having a cracking run on little background, and Ross Finlay having a promising debut. The Silver foxes finished our work just a small way back.
Many thanks to Don Anderson managing both us and Mhairi in the women’s on the day, and to Alan Black for his work on the funnel.
1 P Owor (Belgrave H) 27:39; 2 J Weaver (Ken) 27:40; 3 C Greenwood 27:49; 5 A Jaksevicius 28:14; 9 N Buckle 28:33; 14 A Fyfe 29:31; 24 N Bundle 29:58; 43 R Finlay 31:31; 52 W Cockerell 32:09; 57 P McDougall 32:28. 191 finished
1 Kent 23; 2 Belgrave H 29; 3 Tonbridge 64; 4 Kent B 82; 5 Herne Hill H 91. 40 teams closed in.
8 to score: 1 Kent 105; 2 Belgrave 205; 3 Tonbridge 261. 14 teams closed in
Women: 1 G Bruinvels 31:32; … 9 M Hall 35:29. 73 finished.
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The Junior's second Surrey League Cross Country match of the season saw contrasting conditions at Nonsuch Park, where the Girls had to contend with wet and miserable weather, and Mitcham Common, where the Boys were at least spared the rain, if not the mud.
The Girls were represented in the U13 race by Freya and Tabitha Nott (always good to watch a bit of sibling rivalry), Carla Ravich Calafell, Chaiyla Norville-Whyms and Annabel Mace, with our A team placing 15th and our B team placing 28th.
In the U15 Girls Juliette Michot and Freya Marney represented the Bels to place 12th team.
Over at Mitcham Common we had a similar number of athletes battling the hills, with Timin Kanani our first runner home in 11th slot, and 8th U17. Not far behind were Blaine Robinson (placing 2nd in U13 category) and Caspar Griffin, with only 1 second separating the two of them on the line (a feat repeated by Blaine a week later when he won the U13 Boys race by 1 second at the London Borough's Youth Games X/C Championships at Parliament Hill).
The ever present Joseph O'Clery was our next runner home, followed by Julius Bennett and Zayd Addicott. Our U13 Boys team placed a credible 10th (we will do better at the next race with a bigger turnout, 3rd place is an achievable target) and our U15/17 team placed an excellent 5th.
Meanwhile, Petr Kuska chose the farthest point on the course in his first ever cross country race to turn his ankle (to be precise, 2k from the finish line). He seemed okay whilst he was being carried back, smiling at the sympathetic comments from spectators, although his Coach was a little the worse for wear afterwards.
An excellent 6th place run by Saron Haileselase, a mere seven seconds behind the winner, led a small but enthusiastic team of Belles to a fine 6th place in the London Championships. In fact five started the race but unfortunately Megan James was very disappointed to pull out after the first lap after trying unsuccessfully to overcome a hamstring strain. It was typically plucky of Megan to even start the race.
These championships have proved quite popular with the Belles over the last few years, giving the opportunity to taste part of the course which will be used for the National in February next year. Normally the conditions are a little kinder in November than in February, but the small team were greeted with an ever increasing cold drizzle as they arrived for the race which made the course with its notorious hills rather tricky.
Saron is a 1500m track athlete who dislikes the mud, the hills and the cold, but she has raced in all of the Autumn road and cross country fixtures, getting fitter and stronger with each one. She ran a very determined race, working hard on the uphill sections and flying on the downhill. She just lost out for 5th place in the long run in for home.
Mhairi Hall and Iona Cousland ran the whole race in sight of each other, but on the final lap Mhairi, having now overcome a persistent calf injury and racing better and better, managed to move through the field and finish five places in front of Iona who perhaps found the 6km race a little short.
Another runner quickly returning to fitness is Felicity Cole, still a little short of endurance, but a tough athlete and she used her experience and finished in 56th place only about half a minute behind Iona.
1 S Davis (CC) 20:24; ... 6 S Haileselase 21:29; 35 M Hall 23:45; 40 I Cousland 23:57; 56 F Cole 24:32. 275 finished
1 London Heathside 50; HHH 76; 3 VPTH 91;.... 6 Belgrave H 137. 26 teams closed in.
1 K Abdullahi (Hillingdon) 33:20; 40 A Fyfe 37:03; 42 G Lee 37:07; 158 W Cockerell 41:17. 490 finished
Sophie Harris notched up her second successive Surrey Ladies League cross country win at a wet and increasingly muddy Nonsuch Park. Saron Haileselase ran her best ever league race too, finishing an excellent 7th. Further down the field there was a very welcome return by the ever-reliable Christina Pennock, backed up by good first league races from newcomers Mhairi Hall and Maddy Shott. Megan James had perhaps her best ever league race too, with a blistering second lap, almost catching the two Belles ahead of her.
Photo: Sophie Harris
The park was originally the site of Nonsuch Palace, built by Henry VIII in 1538, but demolished in 1682, the materials sold by the owner to pay off gambling debts. Todays Mansion was built in the eighteenth century and extended by Jeffrey Wyattville at the beginning of the nineteenth in Tutor Gothic style. The building, nothing like as impressive as the Hirsel, the Dunglass seat in Scotland, is now well used locally as a restaurant as well as for weddings and other functions.
Photo: Christina Pennock
Despite the persistent drizzle, a malfunctioning tent, and a massive queue for the toilet, there was a cheerful positive spirit by the Belles before the start. Wonderful too, to see Vicky Goodwin over to visit relatives from Switzerland joining the team once again. Also the ever cheerful Mhairi McDonald who always brightens the day whatever the weather.
The organisers decided to run the two division races together which saw a record field of 570 at the start line of the senior race. Sophie made her break on the first of the two 3km laps which split the field so that the first ten were all spread out as they started the second lap. Thereafter the positions were largely the same although the gaps had widened. Sophie's lead had stretched from ten meters to about thirty-five at the end and although not as commanding as the last league race, she always appeared to be in control. Saron, finding difficult with the slippery conditions hung on very well throughout the second lap just losing out to the experienced Chloe Tighe after a ding-dong battle all the way around.
This was Christina's first race after a stress fracture in the winter and a torn ligament in the summer. Although she was only expecting to score for the B team, she put in her usual gritty performance and with many of the usual engine room runners missing, was the Belle's third scorer. Although Mhairi Hall and Maddy Shott lost a few places on the second lap, they both ran well in their first ever league race and gained a great deal from the experience. Megan James did it the other way round, coming through on the second lap nearly catching her teammates at the end. A terrific run from Megan.
Although the Belle's were 8th on the day, they were only ten points away from finishing 5th so an encouraging performance with so many runners missing through injury and illness.
L:R Charlie Dickinson, Mhari McDonald, Christina Pennock, Vicki Goodwin, Maddy Shott, Sophie Harris, Mhari Hall, Megan James, ( Simon) & Saron
RESULTS; (Division one only)
S. Harris (Belgrave) 20.59, 2. S. Davis (CC) 21.07, 3. K. Hedgethorn (THH) 21.11, ..... 7. S. Haileselase 21.59, ....... 47. C. Pennock 24.33, 59. M. Hall 24.51, 67. M. Shott 25.02, 73. M. James 25.08, 195. M. McDonald 28.48, 243. V. Goodwin 30.54. 301 ran
Clapham Chasers 67, 2. Thames Hare and Hounds 110, 3. Hercules Wimbledon 114, 4. Herne Hill Harriers 140, 5. Ranelagh 172, 6. Kent AC 173, 7. South London Harriers 179, 8. Belgrave A 181.
In another Surrey League race of phenomenal quality, our neighbours to the left and right threw huge punches at Mitcham’s 24 ups and downs. More than ever, our paucity of numbers is being ruthlessly exposed by the brilliant communications and organization of Hercules, Thames, Ranelagh, Clapham and SLH. Not forgetting Herne Hill, still a well-oiled machine who dominated the League for a decade; and then there’s Kent who’ve won it 5 times in a row!
The slippery slope to anonymity is a steep one and can last not just years, but decades (as we saw from circa 1975 to the millennium), so hopefully we'll elect a club Marketing and Publicity officer ASAP, in a role that has lain vacant for a year. It's been pointed out I should be assuaged that we’re providing the individual winners in the men and women’s races but one athlete can’t carry an entire team, certainly not in 10 to score and it’s problematic in 5 to score too. “Spirit” is also an oft used word to laud the bravery and application of our teams, but no amount of spirit can counter-act a lack of 'boots on the ground'.
The injury and illness in both squads continue to run wild and poor Wicksy succumbed to a bug just as his calf was on the mend. A mother and mother-in-law’s birthday also deprived us of crucial forward men. Happily though, the top 6 from Reigate all returned. This gives rise to the theory that once a man gets the taste for the race course and is “in the zone” he’ll be back, but of the dozen or so we hoped may fill the gaping holes after the sixth man from match 1, not a single one could make it, and what with losing Garret to work, our 8th and 9th men actually both moved up a pip.
There’s no better example of the priceless nature of “getting someone out”, than Nick Goolab. Just one Surrey league between Nov 07 to Oct 17, but now two on the spin! Marvellous. The outstanding Lewis Lloyd kept close order all day, but Nick’s experience and brilliance carried the day, with the always strong Maud in 3rd and Paskar a clinical and watchful 4th. This was the 10 year anniversary of Nick's debut for Belgrave - I recall it well, had him in my back pocket till the last mile when he cruelly went to work on me. Alan reports of the 10 Nov 2007 race: "...but not on the agenda was the forward running of 17 year-old Nick Goolab, training partner of “Sharpy” and cruising home in 11th, scoring 10th."
Our four strong back-up men took a deep breath and handled the ferocious fare as best they could. AJ had five plumb in range, less than a fortnight after going low 2:24 at Frankfurt; oh how he’d have loved to scuttle round for a 4th time. The skipper recovered from a bad fall to track Andy Connick (who jarred his knee) all race, while Fyfey set off more circumspectly and had a much nicer time for it.
Then a looooong gap before Will became the third man in Surrey league history to reach 70 scoring runs (level with Harran of Herne Hill and behind SLH's Major on a remarkable 87). Patrick ran well, as did the ever-reliable Tom O’Beirne, with the solid Alex Mills seeing us home. Arne Dumez has been diagnosed as anaemic so needs to up his iron intake and will only get better, chased every step of the way by Rob Norville, and then the feisty Steve Addicott. Thereafter it was “Belgrave 1987” as Phil Carstairs, Alex Luce and Frank Ward took us back to the days of Reagan, Thatcher, Cram and Coe.
Although Ranelagh pipped us on the day, we actually strengthened our hold on 5th with SLH stumbling and can be proud that despite all our trouble we’re 'hanging on' in the mayhem all around.
1 N Goolab 26:40; 4 P Owor 27:36; 19 A Jaksevicius 28:22; 40 A Connick 29:35; 43 E Auden 29:42; 57 A Fyfe 30:14; 111 W Cockerell 32:03; 133 P McDougall 32:39; 141 T O'Beirne 32:54; 154 A Mills 33:33; 174 A Dumez 34:35; 175 R Norville 34:40; 185 S Addicott 35:17; 209 A Luce 36:39; 223 P Carstairs 37:36; 231 F Ward 38:23. 250 finished.
1 H/W 218; 2 Ken 247; 3 THH 327; 4 HHH 398; 5 RAN 490; 6 Belg 493; 7 SLH 523; 8 CC 606; 9 Reig 793.
Overall: 1 H/W 534; 2 Ken 565; 3 THH 636; 4 HHH 732; 5 BEL 907; 6 SLH 1033; 7 RAN 1077; 8 CC 1160; 9 Reig 1546.
ANOTHER GOOD DAY FOR THE BELLE'S, THREE COMPLETE TEAMS AND SILVER MEDALS AT THE PRIORY.
Author: Charlie Dickinson
The Priory Relays have become one of the club's favorite events over the past few years. Set in the beautiful location of the Priory Park with the backdrop of the trees on the hill with their golden Autumn leaves, the shortish but challenging course always offers the chance of medals for our team. In fact, the Belles had won here the last three years.
Start of the race with Saron taking the lead for the females
This year, the overnight rain and damp atmosphere made the course a lot more challenging than in recent years, in fact, it was quite muddy in places which proved a big problem for some of our runners without spikes or trail shoes. The temperature was a little cool too so the runners were very glad to have the tent kindly brought by Aidan Grace and Rose O'Brien.
There was excellent support too from President Carl Lawton, Bill Laws, Alan Black, the injured Lizzie Goldie-Scot, Matt Welsh and Sophie Harris taking photos with Sam's friend Trevor. Saron's little boy Simon was there too being very good as usual. We only hope that Sally's new puppy will be as well behaved.
Three Belle's teams completed the race. On the first stage starting together with the men's race, Saron Haileselase immediately went ahead of all the other women mixing it with the leading men. Saron is now getting stronger with every race, tackling the hills with confidence and beginning to show her full potential. She finished a long way clear of the second team with the overall second fastest time of the afternoon. The B team was led off by Mhairi Hall who joined the group last Summer and gets stronger with every race. She ran a very good time trial in the week and complimented this with her best race so far. Megan James kicked off for the C team finished strongly as usual and brought the team home well up in the strong field.
Katie-Ellen French took over from Saron for the A team and although as a specialist track athlete struggled with the mud and hills, she did maintain the team's position and justified her selection. For the B team, another very keen new recruit, Maddy Shott ran the second leg, enjoyed her first experience at this level, and ran very well. It was unusual to see Jojo Rhodes running for the C team but she has been battling with an ankle injury for what seems like ages and is still short of training. This was a very encouraging run from Jojo and we are bound to see her back at her best in the New Year.
On the final leg, Samantha Amend set off with a lead for the A team, but she is still not back in full training especially on hills after her illness and had the worrying thought of the in-form Isobel Brinsdon of Epsom and Ewell chasing hard on her tail. Sammi did her very best as she always does but the conditions and lack of Cross Country fitness proved just a bit too much and the Belles had to settle for second place. After twisting her ankle on tree roots in this event last year Rose O' Brien ran a little warily particularly on the steep downhill section, but she ran a strong leg bringing the B team home in an excellent 7th place. Busy playing with Simon, Mhairi McDonald very nearly missed the change over for the C team but she just about made it and enjoyed her run. With her cheerful personality, she is a great addition to the team. The C team finished in12 place out of a total of 45 teams who completed all three legs.
Aside from Nick Buckle who had another outstanding run, it's probable that 'the Three Amigos' who followed had at least one eye on Mitcham a week hence where it will be a real slugfest with 5 clubs still in the Surrey league melting pot, including us.
The TM (pictured right at his debut at this one back from another millennia when the photography was soft and the toupees alarming), was called into the team upon waking after poor Arne called in sick, and undid most of Nick's good work. PO was on one of his minor go-slows - and good call as there's no way Dorking were letting us off the hook with the ace of Caldwell still to come; and Andy hit an awful lot of traffic on the narrow paths in pedestrians, back-markers and dogfriends.
With Nick partying at his Ma's 60th in the Big Apple on Saturday, it's time for 'the Reigate three' to shake things up a notch, which they're resolved to do.
A final word for the baby Bees, who finished half-way up the leaderboard with just two men at the oars. Impressive!
1 Dorking & MV 56:31; 2 Belgrave H 58:37; 3 Reigate 59:50; 4 Tonbridge 60:58... 26 Belgrave B 71:41. 51 teams finished.
A: N Buckle (2) 14:10; W Cockerell (6) 15:50; P Owor (2) 14:10; A Fyfe (2) 14:27.
B: R Norville 16:53; A Grace 18:04; R Norville 17:58; A Grace 18:46.
Although this race remains shunned by so many clubs due to the SEAA's indifference and appalling marketing, the fare is always riveting, and the action at the sharp end red hot. Our sequence in the race now reads 1, 2, 5, 1, 2, 3, 3, and this bronze saw us gunning hard for the gold going into anchor, just 12 seconds in arreas.
Andy Fyfe kicked us off and whilst having a better run than at the Surrey League still wasn't totally happy with his effort, but it's clear he's just going to keep on improving as the season progresses. And he set up a returning Nick Buckle a treat who surged up the leaderboard with an outstanding time, and in turn allowed Paskar to ease into 2nd past a strong Newham team, but having to give best to Hillingdon's man by 10 seconds out in front.
With Ed Auden taking up the chase, one wondered if this was the first time Belgrave had lost a relay on the final two legs to runners named Mohamed Mohamed & Mohamed Mohamed in a year ending in 7. The skipper had a lonely run until at half-way when he was warned that he was being chased down for the silver.
In a thrilling denouement Highgate's frisky Rob Wilson timed his finish perfectly, and although both men were on the canvas at the finish line it was Highgate's silver by a nose.
1 Hillingdon AC 56:28; 2 Highgate H 57:16; 3 Belgrave H 57:17; 4 Herne Hill H 58:07; 5 Newham & Essex B 58:23; 6 Woodford Green & EL 58:25... 49 teams started, 44 finished.
A Fyfe (12) 14:37; N Buckle (6) 14:17; P Owor (2) 13:53; E Auden (3) 14:30.
Fastest: M Mohamed (Hillingdon) 13:43; P Owor (Belgrave H) 13:53; M Mohamed (Hillingdon) 13:54.
FOUR BELLE'S TEAMS AND SILVER TEAM MEDALS AT THE SCRUBS
Forty mile an hour winds greeted no less than twelve Belgrave women who came for this popular 3-Stage cross-country relay at Wormwood Scrubs. The promised heavy showers thankfully held off, but regardless very grateful for the tent kindly brought by Aidan Grace. The largely flat circuit of just over 3km on grassland appeals to track, road and cross country runners alike so it was four teams that completed the race. With Belles out in force ( and the wind) the hard work paid off for our A team winning a well-deserved silver medal.
On the first leg for the A team, Saron Haileselase sensibly held back over the first kilometre or so, happy to sit in the pack in about sixth place being protected from the wind. She made her move on the far side of the course easily moving up to the far away leader passing all the other runners on the way. Saron hates the wind but battled her way against it up the final straight to finish a close second in a terrific time, the third fastest of the day, and a very long way ahead of the third place athlete. Her run certainly set the team up with a chance of a medal.
Katie-Ellen French took over from Saron and although she had not felt 100% during the week, ran a very strong leg to maintain second place handing over to Sam Amend. Although there was a large gap to the likes of Chloe Tighe of Herne Hill and Stefanie Davies of Clapham Chasers chasing hard for the medals, there is no one more reliable than Sammi in this situation, and the Belle's second-fastest leg of the day easily brought the team home safely to secure well-deserved silver medals.
L: R Saron Haileselase, Katie - Ellen French, Sam Amend
The Belle's three other teams all finished close together, within a minute of each other, and all in the first half of the 40 complete teams. Next to finish in 13th place was 'Team Goldie' with very strong runs from Iona Cousland and Lizzie Goldie-Scot who ran the Belle's fourth fastest leg. Then in 16th, 'Team 800' with Fiona Maddocks, Keri MacKenzie and Rose O'Brien all running very well with times within a few seconds of each other. Finally 20th, 'Team Megs'; after being set up by Mhairi Hall and Megan James,on the last leg, Jurgita Levertaviciute ran an excellent split showing how her hard training is really paying off.
With terrific team spirit, results to match, and support from President Carl Lawton, and the men's team including Arne Dumez, it was a very enjoyable day for the Belles.
L:R Saron, Jurgita, Megan, Mhari, Katie-Ellen, Sam, Iona, Charlie, Lizzie G, Jo Jo, Rose, Keri, Fiona
Chelmsford 36.37, 2, Belgrave A 36.59, (S. Haileselase 11.43, K-E. French 12.50, S. Amend 12.26) 3. London Heathside 37.10, ...... 13. Belgarve B 40.24, (J. Rhodes 14.00, I. Cousland 13.18, L. Goldie-Scot 13.06), 16. Belgrave C 40.35 (F. Maddocks 13.28, K. MacKenzie 13.31, R. O'Brien 13.26) , 20. Belgrave D 41.10 (M.Hall 13.44, M. James 14.08, J. Levertaviciute 13.18).
H. Archer (West Suffolk) 11.36, 2. S. Davis (CC) 11.37, =3. S. Haileselase (Belgrave) and K. Johnson (Chelmsford) 11.43,
Despite the challenge of adapting to a different time zone, Scott felt prepared and confident he could run a good time in the 2017 Chicago marathon. On the day, Scott started off fairly comfortably to make sure he had every chance of meeting his target.
With the temperatures reaching 26 degrees it was important for Scott to keep his cool and not be too eager too early on in the race. Yet was around the 15-mile mark it happened. Something caused him to slow significantly, it was the wall. Scott hadn't encountered such a feeling so early on in a race before. As the heat intensified, it exposed his sheer determination, motivation, and willpower to succeed. He knew the goal of sub 3 hours or just slightly over was starting to slip away, yet this young runner stayed focused until the end.
Scott showed no weakness and continued the last 10 miles battling through the hot conditions and ignoring those negative thoughts telling you to stop. Scott crossed the line in 03:14:13.
The 3-hour mark is the next target will no doubt be achieved at his next marathon. This has been Scott's first competitive season and has shown true courage and passion for the sport. Scott would like to thank everyone at Belgrave, particularly Charlie Dickinson and his training group who have really helped me so much this year and am truly thankful to them.
The first race of the Surrey ladies league was in the beautiful setting of the Priory Park, Reigate and those who made the rather difficult journey were treated to an emphatic win by Sophie Harris and good performances throughout a rather sparse team.
With total numbers in the league now often exceeding 450, it was, at last, agreed to hold the two divisional races at separate times at the same venue, with young athletes races between. At Reigate thus meant the Belle's division 1 match starting at the early time of 11.00am.
However, it was a warm dry day, the grass was dry, and the park was looking at its most attractive with its background of Autumn trees.
Sophie on the home straight
The course consisted of a short lap of about 2km followed by the full 4km second lap and Sophie sensibly decided to sit with the leading bunch on the first lap which included past winners, Steph McCall, Alex Brown, plus Julia Tomczak of SLH, Stephanie Davies newly of Clapham Chasers plus Belles own Saron Haileselase feeling very comfortable at that pace.
However, coming into the playing fields at the end of the first lap Saron had to briefly stop suffering from a very painful stitch (the same affected Nick Goolab in the men's race later in the day). Then, Steph McCall and Alex Brown both dropped out suffering from breathing problems and Sophie made her break from the remaining leading group coming up the hill before entering the path around the woods.
She then just ran away from the rest, came into the final playing fields alone and finished almost 200m clear for her first ever cross country win. Having dropped back to about 25th place when passing Bill Laws at the border of the woods, Saron then ran like we know she can and passed runner after runner finishing in an amazing 12th place after having to stop at least twice.
Next, finding the hilly course very tough but chasing hard all the way came Katie-Ellen French in the low 30's followed by 2.06, an 800m runner from Holland Lara Nicod making her very welcome debut. Then in quick succession, Felicity Cole, newly married Gemma Farrell and not far behind in possibly her best ever race, team captain Megan Bailey (also recently married) who ran herself to exhaustion. Welcome too, to Natalie Broad a 100m sprinter who came with Felicity and did herself credit by getting around this very difficult course.
The Belle's A team finished a respectable 7th out of 30 teams, less than a hundred points from the lead with three races still to come. The incomplete B team had to take 2 x 252 penalty points to go with the three who came and scored. However, those three do score heavily for the B team competition which goes on all season.
Photo Credit: Bill Laws
" The Mass Start" -Sophie moving her way up the field at the start
S. Harris 22.52, 2. S. Davies (CC) 23.19, 3. J. Tomczak (SLH) 23.21, 12 S. Haileselase 25.19, 32. K-E. French 26.38, 59. S. Nicod 27.58, 67. F. Cole 28.11, 73, G. Farrell 28.26, 84. M. James 29.09, 221. N. Broad 36.54.
1. THH 75, 2. SLH 93, 3. CC 118, 4. HW 135, 5. Ran 135, 6. Kent 150, 7. Belles 167. out of 30 teams
After our brief foray on Div 2’s naughty chair, it was good for the Bels to be back where they belong, albeit with a squad that was missing loads. No fewer than 22 athletes have those three little letters ‘inj’ in the TMs availability column. And with 53 in the squad, that’s a 41% injury rate. Brutal, whatever it is you’re doing guys, step it back a notch! We had a further 9 overseas, and suddenly it was a big ask to put out a solid team. Well, we did – just, and with a deficit to Thames’ lead of “only” 105 points, our Surrey league men can actually feel in as good a position as at any time in the last 15 years.
There’s always that crackle of expectation and thrill when Nick Goolab pulls on the claret and gold, and after multiple scraps with Mo Farah on the track this year, we felt we had a good ‘un here to show the judges. A nasty fall coming out of the woods at the end of the first lap didn’t phase him, but a bad stitch in the last mile had him very worried – this his first race since the Diamond League of August 20. But with 6 seconds to spare he came through ahead of Andy Maud, with Paskar 3rd. PO’s stated intention was to leave Nick unmolested but act as a thorough pest to those giving chase; and in splicing Maud and John Gilbert he did just that.
After one of the best Bels R&C seasons in memory for Andrius last term, he remains right on the money, with sometime training partner and XC expert James McMullan plumb in the crosshairs. Next up was Andrew Connick parachuting in from Ferrybank to rally the troops. His 9mils jarred him on the firm sections and he found men flying past on the steep descent, then he’d make them back up, then they’d fly by again. But he was still pragmatic about his run, which was indeed fine.
As was the skipper’s! No mistakes there, just what we wanted although with possibly the British duathlon champs (3rd) still in his legs. Andy Fyfe went out like a bat out of hell as the early pace won’t have felt too bad given his 4:00 1,500 form. But then the climbs and the long grind took their toll, although respectability was kept, and he’s a great find. Another debutant came in Garret Lee who fought doggedly all the way round; and then a real handbags-at-dawn shoot-out between the silver foxes; Patrick placed 3rd M50. And to close us in yet another new man, the 360th league scorer in our history, Chris Horne; welcome to the madhouse that is the Surrey League.
1 N Goolab (Belgrave H) 26:50; 2 A Maud (CC) 26:56; 3 P Owor 27:12; 9 A Jaksevicius 28:14; 16 A Connick 28:54; 19 E Auden 29:02; 44 A Fyfe 30:16; 76 G Lee 31:37; 94 W Cockerell M40 32:28; 96 P McDougall M50 32:32; 133 C Horne 34:44; 139 S Addicott 35:00; 157 R Norville 36:07; 175 P Carstairs 38:03. 196 finished.
1 Thames H&H 309; 2 H/W 316; 3 Kent 318; 4 HHH 334; 5 Belgrave H 414; 6 SLH 510; 7 CC 554; 8 RAN 587; 9 Rei 753.
After what has been a successful track season focusing on shorter distances, Matt Welsh went into unknown territory on Sunday. Matt led from the gun and after 1km had just the lead bike for company. Running a solidly even pace Matt opened up his lead to 3 minutes and won the race in 1:13:38.
To add to already a weekend of excellent racing from Belgrave!!
Author: Ed Auden
Photo Credit: Helen White
Thanks to roadworks on the M6 and then pretty exceptional map reading from Helen, we got to the race venue for me to register with 2 minutes to spare! We then had 9 minutes to put my bike back together and get and racked up before race officials closed transition. The positive being I had little time for nerves!
Oulton Park itself provides a fantastic course for Duathlon. It's an undulating 4.3km car racing circuit in a stunning location in Cheshire. Athletes have to run a lap, then hop on a bike and hammer it for 5 laps, before parking up for one final run lap.
So the horn sounded and off we went. I used the first half of the course to work my way up from 15th to 4th and then really attacked the final hillier section to move into second just behind Nick Samuels (Sonia Samuels of athletics-famed husband). That gave us a +10 second lead coming into T1.
I thought the bike would be entertaining and it was. The first lap of a duathlon cycle often feels like your eyes have popped out after a hard first run, but every lap got smoother and I only got passed by 2 until the final lap....Then a train of 13 cyclists all flew passed, but I managed to jump on the back of it and return into T2 in a similar time.
With one 4.3km loop on our feet to go, I was 15th. I took it out really hard and moved up to 6th within the first 2km. On the back of the circuit, you have a great view of runners-up the road before they ascend the final 2 hills. Once you are at the top it's a flat 800m into the finish. Thanks to Helen White's great support I moved passed three into 3rd on the final hill but couldn't quite catch second before the finish.
Only a few weeks ago Ed & Helen announced their engagement having both met through Belgrave. Congratulations to you both from your Belgrave Team
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.
An outstanding run by Sophie Harris on the third leg of the A team helped the Belles to a fine 8th place finish. It was encouraging too, to field a B team giving four other runners a chance to compete in this event. They finished 50th out of over 80 teams that started the race.
Photo: Sophie Harris Leg 3
The venue at Crystal Palace proved far more popular than last year which was an aerodrome near Bedford and far more accessible, at least for the London clubs rather than Aldershot. On a warm sunny day with young athletes races being held on the same day and tents and flags set up in the inner field as well as many supporters and parents in the stand, there was an excellent atmosphere in the stadium, the start and finish being on the track.
However, the course for the senior women's race senior races proved well short of the 4.5km advertised, with the lead runners on the first leg finishing in just under 12 minutes. and almost catching people out. Most agreed the course was about 3.7km including a silly 800m loop which the runners had to negotiate twice. On the frenetic first leg, two of our most sensible runners, Lizzie Goldie-Scot for the A team and FionaMaddocks leading off the B's had very solid runs. Lizzie finished just outside the top 20 with Fiona just under a minute behind.
Saron Haileselase missed most of last winter through illness and the summer through injury. She has trained hard in the late summer and Autumn since overcoming her injuries but set off on the second leg rather cautiously being aware of the sharp hill and upward drag that had to run twice. Having completed that section Saron then started to fly as we know she can, passing runner after runner all the way back to the finish moving the team up to 14th. Team captain Megan James also ran her usual solid race for the B team.
Running the third leg for the A team, Sophie Harris immediately set off in in pursuit of the runners ahead of her, used her strength on the hilly loop and continued to pass runners all the way around the course bringing her team home in 5th place. This was a remarkable run, the 4th equal fastest on the day, only eight seconds off the leading time when three of the others were all completed on the first leg which arguably gives the athletes at least a ten-second advantage. Sophie may well earn herself the bronze medal at the South of England as they will not award an individual medal to Phoebe Law, second fastest, but the only runner for her team, K & P. It was good to see one of the Belle's new recruits, Mhairi Hall run her first race for the team. She ran well in a time just a little quicker than Megs.
After Saron and Sophie it was expected that the A team would drop a little back on the last leg, but Helen White ran a strong race, faster than all the B team runners so justifying her selection, and brought the team home in 8th place. Mhairi McDonald was a little short of training has only just moved back to London from Edinburgh but completed the B team with her usual cheery attitude.
L:R Saron, Sophie, Lizzie, Helen, Charlie ( Team Manager), Fi, Megan, Mhari H, Mhari M.
Teams; 1. AFD 49;42, 2. C & C 51;28, 3. West Suffolk 51.40, ........ 10. Belles A 53;09, (L. Goldie-Scot 13.39, S. Haileselase 12.54, S. Harris 12.05, H. White 14.31), ..... 50. Belles B 62;26, ( F. Maddocks 14.37, M James 15.21, M. Hall 15.09, M. McDonald 17.21).
Fastest Times; 1. A. Quirk (Bracknell) 11.57, P. Law (K & P) 11.59, 3. K. Bingle (AFD) 12.04, 5. E. Hosker-Thornhill (AFD) and S. Harris (Belgarve) 12.05.
A talented bunch came to race at his pleasant Crystal Palace course, which was just about about a spot on 5k (and not the advertised 6), with a wicked climb per lap.
After a brutal few hours passing his online Child Protection course the day before, Paskar ran like a man off the leash and all but three runners needed protection from the Lion as he was just one position off last year's epic run. He ended up a mere 4 seconds off the day's individual silver, and who knows, we could just be in for a vintage season from our man of the decade.
Nick Buckle was set off in the firing line and did so well to only leak a few spots despite an over-eager first lap. His time was then molested by the skipper, whom The Daily Telegraph reports is newly engaged, to Belle Helen White. Many congrats to them, both serving the club's A-teams.
Perhaps the run of the day then came from Welshy to keep us inside the top 10 with just two to go. Over to the suave Mr Bundle who rocked up to the venue in the nick of time in street denim threads and two mini 'Bundles of Love' in tow. It was too cool for school and he said a minute before the off that it might be time to get his 'racing head' on. So I unscrewed his civilian phizog and popped on his race face and he had a perfectly paced tour. Well, small malfunction: I said to run 16:20, not 16:21. Ah well.
Our work was completed by Alex Mills who battled hard all the way round, and we now have 23rd, 2nd, 24th & 22nd for the last 4 years under 'my watch'. Well... only the mediocre are always at their best!
Teams: 1 Highgate H 1:30:11; 2 Tonbridge 1:30:26; 3 Aldershot F&D 1:30:39; … 22 Belgrave H 1:36:42; … 99 teams started, 79 finished.
**The results do not show where the athlete was in the race after each lap, but we can see we were 8th after 2, and 10th after 4:
Belgrave: P Owor (4) 14:39; N Buckle (8) 15:46, E Auden 15:41; M Welsh (10) 15:56; N Bundle 16:21; A Mills 18:19.
Fastest: 1 P Sesemann (Blackheath) 14:26; 2 M Mahamed (Soton) 14:35; 3 C Olley (Ton) 14:37.
From Friday 15th to Sunday 17th a core group of Belgravian’s embarked on the training weekend in Marlow. The team stayed at Longridge Activity Centre, nicely positioned by the river which came complete with our own kitchen.
For some, it was their first training weekend and featured a multitude of new activities like Dragon Boating, Pilates and long runs by the river and through the beautiful green countryside.
Photo Credits: Trevor Hunter
The Weekend Unravelled
Friday 15th - Friday started with a delightful dinner, courtesy of Chef’s Megan and Alex and with Saron and Jurgita's run around Marlow centre, where they even tried to help a lady with finding her lost dogs, unfortunately without success.
After dinner the team went for a walk into the town centre which featured a new 'sport' - pass the child - an assault course on the way to the pub that involved passing a tired Simon (Saron's son) between willing carriers whilst avoiding a forest of snails who had strayed onto the pavement in the twilight.
Saturday 16th - On Saturday morning after a quick breakfast, Belgravian’s drove to the Wycombe District Athletes Complex with an amazing green track, where they were joined by others including six-month pregnant Becky – showing true dedication to the running cause – what a champ! As well as celebrating the newly engaged Belgrave power couple champs, Helen and Ed.
Photo: Surrogate Grandfather Charlie on Childcare duty with Simon
There was a constructive track session held by Sam’s coach, Rodger Hughes which featured a warm-up full of different drills, jumps, and mini hurdles. Everyone agreed on the importance of warming-up properly and drills as essential to building leg strength. After a 45min extensive warm-up, the team started the main session - 6x800m reps. Performance Running
With the group consisting of people of differing pace and ability, they were able to choose to run 6x400m, 6x600m or mix it up. It was a terrifically tough session (especially for those who had taken a summer sabbatical from training), with the unbeatable duo, Ed and Nick leading. Afterwards, the team returned to base to devour a buffet lunch of avocado toast, salads and fresh fruit.
The next team activity was Dragon Boating - a first for most of the team. With Saron leading with an ever-so casual paddle technique, the rest of the team were left trying to get in sync. The team battled the elements including overcoming thumb cramp and being soaked in a downpour, yet in true Belgravian fashion everyone kept spirits high by singing along to some classics like Arne's rendition of Celine Dion 'My heart will go on'. It was a brilliant experience full of laughter and Trevor and Patrick comparing their watch stats for rowing!
Photo: Dragon boating on the River Thames
Although everyone was tired after the track session and Dragon Boating, there was one more session left, Pilates with Harriet Angell. Harriet led a tough, but easy to follow Pilates session that focused on strength and flexibility specific for runners. The basic moves challenged everyone’s balance and forced all to consider muscles, especially after pounding out the miles with Belgrave. The session was thoroughly enjoyable and despite the soreness for three days following has inspired many of the team to take up Pilates regularly. Harriet also had copies of her running specific Pilates book -: Author page www.harriangell.com - details of the book there, and £14.88 on Amazon then £16.99 in bookshops
Photo: Pilates Challenge With Harriet!
Belgravians ended Saturday with delicious dinner at Zizzi’s in Marlow, where everybody had a chance to compensate for the day’s activities by stocking up on carbs and also reflect on the day’s activities.
Sunday 17th - On Sunday the team woke up bright and early to ‘carpe diem’ and embark on a long run in the beautiful Marlow countryside. Sam planned a scenic loop that took the group along country lanes, through fields, and along the river – which all the team agreed made a welcome change from London. Even reminding Saron, wholed the group (literally running circles around her team- mates and bravely running straight through a herd of cows) reminding her of native Ethiopia!!
Photo: Iona, Megan, Becky, Charlie, Sam, Saron, Jurgita & Simon
Following the long run, everyone came up to the base to talk about nutrition with Ann Garry. The discussion was about dealing with blood sugar, good fats, and typical athlete needs and was insightful for all, even inspiring Megan and Sam to begin creating her overnight oats. Yum!
Photo: Ann discussing nutrition and entertaining Simon
All the team wants to thank everyone who attended the training weekend and to Charlie, Sam, Megan, Rodger, Harriet, Ann and others who contributed to the weekend. The whole team agrees it was nice to spend the weekend with a great group of people that had a mutual love for running. Roll on next year....
Surrey County Women's 4-Stage Road Relay, Wimbledon Park, Saturday 2nd September.
With many taking a break after a long track season and others away on holiday or with other commitments, and also the date was earlier than usual so it was encouraging to get a team out for the first of a series of road and cross country relays this Autumn.
Wimbledon Park was bathed in brilliant warm sunshine and together with the long early hill opposite the All England Tennis Club, the course was even more challenging than usual. Recent recruit Mhairi Hall took the early scramble on leg one very sensibly being careful too with a troublesome calf. She handed over to Claire Stokes, very keen to run in her last race before moving to work in San Francisco. Although perhaps going off a little too sharply, Claire was pleased with her run over a distance far exceeding her usual 800m.
Saron Haileselase has had a torrid summer, injured in both her only two track races and then returning very cautiously in training over the last few weeks. Here, she started cautiously concerned about the uphill section, but then passed runner after runner both male and female finishing in easily the team's fastest time and not even appearing to be out of breath on the last lap around the track. An excellent confidence booster.
We were very grateful to Rose O'Brien who answered a very late emergency call to complete the team. After a summer training for 400m, Rose was somewhat lacking endurance, but she always seems to be able to turn out km's in round about 4 minutes and never lets the team down, bringing the Belles home in 7th place Senior team.
Results; 1. SLH 1;08.32, 2. HHH 1;11.42, 3. G & G 1;12.32, 7. Belgrave Harriers 1;18.07
Fastest Legs; 1. J Tomczak SLH 15.42, 2. S McCall SLH 16.20, 3. C Tighe HHH 16.15
With no complete Belgrave Men's team, Paskar Owor easily won the first stage in a time of 14.21 which ended up the second fastest of the day.
Above: Saron Running in the Relays
L:R Charlie Dickinson, Rose O Brien, Saron Haileselase, Claire Stokes, Mhairi Hall & Paskar Owor
Cardiff 10km, Sunday 3rd September - "BREAKTHROUGH FOR SOPHIE"
In her first ever 10km road race in Cardiff Bay, Sophie Harris finished in a magnificent 3rd place in a time of 34;38.
After the heartbreak of a winter stress fracture resulting in 6 weeks on crutches, Sophie slowly returned to training in the late Spring, increased the intensity over the summer months and produced some outstanding results over 3000m and 5000m in her first season racing on the track. She won her most recent 3000m at Southampton in 9.38 with 9 minutes not out of the question next year.
Starting off sensibly at about 3.30 per km in Cardiff, Sophie passed half way in 17.28, then pushed on in the second half of the race in which she ran in 17.10, incredible to manage a negative split on an undulating course in windy conditions. In fact, the winner, Lily Partridge who has previously won both the South of England Cross country Championship, and the National, only finished a minute in front of Sophie and has run sun 33 minutes on easier courses.
In the same race, Matt Welsh finished in 26th place in the men's race in a big pb time of 32.54. This too was an excellent result considering Matt was training mainly to race the 1500m this summer.
L:R: Sophie Harris, Rebecca Hilland, Lily Partridge
Women's Results; 1. L Partridge (AFD) 33.38, 2. R Hilland (Bath), 3. S. Harris (Belgrave) 34.38
Ed Auden and Nick Buckle, two friends and training partners tackled the recent British 10km Road Race on what turned out to be one of the hottest days of the year. Nor was the course easy with a number of sharp turns and it was surprisingly undulating for a city course.
Nick had willingly agreed to run the 3000m Steeplechase to support the Southern League track and field team the day before, not the best preparation but amazingly picked up the pace and started to push the rest of the field in the " chase" to the line. He ran the 10km to support a small charity, Action on Elder Abuse who were very pleased about the publicity and the support.
Nick had run close to 32 minutes at the Highgate Night of 10000m recently, and Ed too had gone under 33minutes the weekend of the Westminster Mile, so times were rather disappointing in the conditions. They ran more or less together until 7km when Nick tried to make a break, but Ed kept close behind and was able to out sprint him over the final 200m.
After her excellent club record in the London Marathon, Tish Jones returned to Cape Town where she now lives, and after a short period of recuperation tackled two big local road races with amazing success.
On the 28th May she won a presigious 12km Road Race held in the Centre of Cape Town in a time of 39.50. Latching onto a group of male runners she passed 5km in 16.07 and equalled her best at the 10km mark in a time of 33.05. Below is the photo of her finishing the race.
Just a couple of weeks later on June 11th, she won the first of a series of women only races sponsored by SPAR giving the opportunity for athletes to collect points for the series.
In a hotly contested 10km race, the pack of top women athletes from all over South Africa stayed with her until halfway. Then Tish was able to push ahead and had extended her lead to half a minute at the finish in an official time of 32.58 which is now her pb.
Tish plans to do a half marathon this summer and we look forward to more news.
Not one to blow her trumpet I will write on Sophie's behalf. Sadly for myself, I only managed to reach what was the 75k mark due to terrible pain from the camber of the roads, and stiffness in the right side of my leg. This wasn't due to lack of miles or pace, maybe not as race sharp due to Glandular fever. Ultimately what put end to my race that I was leading the was the hamstring pain and achillies not allowing me to lift my right leg biomechanically. I ended up in the last few miles of the 46.5 miles run shuffling back to the start/finish area with knowing 15 miles like this was too much.
On a posit, ve note I had run the furthest since glandular and had every intention to finish, sadly not my day. Onto what turned into a great day regardless was something also important to Sophie. We ran together a bit although Sophie dropped the pace she was determined to finish reminding herself why she was running..... " Her mum would be proud". It was a tough day on the road, with the camber surface, and what was a very warm day on an exposed course. Two of the 5 England girls dropped out along with several in the open race. Sophie did Belgrave proud and finished behind Sue Harrison in a very commendable first attempt in 8hrs 11.42.
The best results are when you expect them the least! After starting the year well, my training suddenly ground to a halt in late January as I was one of the unlucky Belles that fell down with injury during the cross-country season. Injury taught me that I am not very patient ( like most runners), but after taking a couple of months out of proper training and forfeiting the big show in London, I have been slowly building the sessions back up.
I only entered the Chislehurst Trail Half Marathon as it looked like a nice route around the woods and hills of south London and was convenient for my lunch plans that day. I had no expectations of time or a place, the plan was just to enjoy the buzz of being back in a race and burn off enough to tuck into a decent pub roast afterwards!
After a downhill start, I spent the first 5 miles of the race sitting behind a group of guys who nicely blocked the breeze for me and just keeping the first two ladies in sight. We dived in and out of fields, forests and even forded a river, skipped over styles, fallen trees and through the nettles; the route could not have been more picturesque in the sunshine. A navigation error at the front of the race around mile 7 meant almost all of the top 30 runners went astray in some shape or form and when we all re-found the route the order of the pack had shifted about a little. I wasn’t that badly affected by the missed turn and still had a couple of ladies in front of me. I continued to keep up an even effort level, reeling them in until I was able to sit on their shoulders for the next few miles. Having taken on water with 4km to go, I felt like I had another gear in me for the final stretch so made a move past the Victoria Park Harrier and Beckenham vest. As soon as the crowds started shouting ‘first lady’ at me (something I am not used to) I grinned back and was filled with motivation. I continued my new found pace home to the final field finishing in a time of 1hrs 39.23 in overall 25th.
Not familiar with the etiquette involved with winning a race, as the finish line neared I wasn’t sure how to celebrate so I threw my hands above my head as I crossed the line like they do on the TV (only to be wrongly identified as the 25th male competitor over the tannoy?!) - clearly meant overall.
As a come-back race it couldn’t have gone better but progress forward!
Well, it's taken a looooong time as the blazer brigade have picked apart the team marathon results for the English and UK champs for 11 days, and conjured up solutions that please about 1% of the participants in our sport. As far as whines go from me, this is minor, because we're in the 1%, but it's still clear for all to see that the grassroots of athletics has a group dissemblers doing their best to ruin things (while trying to justify their jobs).
If we just went with what nature intended the men's champions would be Notts outstanding trio of Thewlis, Livesey and Keal who ran 2:17, 2:19 and 2:23; while Aldershot returned 2:17 and a pair of 2:24s. But due to minutiae like Thewlis of Notts being in the main race, not the Championship, he is deemed ineligible, while two of the AFD boys wore their sponsors' vest in the elite race. A really harsh choice for them to have to choose between club and bank balance. Surely people who start in the elite can be waived from the club vest - it'd affect only one or two clubs per year.
This all became tragically relevant for the poor bronze-deprived Belles who are unable to score the heroic Tish Jones' 2:33 because she was in the elite race - in Belles colours - but because she started earlier is somehow discounted. Even the guy compiling the results wrote and told me he could see "no reason" why she shouldn't score. And poor Iona Cousland - like Thewlis - doesn't count due to not being Championship. She ran the race of her life, an astonishing negative split, paid her subs, paid her reg fee, paid her race fee, entered as Belgrave and ran in the vest, but it's all deemed insufficient. The horrific reason the organisers give is that they can't be expected to check the reg on 40,000 runners. But they don't HAVE to: only the relevant ones like Thewlis and Cousland - about 40 athletes in each race.
The ruling decimates the lure of marathoning, that some of us only do a couple in a lifetime, the amazing progress people can make from leaping from 3:50 to 3:10 in a yearly cycle, and that there are loads of reasons why someone may not be in the Championship race - you need a half or marathon qualifying time for one.
It's all a great shame for a sterling Belles performance and we all doff our caps to Tish, Iona, Justine and sweeper Lou for a monumental effort. Next year!
Onto the men though and Craig Ruddy, Andrius Jaksevicius and James Williams are getting plenty of column inches for their win; so our warmest congratulations to them.
In fact, Craig (pictured) has picked up a third gong for his trouble as the race also incorporated the Scottish champs, which went to Inverclyde. And he was joined in that quest by the battling Mark Pollard.
It's Belgrave's first National Marathon win since the very hot race of 1996, where two of our scorers were wiped out because of the blazer bureaucrats; and several others had horror shows in the heat. It was 4 to score back then and in reverse order we went:
Junior Galley 2:56 (ouch, surely no coming back from that)
Jim Estall 2:35 (signs of life, but insufficient unless we have a miracle)
Gary Staines 2:12 (whammo!)
Paul Evans 2:10 (thank you and goodnight.)
This year's result also rights a painful wrong when we were initially declared champions a decade ago via Mark Miles, Mal Byansi and Will Cockerell who dealt with the heat that day better than any other club in the land, only to be DQ'd by dear old Mark not wearing his vest. Awww, the agony on poor Mal's face when I broke the news to him at the post race bash...
So there it is, a dramatic little set of parlays and despite our irritation at the bewildering array of stupid rules, we've come out of it all in credit as a 1st and a dnf is preferable to a couple of 3rds.
It was notable to all keen observers just how stacked the Bels front-lines were at this year's marathon, as man after man trotted by. But before talk of them, the women thrilled as well.
Lou Blizzard was back for her 23rd VLM and on this occasion our triple National team champion was content to play sweeper, just in case the 3 Belles ahead had a problem. Iona Cousland didn't; running a sensational 1 min 06 sec negative split for a 3:08 - one of the hardest things to do in all of sport! Justine Lynch [3:11] was a tad more conventional with a bit of a fade, but we've seen a lot worse.
Which all paved the way for the return of our superstar from 2012-2014, Tish Jones, to add a fourth club record to her stash at 5m, 10k and 10m. Here, she reduced Birhane Dagne's mark of late 2:34 set London in 2004, with an outstanding 2:33:56 for 4th British woman. Tish now resides in Cape Town [whose marathon she won last year], which obviously suits her, and we're all delighted to see her back running so well, and surely this is a mark she can reduce further in the coming years.
The team race will be complicated, and the squad is some 12 minutes down on the winning ones of 2012 and 2013, but it'll surely 'be up there somewhere.' We'll let you know when we get news.
Men Fell Kent and Serpies
In an incredible men's race the opposition threw the kitchen sink at us, and our boys ducked and weaved superbly. Serpentine proffered a 2:21, 2:27 and 2:27, and Kent an equally scary 2:22, 2:26 and 2:27. Our own return in the team race was 2:22, 2:23 and 2:30, which means a three way tie if you're just doing it on minutes. But taking seconds into account too, it's the Bels by a nose!
10 years ago we won the team race only to have to have to give it back due to Mark Miles not wearing a club vest; well, we readily admit that Aldershot's 2:17, 2:24 and 2:24 is the best in the land, but the latter two of those lads (the dazzling blow-ups of Thompson and Hay) weren't in their vests as in the elite race and sponsors winning the day. It's a shame for them, and we won't confirm our position until ratification.
Individually Craig Ruddy ran to all the 2s: 2:22:22; whilst Andrius had a painful second half but still topped his Manchester time with a 2:23, whilst James Williams' mission to go sub 2:30 flunked by just 6 seconds, but he'll smash through that in future years, as he confirmed his raw talent.
It's wonderful to see Polly continuing to run well, and for that matter Kris Gauson who showed he still has plenty to offer the sport; whilst Paul Lowe, about a foot over the comfortable height for marathoning, was really pleased with his return, even though his splits look painful.
Something to be proud of... a stepping stone for London Marathon an account of his 2.24.28
This was my first properly prepared marathon, run another two in competition before with best time 2hrs 33min (Richmond park 2015, hilly course) and probably another 2 or three just on my own.
I have been running about 100 miles per week since mid-Nov, and then at the beginning of the year increased further and had 9 weeks averaging 130 miles per week. Done most XC races that I was eligible to run, and I believed it was a good preparation. In addition, done a couple of half-marathons; Surrey Half, which I won with 69.50. This gave me a confidence that I could do a good time in Manchester, especially as it was less than 24h after Inter-counties. Then a week later I ran Reading half, after a very fast start, finished in 70 min flat which and knocked my confidence a bit. Although conditions were not the best and also it was not a flat course. So with encouragement from a couple of my strava followers, who had good marathon times (similar to the one I was I aiming for), I set a strava target of 2h23min, which probably was a bit overambitious, but rather go for a faster time and fail to reach it than be conservative and settle for lower target. a bit of taper over the last two weeks.
Next few weeks I did a bit of taper over the last two weeks and headed to Manchester the day before. On the race day, conditions were very good, not windy, not too hot (about 7-9C), and I felt good. Did a little warm up, took a couple of gels and there I was ready to go. I was in a lead group with another 5 runners, we kept our pace about 3.20sh min/km, which felt pretty comfortable (16.44 for 5k). After the first feed zone (10k; 33.3run at at the front for probably about 5k's with a few runners just behind me. Went through the half at 71.30, which was bang on target for 2.23, if I kept the same pace all the way. After the 3rd feed zone (15miles or so), winner (Patrick Martin, who did his first marathon, but his is a very good runner and had 65min PB for half marathon) upped the pace, and took other two guys with him. I decided not to follow as it felt a bit too fast at the time, and it was still over 1 hour to run, so just took another gel and kept that 3.25 min/km pace. But other too guys didn't stay for long with a winner, and pretty soon I caught third and them with about 7 miles to go caught 2nd and was running 2nd place for a while, went through 30k at 1.41.234, which was still more or less on target. But 4th place guy got back and overtook me with about 5 miles to go, legs started getting tired, and didn't have enough to follow him. Last 5 miles (8k) were a bit slow, pace dropped to 3.30sh min/km. Nevertheless it was good enough for 3rd place, with time of 2.24.28. It was a bit below my optimistic target time, but reached my minimal sub 2.25 target, which is still a very respectable time, so I am happy with that for now. Also it was nice to get on the podium.
I believe it is definitely possible to go faster in the future and a great baseline. Probably now need a few longer marathon sessions running at marathon pace or slightly faster.
Next stop London marathon. As I am writing this ( a week after the marathon), I feeling good, just done 19-mile run in 2 hours, so going to start at the similar pace and see how it goes.
The question was; 'Should we bother to enter a team'. With illness, injury, lack of fitness, and finally the training camp in Portugal reducing the potential team to just seven entries, we did ponder. But, unlike Herne Hill, Thames, Clapham Chasers, Hercules Wimbledon and Ranelagh amongst many other local clubs, we did make the effort and wasn't it worth it.
This event has it's own unique special atmosphere with clubs from all over the country taking part. The brilliant sunny warm weather added to a very special and enjoyable day. We were hoping for a top twenty finish, we did much better, but most importantly, all six in the team came with a wonderfully positive approach and everyone ran well. A special mention too for Louise Blizzard a true Belle for so many years and who would have stepped in to run if needed.
Sam Amend has been suffering from Glandular fever and only declared herself fit three days before. Maybe not quite in the form, she would like but Sammi tackled that first long stage with her usual tenacity and common sense and finished a mere 30 odd seconds slower than last year in 18th place. I make that about 1.5% down, we'll take that thank you!
Sally Underhill had found out a couple of years ago how tough this course can be especially if you set off too fast. This time she was rather more cautious in the early stages and ran a very well judged stage. Like Sally, Saron Haileselase had missed a lot of winter training and was also worried about frequently getting the stitch on hard runs. She coped very well finishing about the same time as Sally both with very solid runs.
With no other fit long distance athletes in the team apart from Sam, it was Jojo Rhodes who volunteered to run the other long stage. Jojo is an 800/1500m runner who has never run a 10km road race in her life. This long stage of nearly five and a half miles with its tough hills seems almost like a 10km and Jojo sensibly set out steadily on the initial upward climb to the memorial leaving a bit in the tank for the final part of the course.
Lizzie Goldie-Scot has been improving all season and so nice to see her racing more regularly this year now she is based in London. By stage five the gaps have become huge, but Lizzie ran a very good leg maintaining the position in the high teens the team had been in all afternoon.
The final leg was tackled by Zoe Doyle, looking in fantastic form and fresh from her three terrific medals in the World Indoor Championships in Daegu a couple of weeks ago. Zoe was worried by her lack of endurance training, so the weekend before did a nice steady ten miles. Well, whatever training she has been doing certainly seems to suit her as she sped around in the quickest time for our team and moved the Belles up to a very pleasing 15th.
So, a very good day enjoyed by all, and yes, we should always enter a team and support these events. The experience gained from running on this course and taking part in the most exciting running event of the year is second to none.
Finally, thanks to all the supporters especially Sophie Harris taking the photos and who would have just loved that long stage. Next time Soph.
L:R Zoe Doyle, Lizzie G-Scott, Charlie Dickinson, Sam Amend, Jojo Rhodes, Saron Haileselse (Minus Sally)
1. Leeds 2;12.44, 2. Swansea 2;16.21, 3. Winchester 2;16.35, 15. Belgrave 2;27.47 (S. Amend 32.40, S.Underhill 20.03, S. Haileselse 20.09, J. Rhodes 35.41, L. Godie-Scot 20.27, Z. Doyle 18.47)
After a consistent season Belgrave returned to Sutton Park for the first time in two years, after missing a couple of 6-Stages and last year’s 12 Stage, as we’ve been rebuilding and unable to complete our teams.
We only just managed to here as about half the squad made big sacrifices, shuffled appointments and travelled grim distance. For us to end up less than a minute off 4th English club is a magnificent effort by the lads. Did I overreach a tad putting the team together? Perhaps. Was it worth it? Very much so. We owe this race a debt of gratitude and it’s one that is steeped in Bels folklore and has contributed so much to our legacy, our burgeoning seriousness in the 1920s, which in turn led to our ownership of Belgrave Hall and our reputation of a club that adores and contributes to the wonderful sport of road running.
The Lion and the Dynamo
To the start then on a glorious day, and the first challenge was to get Paskar round without a blow-up. Sutton Park ruthlessly sniffs out interrupted build-ups, and Paskar’s lost vast swathes of time to a bad injury. So to get round in sub 27 in the top dozen was a good start.
Stage 2 is alluring for the company, but be careful what you wish for! Matt Welsh was under siege as speedsters played Space Invaders all around, but his time was fine, and it left Andrius with them all lined up. This was our second major worry of the day, as our courageous Lithuanian dynamo, just 6 days off a terrific 3rd at the Manchester Marathon, ran 28 flat, a mere 20-30 seconds off optimum. As a veteran of some 25 marathons, all I can say is, ‘ouch!’ Three places nibbled to 18th, as many clubs were going well.
Gus digs deep and JK deeper
Outgoing skipper Gus Upton missed a major family function to be here, and our thanks also go to fiancee Dani, who found herself like Dorothy in Munchkinland in a mysterious place and so not what was in her diary. Like Paskar, Gus has spent months on the sidelines but he had a water-tight run, just 11 seconds off two years ago when he caught a flyer. Nearly a mile up ahead, the mother-of-all-front-loads by Cardiff had the mother-of-all-implosions in the post.
After that tough opening quartet, we now hoped for a miracle as we embraced the return to the squad of a multiple Sutton Park champion over both 6 and 12 stage. Welcome back James Kelly! With our team right on a knife-edge, we spied a way to strengthen if James could detour a visit to the ancestral home in Oxshott, from the Big Apple, via Sutton Park. Oh, and it’d have to be a Friday arrival as the Yanks ‘don’t really do’ days off. The jetlag was always going to be harsh, but such a warrior is hard to resist and this was the bravest of James’ many runs for us. If he “died a thousand deaths” at the brutal Sunderland National cross of 2013, this was far worse, as everything had cramped up by a mile. Would he even get round at all? That he only lost a minute for his trouble was an inspiring effort of mind over matter, and we were still “in the game.”
Debut from Arne and Phil’s huge gamble
And straight on to yet another challenge, as multiple drop-outs led to 4th reserve Arne Dumez, willingly giving the nod. This course takes years of hard training to get to grips with, so Arne can be very satisfied with his opening salvo. One of six men in the team to advance us up the order, and a time right where we would expect in relation to his three amigos, Nick, Matt and Ed.
It had been a terribly hard 2 hours 13 minutes for us, but these six lads can be really proud of handing over to an exceptional second half-dozen with “the gift of life”. No-one was giving up on anything, except maybe on Swansea who were going quietly berserk. But straight into another crisis! A disconsolate Phil Wicks warned on Thursday that he had a big knee problem. Suddenly the TM’s over-reaching had bitten him, hard. Should we tell JK to abort the Red-eye? But Chas Dickinson wrote in urging me not to pull the plug – the experience was so crucial and one other pointed out, “well the ship’s long sailed for what I cancelled this for anyway”. A smash and grab raid to Nick Goolab’s coach in Font Romeu was swiftly swatted away… even dear old Sharpy had got the wrong weekend and couldn’t help on his gammy foot. It was a case of ‘the band played on as the ship went down...’
Come Friday morning and Phil got through a tough 25 minutes in discomfort but he gave the green light – the Bels were back! He then had a marvellous run as the knee tightened up at half way and he waited with gritted teeth for the tendon to go ping. Mercifully it didn’t and this was one of those awesome efforts to add to the Belgrave annals, and we all hope no lasting damage done.
Soothing runs from Alex and Craig
Finally, we could all take a quarter of an hour off from the stress as we found someone without 'baggage'. You won’t get fireworks from Alex Miller who stood guarding Buckingham Palace for years without flinching, you’ll just get relentless monomania – and we love him for it, as he held firm in 16th. The final third of the race was going to be one long pedal-to-the-metal chase; so we needed this brief semblance of sanity.
Day Tripper Craig Ruddy only took eight trains for this one, which is a shame as we award a towelling claret headband to those who take 10 trains for a single fixture. Deep into his VLM build up, with legs full of miles and a hard fought 3rd last week at the Scottish 10m Champs, Craig kicked off our run for home in fine style. Four bodies into the sack, and up ahead half-a-dozen guys were looking a bit fidgety.
The big final push
Could our new incoming skipper Ed Auden be separated from outgoing skipper Gus? No! The leading lights of their respective training groups on either side of Clapham had a spot-on tie, with Salford gobbled. After a sterling two years of support from GU, I know I’ll get more of the same from EA.
Kiwi marathoner Dan Wallis was referred to us last year by our life member Gary Staines, when Dan set up camp in South Wimbledon. It was harsh of me to fling him on the toughest of legs on his SP debut; but in backgammon parlance, “put your checkers where they belong.” Clubs were hardly running out of men either with Dan having Jonny Mellor smashing it up ahead and Andy Maud as the Messerschmitt at this rear. But showing immaculate form and pacing, Dan reeled in four men, with Kent and Lincoln now feeling the heat too. A wonderful debut, and another tie – this time with Phil for our fastest long stage.
We closed out with a clinical run from Nick Bundle who nicked the times of Matt and Alex and only had to bow to Tonbridge’s talented Molloy, but gained on Kent who had a super team out, which meant that four clubs all concertinaed on 4:23. So there it was: 8th British, 7th English, hats off to Swansea’s stunning team, and well done to English champions Bristol who were the fastest ever round this course on that amazing day in 1980. Liverpool surprised, as did Lincoln; always nice to see the ‘lesser’ clubs having a blinder.
Here ends a rewarding season, except for the VLM where there will be Bels interest a plenty. A summary goes:
Surrey 6 stage: 2nd
Southern 6 stage: 24th
Surrey League: 1st Div 2, promoted to Div 1
Southern cross relay: 3rd
Reigate Priory relay: 2nd
South of the Thames Team 5m: 1st
South of the Thames Champs: 3rd
Surrey cross champs: 3rd
Southern cross: 8th
National cross: 27th
Southern 12 stage: 6th
National 12 stage: 8th
Extremely consistent and battling stuff, and there’s no reason not to advance these numbers in the 2017-18 campaign.
1 Swansea 4:15:06; 2 Bristol & W 4:19:55; 3 Liverpool 4:20:51; 4 Notts AC 4:21:29; 5 Lincoln W 4:23:07; 6 Tonbridge 4:23:23; 7 Kent AC 4:23:26; 8 Belgrave H 4:23:57; 9 Highgate 4:25:02; 10 Cardiff 4:25:29. 67 teams started, 61 finished.
P Owor (12) 26:57; M Welsh (21) 16:45; A Jaksevicius (18) 28:00; G Upton (18) 16:21; J Kelly (20) 28:38; A Dumez (19) 17:09; P Wicks (16) 26:25; A Miller (16) 16:48; C Ruddy (12) 27:25; E Auden (11) 16:21; D Wallis (7) 26:25; N Bundle (8) 16:43.
Fastest long: D Griffiths (Swans) 25:10; A Yee (Ken) 25:37; J Mellor (Liv) 25:47.
Fastest short: D Musson (Notts) 14:46; T Marshall (Cardiff) 15:01; J Hay (AFD) 15:09.
The Southern relays for most are one of the highlighted events clubs look forward to showcasing their best teams. It's an opportunity for road, track and cross country runners to come together and race in an exciting team event. On this course at Gravesend, the short stage is only about the length of our own Bridges course, and the long stage nothing like the brutal one at Sutton Park. Running multi laps, two at 2.2km for the short stage and 3 for the long, makes it unfortunately confusing to follow the race. Although it was a nice sunny day, there was a very sharp East wind blowing throughout the afternoon which made this undulating course much tougher than last year.
The Belles team has been badly affected by illness and injury but we still put a very positive team together with a special mention of Claire Stokes and Mhairi MacDonald who came to support the club and run for the B team. Mhairi had let it slip that she has entered the Edinburgh half marathon. 'In that case, you ought to do the long leg'. Claire had battled the South London traffic and a cold, but still gave her best.
Lizzie Goldie-Scott has been running very well this year since overcoming injuries which began just over a year ago. She was entrusted with the frenetic first leg and ran a very sensible race bringing the team home in 19th place. Becky O'Kill took over for the first of the two long stages, running very even splits over the three laps and maintained our position. She did, however say afterward's say although the wind was strong, it was nothing like she experienced at Reading the week before.
It was nice to see Saron Haileselase back running in the team. She had been ill with a chest infection most of the winter and hadn't raced since October, being a very light runner she also found the strong wind very difficult. However running one of our quickest short stages brought the Belles up a couple of places.
Then on leg four came a remarkably strong run by Sam Amend. Still shrugging off the effects of Glandular fever and another horrific journey round the M25, she just set off very positively and clocked three laps at just over eight minutes each. By this time the gaps were huge but Sammi brought the team up another place to 16th.
Helen White and Megan Bailey took the final two legs with the team finishing in 17th position. Helen and Megan have both been hugely instrumental in helping the team with their positive attitude, both having turned out well over ten times this season. These two have dominated the newly formed B team competition and although Megan was secretly hoping for a B team place in the relay, she readily agreed to step into the A team at short notice.
1. Winchester 1. 47;16, 2. TVH 1;47.32, 3. AFD 1;48.14, 17. Belgrave 2;00.26 (L. Goldie-Scot 17.11, R. O'Kill 25.39, S. Haileselase 16.53, S. Amend 24.17, H. White 17.56, M. Bailey 18.30)
Short; 1. I. Lee (Winchester) 14.23, 2. A. Gibson (Tonbridge) 14.48, 3. J. Judd (Chelmsford) 15.01
Long; 1. N. Taschimowitz (SBH) 22.02, 2. A-M McGlynn (TVH) 22.08, 3. A. Griffiths (AFD) 22.20.
For the third year in a row we’ve landed on a painful 6th at the Southern 12 when we'd hoped for more. But the TM is sanguine for three reasons:
It all adds value to our incredible sequence between 1999-2010 when we were never out the medals and won it 7 times.
The standard of the opposition has risen considerably, which is great for the sport. Although our squads were pretty awesome for those above years, we did not meet too much by way of resistance. In 1999 we had plenty of sub-par runs, and one guy got lost and started walking. Our result? 2nd. In 2006 there were genuine concerns the race was dying, and Alan’s opening notes were rather sombre as he acknowledged the day had been a damp squib. I penned an article in around 2009 saying to bring the race down to 10 stages to give a few more clubs a chance of closing in respectably. So for there to be at least a dozen strong squads out here, gives any fan of the relays reason for cheer.
This was a young squad, which is still rebuilding brick by brick. It’s really only Paskar who’s “raging against the dying of the light” [and what a rage it is!]. But overall the average age is under 30, which for an endurance team is fine.
So with all that said, we can be quietly proud of a very determined dozen who fought for every second and place, which had to call up two “shrubs” at the 11th hour, who are a year or two off readiness for such a frying pan, but they will be, and this is priceless experience.
To the start then, and a visibly exhausted Andrius did what he could to handle the fast early pace. By half-way round he was only 10 seconds in areas, but then back-to-back half-marathons said, “hello, remember us?” and it was hang on for dear life time.
The ever reliable Nick Bundle then eased us up a spot with a typically smooth run; and then it was another very painful long stage tour, this time for the gracious Nick Buckle. We ached to give him a short stage on which to run amok, but the loss of marathon man James Williams meant we had to raid one of our up and coming stars. Nick was under the weather too, but typical of him said nothing on the day - a TMs dream - and despite the slog only a single pip lost.
With Roy Maddams capitulating some 16 hours before the gun, poor old Alex Mills, deep into marathon training and gearing up for the Kingston 16, was summoned, and he unhesitatingly gave the nod. With heavy legs he was up against a flurry of 15-minute 5k men – and better. He dug so deep and just a single position leaked again.
Right, what could a still short of his best Paskar come up with? Very isolated, he ground out a time just 1 second shy of AJ, but without the company. What an effort – their differential was 4:29 at the National.
The skipper came next and despite a rotten season of injury, Gus maintained his imperious record of always running our quickest short stage in three seasons of 12 stages. It appeared our fears of Tonbridge were well founded, but what surprised us was how well everyone else was going too. We were 3:06 off the medals.
Enter the fearless one, Nick Goolab, who entertained so royally with that brilliant 3k the other day and roaring past a slightly bemused Mo Farah [albeit running a bit further]. Nick ran wonderfully in heavy traffic. Every time I saw him he either had a normal runner, a lapped runner, a normal woman, a lapped woman or someone warming up in his way. But his time was just 10 seconds off last year’s which was set in far more benign conditions.
Up to 6th now and another talented youngster brought in at very late notice was Ted Oldman. He excelled at the recent Surrey League to be just 3:22 off Wicksy, but this was an ask too much. Although Ted won’t like his time, he presence is to be celebrated as he’s been lost to the sport for much of the last 18 months before realising "I've got unfinished goals to achieve before I call it a day.” To our pleasure he’s back, and there’s no reason why he can’t have a fine career.
Ed Auden is such a gutsy runner, and his 6:40 first lap, in a frantic attempt to make up lost ground will have cost him and been dash painful to boot. But after a 2nd lap of ‘taking stock’ he rallied really well for a time to worry AJ and PO.
Matt Welsh had a juicy early leg to savour at around 10:30pm on Friday night, but a casual check of his email found him shunted to the boondocks. He never saw anyone all day and a great last 4 months of training weren’t properly reflected. But we needed one of our top guns on such a difficult leg, and he has become just that.
Despite medals still being 3 minutes away, Phil Wicks was not out for a jolly. He's such a thrilling runner. In cricket terms he’s a Pietersen. In golf, a McIlroy… boy, does this guy like to go for his shots! Gus was overheard describing his first 200 yards: “well Phil’s off, and he was sub 4-minute miling.” No exaggeration! The first lap came in a shade over 6 minutes. Crazy? Hey, you have to try something. Faffing around with "ones and two's" to keep the cricket analogy going, was no good – it was boundaries, sixes in fact – that were required. His assault cost him fastest of the day, but his run was still just 2 seconds off Andy Maud and Nick, [the day's fastest], which is a phenomenal effort.
Previous leaders Bedford were now in Alex Miller’s way and were dispatched quickly, but Kent and AFD had each other to play with for the entire tour, whilst Alex pressed his nose against the glass from 130 yards back. It’s a shame because he’d have had great fun if he’d been with them, as he ran our 2nd fastest short stage, and was just itching for a fight.
So, no regrets, we gave what we had on the day. Remember, Aldershot thrashed us by nearly quarter of an hour for their win at the SEAA 6 stage back in September and now the difference is only 34 seconds over twice as far. Good progress. And in the end only 1:31 off Highgate in bronze - well, the loss of Maddams and Williams alone was 3:20; so no cause for panic.
With men to come in for the National, our season’s not quite over yet. Many thanks to all our supporters, including Chris Upton, the extremely fluffy Ryan Wicks, Emily, Steve & Christine Wicks, all the Belles and our fab four of Chas, Don, Bill Laws and Alan Black.
1 Tonbridge 3:23:05; 2 Serpentine 3:24;22; 3 Highgate 3:26:18; 4 AFD 3:27:15; 5 Kent 3:27:18; 6 Belgrave H 3:27:49. 53 teams started, 41 finished.
A Jaksevicius (13) 20:24; N Bundle (12) 14:01; N Buckle (13) 21:17; A Mills (14) 15:18; P Owor (11) 20:25; G Upton (10) 13:51; N Goolab (6) 19:07; T Oldman (9) 15:35; E Auden (9) 20:47; M Welsh (8) 14:01; P Wicks (7) 19:09; A Miller (6) 13:54.
B Team: S Mills (49) 24:46; W Cockerell (46) 16:44.
Fastest legs. Short: L Lloyd (HHH) 12:57. Long: N Goolab & A Maud (Highgate) 19:07; 3 P Wicks 19:09.
And on the subject of us and Aldershot, check out the medals table at this one since 1962. [We’ll update this back to the race’s start, a decade earlier, during the week.]
It was tough and we all set out fast (despite Charlie’s wise words to save energy for the last three miles-noted for next time!). We were undeterred by the first hill and ploughed on despite strong winds. Sammi, unfortunately, had been under the weather for the last few weeks and was forced to pull out near the beginning of the race.
Reading is not known for its beautiful scenery but support was on point, especially one woman’s words of encouragement ‘just press forward’, as well as a brass band all helped keep us motivated. We were also lucky to have some amazing support from Christina as well as Ed and Henry around mile six as well as on the final miles when energy levels were low and it was most needed.
Having run the Reading Half once before my memories of the last couple of miles came back to haunt me. A never-ending straight main road coupled with running into the wind meant the final few miles were demoralising, to say the least.
Despite these less than ideal conditions the girls finished the race, Helen who started off really strong ran a PB in 1.33.27. Iona managed a PB by a few seconds (1.28.28 ) and Becky wasn't far behind on 1.29.24 but wasn't feeling on peak form and also battled with the wind on the long last couple of miles. We all agreed we probably won't be rushing back next year...
And Will adds: the boys battled hard too, with a 70 flat from Andrius, 72:28 for James Williams, late-73 for Alex Miller and a 79 for Tom O'Beirne. But they too noted the severity of the conditions.
The racers tear it up, whilst the trainers grind it out...
It's been a nostalgic week as many of us reminisced about a purple patch of form we had between the late 1940's to the early 50's, where Vic Blowfield, who died recently aged 97, led many teams to glory.
Well, fast-forward some 65 years and the club's Harriers are still cooking up a meaty broth. At the sharpest end, Phil Wicks stormed to an outstanding 5th at the CAU Inter Counties in Loughborough. Phil reports: "Best xc run for a good few years. Could have been better but struggled with a stitch for the last few km which caused me to lose contact with 2nd/3rd/4th. Course was ideal for me too - rolling hills, sticky in places but nothing like the mud bath at Wollaton."
And rounding out a superb season over the mud, Andrius Jaksevicius nudged his National return forward a few notches to 45th. Congrats to them both. And if that wasn't enough, in a normal AJ stunt, he promptly won the Surrey Half the next day in sub-70.
At the British Indoor Masters, Zoe Doyle set a W35 Championship record to win the 800m in 2:17.01.
Elsewhere, a returning to form skipper Gus Upton found himself travelling at sub-70 pace at the Bath half leading up to half-way, which was a tad 'dangereuse' after a torrid winter. He sensibly shuttled back down into 4th gear, but still returned an encouraging 72:30.
James Williams nailed the Finchley 20 right on the money with a 1:53 for 6th to leave his London marathon preparations on track; and we're pleased to see Scott Mills zapping a 10k pb [38:15] within the Silverstone half en route to another pb of 1:26.
Closer to home, Charlie Dickinson put on a fine training weekend from Belgrave Hall, aided and abetted by a comprehensive strength and conditioning session by Felicity Cole. The Sunday morning 'longey' was probably the best attended Sunday run out of Belgrave Hall for some 40 years, with no fewer than 18 "boys and girls" in attendance [9 of each].
We reproduced this classic photo of another weekend run from the hall in 1923.
As can be seen the fine house in the background remains unchanged, as do the buildings on the left and right at the back, with each of their two high windows in place.
From L-R [where it's a tie, ladies first]: Megan Bailey, Matt Welsh, Helen White, Arne Dumez, Jojo Rhodes, Sally Underhill, Nick Buckle, Claire Stokes, Fi Maddocks, Ed Auden, Becky O'Kill, Saron Haileselase, Adam Cameron, Charlie Dickinson, Alex Mills, Felicity Cole, James Goymour & Will Cockerell.
Congratulations goes to both of our Belgravians who raced in what can only be described as wet and windy conditions last weekend. First home for Belgrave was Alex Mills in a time of 1:19:12, and then for the Belles' Justine Lynch in a time of 1:26:36, in what she described as a strong finish. The overall race was won by Aaron Scott in 1:07:58 and Tracey Barlow won the ladies race in 1:16.22.
Sophie & Andrius crowned Belle and Bel of the season
It was a very close competition this year with many changes along the way but Sophie Harris with some outstanding performances is this years winner. Christina Pennock unluckily picked up an injury and missed the last two races after being almost ever present. Megan and Helen with five scores each plus other races not in the plate competition provided excellent support all season as did many others as can be seen from the list.
The men had a runaway winner which has us wondering when there has ever been a more dominant season's performance. Andrius also excellent at the County champs (not denoted here). Very refreshing to see Phil reach his highest ever position in his 12th XC season with us, and well done to Arne for rounding out the podium.
For many, the National is the climax of the cross country season, the race they train for and work towards all year. For the Belles, after a very encouraging and well supported season, it was perhaps a 'Bridge too Far'. Injuries and illness have at last taken their toll with three stress fractures, calf injuries, chest infections and the usual persistent colds and flu, we should be so grateful to the small team who made such an effort to travel and who all ran well.
It was a hard day, the trains were overbooked and packed with several having to stand. The course was not at its best with several boggy areas and the usual fast grassland soft and muddy. The weather was overcast and grey although thankfully apart from a little drizzle, the promise of rain didn't materialise.
The team all came with a cheerful positive attitude with Sally Underhill taking a break from her Wedding preparations, ahead of our four. Sally kept going well even moving through on the second lap despite a really painfully bruised big toe. (Michael; you had better not step on it when you practice your dance routine).
Next was Lizzie Goldie-Scott, not too far behind, suffering from the after effects of a cold and losing a little ground near the end, but still a very good effort. Then Fiona Maddocks, never afraid to take on the big events and looking stronger throughout the race, she very nearly caught Lizzie at the end finishing just two places further back.
Megan Bailey completed the scoring four just like a year ago running her usual strong reliable race finishing well within the first half of the huge field. Megan has been a wonderful asset to the team again this year missing only a couple of races all season. So too has HelenWhite and also Sarah MacKelvey who was the only one who ran in all four league races. They are the all important backbone of the team, and they are hugely influential in creating the terrific team spirit the Belles have had this season.
Good support on the day too, and thanks to Jojo Rhodes, Sophie Harris (on crutches) taking photos, Matt Welsh, Alex Mills and Michael Dunglass. You all help make it an enjoyable day.
1. J. Judd (Chelmsford) 33.39, 2. L.Small (AFD) 33.43, 3. C. Duck (Leeds) 33.45,...
185. S. Underhill 35.50, 272. L. Goldie-Scott 37.57, 274. F. Maddocks 38.05, 329. M. Bailey 39.14. 788 ran.
1. AFD 22, 2. Charnwood AC 107, 3. Highgate H 154, ... 37. Belgrave 1060. 93 teams finished.
Belgrave is a marvellous machine filled with a mesh of levers and gears and springs, like a fine watch, wound tight. Always ticking.
Ok, so I’ve nicked that off Mad Man Burt Cooper’s description of New York, but it applies well to us and the rich journey we’ve had this last 130 years. And right at the heart of the high-end R&C action has been the National. Here’s a list of the top 8 clubs in its history:
Birchfield 29 wins (only two since 1937).
Salford 7 (only one since 1898)
It’s a fine list and we can all feel proud with our position on it. Whither that lot in 2017? Well Birchfield had to accept 70th, Tipton 33rd, Salford 12th, Leeds 25th, Gateshead and Bingley failed to close, Hallamshire 14th, and us 27th. Hardly a vintage return for the biggest gunslingers in town, and despite a fair few problems of our own, we only bowed to three of them. But stats such as these illustrate how hard the National is to crack and one must keep showing up, year after year, to take the medicine.
Ours was always going to be a testing day when the official handed me a wodge of 20 envelopes of numbers before the race, and I gave 14 back, as we paid yet another heavy price for the draconian and absurd “7 week early” entry policy. But instead of bemoaning child care issues, injury and illness which robbed us of so many, let’s celebrate who were there: Road & Country’s man of the season; man of the decade; and man of the Century. Now’s that’s a triple to warm any heart! They were backed up by two bold young talents who are very new to XC, and someone so long in the tooth he’s growing tusks.
But despite my grisly return it’s two new club marks notched for most consecutive Nationals (19) and most scores (16). My comrade Dave Norman, who ran to 20 in a row yesterday, writes what the race means to both of us: “The National is in my opinion the best race on the running calendar, one all club runners should do. Marathon runners, 1500m runners and Cross Country specialists take each other on over testing terrain in often unpredictable conditions. The ordinary club runner lines up alongside some of the best in the country. And of course there's the team element which creates an extra sense of competition and can see runners really raise their performance levels.”
After an up and down season, Wicksy came to race, and danced around the horror of 2015 champion Richard Goodman, who was spiked so badly a deep hole was ripped from his foot which required 12 stitches. The course was needlessly complicated from 2014’s beauty, to four ever increasing laps. Maybe the organizers wanted to toughen it up, as we went through loads more ditches and swamps.
Phil writes: “I'm ok with today's run. Was really aiming for top 20 but realistically I can accept that I'm not as young as I once was and my training just isn't at the same level as per the boy wonder's arrival. Today wasn't really my ideal course - those mud troughs were tough going and broke my rhythm a little more than I would have liked.”
Such a warrior, and he jumped to 2nd in the Cross-country plate competition and
became only the 2nd man in club history to win six Parker Bowls for first man home at the National.
Next up was Andrius who has given us one of the finest Belgrave XC seasons for 50 years. He’s done all nine major races, not a flub in sight, and this the best of the lot. Less than a minute off Phil, and just outside the top 50 in a stacked field. And his 153 points in the XC Plate is incredible. AJ kept on running through the finish line, straight back to the station 3
miles away to make the 1634 train.
James diligently carbo-loaded on beer and Chinese the night before, and placed about 10 raucous Brysons in his corner. Bill made the journey to Sunderland a decade ago for Catherine’s fine 37th and here he was again, but this time with a gaggle of ankle-biters in his wake. James nailed his run dead centre; and capped it off with a ruthless violation of a whamboozled PO in the final K. His Sunday 19-miler will feel easy after this!
Arne Dumez keeps on getting better and is already chattering about making his XC presence felt next term. Well, this was a beauty of a debut season, 3rd in the Plate, just two points down on Phil. He fought hard all day despite that feeling of doom at 3k that afflicts so many at this one: “I could DNF here.”
The team race was spectacular with the top 6 all within 100 points of each other and Tonbridge packing 5 in to the top 40 but then having an interminable wait for their last man. Meanwhile, Morpeth, Bedford, Sale, Notts and Shaftesbury all long closed in. But in the nick of time Tonbridge settled their account with 3 points to spare.
Aside from James’ cheerleaders we also had Chas, the five Belles, Michael Dunglass, Alex Mills, Matt Welsh and Sophie Harris making the huge gesture to come and cheer on both teams. How delightful it was to have them there.
1 B Connor (Derby) 39:35; 29 P Wicks 41:16; 52 A Jaksevicius 42:05; 272 J Williams 46:07; 306 P Owor 46:34; 381 A Dumez 47:33; 663 W Cockerell 51:04. 1775 finished.
1 Tonbridge 289; 2 Morpeth 293; 3 Bedford 304; 4 Sale 324; 5 Notts 353; 6 Shaftesbury 382… 27 Belgrave H 1704. 131 teams closed in.
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
It was at times more ‘workmanlike’ than pretty, and we hardly swamped Division 2 with claret and gold, but there was a job to be done, and if we’d taken it lightly we could have been in for a nasty shock. Reigate were excellent all term, and Guildford only faded late in the day.
So, played four, won four; and a league win of 182 points and a near 450 point buffer on promotion. Really good work lads, and we can focus once again on making a mark in Div 1. We didn’t miss out on too much this season there, entertaining as it was. The Kent squad was still too strong and then it’s just an almighty scrap between the next five clubs. Well, make that 6 now – and Kent are finally showing signs of fragility with heavy defeats in the first and last fixtures. Next season could be quite fascinating.
So back to Lloyders it was, in horrid, freezing conditions and with the trams partly down. The manager in the park’s café bellowed at the runners as they sought refuge. I expect he did a pretty good trade though from all the extra business, but his demeanour was a classic Basil Fawlty of “bloody plebs, get out of my café and give me some peace.”
Belgrave’s doyen was in action again, but this time Phil was left shaking his head at a wardrobe malfunction of Janet Jackson severity. Trail shoes at a slick and slippery Lloyd Park? Their soles quickly filled with mud as he skated round parts of the course. Still, only 3 spots surrendered, hardly a disaster, and one of those to come by was Andy, who waltzed off with the league’s individual title with a brilliant set of races [8,2,2,2]; and the second race included me leaving him stranded by the roadside en route to the venue! Ed Auden took the league’s runners-up spoils with a pretty masterful 7,5,6,8.
Great to see Paskar quickly getting back to a high standard, and he will now get his head down for a fortnight of punishment to see if he can squeeze into the top 100 at the National at his favourite course.
And it didn’t end there as we packed 7 in the top 20 with excellent runs from Nick, Paul and Roy. A very welcome return to the action came from Ted Oldman [now first-claim], whilst Alex Mills continues his ascent.
Right, one more to find and in a neat coincidence it was the same two duelling for our final spot as at another League win [Div 1] back in 2000 at a frantic race where ARM wrote of its climax: “it’s almost impossible to describe the euphoria…” Well, 17 years on and it was Will just getting away from Phil in the last mile again; with the bearded wonder, Jonny Bundle, having a splendid time a little way back.
The magic lens of SGH was to the fore again. Please check out her album of the race here.
1 J Sanderson (G&G) 26:37; 2 A Jaksevicius 27:16; 4 P Wicks 27:32; 8 E Auden 28:08; 10 P Owor 28:46; 12 N Bundle 28:51; 16 P Lowe 29:15; 20 R Maddams 29:46; 34 T Oldman 30:54; 57 A Mills 32:25; 84 W Cockerell 33:54; 91 P Carstairs 34:17; 113 J Bundle 36:11. 143 finished
1 Belgrave H 245; 2 Reigate 276; 3 E&E 412.
Final positions: 1 Belgrave H 919; 2 Reigate 1101; 3 G&G 1362; 4 Croy 1921; 5 WW 2076.
Parliament Hill, normally a quagmire for the Southern Counties Cross Country event, was unusually firm, albeit wet and muddy in parts. First away in the bright sunshine were the U15 Boys, with Belgrave represented by Julius Bennet, finishing in 198th in a time of 18.01. With three athletes in the next race, theU13 Girls, the ever solid Isla Walrock was our first finisher, 53rd in 15.06, followed by Juliet Michot 210th in 14.57 and Chaiyla Norvill-Williams, 276th in 17.01
The U13 Boys race saw Henry Shippey having an excellent run to place 203rd in 13.16, despite his last minute change of plan that day to race rather than to play football for Clapham Rangers. Not far behind was Sam Pound, 259th in 13.56.
With Allison Dagleish our only representative in the U15 Girls race, she did well to battle on to secure 267th slot in 25.33. The final race of the day as far as our Junior team was concerned was the Junior Mens U17 race. Timin Kamani ran his first race for the squad, placing an excellent 110th in 22.29, with Joseph O'Clery not far behind in 23.31 to finish in 151st place.
All in all our Junior's ran well, in particular given that they were competing with athletes across the entire Southern region of England, generally recognised as the toughest of the four regional championships.
Here are the men's Cross-country standings with two races to go. The majestic Andrius is done and dusted bar a breakdown, but what about Arne in 2nd place! Few could have predicted such a splendid return for the new kid on the block, only in serious training since March.
It's been a season of some change in personnel as our top 2 for the last eight seasons are not to be found till 14th [Paskar] and Will not at all. But the lads have brilliantly plugged the leak. Now, what changes to befall this list in the final two fixtures?
Surrey lgue 1
Surrey lgue 2
Surrey lgue 3
Surrey Lgue 4
Meanwhile the destination of the women's trophy is a real nerve-shredder. Chas writes:
As we go into the final two races, the early leaders of the Ladies Plate have been overtaken by those who have turned out the most regularly as injury and illness takes its toll.
A full spreadsheet will be shown after the final race, the National in Nottingham, but here are the scores so far after six of the eight races;
For the Belles it was the event which saw many of our “marathoner’s turning out for one of the highlights to the clubs year at the “historical Parliament hill”. As the commentator mentioned you either “love it” or “hate it”. My perception is the latter however with the ever growing Belle team and determined to be part of it. Only myself and Christina Pennock had previously run SEAA out of the eighth. Surprising on arrival for those who had raced the course before either at the SEAA or Nationals or even spectated it was a scene “most unexpected”. What can I say it was relatively dry and the “Famous Hill” was lacking its usual slurry giving us more options of the ability to wear 12mm spikes rather than 15mm.
With neither of our "Zoe's our regular Belles for the Surrey league runners we managed to persuade Sophie Carter with her new strength and confidence growing off road to join the London regulars along with myself. Having won the Gold medal as a team in the SOT 7.5 and a great start to the Cross country season we gave it our all.
So a little on how the race turned out with Sophie Harris working off my pacing early race clipped passed me on one of her lighter training weeks to secure the first team spot in 32nd place in a time of 32:10. Some 11 secs after with sluggish legs Sam Amend (I) came in for a solid 37th place. For our third spot, Sophie Carter in 69th with a time of 33:41, Charlie witnessed her strength on the uphill sections. Our fourth scorer was Christina Pennock continued her improvement, 50 or so places up from last year’s result to finish in 91st position and a time of 34:36.
The rest of the running support came from the rest of the Belles team with IonaCousland in 142nd in 36:12, possibly suffering on the second lap after keeping up with Becky O Kill on the first lap. Becky was running a blinder until she sadly sprained her ankle with less than a mile to go to the finish but still ran a solid 93rd position in 34:40. Great support came from Lizzie Goldie – Scott in 196th finishing in 37:42 and Helen White in 277th in a time of 39:34, sadly for both suffering with illness, neither feeling 100% but still fought strong in the race to finish.
We must also thank our team management support from Charlie and the loyal supporters not running but came to support Jojo Rhodes and Zoe Doyle for their support.
1 E Hosker Thornhill ( Aldershot) 28:42, 32 S Harris 32:10, 37 S Amend 32:21, 69th S Carter 33:41, 91st C Pennock 34:36, 93rd B O’Kill 34:40, 196th L-G Scott 37:42, 277 H White 39:34. 574 finished.
This grand ol’ season continues to progress nicely, as we patiently bide our time to when all our stars collide. We know it happens – the 2004 National and 2009 Nat 12 stage are perfect examples. This was a really hotly contested Southerns with Highgate, Bedford, Shaftesbury, Tonbridge and Serpentine all at their best, whilst TVH and Hercules kept us interested but were too consistent. And then us, squeaking ahead of Kent, about to win their 5th Surrey League in a row, who just a month ago wiped the floor at the South of the Thames. Rounding out the top 10 were our age-old close rivals Herne Hill, whilst other Surrey Leaguers managed 19th Ranelagh, 22nd Clapham, 23rd Thames, 24th Guildford, and a curious 54th for SLH given their resurgence.
Missing a fab four of Wicksy, Ruds, Paskar and Ed (who all really wanted to be there), our lads grimly got stuck into their task. Andrius, making his Parla Hill debut, was prominent from the start, perhaps too much, even spied ahead of the great Kyereme; but if ever a course was suited for AJ’s strength and churning cadence with the low heel lift it was this one. Perhaps a little heavier going would have suited him even more, but Kojo never really got away, and 25th is a wonderful effort – up from 54th at Brighton 2015.
We had two other survivors from that great silver medaling day, in messrs Miller and Bundle whose 51st and 73rd at Brighton became 82nd and 101; barely different, considering the field was up to 1068 from 854.
Nick Buckle had an out-of-body experience last year when he saw the entire field saunter past in the final mile. (Well, it was only about 4%, but the mind plays tricks when you’re out of gas). Not such trouble a year on as 133 became 80, and he made darn sure to go out steady.
Paul slogged away gamely, always able to see his three claret buddies a little way up the track but never quite able to reel them in. At one stage I ran alongside, urging him on: “is it lovely having me beside you like this?!” I asked excitedly. “Errrr, not really, Will.”
To round us out was the 223rd Southern scorer for Belgrave since the first in 1904, Arne Dumez, who’s just 22 and only in serious training since March. I worried for him early doors but he never went backwards and in some ways became more assured as the race progressed. He nestles on our list of Southern scorers next to 100-year-old Bill Lucas who also scored one point for us at this race. And that point? Our sixth scorer in 1952 – the last time we won the title! Some point.
Who else to reliably act as sweeper than Tommy-boy? His 287th last year [also sweeping], becoming a 270 this year. At this rate of progress, Tom will win the race in 2034.
He was under-studied by Alex Mills who had a bad fall early on, but never gave up, and the look on his face at the end was of bemused euphoria. You really do go through so many emotions at this one. To see us home was a welcome return to the fray for Eduard Egelie who all but won us a medal at the SOT champs of 2010 in the rearranged race, but we were sadly one body short.
And me? No Parla Hill for the Cockerpillar for the first time since 2001. A merry streak of 15 years and 130.5 miles over the “Blasted Heath”. I never truly got the grips with the place, but learned to love it, in the words of Commander Flashheart, for “the blood, the noise, the endless poetry.”
1 A Maud (Highgate) 48:27; 2 R Goodman (SBH) 48:42; 3 C Smith (TVH) 49:09; 25 A Jaksevicius 51:22; 80 N Buckle 54:20; 82 A Miller 54:23; 101 N Bundle 54:52; 122 P Lowe 55:32; 170 A Dumez 56:44; 270 T O’Beirne 59:02; 388 A Mills 1:01:16; 830 E Egelie 1:11:57. 1068 finished.
1 Highgate H 121; 2 Bedford and C 196; 3 Shaftesbury BH 220; 4 Tonbridge 255; 5 Serpentine 296; 6 Thames Valley H 440; 7 Hercules W 471; 8 Belgrave H 580; 9 Kent AC 599; 10 Herne Hill H 600. 69 teams closed in
Two superb performances came from the senior squads at the always gruelling Southerns on Parliament Hill, as both squads were missing plenty of big names but still saw forward placings achieved.
We know that the big results are out there somewhere, witness 2015 when both teams placed 2nd; so are quite happy to bide our time and enjoy pleasing returns like this, and nurse the huge potential we see coming through.
The squads were led home by brilliant runs from Sophie Harris in 32nd and Andy Jaksevicius in 25th.
In this shot, Alex Miller is already starting to feel his Achilles' cashing in its chips for the day, and he's still got over 10k to go. But he hung in there like a limpet, to sum up the spirit of both squads.
BELLES MOVE UP TO THIRD OVERALL AS SOPHIE SHINES AT LLOYD PARK.
Author: Charlie Dickinson
Photo Credit: Matt Welsh
Another good turnout by the Belles with two complete teams and a breakthrough performance from Sophie Harris at a very wintery Lloyd Park in the Surrey League.
Never the most appealing of venues particularly in January, our team was welcomed by freezing drizzle just before the start and two inches of snow on the top of the course. Then they were told to wait a further 15 minutes to allow latecomers to get there. Our team had been ready in good time (even Justine) so not even the team managers 'Granddad' joke raised more than a glimmer of a smile.
However, team spirit has been the hallmark this season and as soon as the race started all ran really positively on a course slightly hardened by the overnight frost making it a little easier under foot than in the Surrey's the previous week.
This attitude was exemplified by Fiona Maddocks, in the 'B' team, running her usual strong race then immediately jumping on the tram to join her hockey team for their afternoon match. Ahead of her, leading the 'B' team home with a very good run was Helen White who started much further up the field than usual and managed to hold her position very well.
After Fiona came Megan Bailey, not feeling quite 100%, but 'I'll run anyway', her usual reliable self, followed by Vicki Goodwin, her third consecutive race and getting stronger with each, then Sarah McKelvey, thankfully recovered from her ankle injury, completing the team.
The 'A' team was lead home by an outstanding run by Sophie Harris in 10th place. This is her first season running competitively and she has so far been wisely cautious in races starting steadily and working through the field. However, this time she set off in the first twenty at the frenetic start, and still managed pass several by the end of the first lap, moving up to 12th, then another couple on the second lap to finish in 10th just behind the vastly experienced Amy Clements of Kent AC.
Next to finish was Zoe Doyle, now concentrating on middle distance track races, particularly the World Masters Indoor Championships in March, she finds the 8km rather along way. But Zoe has a fine record over the country and produced another excellent performance. Then came Jojo Rhodes, now over her injuries and running a very sensible race moving past many on the second lap including Christina Pennock and Justine Lynch who had their usual cat and mouse race with Christina finishing ahead.
With the forecast bright sunshine obviously another product of the Met Office's twisted take on humour, and depleted squads at both the Girls races at Lloyd Park and the Boys race at Mitcham Common, those Belgrave Juniors who did manage to turn out in the cold rain acquitted themselves well.
Amidst protestations of injuries at Mitcham Common, and despite Sam's Coach (AKA me) briefly losing one of his spikes before a scramble to find it (in my defence, I am old and I get flustered easily), our five Boys shrugged off adversity (but left on copious quantities of clothing) to tackle the muddy and deceptively hilly 4k course. First home, despite a slow start, was Zayd Addicott in 32nd place (13th U15), followed by Julius Bennet in 55th place (28th U15) who ran well, having spent the last four weeks hidden from daylight and human contact prepping for and undertaking exams.
Our next runner home was Sam Pound, who, having ignored a sore achilles before the gun, had his best run to date, coming home in 58th place (15th U13) only 8 seconds behind Julius and a huge 27th places higher than his previous race at Lloyd Park and up from 28th to 14th U13 - his best race to date by some margin. Not far behind Sam was Henry Shippey, another one of our walking wounded, who hobbled off afterwards with a pained expression (no-one can do pained expressions as well as Henry) and a calf strain after closing in to place 80th (25th U13).
With the ever positive Hector Sheppard rounding off our Boys U13 team placings in 96th place (37th U13), the U13 Boys did well to finish 8th team with only 3 runners. An equally solid team performance came from the U15/17's, who managed an 11th placing with only two runners. Oh the pleasure we will all experience when we finally manage to get full teams out for both age categories, hopefully at the final match on February 11th on Wimbledon Common. There is every chance we could come very close to winning the U13 boys team race and secure a top three slot for the U15 Boys. Which would be a marvellous springboard for next season.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in Surrey, the Junior Girls turned out in rain mixed with the occasional sleet showers falling (who says cross country isn't glamorous?), not to mention the remnants of last week’s snow still on the ground in patches at Lloyd Park, Croydon.
Whilst Juliet had been at the Middlesex Championships the week before at Hillingdon, for Dauphine, Allison and Chaiyla it was a case of Groundhog Day as all three Belgrave athletes had run the same course that day at the Surrey Championships, so there was no excuse for getting lost and a good chance to improve on last week’s times.
There were excellent performances from all four athletes, particularly from Chaiyla working her way through the field. She continues to improve her running in every race she does and her smile at the finish is great to see. For Juliet, it was the chance to demonstrate the good form she has been showing in training.
Allison and Dauphine both improved on last week’s times by over a minute, despite the cold conditions. Results were: U15: Dauphine Rolin: 37 in 19.18, Allison Dalgleish: 42 in 20.57. U13: Juliet Michot: 38 in 13.17, Chaila Norville-Williams: 55 in 14.39
We’re Back! Brilliant Packing as Bels Head to Div 1
It’s been a really enjoyable sojourn in Div 2, as we’ve dusted ourselves off and formed the beginnings of an engine room that could be the envy of the county for years to come.
All it needs now, in Tour de France parlance is laps of honour around Croydon’s answer to the Champs d'Elysee: Lloyd Park.
This wasn’t a straight-forward squad to construct as we had plenty missing and were on a scary number of six runners with under 20 mins to the gun, but then four more trickled in, and Scotty-boy did his now customary appearing act with 3 mins to go. We were ready.
A terrific run from Andy gave the outstanding Sanderson little chance to relax on lap 2, and destroyed the efforts of the admirable Evans. Ed unleashed a wicked kick on Guildford’s High and left his violent assault on Neil Wellard 10 yards too late. But great running all the same.
Then the “Belgrave Train”. You could just about chuck the club flag over Paul, Nick [Bundle] and James; the former charging through the last lap like a fox let loose in a chicken hutch.
They only got away a little from the ever-dependable Arne, whilst dear old PO once again showed his humility by ‘taking one for the team’. Yes, he’ll be mildly mortified to be making new friends in this part of the field, but as the 4th greatest Surrey League runner in history, he has nothing to prove.
Then a fast improving brace of Mills boys [no relation]; and which of two Cold War warriors to see us home? Paddy Power had two-to-one on Phil, but it was Alex Luce, blinkers on for the VLM, who powered to his 17th league score spread over a quarter of a Century.
With Guildford needing a 400-point swing on today in the last match to leapfrog us, there is more chance of Charlotte Church and Elton John singing a duet at Trump’s inauguration. We can breathe a sigh of relief that last year’s nightmare on the Common is but a footnote in English cross-country history.
1 J Sanderson (G&G) 27:04; 2 A Jaksevicius 27:38, 3 S Evans (K&P) 27:53; 6 E Auden 28:13; 9 P Lowe 28:59; 10 N Bundle 29:05; 11 J Williams 29:13; 15 Arne Dumez 29:24; 20 P Owor 30:07; 37 A Mills 31:18; 86 S Mills 33:53; 103 A Luce 34:34; 110 P Carstairs 35:05. 163 ran
With the Club's Junior middle distance athletes split fairly well down the middle in terms of residence on either side of the river, our attendance at the corresponding county cross country championships was equally split between Surrey and Middlesex. In previous years our collective attendance at both could be counted on one hand but this year we were fortunate in having teams at both events. At Hillingdon, hosting the Middlesex Championships on what the athletes believed was a flat course (okay, I lied to them, no point in upsetting them by telling them about the hill that was out of view from the start line), both Henry and Hector ran well in the Boys U13, with Henry coming home in 30th place, followed by Hector in 46th.
Henry's glower afterwards displayed his displeasure at the hidden hill but I'm sure he enjoyed every minute of it. And his seriously cool shoes may have done just enough to inspire his brother to take up the sport.
In the Girls U13, Isla had an excellent run to finish in 6th position, having run barely a step since the Surrey League match in early December and having spent the previous week ill. Together with Lara in 16th and Juliet in 38th the Bels placed 5th team. Outstanding, given that the previous year, and I suspect for all preceding years, Belgrave didn't have a single age category team finishing.
And in the U11 Girls Andie finished in a solid 25th, with her by now trademark grin, even slowing down on the run-in to pose. She won't be able to do that in future years when she's challenging for first place!
[NEWS FLASH: It would appear that Andie lost a shoe halfway around the course - which is why her left foot is white and her right foot is orange. Like the trouper that she is, she kept going. Maybe she would have won if she'd had two shoes. They don't teach you this on the coaching courses]
Elsewhere at Lloyd Park, our South Thames contingent were also in fine form for the Surrey Cross Country Championships, run with light fog covering much of the course, and conditions a little slippery in places. Nine athletes competed for Belgrave Harriers with some excellent times recorded for the first race following the Christmas break. Blaine Robinson continued to impress, appearing out of the fog like Banquo's ghost in 16th place in theU13 boys race in the respectable time of 10.24, less than a minute behind the winner. Chaila Norville-Williams also had an excellent race in the Girls U13, finishing 71st but continuing her excellent results. Zayd Addicott, in his first Surrey race following a period of injury, hopped off his bike and finished 25th in the U15 boys race in 14.51. Another who is continuing to improve in cross country this year was Joseph O’Clery in the U17 men who finished 30th in 22.06, with Samson only 13 places behind in 43rd.
In the Girls U15, Dauphine worked hard as always, coming home in 53rd with Allison just behind her in 58th.
Full results were:
U13 boys: 16, Blaine Robinson: 10.24, 58, Sam Pound: 11.23
U17 boys: 30, Joseph O’Clery: 22.08, 43, Samson Benjamin: 28.07
Well done to all of our squad, heavily depleted because of injury, illness, entrance exams, GCSE mocks and the collection of a new puppy (now that has got to be the best absence excuse of the season. They decided to call it Brexit, but no mention of whether it's hard or soft), plus the additional handicap of being one of the very few Clubs having to split its team between two Championships, thanks to the arcane rules only the individuals running the County Athletics Associations seem to understand and be happy with.