The end of the track season in sight, athletes flocked to Tooting Bec seeking to finally secure that elusive PB, settle season-long scores and arbitrary rivalries, plug holes in their respective team sheets or just distract themselves from the fast-approaching XC season. The Rosenheim final is as good an occasion as any.
Our season up until the final had been a game of bargaining, begging, flattery and deceit just to somehow fill the team sheet and avoid elimination. Thanks to Rob Norville’s dedication and ability at all of the above, we got to toe the line in Tooting for one last showdown – and the squad was looking in stupendous form!
Sam Shore once again set the tone for the Bels’ campaign with a crushing victory in the 400m hurdles. Some might call it anti-social behaviour… but you can’t argue with a 54.87 clocking. Having just conquered the women’s high jump gold, Belles icon Rose O’Brien lined up for her crack at the hurdles. She also bagged a clear win for the team after fighting off some tenacious competition in the first 250m.
The 100m gave the legendary Mia Callenberg her first chance to shine as she stormed to a 13.64 win ahead of Emilie Bokor-Ingram of Hercules. Seeing as the non-scoring race was exclusively Hercules runners we’ll move on to the men’s race where Richard McMillan gave up his usual 400m ambitions to plug a gap in the team sheet. With a 14.79 – his fastest time in years – it’s hard to feel bad for making him do it.
Speaking of the 400m, Cynthia Kesington’s new recruit proved to be an especially useful addition to the squad. Laura Suggitt couldn’t quite beat a 61.9s from a redeemed Bokor-Ingram but put a solid gap between herself and the chasers to claim silver in 62.5. The men were represented by Adam Cameron who is still struggling with a niggle which made him lose out on the winter and most of the summer training. No need to worry though, as he ‘jogged it in’ for a third spot in 53.65. Some jogging, mate…
Then came the 200m. Once again, Laura stared down a tough field to bring home much-needed points. The podium spots were disputed in the space of 0.3s and Laura’s 28.39 clocking was just enough for a bronze. The crowd needed a break to catch their breath after a tense women’s race so the men decided to keep it a little more strung out. Holland’s James Vancliff claimed the win in 23.91 but Gareth Holden showed promising form ahead of the relays with a second place in 24.49.
The emergence of the batons announced the nigh end of the night and our men and women eagerly gathered around the finish line. The women’s 4x200m was a close affair once again. Rookie Belle Laura took the squad out and kicked off one of the evening’s standout performances. Mia, Katie and Saron charged to a phenomenal win just one second ahead of Wimbledon’s offering. Our lads put together a formidable unit of Gareth, Paskar, Mike and Adam but had to stare down Hercules’ secret weapon – GB international Dwayne Cowan. While he took his club to a first place in 01:28.5 the Bels confidently secured another 7 points in 01:38.9.
It is a regrettable thing that the field tends to be home to most clubs’ unsung heroes… until now! Mia almost single-handedly carried the women’s field through the Rosenheim league so it was only fair to do it again. Throwing a 27.35 javelin, she secured yet more points for the team to go with Tom Ikeda’s dominant 39.51 who didn’t even need to go near his PB of 45.65 to take the win.
As previously mentioned, Rose warmed up for the hurdles with a winning high jump of 1.4m. We just thought we’d mention it again because it’s pretty neat. Michael Burslem came off the bench to safeguard 4 crucial points with a 1.3m hop.
The shot put and triple jump were more of the same for Mia who seem hell bent on winning as many events as humanly possible. A 10.38 throw saw her get pretty close to her PB, but it was more than enough to trump St Mary Richmond’s 8.77. The triple jump was just as clear; Mia lunged to a win in 9.75, well clear of the competition.
Peter Mayfield donned a scoring number for the shot put while Gareth Holden had a go in the triple jump. A respective 10.81 chuck and 11.02 pounce were good for another 13 points which was just lovely seeing as we were still trailing in second place right behind Wimbledon.
Saron Haileselase and Katie French cranked it up a notch and delivered a phenomenal 800m race. Ticking both the fast and furious boxes, Saron rushed through the first lap in 62s with Katie hot on her heels. The rapid pace quickly turned to lactic, but their early efforts had put them out of reach of the eager chasers behind them. The clock rewarded the Belles with two BMC qualifying times of 2:13.9 and 2:15.0, which was some consolation as the referee announced Saron was disqualified for breaking before the line. Unfortunately, the win would not count towards the points total… On the men’s front, Neville put on an equally dominant display, leading the pack through a fast first lap. He easily shook the obstinate stowaways off his train before crossing the line in 1:58. Fun fact: Neville has not run over 2mins this season – consistency, thine name is Neville. The non-scoring race featured Aeron Evans who decimated the field for a 2:03 solo run while Chris Warren made his first appearance for the club after a few months of training with Charlie’s group in Battersea. He put himself through his first track race in 5 years and came out the other end smiling. And who can blame him with a 2:22.4?
Emma Howsham quickly found herself haunting the heels of Hercules’ Gina Galbraith in the 1500m and plunged deep into lactic territory to hang on for a more-than-convincing silver for the Belles. Considering she spent the majority of the summer racing over 3000m she can be delighted with a great fight and a 5:06.3 first mark on the event. The men’s event was a little more crowded as Robel Fesoom – donning his first scoring number for the club – toed the line for the scoring race ahead of Scott Mills’ non-scoring attempt. Wimbledon’s Belal Ahmed once again put his bare feet to good use to keep the pack at bay all race long, but behind him Robel kept his wits about him and ran a tactically sound race to claim a second place in 4:27.4. Scott was just as composed as he took the bell. Having spent the previous 1100m in the slipstream, he broke clear to float into second place for a 4:41.1 just a frustrating 2s off his goal.
The 3000m race was ready to blow as the sun withdrew from the Tooting skies and the spectators continued their enraged struggle against the pestering mosquitoes in increasingly dramatic lighting. An aggressive 68s first lap gathered Ben Toomer, Michael Cummings, Ben Harding and our Paskar Owor in a clear leading group. Cummings eventually claimed the win for Herne Hill in 8:35.7 with Toomer coming through only 0.1s later. Paskar fought hard for a fourth spot in 8:59.9 and will be happy to take home another sub 9min performance – yes, that absolutely counts as a sub 9. Alex Mills also suffered from a case of positive splits as he started off a few seconds ahead of goal pace. He hung tight to end his track season with a 9:53.3, only a few seconds off the PB he had set on the very same track about a month earlier. The Belles were absolutely right to field Kelley Haniver for the 7.5 laps as she brought home 5 points for a second spot in 11:11.6.
After an almost decade-long hiatus it is my genuine pleasure to announce the Belles have taken home the 2018 Rosenheim plaque! This would be impressive as is, but considering they claimed the title just 1.5 points ahead of Wimbledon demonstrates once again just how gritty and tough our girls truly are.
The men unfortunately came out on the wrong side of their evening-long head-to-head with Wimbledon and had to settle for a runner-up place just 2 points behind the men in yellow. Not to worry, boys. The XC squad will get revenge in the mud!
A very special thanks goes out to Rob for once again putting such a strong performance as team manager this year, and to all who came out to support the athletes. None of this would have been possible without you and we already cannot wait for the first meet of 2019!