SEAA 4-Stage Women’s Road Relay, Crystal Palace, Sunday 24th September


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 Fiona Maddocks 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.

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