Report by Charlie Dickinson and Arne Dumez
The transitional season is always tough. Weather turning grey, temperatures dropping, rain and wind threatening every outing… In our world, it means that the long distance diesels and the middle distance speedsters meet halfway once again for the road relays!
As always, the winter season kicked off at Crystal Palace on a humid, grey day. The Belles set off first at 1:30pm to tackle the 4×4.6km course just as the rain eased off. While quite short, the course is challenging with a pretty sharp uphill and a long downhill on each of the two laps. This always proves particularly hard for those like Fiona Maddocks and Keri Mackenzie who have spent the summer training and racing 800m on the track. It was Fiona who volunteered to run the first lap for the A team, sensibly not getting carried away with the usual rush. As expected, she found the distance hard but brought the team home safely with a very steady run. Keri took over on leg two, slightly worried more about the downhill sections which tend to cause her breathing problems. Not to worry – she coped well and posted the Belle’s fastest time of the afternoon and bringing the team up several places. Mimi Corden-LLoyd was a late replacement for the A team having run a big PB half marathon the week before. At this point the gaps in the field had become significant so Mimi had to endure a rather lonely run but did well to maintain the team’s position. New Belle Emily Barrett was nervous before the start having never competed at this level before, but she produced a very strong run to bring the A team across the line in 27th position.
Unfortunately, due to work, Injuries and holidays meant the B team only had two runners. Both Jess Lowe and Jojo Rhodes ran very well in similar times and contributed to the excellent team spirit. They also picked up maximum points for our internal ‘B’ team competition, which will reward the highest-scoring B team runners at the end of the winter season.
Belgrave A 01:13:55; 1. F. Maddocks 18:17 (37), 2. K. Mackenzie 17:35 (25), 3. M. Corden-LLoyd 19:37 (29), 4. E. Barrett 18:26 (27).
Belgrave B; 1. J. Lowe 19:18 (50), 2. j. Rhodes 19:10 (45).
The men’s teams made their first appearance under new management. Steve Gardner and Arne Dumez took over the reins over the summer and were ready for their first crack at the whip. We were off to a great start: this was the first time in quite a while that we fielded two full teams for the 6×5.6km race!
Paskar Owor threw himself at the mass start, taken out very hard by Hillingdon. Even with a 17:28 leg, he crossed the line in 28th place (as if we needed any more proof of the ridiculously high standard of the Southern circuit…) and tagged in new Bel Will Stockley who had made his mark on the home SAL fixture over the summer. Not only did he claim a nice sub-18min time himself, he brought back eight scalps as tribute to the TMs. Your offer was accepted and appreciated, young one.
Setting off in 20th place and clearly motivated by his wife’s impressive run earlier in the day, co-captain Phil Wicks was not to be outdone and took another 4 heads for himself. After a difficult year with injury worries, it was such a pleasure seeing Phil back in his element! He couldn’t stay long though as he had to catch a flight to Brazil in the evening… yikes! He left the race in the hands of Jasper Taylor, another new recruit who impressed over the steeples over the summer and had clocked a PB in the half marathon the previous Sunday. Jasper and Brad Courtney-Pinn – who manned the fifth leg – both ran very similar times and managed to keep us within the top 20 despite savage onslaughts from Highgate, Milton Keynes and Guildford. Co-captain Nick Buckle ran a very impressive anchor leg to bring us home in a well-earned 17th place. This was enough for an invitation to the ERRA National Road Relays at Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham – showtime!
The B team was led out by Arne who – in the middle of marathon training – decided to run his leg as a threshold workout followed up by some speed intervals. He was cheered home by Keri and Fi who astutely pointed out he wasn’t “trying hard enough!”. Next up was Alex Mills who managed to leak only the one place and dip under the 20min mark. Ollie Young had been a great addition to our XC squad last season and proved he’s still got it (despite the fact he now lives and trains in Highgate hissss). Taking three spots, he handed off to brand-new man Matt Edgar who had never raced as a simple runner before but had recently completed something called an Iron Man… Clearly the recovery had been going well, judging by the additional three spots he collected along the way. Will Cockerell, the esteemed Belgrave legend, bravely stepped into the fifth leg spot despite having trained (some of) his cheek off the week before the race. He held on to all but one place and summoned Will Johnson for the final charge. In the form of his life, Will claimed two more scalps despite having to contend with a rather dim runner in the opening 100m. It was clearly a left turn…
Belgrave A 01:47:21; 1. P Owor 17:28 (28), 2. W Stockley 17:47 (20), 3. P Wicks 17:33 (16), 4. J Taylor 18:17 (18), 5. B Courtney-Pinn 18:28 (19), 6. N Buckle 17:45 (17)
Belgrave B 02:00:20; 1. A Dumez 19:06 (66), 2. A Mills 19:55 (67), 3. O Young 20:38 (64), M Edgar 19:45 (61), 5. W Cockerell 21:04 (62), 6. W Johnson 19:49 (60)
All in all, this was a hugely uplifting show that any team manager would have been delighted with. A healthy mix of promising new recruits and fast-developing claret and gold runners is exactly what this club needs, and that is exactly what we got on the day. This promised many great things still to come – to be continued.
A huge thanks also to our loyal supporters who came out in the rain to watch and cheer us on (in Lizzie’s case, we especially appreciate her putting herself through all that FOMO). We couldn’t have done it without you.