SEAA Women’s 4-Stage Road Relay, Crystal Palace, Sunday 23rd September 2018

Author: Charlie Dickinson

After a week of withdrawals and then unfortunate late injuries, it was just one team of four Belles taking part in the SEAA Road Relay at Crystal Palace. The heavy early morning rain, cold blustery conditions had eased to light rain when the race actually started, then improved throughout the afternoon. What a contrast from last year, rather than basking in the sun, most of the teams spent the afternoon huddled together for warmth in the stand.

These were not conditions favorable to the Belle’s lead by Saron Haileselase. In the blazing sunshine of the Surrey road relay the previous week she had flown around, within one second of the course record but here after the first of the two-lap she was lying in 4th place and appeared to be in discomfort and also in danger of losing places. She did however manage to maintain her position on the second lap and although below her best still finished ahead of some very good athletes in one of the fastest times of the day. Her problem was a debilitating pain below her ribs caused by the cold wind and rain.

Jojo Rhodes was drafted into the team in the week leading up to the race and although she lost a few places finding the second lap particularly tough, she nevertheless enjoyed the run and ran a very solid leg. In situations like this it is so reassuring to have someone like Jojo with experience to call on, you can rely on them to support the team, get round the course and not let you down.

The Belle’s current Olympian, Jane Vong, had recently returned from representing Thailand running the marathon in the Asian Games held in Jakarta, Indonesia. Unfortunately, in that race Jane suffered from the heat, humidity at 85% and even worse, the air pollution and did very well to finish at all. She has recovered remarkably well and after quite a steady first lap on the third leg, really started to motor picking one runner off after another and moving the team from 20 up to 11th place including one in a final sprint in front of the stand to the delight of the Belgrave team.

Lizzie Goldie-Scott has been working her in first year for a law firm. That means working all hours and having little time to train. With a very late withdrawal due to injury on the morning of the race, Lizzie did not hesitate when asked to move up to complete the A team even though she knew her fitness was along way short of the splendid form she was in a year ago. Like Jojo, she dropped a few places but the important thing was to get around the course and finish the team.

So, a special word of thanks to Jojo, and Lizzie for making up the team at short notice, to Jurgita who would have run in the B team had we had enough people but came and supported anyway. Also, Fiona who started the week in the B team, was happy to drop out when we had 9 runners, came in again when we were back down to  8, then out again when the B team disintegrated on the morning of the race. It’s athletes like these who support the team manager and make Belgrave the club it is.

L: R  Lizzie, Jojo, Charlie, Jane & Saron ( + Simon)