South of Thames XC 7.5Mi Championships, Beckenham Place, 15th December 2018

South of Thames XC 7.5Mi Championships, Beckenham Place, 15th December 2018

Brave Belles battle to double South of Thames gold

In truly awful weather conditions, every member of the Belles team put in a terrifically gutsy performance to earn their gold team medals. The disused golf course of Beckenham was carved into an altered course to avoid the particularly obnoxious bottle neck which held up the field on the first lap two years ago. This year it consisted of three laps – one short lap to start followed by two long ones – with many sharp turns and undulations. It wasn’t until the race was in progress that it became clear in which direction the finishing line would be approached.

The thermometer showed three degrees, but Storm Deidre brought a biting wind and freezing rain which made it seem more like below zero. The initially firm underfoot turned very muddy in parts with the increasingly hard rain which didn’t make the hilly terrain any easier to negotiate.

The thermometer showed three degrees, but Storm Deidre brought a biting wind and freezing rain which made it seem more like below zero. The initially firm underfoot turned very muddy in parts with the increasingly hard rain which didn’t make the hilly terrain any easier to negotiate.

Georgie Fenn ran a blinder to lead the Belles home in 4th place. Starting quite sensibly keeping Samantha Amend in sight on the first lap, she simply moved through the field passing runners on each successive lap finally catching Saron Haileselase before floating past her right before the finish line – textbook cross-country running!

It was Saron, finishing just behind Georgie, who suffered the worst in the conditions. She was never able to get warm and lost all feeling in her legs and it was quite remarkable that she was able to get to the finish at all let alone in 5th place. Then, collapsing with hypothermia, she had to be carried, shivering, to the Belgrave tent by Sammi and Georgie’s mum, then by Patrick to the van. She was in a very distressed state and took hours to recover once home.

Saron passing new Bel Ollie Young just trying to regain some feeling in her limbs

Next to finish in 9th place was a typically gutsy run by captain Samantha Amend after making the very long journey from Marlow to help the team. The conditions and undulating course are far from Sammi’s ideal having done little hill work recently, but she stuck to her task as she always does finishing within sight of the Belles leading two. She proved, once again, that she is one of the most reliable strikers of the Belgrave line-up.

Sammi is no stranger to gritting her teeth, and so she did just that!

Fourth and 5th scorers for the team were the inseparable Mhairi Hall and Emma Howsham. The close friends and training partners are on a clear upward trajectory, improving with every race. They had both been selected for the Surrey team in the South of England Inter-Counties the week before. After a long injury induced layoff in the summer, Mhairi has sensibly built up her training slowly throughout the Autumn and is racing so strongly off this reduced mileage. There was a determined look on Emma’s face as she made sure she kept Mhairi in sight the whole race and to not let any competitors come between them, she finished strongly as always. They pair finished in 12th and 13th place. So, five in the first 13 but we needed a sixth.

We didn’t even two separate pictures for these two: Mhairi and Emma didn’t let any daylight (or runners) come between them

It was wonderful to see Justine Lynch back running for the team once more after an injury hit winter last year. Justine started fairly cautiously but then suffered from a crippling stitch on the second lap losing her about three minutes, and we began to worry. However, she recovered on the last lap charging through the field, managing to overtake the sixth Tonbridge scorer and finished 25th. Her run proved crucial for the Belles team.

We couldn’t quite tell if Justine enjoyed her return to XC racing – can you?

New Belle, Ellen van der Verden who has recently moved to London from Holland also made her debut. She was worried about coming last but was nowhere near that finishing in 65th place out of over a hundred female runners. Also, running as a guest awaiting her change of club was triathlete Rachel Brown. She will prove a huge asset to the club as, relishing the tough condition, she would have been just one place behind Sammi in 10th place had she counted.

Results  

  1. L. Reid (Tonbridge) 41:42,   2. N. Taylor (Tonbridge) 43:31,  3. A. Clement (Kent) 44:35, 4. G. Fenn 45:46,  5. S. Haileselase 45:54, 9. S. Amend 46:30,  12. M. Hall 47;41,  13. E. Howsham 48:02,  25. J. Lynch 51:48, 65 Ellen van der Verden.  Also R. Brown (non scorer) 47:12.

Teams

  1. Belgrave Harriers 68,  2. Tonbridge 78,  3. Kent 98.  

10 teams completed the race.

×
×

Cart