Box Hill Fell Race, plus running update.
As always Box Hill was the start of the club's fell running year. Regulars Clem Dixon, Graham Maynard and Christian Poulton were joined by James MacDonald and Tom Brooke, both tackling this race for the first time. Also running was Joe Sheldrake who trains with us at Sutcliffe but is yet to sign up for the club, we let him join the team photo after extracting a promise that he would rectify this situation as soon as possible! There might have been more of us but entries are restricted by the National Trust who own the land and sell out quickly, in just 50 minutes this year.
Covid restrictions resulted in chip timing and a rolling start being employed, an improvement most of us thought, the usual chaotic congestion on the first flight of steps being replaced by something more orderly, if no less painful. As James said afterwards one of the things that makes it such a great race is the variety, each mile has its own unique qualities. No sooner have you flogged your way to the top of the steps, and you are hurtling back down again again on a steep grassy hillside, four or five more big ascents lie in store, sometimes in woods, sometimes on bare slopes with great views, before you get to try to run back down those pesky steps, James and Joe both taking tumbles on this occasion, nothing serious fortunately. This year's winner was the familiar figure of Max Nicholls, now of Kent AC, in a time of 52:16, with a huge winning margin of 3:45.
We knew that James would take to the conditions given his performances in the Brecon Beacons last year but Tom was more of an unknown quantity, we needn't have worried as he finished just behind James; 13th and 14th places. Prizes for this one have been something of a standing joke in the past with the organisers having spent their meagre budget in the National Trust shop; with all due respect who really wants to win a pot of marmalade? But this year they had raised their game and spent their money at the nearby Denbies Winery - James went home with a rather nice looking bottle of pinot noir as 2nd M40. Another great thing about this event is that the race HQ is a pub, and a pub more or less next door to a train station, so no difficulties organising a post race analysis session. Tom of course had to put up with the usual "you know that isn't a proper fell race don't you?" speech reserved for newbies, but he took it in good spirit and seems to have the appetite for more. A "proper fell race" it may not be but it is an ideal toe in the water for those thinking of doing something a bit more adventurous and hopefully more of the club's runners will be scrambling for entries next year.
13th James MacDonald 1:02:49 (2nd M40)
14th Tom Brooke 1:03:02
42nd Christian Poulton 1:08:15
93rd Graham Maynard 1:15:37
118th Clem Dixon 1:21:21 (3rd M60)
173rd Joe Sheldrake 1:34:50
Veterans Athletic Club Cross Country Championships
Two of the club's cross country runners took on the VAC 8km race on Wimbledon Common. Well done to Chris Loudon for finishing second (and first in the M35 category) in a time of 26:37. Opinions vary as to how much sense there is in classing a 36 year old as a vet, but a great performance none the less. Ian McCarthy finished 73rd in 42:05, 4th in the M65 category (now that is what I call a vet!). Also running was Peter Hamilton who will be familiar to many who train at Sutcliffe on Tuesdays: 69th in 41:07 and 4th M70 despite running the final lap short of the sole of one shoe!
On the same day and rather closer to home, the club was again out in force at the Sutcliffe parkrun, some excellent performances including PBs for Dave Worden, Samuel Scrase-Field, Luke Ford, Tom Loia and Amanda Williams. Perhaps most striking was Holly Dixon's performance: 16:39 may be 11 seconds outside her PB but it was the fastest female parkrun time that day in the entire country!