Thanks to Don McKerrow for creating last night’s great event in the part of London where our chairman Alan Leakey was born and brought up. And for putting out 29 controls in the afternoon thunderstorms, which cleared nicely for the first starters. And in the delightful pub The Tankard after the racing Alan was delighted to present Don with a framed map as a token of the club’s appreciation for so much hard work for SLOW as Chairman, mapping officer, and winter night series co-ordinator, not to mention individual events such as this.
On the 19th May, the day of a Royal Wedding in Windsor, the British Long Distance Championship races were held far away, at another Royal Castle, that of Balmoral, on Deeside in the Highlands of Scotland.
The weather was glorious and Deeside was wonderful in the sunshine. The Balmoral Estate forest was hilly and rough with few tracks, and there were some extended running times.
The next day, a little along the valley in the somewhat easier forest at Torphantrick the British Relay Championships took place.
Ian Webb was the only SLOW member tackling M/W21E – he finished in three and a quarter hours.
Sarah-Jane Barrable was third on W21S.
SLOW’s top class (arguably, just shading M65L) was M35L, with Ed Catmur second and Steve Clelland fifth.
Steph Moss was fifth on W40L, and Karen Jones 13th on W55L, with Heather Walton 37th.
Captain Peter Huzan was 32nd in M50L, with Andy Jones 33rd and eight seconds behind him (a small margin in an hour and a half), and Simon Moss was 47th in that class.
Kathy Haynes was 15th on W60L, 6 seconds ahead of 16th placed Diane Leakey. Chris Robinson was third on W60S. Sarah Brown was equal fifth on W65L, with Anne May 16th. Paul Street was 31st in M60L, with an injured Andy Robinson missing a few controls. Alan Leakey was fifth and Don McKerrow eleventh on M65L. David May was sixth on M70L.
The next day was the British Relay Championships. SLOW fielded teams in both the top class races. In the Men’s Premier, Ed Catmur, Peter Huzan and Ian Webb were 19th. In the Women’s Premier Karen Jones, Sarah-Jane Barrable and Christine Robinson were 12th.
In the veteran classes SLOW got two bronze medals, in the men’s and women’s 60+ races. The women’s team was Sarah Brown, Kathy Haynes and Diane Leakey. The men’s (seen below – with Andy Robinson’s SLOW jacket in background, helping at the prizegiving in his capacity as a BOF Director) was David May, Alan Leakey and Andy Jones.
(Thanks to Mark Howell for use of the pictures. In the top picture, in SLOW colours waiting to start, is Keith Davies. David Dawson, who controlled our recent event at Holmwood Common, is the start official.)
On Sunday 11th SLOW were second in the Regional CompassSport Cup Match. So we qualified for the Autumn Final. We have missed out on the final the last two years but very much enjoyed the trip in 2015, so we can now look forward to the West Midlands on the weekend of October 21st.
The Cup racing was on the Balcombe Estate, an area south of London of mixed woodland and fields, with many steep slopes. The event was hosted by Dartford (DFOK), with additional help from Southdowns. The ground was heavy and quite wet, so there was a lot of mud, although the weather on the day was lovely.
A club scores its best 25 “counting” runners – they must be spread across the age/sex classes – but there is no limit to the number of runners in a team. (Please see the end of this post if you want more details.)
We fielded a team of 49. Our counting 25 were 14 men and 11 women. A big difference this year for SLOW was the presence of 4 juniors in the counting 25 – thankyou, and very well done to them.
There were seven clubs at the tie. Two were to qualify for the final. Three of the seven did not field a full team, which has a big impact. (Happy Herts had three runners in the England team running in the Netherlands.) The winners were Southdowns (SO) led by 3 scores of the maximum 100:
We were 22 points behind, and were reasonably comfortably ahead of 3rd placed Southern Navigators and 4th placed Berkshire. For various reasons we are optimistic we will overhaul SO come the final, although expect the above Southdowns runners to again do well!
All four full teams scored at least 10 women in the 25.
Pictured: Rebecca and Fiona, counting on the Open Women’s course, Karen and Di, counting in veteran classes. Di won her course, scoring the maximum100. (The other maximum was from Karen’s husband Andy.)
There are eleven different races, categorised by sex and age. A runner gains points based on their position in their race, first gets 100, second gets 99 (or 98 in junior races), etc. A club’s best 25 individual scores totalled make the club score. At most 4 runners per race can be counted (2 in each junior one) – so it is best 25 from 36 maximum, although there is no limit to the total numbers in a team, the more the better.
The different races reflect the demographics of the whole UK sport: they have changed over the years, reducing the relative significance of younger adults and increasing that of older ones. But I can’t tell you why a contest between two juniors is twice as important as one between two seniors, although it must be to do with the tighter cap on counters.
There are four women’s races, six men’s, and one mixed (for the top age groups of W60+ and M70+.)
Four of the races, two women’s and two men’s, are juniors: W14-, W16/18, M14-, M16/18.
The other two women’s are:
W20/W21/W35/W40 (a 26 year range), and
W45/W50/W55 (a 15 year range).
Women can run as men. And runners can run up, so clubs with extra older adults can spread some to the younger adult races, or those with extra juniors can move some to senior races. The races are matched with similar or easier courses compared to regular National and Regional events.
(Photo: A British Assembly Field, by Valérie Suter.)
Our membership secretary Gail received good wishes from Valérie Suter, and the message that she wanted to let us know she very much enjoyed being a member of SLOW.
Valérie ran with SLOW 2014-2016, and was a member of a silver-medal winning team at the JK in 2016.
She is now back in Switzerland, and as well as competing is a top volunteer official in the sport. Last year she controlled the final race in the main international series “World Cup”: the Sprint Relay in Grindelwald, which saw the town centre closed to vehicles for the time of the racing.