ERRA 6 & 12 Stage Road Relays
Over forty Serpies travelled to Sutton Park for the English Road Running Association national women's 6-stage and men's 12-stage road relays, one of the highlights of the road running calendar. There was some excellent racing but for the women's A team in particular it wasn't quite the day they'd planned for...
The racing got underway at 12 noon with Nick Torry and Richard Edmonds on the first stage for the men's A and B teams, then at 12:20 with Sandy McDougall, Vic Carter and Sarak Kiriluk leading off for the women's teams. Sandy was having the race of her life up to around 2 miles, in the leading pack with Aldershot, Farnham and District's B team runner and a couple of others, when it all went horribly wrong as she slipped and twisted her ankle. Badly. The message soon got back to the team tent and after a brief discussion with the race referee it was agreed that the rest of the A team could race for individual times but the team was (obviously) disqualified.
Becky Glover was next to race for the A team but had been held in the changeover area while this was sorted out and ended up racing at the back, well behind Jane and Susie, our B team runners! Clearly the adrenaline kicked in at this point as she went on to record the joint fastest ever time by a Serpie woman on this course and beat several of our men!
Meanwhile, as Andrew Taylor in hero mode carried Sandy (piggy-back) for around a mile to get her to the medial tent, the men's race was progressing well with Pau Herrero and John Nugus taking on stage 2 then Dave Morgan and Nicola Barberis stage 3.
With the woman's A team racing time-trials for personal pride, it was down to our B and C teams to try and salvage something for the women's squad and Jane Fanning certainly did that on stage 2 with the second fastest leg of the day (I guess she didn't like being on a B team!)
At the end of the women's race the B team finished an excellent 23rd in 1:54:42, a time comparable to our A teams of not so long ago, and our C team finished in 2:01:10, which is similar to that of our recent B teams. The women's squad once again demonstrating just how good it is. Unsurprisingly, AFD won the race.
The women might have finished racing but there was still over 2 hours more racing for the men (12 stages is a very long way) and the weather was deteriorating so as some Serpies drifted off back to London and new ones arrived to run the later stages, the rest of us kept the support going in-between visits to the team tent to grab one of the cakes and biscuits on offer from the Serpie bakers.
Our men's A team finished in 26th place in 4:30:20 which, although it was a few minutes slower than last year, is well on par with recent years, and a few minutes in 4½ hours isn't a lot. There was still a lot of debate about this on the train home though! The race was won by Belgrave.
Curiously, whilst our B team finished in a very similar time to recent years, 4:55:41, they were well down in places. We think this is down to there being quite a few more teams this year due to the regional championships being cancelled.
It was great to see quite a few Serpies taking part in this prestigious event for the first time and enjoying the unique atmosphere, despite the cold and damp weather.
A history of Serpie performances at all the regional and national relays is on the website.
Thanks to team captains Andrew Reeves and Vic Crawford for getting a record number of Serpies racing.
Submitted: 14 April 2013