Green Belt Relay 2023 – Serpentine RC Mixed Team category winners!

The annual Green Belt Relay took place over the weekend of 13 and 14 May 2023. We are glad to report that Serpentine RC won the mixed team category. It was a brilliant weekend with 34 Serpies (divided into 3 different teams) competing over 22 individual stages, with the winners’ shield, the 25th edition race T-shirts, and plenty of smiles in our possession.

Mixed Team winners (from left to right): James Gillanders, Dmitri Krasik, Hugh Torry, Harold Wyber, Will Tucker, Ewan Maynard, Sophie Flanagan, Tash Sheel, David Evans, Philip Whitehouse. Not in photo: Angus Brown

 

After both our men’s and women’s team finishing second in 2022, we thought it would be a good idea to aim for one better in one of the categories (men’s, women’s, vet’s or mixed). Thanks to some of our faster runners joining us that weekend, we were able to be competitive in the mixed category – appropriately named ‘Serpentine Paddington’ after the track where most of them train. We also had a lot of good runners at all ages – our teams consisted of Serpies aged 20 to 64, making it a great contest between our other two teams – the ‘Serpentine Seymour’ Vets team and the ‘Serpentine Primrose’ mixed team, in reference to the other two popular venues of our weekly sessions. The Serpies came to Hampton Court on 13th May to start our two-day running adventure, with almost all runners running a stage each day (each from 7 to 13 miles).

 

Starting Stage 1 at Hampton Court – Diego Caballero, Will Tucker, and Kevin Murray

 

We started the event along the Thames towpath with an absolute bang, with all our three runners completing the 20km Stage 1 in the top 13 positions (out of 51 competing teams). The Paddington team assumed the lead in the mixed category from Stage 3 (Boveney to Little Marlow, 18km) onwards and never looked like relinquishing the lead, with James Gillanders (below) running a V40 men’s record. Stage 5 (Great Kingshill to Chipperfield, 22km) was where all our runners found it tough in the hills, but soon later in Stage 7 (St Albans to Letty Green, 18km) we had both Hugh Torry (Paddington) and Roger Reid (Primrose) coming close to the stage win, finishing in 3rd and 6th positions respectively – the latter’s performance was a V50 stage record.

Overall in Day 1, although we did not win a stage, three of us did come second – Natasha Sheel (Stage 8 Letty Green to Dobbs Weir, 17km – also a V35 women’s record), David Evans (Stage 10 High Beech to Toot Hill, 16km), Sophie Flanagan (Stage 11 Toot Hill to Blackmore, 12km). It was overall a great day of running with temperature a little cooler than a normal day in May. The team finished the day as usual in Basildon, where we enjoyed a meal in Pizza Express together and a mini-Eurovision party back in our beloved Basvegas bar (Holiday Inn Basildon).

 

James Gillanders breaking the V40 stage record in Stage 3, near Maidenhead

 

Team dinner at Pizza Express, Basildon

With a 40-minute lead over our closest challengers (Clapham Chasers) coming into Day 2, the Paddington team soon extended the lead at the top of the leaderboard, with Ewan Maynard (Stage 13 Thorndon Park to Cranham, 11km) and Hugh Torry (Stage 17 Tatsfield to Merstham, 17km) coming third in both stages (the latter was also a V40 stage record). Sophie Flanagan put the icing on the cake in the afternoon by finishing second on her second day in a row in Stage 21 (Ripley to Walton Bridge, 13km). When David Evans (Stage 22 Walton Bridge to Bushy Park, 11km) crossed the finish line, the Paddington team could then celebrate a resounding victory with a winning margin of over an hour on aggregate.

 

Ewan Maynard competing in Stage 13 in Thorndon Park, Essex

 

In the Primrose team, Diego Caballero (Stage 15 Stone Lodge to Lullingstone Park, 15km) and Alessandro Dovis (Stage 17) had very strong showing in Day 2, finishing the top 10 in their respective stages. However, the Seymour team, spearheaded by Kevin Murray who secured a brilliant V50 record in Stage 14 (Cranham to Davy Down, 14km), and ably supported by the likes of Karsten Buecker (Stage 19 Burford Bridge to West Hanger, 13km) and Abhi Jain (Stage 22), came just about half an hour ahead of the Primrose team overall. Sadly it wasn’t enough for the Seymour team to capture the Vets’ team prize. Instead it was Maidenhead AC who pipped the London Front Runners to the Vets’ ‘Walking Stick’ team award. Many congratulations to Maidenhead for their first ever Green Belt Vets’ win in their club’s history.

 

Start of Stage 17 in Tatsfield, Surrey

 

 

Our two Primrose runners (Ronald Cenejuste and Ruth Murphy) came through Stages 21 and 22 respectively

 

The Green Belt Relay is always the weekend where a lot of Serpies remember being in the club, and the 2023 edition was no exception. We enjoyed not only the races, but also the time we journeyed across the scenic routes in the outskirts of London, those fantastic country pubs and cafes, some great friendships made in the Serpie community, and a real sense of achievement of running both days, sometimes over really tough terrain. Thanks must go to all Serpie runners who brought great smiles and offered flexibility in order to allow fellow teammates to take part in the best stages possible. It was fantastic to feel that we completed the entire 220-mile green belt three times over the weekend.

Serpie GBR team 2023 at the Finish at the Bushy Park Sports Centre

 

Congratulations to Ranelagh Harriers’ men for winning the men’s category and securing the Green Belt for the first time since 2002. Also well done to Thames Hare & Hounds for winning the women’s category.

Overall results can be found on this page. The organisers have put together a video on YouTube – please follow this link if you want to see what the event was like.

We look forward to coming back to Green Belt Relay 2024 (provisional dates are 18th and 19th May 2024. Note that the Hackney Half Marathon will take place over the same weekend – but surely you know which event is more fun!) – please look out for sign-up information later in 2023.

 

Sophie Flanagan, Frank Womelsdorf and Hans Ho

Serpentine RC Green Belt Relay 2023 Team Organisers

 

[Thanks to everyone in the Serpentine RC GBR Team 2023 for the photos]

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