Success In Welsh Castle’s Relay
Sale Harriers completed their annual pilgrimage to Wales this weekend to complete in the 2013 Welsh Castles Relay. The men and women finished third and the women's team further won the 'Queen of the Mountains' award. The relay, which spans the length of Wales, is split up into 20 legs starting in the North (Caernarfon Castle) and finishing in the capital, Cardiff Castle. Like last year, the club submitted both a men's and women's team with two objectives. The first was to improve on their performance from last year with the second, and most important, to have some FUN. This year was also the most indecent packed event too, with water feeding issues, illegal raves, car issues and last minute team changes!
On a bright sunny Saturday morning two mini buses and four cars set off to Wales with two excited teams. First up were Sian Holland and Nicholas Whittle who got the both teams off to a great start finishing 3rd lady and 7th men respectively. The race then headed to Criccieth with James Wiggi Wignall taking second for the men and Belinda Hammond competing for the women followed then by the first mountain stage with Callum Rowlinson and Helen Armitage demonstrating their ascending skills.
Leg four resulted in the first victory of the weekend with Danny Whittaker getting the precious yellow jersey, however he was made to work hard by Salford's Tess Walker all the way. Helen Regan ran leg four for the women. The race passed fairly uneventfully until the start of leg 7, when Rachel Chambers' mum had car issues and when Mike Wharton arrived at the start of the leg, found Rachel ready to run but without any means of transport. The Jones' managed to sort out the transport issues, allowing Rachel to run and her mum to get back to where they were staying. Chris Donnelly ran leg 7 for the men and both pushed as hard as they could up one of the toughest legs of the route.
Leg 8 passed without event with Sarah Douglas finishing with the highest Sale weekend female field finisher- 19th, however stress levels rose again just before the start of leg 9. On one of the minibuses which was heading to the start of the leg, ladies captain Lauren Davies received a telephone call from Hayley Cavill which went like this "Jenny Cordingley isn't here for her leg, we may need another runner as the leg starts in 10 minutes!!" Bill Fox, who was driving the mini bus dropped the bus into fifth gear and Jenny Clink (who wasn't meant to be running till Sunday) got changed in the back of the bus, sprayed herself with some perfume and was literally thrown out of the van and ran leg 9. Poor Jenny Cordingley was stuck in traffic and sadly missed her leg. Panic over. The love duet of Gareth Raven and Emma Finney ran leg 10, with Gaz coming 2nd and first vet. Although Gareth looked strong over the hills, his car wasn't, and he had driven down with the engine on the blink. Fortunately for the team and them, they managed to make it to the start of their leg. His car made it to the end of the leg, but with black acrid smoke coming out of the engine, that was the last journey it was to make during the weekend. The team retired to their digs for the evening and reflected on an eventful day with a lovely Sheppard pie and glass of red (for those who ran on that day only!). After day one, the men's team were leading and the women's team were in second. What will happen on day 2...
7am came on the Sunday and the race continued with Olivier Gaillemin and Lou Robbins heading out on leg 11. Leg 12 saw the men's team second victory on the weekend with Nigel Martin earning yellow and it was lovely to see Catherine Jones in some fetching red wheels, back competing on the same stage. Leg 14 was cut short this year by about 1 mile due to an illegal rave which occurred on the top of Drovers which was a blessing in disguise for both Paul Green and Jan Nicholls and also resulted in a delayed start for leg 15. John Mosley and Rachel Cavanagh hammered down the hill into Brecon then Dave Marsh and Hayley Cavill hammered up the following hill to Beacons Reservoir on leg 16 in the blistering midday heat. The men took their third victory of the weekend on leg 18, with Rob Flannery holding off the competition. Andy Mooney and Katie Reece completed the 'wimps' leg of 19 and Mike Hatch and Miss Helen Carter brought the team home into Cardiff Castle, with Mike scooping a vet prize too.
The prize ceremony was a picturesque affair in a sunny Cardiff Castle, mainly due to Ritchie Edwards providing the team with bottles of Robinson's Moonshine. Big cheers went out when both teams featured in the medals, and both had achieved their objectives with the men's team improving by 26 minutes and the women's improving by a massive 52 minutes. Les Croupierss won the men's and Serpentine took the ladies. Although the women came third, they won this year's Queen of the Mountain Award for the first time ever! This is an award presented to the fastest team over the mountain stages. The mountain runners, who win a sweatshirt were Helen Armitage, Rachel Chambers, Emma Finny, Louise Robbins, Jan Nicholls and Hayley Cavill.
Whilst half the team then headed home, the rest enjoyed a night out in the capital and were joined by Gareth and Emma, who gave up getting their car started and decided to get a train to Cardiff so they could be with the team. Their car was left in Newtown.
Yet again, the club enjoyed a great weekend and there will be alot of happy memories coming from the weekend. It mustn't be forgotten that this weekend wouldn't be possible without the support team. Bill Fox and Tim Rainey who drove the buses, Mike Wharton and Ian Jones who drove support cars, Jenny and Jerry Smith who provided dedicated support and Ritchie Edwards who woke up on Sunday morning at 6.15 to take leg 11 runners to the start of their legs. Thanks you to all. Roll on next year...
(Submitted by Paul Barrett)
Posted 11/06/2013 21:16