Haywards Heath Harriers had a record-breaking day on Saturday when they fielded three teams in the annual South Downs Way Relay.
This 18-leg race over 96 miles from Beachy Head to Winchester on the famous long distance Downlands path attracted a record 67 teams, each of 6 runners, from clubs across Sussex and Hampshire.
In breezy sunshine and in a very high-standard field, Harriers’ ‘A’ team successfully fought-off Southampton Athletic Club to hold onto a magnificent second place behind Stubbington Green Runners who won in 10hr29m. In a thrilling battle to the end Phil Hardaway grabbed the lead over Southampton on leg 15 breaking the leg club record. Josh Pewter maintained the lead on leg 16 to Old Winchester Hill, also a club record. Tom Mullen kept the margin intact on the long 8 mile leg 17, and Rob Watts brought the team home in style for the final leg and record of the day. The team finished in 10h56m, just three minutes ahead of Southampton. In all, the team which also included Russ Mullen broke seven club records across the 18 stages with additional club bests from Phil Radford who had made a last minute dash from Bristol to join the team. The team described the race as ‘an epic scrap full of team spirt and camaraderie and the best race day of the year by far’.
Harriers’ ‘B’ and Mixed Vets teams had started their relays earlier that morning. Paul Cousins from the mixed team (Ann Sinnett, Siobhan Amer, Richard Amer, Amanda Soper and Michelle Pearce) momentarily broke the club leg 1 record from Beachy Head to Exceat only for it to be broken within three hours by the ‘A’ team.
The Men’s ‘B’ team of Carl Bicknell, TJ Watson, Michael Burke, Mike Derrick, Steve Navesey and Phil Payne having been among the earliest starters spent much of the day in a separate unofficial battle to be the actual first team to cross the finish line. Phil said ‘From start to finish we were slogging it out with the Arena 80 ladies team and not at any point was it clear who was going to win. Leg 13 to the top of Harting Hill was amazing, I had 5 minutes to make up and I caught their runner right at the final hill!! It made the day so much more exciting’. The ‘B’ and Mixed Vets teams eventually came home in 13h27m and 13h39m respectively.
Special mention to Tom Mullen as overall relay captain who ensured three full teams were available on the day and to the mini bus drivers who kept the teams mobile between the changeover points
A record 1,650 runners took part in the Worthing 10k on Sunday morning. A Sussex Grand Prix race and the county championships, there were incentives of a £1,000 cash prize for the first man to run under 30 minutes or the first woman to run under 34 minutes. Haywards Heath Harriers’ Chris Smith was on course to finish in under 30 minutes at the halfway stage, finally finishing with a brilliant personal-best time of 30.52 to be crowned Sussex County Champion. In 6th place also with a huge PB was Glenn Driver in 33.26, two very high class performances for the club in an outstanding field. There were also personal bests for Samantha Ridley 44.25, Sarah Banks 45.13, Katherine Buckeridge 45.26 and Matt Quinton 47.11. A fantastic 20 harriers took part and full results are available here http://www.worthing10k.co.uk/2015-results/
Only a few hours after completing his final leg of the south downs relay Michael Burke finished a very impressive 17th in the 400 plus field at the off-road Seaford half marathon in 1.39.10, he said ‘I used the same strategy as I did for the relay legs - magnesium spray, deep heat and pain killers mixed with a mantra about being built for it’.
In the Sussex Masters track and field championships at Ewell, Barry Tullet won gold in the 5000m with a track PB of 19.07. Linda Tullett retained her 100m title and Mike Bale won a triple gold in the discus, hammer and heavy hammer. Andrew Biggs was pleased with the silver medal in the 5000m with a season best 19.27 as he continues his half iron man training.
In the weekly park run round up there were first time appearances for juniors Patrick Thorne 21.37, Scott Ridley 22.00 and Jake Ridley 24.40 at Clair Park, Jack Chivers recorded his best of 18.24 and Amy Mitchel her first run 26.33 at Tilgate Park.
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