Newsdesk 2005

 Editor: Steve Rowland
 mailto: steverowland@ranelagh-harriers.com
 *  Blackheath mob match lost by THREE points
 *  Crucial Surrey League races this Saturday - minibus leaves the clubhouse
    at 10.45am.
 *  Surrey League celebration / commiseration party at the Dysart from 6pm

 The fixture list for the 2004/05 winter season, can be found on our web site.
 More details of the following from
 Andy Bickerstaff (07966 552302 / mailto: andy@norris-hobs.co.uk ) or 
 Phil Aiken (07739 035189 / mailto: phil.aiken@rnid.org.uk ) or 
 Anna McLaughlin (07971 606521 / mailto: anna.mclaughlin@itv.com ).

 Saturday February 12th           Surrey League Division One final fixtures -
 men at Coulsdon, women at West Ewell. See below.
                                              Ranelagh Bushy Park Time Trial
 5km. 9am start  

 Saturday February 19th           National Cross-Country Championships (men
 and women) at Cofton Park, Birmingham.
                                              Ranelagh Bushy Park Time Trial
 5km. 9am start 

 Saturday February 26th           Clutton Cup 10 miles handicap in Richmond
 Park. 2.30pm start.
                                              Ranelagh Bushy Park Time Trial
 5km. 9am start

 Last week's e-news included a detailed blow-by-blow of the season to date.
 Suffice it to say now that the bottom line is this: we are one race away
 from winning the top division of the Surrey League for the first time ever.
 But we have to defend a slender 17 point lead over Belgrave Harriers. The
 top five from each club score and every place is going to be vital. Whatever
 happens it's been a brilliant season for the team, but let's give them all
 the support we can to finish it as they deserve, either by running in the
 race or just shouting them on. West Ewell is not far away - just off the A3
 at Tolworth. The senior race starts at 12.30pm. If you can possibly get
 there, DO!

 The venue is the King George V Rec Ground / Hogsmill Riverside, just off the
 A240 which is the A3 Tolworth exit, here Access for vehicles is
 from Poole Road. The junior races follow the senior event.

 There will be a minibus leaving the clubhouse at 10:45am, returning to the
 clubhouse from Ewell at 2pm. Please contact Anna McLaughlin (details above)
 if you plan to use it. But not everyone will be returning immediately -
 there will be plenty of cars going on to the equally vital final men's race
 at Coulsdon...

 We've been sitting mid-field in Division One for several seasons now, but
 this year with the competition hot and a team struggling with injuries we
 find ourselves deeply in the relegation zone. We're eighth out of nine
 competing clubs, with the bottom two to be relegated to Division Two for the
 2005/06 season. Dulwich Runners are nearly 500 points adrift at the bottom
 and are out of contention. Ranelagh is still just about in contact with the
 two clubs above but Saturday's team faces a very tough task. We are on 1763
 points, Aldershot are on 1652 and Reigate are on 1629. As for the women,
 every place will count. 

 If you're going to the women's race, there's plenty of time to get across to
 Coulsdon in time for the men's race at 3pm (juniors at 2.30pm). Hopefully
 there will be a number of Ranelagh cars making the journey! South London
 Harriers' race HQ is here (parking round the corner
 in Lion Green Road). The start is a 5 minutes jog away on Farthing Downs, here
 Coulsdon South and Smitham stations are nearby.

 SURREY LEAGUE PARTY  Saturday 12th February at the Dysart from 6pm
 Hopefully we'll be celebrating something - a League title for the women and
 /or for the men "the greatest escape since Steve McQueen on a motorbike"
 (Captain Bicks - hmmm, nice phrase, Andy, but maybe I shouldn't point out
 that Steve McQueen on his motorbike didn't actually escape...). Otherwise
 we'll be drowning our sorrows! Either way, everyone is welcome to join the
 party at the Dysart pub from 6pm onwards. 

 FINCHLEY 20 MILES ROAD RACE including the Spendlove Cup club championship
 Sunday 13th March
 Another reminder that this pre-London '20' is on March 13th at 2pm and not
 the 20th as originally shown on our fixture list. It's also the club 20
 championship, with the Spendlove Cup on offer. Entry forms are in the
 clubhouse or can be downloaded at www.hillingdonac.co.uk.

 "...are on Wednesday 9th March," writes Peter Haarer, "the event hosted by
 Oxford University's Cross Country Club captained in true style this year by
 our very own Alice Beverly. Would anyone like to make up a Ranelagh team?
 Note that mixed teams are possible - and that this year there is a veteran
 category.  For more details go to: http://users.ox.ac.uk/~ouccc/thr2005/.
 There is also an alcoholic dinner afterwards, which usually passes off so
 well that the club gets banned from the venue for the next ten years (or we
 could go somewhere else)".

 Note this is a Wednesday afternoon at 2pm, teams of four required, each
 running 3.5 miles . It looks like a scenic route through the Oxford colleges
 and along the towpath. Anyone interested in running (with or without the
 dinner!) please contact Andy Bickerstaff (details above).

 MOB MATCH v BLACKHEATH & BROMLEY HARRIERS & AC for the Pelling-Ratcliff Cup
 Saturday 5th February
 "How long since we've beaten Blackheath away?" asked Captain Bicks. Well,
 Andy, it's been 34 years. On 16th January 1971 scoring 35 a side we had the
 first six home (including Jim Forrest in 5th place) and won by nearly 200
 points. We did fail to lose in 1987 too, but only because six-foot
 snowdrifts caused the race to be cancelled.

 2005 should have been the year the drought ended. Blackheath fielded only 42
 runners, and they were tail-end heavy. We had 29, so the scoring was 26 a
 side. And the result was 690 to Blackheath, 693 to Ranelagh. Ouch! How
 painful is that! It would almost have been better to lose by a wide margin
 than by just 3 points over nearly 1400. It's easy to trot out some what-ifs:
 one more mid-field runner would have pulled it our way, or a couple of
 sprint finishes won...but then Blackheath could have said just the same. You
 might have thought we were due for some good luck - but it wasn't to be and
 it's Blackheath's name that will go onto the Pelling-Ratcliff Cup.

 Phil Aiken takes up the story:
 "It was a somewhat late decision to cheer on the Ranelagh mob in Kent, which
 meant making my own way there. No problem in getting to Hayes. The trains
 ran and were on time (wish the same could be said for the 1750 on a Tuesday
 evening) so I was at the Blackheath HQ in the time it takes me to get to
 work in the morning. But. all I knew about the start was it was a 10 minute
 jog from the clubhouse.

 Maybe the captains could help? 'I'm sure you'll hear them when you get close
 ' from the Ladies' captain, preparing for a day of rugby and alcoholic
 debauchery. 'I don't know. I think it's near the burial ground' was the
 equally helpful offering from the Men's skipper. I have an A-Z which extends
 all the way out to Hayes. just (one more page to the right and that's your
 lot). Is there are burial ground marked? Er, nope.

 Fortunately I was rescued by a marshal (they weren't all unhelpful, Michele)
 and driven to and in time for the start. But. only Alan and Sonia were
 there. So where was the Ranelagh mob? Wait.what's that noise? Coming up the
 hill, an ever louder thundering gallop signalled their imminent arrival in
 unison. Well, almost. From the opposite direction (Bushy Park) comes Time
 Trial organiser Paul Sinton-Hewitt, screeching to a halt and racing ready
 dressed to join his team-mates, neatly hurdling the barbed wire fence in
 anticipation of the many (more than usual anyway) stiles that lay ahead.

 Outnumbered we may have been, 42 to 29, but our courage could not be
 questioned with both Will and Sarah sporting the scars from separate bike
 accidents. We'd roped in our second claimers from the Harriers of West 4
 (Burkhard) and South London (Sue), plus that multi-club talent, John
 Herries, hoping for a longer run than in his last mob match. Amongst the
 many other old hands (enticed by the Harry Sheer Cup for the first over 50)
 was a fresh-faced debutante, Vicky Whaley.

 After the rousing war cries, it was time for the off. For the benefit of the
 assembled spectators there was an initial lap of the field before the
 runners disappeared into the Kent countryside.

 After negotiating that barbed wire fence with somewhat less agility the kit
 bags were stashed into the boot of Alan's car. I should have been suspicious 
 when Sonia hurriedly offered to sit in the back 'because my legs were longer '.
 I certainly was suspicious when she thrust a crash helmet into my arms.
 Ahh, yes. it was time for the Kent stage of the World Rally Championship. If
 you've been Alan's passenger before you'll know what I mean, if you haven't.
 it's your choice but never let it be said you haven't been warned.

 In no time at all we'd pulled up at Layham's Farm and awaited the race's
 arrival. To make things more interesting two horses were guarding the stile
 that led from the field onto the road. Alan did his best to move them, Sonia
 resorted to feeding them and I thought I'd stand around being unhelpful.

 Two leaders - Ant Draper of Blackheath and our own Paul Doyle - approached.
 How would they fare? Much better than Blackheath's Peter Tucker in third
 place, who first stopped then reversed and finally tiptoed sideways before
 eventually making his way past the equine presence. If you think I'm being
 unfair it was the Blackheath supporters who were laughing and wishing they'd
 brought their video cameras along.

 The horses then stood sentinel, either side of the race route, daring the
 runners to pass. That they did so unscathed was due in no small measure to
 the heroic actions of one Blackheath runner, decoying to the other side of
 the field and so drawing off the horses.

 Stage 2 of the Kent Rally featured an interesting encounter with a horse
 transporter and then took us up Jackass Lane and down Blackness Lane to
 Keston Fruit Farm. First into view was Paul Doyle, comfortably ahead of Ant
 Draper. Peter Tucker had survived his horse encounter to remain in third and
 then came Captain Bickerstaff, Julian Smith, John Herries and Chris Owens
 one after the other. A little further down, first lady Sarah was just
 outside the top 20, closely followed by fellow bike victim Will. The blue of
 Ranelagh Ranelagh (rah rah rah) was interspersed with the black (lack lack)
 of Blackheeeeeeeeeath in more than equal measure in the top 30 places and a
 rare victory coupled with the rarer retention of the Pelling-Ratcliff Cup
 looked on the cards. But who could tell whether Alan's encouragement -
 'there's a long hill next'- would have the desired effect.

 Turning up Fox Lane gave an indication of the climb Alan had mentioned. The
 leaders had made good progress so we shouted our support as we raced along
 the road beside the course to the finish. The first dozen were already home,
 Paul Doyle a comfortable first. Positions in the top 30 had altered little,
 Sarah succumbing to Will but comfortably first lady home ahead of heathen
 Kate Pratten by a full five minutes, if not quite a country mile. We had 17
 of the top 32 but only one in the next ten. Though we placed seven of the
 next ten, this would ultimately prove decisive.

 Past the hour the runners came in at regular intervals, but the gaps began
 to grow and there was no sign of Michele. A search party was organised but
 Michele had retraced her footsteps and found the course and came home
 accompanied by Blackheath's final runner.

 And then, at five ten to five, back in the clubhouse it all happened.
 Temples were ruined; with only a minute to play and Derby poised for yet
 another away victory the TV was switched off, leaving me in limbo; the
 result was announced.

 Oh. how close it was! Ranelagh 693 Blackheath 690. Scant consolation was
 Paul Doyle winning the F.B. Thompson medal as overall race victor. Scant
 consolation was Chris Owens adding the Harry Sheer Cup to his over 50
 collection. The Pelling-Ratcliff Cup would not be returning".

 Popeye Doyle said afterwards: "I was very tired beforehand, fairly hard
 going early on, then got into it in the last few miles. I was under
 Captain's orders not to get lost!" Captain Bicks was pleased with his run
 and adds: "Great spirit and awesome effort from everyone who turned up. Next

 Julian Smith and John Herries followed their Captain, pursued in turn by CO
 winning the aforementioned Harry Sheer Cup by the proverbial street. Winning
 by a street is a quite appropriate metaphor at Blackheath, for the last mile
 and a half features a good deal of tarmac. The rest of the course was dry
 too, as it has been on most of our recent visits. Those who stay away
 fearing a mudbath should really give it a try next time: it's a genuine
 cross country course in the country, on paths, over stiles, through woods,
 over more stiles, spectacular views if you're in a condition to enjoy them,
 over more stiles...maybe a stile-leaping training session would be a good
 idea before our next visit...

 BUSHY PARK TIME TRIAL 5km  Saturday 5th February
 There was a massive record field of 48 this week, thanks to a large turnout
 from the Thames Turbo triathletes and led yet again by an Irishman. If that
 number turn out on a cold February morning, how many will we get in the
 summer? Rachel Rowan set her 5th course pb and was second woman home.
 1 D Cummins (Waterford) 16.50
 14 Rachel Rowan 20.16
 18 Chris Hunton 20.45
 29 Roger Wilson 22.07
 32 Steve McClune 23.05
 33 Julia Langensiepen 23.13
 35 Wally Garrod 24.13
 40 John Hanscomb 27.05
 46 Holly Wilson 29.49
 47 Gill Wilson 29.50

 Five RH were amongst a field of over 1700 led by the "Southern" winner Huw
 Lobb of Bedford..
 1 H Lobb (Bedford) 1.05.55
 546 Stephen Roberts 1.42.22
 564 Alberto Simon 1.42.51
 972 Steve McClune 1.52.26
 1036 Karen Vinicombe 1.54.06
 1374 John Hanscomb 2.04.37

 CHICHESTER PRIORY 10Km  Sunday 6th February
 Allan Lang scored his second over 65s category win in as many weeks,
 recording 43.13.

 Tough Tuesdays continue as normal, with speed work for various groups (next
 few sessions below) and Wally's beginners' club. Full details on our web

 Robin Drummond's  "Improvers Sessions" continue on Thursday nights at 7pm
 from the clubhouse, concentrating on speed and technique. Next few sessions
 below. Full details can be found on our web site.

 As an alternative on Thursday nights, Margaret Auerback and Frances
 Ratchford are holding Strength and Conditioning coaching sessions at 7.30pm
 in the free-weights room at the gym at St Mary's College, Waldegrave Road.
 Coaching at the gym on other days is negotiable. For more information
 contact Frances at mailto:grapevineproductions@compuserve.com.

 Also Wednesdays at 6.30pm and Sundays at 10am at the clubhouse for a steady
 run in the Park.

 Tuesday sessions. Each also includes a steady run warm up and warm down.
 Feb 15th  2 x 3 x 4 mins efforts
 Feb 22nd  6 mins, 3 mins, 6 mins, 3 mins, 6 mins efforts

 Thursday sessions. Each also includes a steady run warm up and warm down.
 Feb 10th  2 x 5 x (100 metres + 200 metres)
 Feb 17th  3 x 4 x (100 metres + 200 metres)