Newsdesk 2003

 Web site: www.ranelagh-harriers.com  

 at Hayes (Kent). 
 President Mike Peace is asking for the best possible turn-out for the mob
 match against Blackeath Harriers this Saturday. ALL members are welcome.
 It's 7.5 miles on the heathens' course at Hayes in Kent, starting at 2.30pm.
 The HQ is in Bourne Way, close to the junction of the A2022 and A232 and
 near Hayes station. The start is a 10 min jog away, off the A2022 near the
 Mike writes:
 "We want everyone there, it's a great course, good company and there's a
 supper afterwards for those who can stay. If anyone wants to stay for supper
 then they must contact me immediately.  

 SURREY LEAGUE DIVISION ONE  Saturday 1st February, women at Lloyd Park
 Croydon, men at Coulsdon 
 These were the final League fixtures of the season and once again it's the
 women's section grabbing the headlines with their most successful season
 ever. The seniors finished runners-up in Division One, matching their
 best-ever from 10 years ago, and there were League titles for both the
 combined Under20/Under 17 team and the Under 13 team. 
 The snow that had caused caused travel chaos up to Friday had, amazingly,
 completely disappeared from Lloyd Park, leaving the going soggy in the
 extreme. Clare Nicholson reports:
 "After all the snow and very wintery conditions we've had for running
 recently, a drizzly rainy start to the day of our fourth and final Surrey
 League XC fixture of the 2002/2003 season seemed quite unusual. I don't know
 about the rest of the ladies, but I find such conditions the most difficult
 to get motivated for, especially when you know you're racing at a course
 such as Lloyd Park in Croydon. I'd only raced there once before, and could
 recall it being muddy. I didn't recall it being quite THAT muddy though ...
 At the start of the match we knew that we had edged closer to SLH, but that
 the likes of Belgrave, Thames and Herne Hill were hot on our heels. Sarah
 was adamant we definitely NOT going to settle for anything less than 2nd for
 our A, B and C teams. We were, however pretty confident that we had the D
 team sewn up.
 I was pretty nervous before the start, mainly because I'm not really up on
 who's who from other clubs of the 'sooooper dooooper fast variety'. It was
 brilliant to have regular scorers such as Bridget Cuthbert, Margaret
 Auerback, Sonia Rowland and Louise Piears backing up our own 'sooper dooper
 fast variety' girls - Allison, Sarah and Liz. This time we had Janet Turnes
 and Julie Naismith with us as well.
 The whistle went and we were off. Allison, Sarah and Liz sprinted (it seemed
 to me) for the front and I settled in behind Bridget with Margaret on my
 shoulder. The last I saw of the former three was as the course turned left
 around a field ... at this point they would have been in excess of 200m
 ahead of me and it was only 2 minutes into the race. I think the muddy hill
 (I thought it was an incline, but PG said it was a hill) that Paul was
 shouting at us from took its toll on us in the middle section of the race. I
 recall thinking it felt like I was slipping back a stride for every two I
 was taking - serves me right for not changing my 9 mil spikes for 15s. Just
 at that point where it occurred to me to give up I heard Julian's voice
 saying (to Bridget, Margaret and me] 'We need the points'. It was the
 motivation I needed to drag myself mentally off that muddy hill ... Bridget
 and I now have a great little 'you encourage me, I encourage you' thing
 going in our races. Bridget's encouragement and Julian's 'scaremongering'
 coupled with a Steve Rowland 'There are two Belgrave RIGHT BEHIND YOU' in
 the last 1/2 kilometre, spurred me on to the end (even though one of the
 Belgrave girls did get the better of me). A sprint finish and it was over.
 Allison finished an incredible 3rd, with Sarah hot on her heels in 5th and
 Liz with a fantastic 11th just behind them. I scored 26th and Bridget 30th
 to round up our 'A' scoring team with a total of 75 points. The 'B' team for
 the day magnificently headed up by Margaret in 31st, with Sonia in 36th,
 Louise in 54th and Janet 72nd. All due credit to Janet for managing to
 finish that race in flats. It claimed Julie after the first lap (I believe)
 - it must have been unbearably hard.
 That was enough to give us 2nd place in the match behind SLH for our 'A' and
 'B' scoring teams - SLH were bound to 'make sure' on the day -
 realistically. Only SLH and Dulwich mustered a 'C' team this time. Overall
 that leaves us 2nd to SLH, equalling our best ever previous Surrey League
 result I'm reliably advised. Our B and C teams also finished 2nd to SLH, but
 our D team - we were the ONLY club to come up with a D team in three out of
 the four races and thereby win by default - quite right too.
 Well done, not only to the girls who ran on Saturday, but to all who have
 turned out at these league races for us this year - this result is all due
 credit for the hard work/racing you've put in - we'll see you all so we can
 BEAT them next year ...".

 It turned out to be West 4 who gave us the closest run for second place on
 the day, but that late effort proved just insufficient to save them from
 relegation to Division 2 along with Stragglers. They will be replaced in the
 top flight by Epsom & Ewell and Wimbledon Windmilers.  

 Sarah Seal takes up the story for the junior events:
 "The senior ladies may have worked hard - but you get no prizes for coming
 second. The trophies were enjoyed by the youngsters, with both the U13 and
 the combined U17 and U20 teams beating the rest of the clubs and taking the
 No. 1 spots.
 I'm sure there are a million other things the girls  would/could rather be
 doing on a Saturday afternoon - which is why they all deserve so much credit
 for running! Anyway - for the U13s the regular team of Alex Hook, Emily Ball
 and this season's promising newcomer Clare O'Neill all turned up eager to
 run. Leaving nothing to chance ( they wanted to stay in the top position
 they'd established so far in the league) - they taped their spikes onto
 their little feet  - just like professionals! Be under no illusion - the
 U13s race (which is combined with the U15s) is extremely competitive. They
 sprint off the line and don't seem to slow down until they finish - it's
 Alex was 2nd U13, Clare 11th and Emily 15th. Alex's performance this (very
 long) season has been outstanding (this must have been her  5th race in as
 many weeks!). Her performance in this race plus two 1sts and another 2nd
 placing in the other races meant that she was also awarded a shiny gold
 medal for highest placed individual over the season!  If at 12 years of age
 she can work this hard, the rest of us really have no excuse!
 Anair Beverly and Jessica Harvey once again showed their commitment to the
 club and turned up ready to compete for the U17s/U20s - and although it was
 only a small field (which can make racing very lonely - so an extra "well
 done" girls) they both put in a great performances and finishing  2nd and
 5th respectively - this was more that enough to ensure the team finished top
 of the table. Anair's performance over the season earned her a lovely silver
 medal for 2nd placed individual in the U17 league too". 

 The men were just a few miles down the road on Farthing Downs, Coulsdon, but
 the temperature seemed several degrees chillier and there was still snow to
 be found in sheltered spots. It was a chilly day for our team too: missing
 Jones, Gohar, Storey, Marshall, Stillwell and others we had only the bare
 minimum ten runners on the starting line. But a very welcome returnee
 amongst them was Darryl McDonald and he set out from the gun to show us what
 we have been missing. He had a race-long battle with Peter Haarer,
 determined not to let him pass, before crossing the line one second clear in
 22nd place. 
 At a safe distance behind them Paul Doyle put in another solid performance
 inside the top 50, but he was only just ahead of Mick Lane and Andy
 Bickerstaff who both rose to the occasion to achieve their best League
 results of the season. I think it's safe to say that a very sickly-looking
 Julian Smith was achieving his worst League performance of the season to the
 rear of Kevin Jacques and Chris Owens and then, probably as surprised as
 anybody to make the scoring team, came Clive Naish and John Doyle. 
 Seventh team on the day was predictably our lowest finish of the season
 after two 5ths and a 6th. We dropped one place overall to 6th out of the
 nine clubs in Division One.  But we were well out of the relegation zone,
 which I suppose was our main target for the year. However, with an
 apparently rejuvenated Boxhill returning from Division Two next year along
 with Striders of Croydon we'll have to be on our toes and hope that some of
 the younger faces and new names make some Doyle-like progress over the next
 12 months.
 Numbers fell away in the junior events too and only Matt Hirschler flew the
 flag for us, but his 6th place in the U13 race was his best result of the

 INTER-COUNTIES CHAMPIONSHIPS at Wollaton Park, Nottingham  Saturday 8th
 Best wishes to our representatives in the Inter-Counties on Saturday: for
 Surrey, Sarah Seal and Liz Kipling in the senior women's race and Alice &
 Anair Beverly, Alex Hook and possibly Estelle Damant in the junior events;
 and for Oxfordshire Peter Haarer in the senior men's race. I believe
 second-claim member Jude Craft is also in the women's race representing
 Oxfordshire. Sky Sports 3 is to cover the whole event live from 11am,
 repeated at 5pm. 

 This was due to take place last Sunday but on Friday with the ground still
 covered in snow and ice the council decided on a postponement. It will now
 go ahead from 9.30am this Sunday (February 9th) on a course around Sidmouth
 Wood. Anyone who can help on the day, please come along. The race usually
 incorporates the Camilla Cup club junior women's championship - I assume
 that's the case again this year.    

 Details are forthcoming sessions can now be found on our web site via About
 Us/Training Sessions. Brief details of the next few:
 Tuesday 11th Feb: 3 x Nightingale Lane hill (lower part), 4 x top part, 3 x
 lower part
 Tuesday 18th Feb: Efforts of 7 mins, 5 mins, 3 mins, 2 mins and 3 x 1 min
 Tuesday 25th Feb: Surprise paarlauf! 
 Thursdays are steady runs of 5-6 miles with some shorter efforts or strides
 All are welcome, starting from the clubhouse at 7pm.

 Wednesday night training continues as usual of course, with steady runs
 starting at about 6.30pm. 

 If you're looking for a destination for your sponsorship dosh, Mike Rowland
 is first in the queue. He'll be race walking the marathon for WPF
 Counselling and Psychotherapy. Mike writes:
 "WPF began in 1969 as the Westminster Pastoral Foundation and is now the
 largest provider of general counselling in the country. The charity provides
 reliable and affordable counselling to people in need; their clients often
 cannot find what they need within the NHS and cannot afford it outside. It
 also trains a large number of counsellors and psychotherapists, at no cost
 to the community.
 Perhaps if anyone wants to sponsor me they could contact me direct on

 More details of the following from Andy Bickerstaff (07966 552302 /
 mailto:norris.hobs@ndirect.co.uk ) or Sarah Seal (020 8995 2380 / 
 mailto:sarahs@walker.co.uk ). 

 Saturday February 8th      Pelling-Ratcliff Cup mob match v Blackheath
 Harriers at Hayes (Kent) starting at 2.30pm. See above.  

 Sunday February 9th   Richmond Mini Marathon Trial in Richmond Park
 starting at 9.30am. Anyone who can spare an hour or two to help with the
 organisation of this, please come along (go straight to Sidmouth Wood). 

 Saturday February 15th    v Bank of England, Hercules Wimbledon etc at
 Roehampton (Richmond Park) starting at 2.45pm. 

 Saturday February 22nd   National Cross-Country Championships at Parliament
 Hill, Hampstead Heath. 

 "If you want to win something, run 100 metres. If you want to experience
 something, run a marathon". Emil Zatopek.

 Steve Rowland
 e-mail: srowland@calorgas.co.uk
 Tel: 01926 318734
 Fax: 0870 4006901