Green Belt Relay

GBR 2010 Race Report

The 15th Green Belt Relay took place over the weekend in blistering heat on what were the two hottest days of the year so far. 39 teams of 11 competed over a 22 stage 220 mile mainly off-road course around Londonís green necklace.

The Overall event was won by Serpentine Running Club from London in an incredible time, considering the conditions, of 22 hours 26 minutes and 47 seconds. The competition was fierce with only 20 minutes dividing the first five teams after Saturday and having completed 118 miles. However, Serpentineís military organisation, thanks to Ian Hodge, and quality of their runners allowed them to pull away on the Sunday and win by 50 minutes from, race organising club, Stragglers of Kingston-upon-Thames. Hot on Stragglers heals for second were London Front Runners, Stock Exchange AC and last years winners Clapham Chasers.

In the Ladiesí race, Serpentine were victorious in a time of 28 hours 26 minutes and 24 seconds, thus reversing places with Clapham Chasers from the 2009 event.

The Veteranís race was won once again by the seemingly never aging Millennium Group, spurred on by their enthusiastic leader Richard Pitt. They finished 9th overall in a time of 26 hours 2 minutes 21 seconds and just two places in front of a strong Dulwich Runners mixed vets team.

The Super Vets Prize (M50+ and F45+) was won by Stragglers in 28 hours 58 minutes 9 seconds.

The Mixed Team prize (must have at least 2 ladies to qualify) and by far the largest field competing in a category was won by Beckenham Running Club who finished a very respectful 6th overall in a time of 24 hours 21 minutes 42 seconds and just two places in front of Ranelagh Harriers Mixed ďAĒ. This was a new course record for a mixed team and over 17 minutes quicker than previously.

The Corporate Shield went to British Airways who with the help of Captain Brian Bennett managed to brush off the volcanic dust and strike home in a time of 29 hours 2 minutes and 24 seconds, thus seeing off The Monkey & the PussyCats.

The Kings and Queen of the Mountain Prizes, contested over the long and treacherous stages 4 and 5 through the Chilterns and 16 and 19 along the North Downs, were won by Stock Exchange AC and Clapham Chasers Ladies.

Bringing up the rear, in last place were The Monkey & the PussyCats who collected the Toilet Seat as last team to complete the course.

Ian Hodge and Serpentine also collected the Wissahickon Trophy (donated by our friends from Philadelphia who competed in 2003). The award is presented to the team who collects the most money for charity or in some way goes that extra mile in supporting over the weekend of the race. Ianís brilliant organisation of Serpentine allowed him and his teams to take on almost all of the marshal points and water stations which other clubs were not able to cover Ė a huge thanks from me and the rest of the organisers. Two others also deserve a mention in this section. Jo Chang and 26.2 Club for volunteering for extra duties, plus Noel Sainsbury and his Olsgbosco Runners for raising a great deal of money for the John Bosco Project Ė a charity for disadvantaged children.

There were many great individual performances during the race and considering the temperatures, it was surprising to find that seven course records were broken.

Stage 6 (Chipperfield to St Albans, 8.4 miles), Hugh Torry of Serpentine lowered the course record by 37 seconds to 46:06 (was 46:43). Mariah McConnaughey, also Serpentine reduced the record by 15 seconds to 52:45.
 
Stage 12 (Blackmore to Thorndon Park North, 10.9 miles), Bryn Reynolds, Clapham Chasers knocked 51 seconds of the previous record in a time of 1:01:37. Teresa Gaillard de Laubenque, Dulwich Runners lowered the record by 4 minutes to 1:08:39.
 
Stage 14 (Thames Chase to Davy Down, 7.9 miles), James Flood, Stragglers ran 47:44 reducing the previous best of 49:28.
 
Stage 18 (Merstham to Boxhill, 8.7 miles), Andy Greenleaf, Serpentine reduced the record on this tough stage by an incredible 4 minutes and 23 seconds to 47:10 and wins the Mark Critchlow Award for breaking a record by the greatest margin.
 
Stage 20 (West Hanger to Ripley, 5.6 miles) Simon Barrett, Serpentine lowered the record by 1 minute 45 seconds to 29:17.

There were also 6 vets and 12 super vets stage records broken - see the Results Section for more information.  

The number of Stage Wins by Club were as follows. Men: Serpentine (8), Stock Exchange AC (5), Stragglers (3), Clapham Chasers (2), Beckenham, London Front Runners, Team Maybelline & Thrift Green Trotters (1). Ladies: Serpentine (5), Millennium (4), Dulwich Runners (3), Stock Exchange AC & Stragglers (2), 26.2 Runners, Beckenham Road Runners, London Front Runners, Ranelagh Harriers, Richmond Park Runners, Sandhurst Joggers (1).

It was a record turnout with 39 teams competing, of which six we welcomed as first timers: Of de Rood, Havering 90 Joggers, Richmond Park Runners, Ryston Runners & The Monkey & the PussyCats.

Two runners completed their 15th GBR (that's them all) - Alan Pemberton & Tim Wood, both Stragglers.

There were many happy memories to take away from the event, including seeing Golden Joggers turning up just before the start en-mass and all dressed in Morphsuits; our first Dutch Team, Of de Rood from Nijmegen, who had no problems with logistics and didnít have one runner go off course, unlike some of the local teams, the start at Hampton Court Palace with its wonderful backdrop in beautiful sunshine and the atmosphere at the finish at the Hawker Centre. However, for me the highlight of the weekend was the way you all worked hard to support and look after each other, the camaraderie between clubs and the team spirit within. A huge thanks to you all for this and making it another successful and enjoyable event.

Each year many people have their own interesting stories to tell about their memories of the GBR weekend, we all look forward to reading them. We also work at trying to improve the event and any input you have in helping us do this will be greatly appreciated. 

A special thanks to all the team organisers and captains, this event is not for the faint hearted. I can only imagine how difficult it is to get your teams together and then somehow produce a plan to get everyone to the correct place at the right time. I hope your runners give you the appreciation you deserve.

Finally, thanks to all from the Stragglers who laid the groundwork beforehand and gave up their weekend to come and help with the organising; to Clive Beauvais and Sue Ashley for marking all of stages 18 & 19; to Robert Teer & Thurrock Nomads for marking stage 14; to all the people, communities and organisations around the route who let us use their facilities and the many who especially opened just for us and helped make GBR more enjoyable.

Good Luck and I hope to see you all again in May 2011,

Sean Davis

PS. I will gradually update all the other sections of the website over the next few days.