Green Belt Relay

Green Belt Relay Race Report 2009

A huge thanks to all the teams who competed, for marshalling and supplying water – it was a very hot weekend and could have proved very uncomfortable for runners. However, the effort put in by every team in supporting each other has to be applauded and makes GBR a true and unique sporting event we all should be proud of.

I have to pay great respect to all team captains (and their other organisers) for the huge effort put in getting your teams together, working out the complicated logistics in transporting runners to 22 starts, supporting them whilst they run, marshalling during their stage, manning water stations, collecting them afterwards, feeding them, and in many cases finding them a bed for the Saturday night. Unless you have done this before you can not know how complicated it all is.

GBR 2009 saw 30 teams competing over the 220 mile course. New clubs included Sandhurst Joggers who finished a very respectable 7th overall and Golden Joggers who completed the course in 29th place.

Overall Winners were Clapham Chasers in a time of 23 hours and 36 minutes beating Serpentine by 53 minutes into second place and taking “The Green Belt”.

Clapham Ladies completed a club double by winning the “Ladies’ Plate” in a time of 26.51.51 and finishing 9th overall. 2nd in this category and 11th overall were Serpentine Ladies in 27.40.30.

In the Veteran’s Race, Millennium Group once again proved too strong, holding off Ranelagh Harriers by 1 hour and 12 minutes to take the “Walking Stick” and finishing 3rd overall.

The Mixed Team Prize (must have at least 2 ladies to qualify) was won by Ranelagh Harriers Vets who finished 4th overall in a time of 26.03.03, and were also 1st Club Vet’s Team.

The Corporate Shield was won by British Airways AC who finished 14th overall in a time of 27.55.48.

Kings & Queens of the Mountains (fastest cumulative times over stages 4, 5, 16 & 19 – the hilliest and most difficult) were both won by Clapham Chasers.

The Toilet Seat (prize for last team to complete whole course) was once again won by Charity Team Olsgbosco who completed the event in 35.56.08 dressed as nuns and superman and in the process will have raised thousands of pounds for the John Bosco Children’s Project..

Mark Critchlow Award for breaking a Course Record by most was won by Miguel Branco of Serpentine by lowering the record for stage 3 by 2 minutes and 53 seconds. It was the only overall stage record to be broken during 2009 GBR.

Tony Hopkins Award for best Age-Graded time is still to be calculated.

Mike Hutchings Award for the Oldest Runner went to Keith Evans (V70) of Serpentine.

Wissahickon Wanderers Shield (a special award donated by our friends from Philadelphia, USA who flew over for the weekend in 2003 and completed the GBR). It is for either raising the most money for charity or to a club or individual who does something very special in supporting others during the race. It was awarded to Paul Fromme of Serpentine Running Club for stopping in Windsor to assist a collapsed runner from another club and remaining with him until an ambulance arrived. I am happy to report that the runner who collapsed, recovered shortly afterwards. Paul Fromme was running for the Serpentine Men’s Team, he lost over 20 minutes, but still did finish the stage in 20th position.

Overall Stage Wins this year were shared between 9 clubs as listed below.

Male: Clapham Chasers (9 wins), Beckenham Runners (4), Serpentine (3), Sandhurst Joggers (2), Stragglers (2), British Airways AC (1), Millennium Group (1).

Female: Clapham Chasers (10), Serpentine (7), Millennium Group (2), Elmbridge Road Runners (1), Ranelagh Harriers (1), Sandhurst Joggers (1)

New Veteran & Super Veterans Stage records were set by the following runners:

Veteran (M40, F35): Stage 13, Garry Parsons (London Front Runners, m), 14, Louise Watson (Millennium Group, f)

Super Veteran (M50, F45): Stage 3, Sue Ashley (Ranelagh Harriers, f), 8, Ange Norris (Dulwich Runners, f), 9, Claire Steward (Dulwich Runners, f), 10, Mike Mann (Dulwich Runners, m), 10, Claire Pauzers (Millennium Group, f), 11, Christine Dawson (Dulwich Runners, f), 12, Bob Harrison (Millennium Group, m), 15, Claire Steward (Dulwich Runners, f).

Overall GBR2009 went to the wire. There were many great individual races on stages within the relay and many close races between individual teams throughout the weekend. Clapham Chasers (for such a young club) deserve massive praise for collecting four of the main prizes. Serpentine Running Club was unlucky to loose 20 minutes through their runner being a Good Samaritan and stopping to assist another runner. However, they soon regained the overall lead only to loose it again by their runner, leading on stage 16, missing a turn and loosing an hour – possibly not his own fault. Serpentine Ladies looked to be running away with the Ladies Race for the early stages of day 1. However, somehow Clapham Chasers managed to come back at them and take the prize. Millennium Group was again too strong for all the other veteran’s teams and finished 3rd overall – their highest finish and without Irish international Sonia O’Sullivan for the first time in four years. Ranelagh Harriers Veterans, without their lethal weapon Hugh Jones, can take pride in finishing 4th overall and first Club Vets. They also collected the Mixed Team Prize.

To see nine different clubs winning stages must have been a first. Clapham Chasers done brilliantly to take 19 yellow shirts; Serpentine 10, and Millennium 4. Other include Beckenham Runners winning 4 stages overall; Sandhurst Joggers, in their first year, taking 2 overall and one ladies; Stragglers taking two overall wins; British Airways AC one and both Elmbridge Road Runners & Ranelagh Harriers taking one ladies’ yellow shirt.

Two runners also completed their 14th GBR (that’s them all), Alan Pemberton and Tim Wood, both of Stragglers. Well done to both of them. It was a shame to loose Tony Hopkins of West 4 Harriers through injury, who has ran in all events up until this year and has been one of the greatest supporters of GBR since day one – I hope to see him back next year. It would be great to have a list of all runners who has now successfully completed 10 or more GBRs – if you are one of these please let me know.

The last and most unique thing about GBR2009 has to be the story of Simon Webb. Simon runs with Stragglers and is blind and has very limited hearing. He completed stage 2 finishing in 18th overall in a time of 1.24 and stage 22, again in 18th overall in a time of 1.13. He was accompanied by Simon Brazil and Jim Desmond on the two stages. To achieve this with such a handicap just has to be applauded. I really hope Simon’s achievement to have done this will inspire others to achieve their own goals and overcome hurdles to do anything they wish.   

Feedback this year has been great and thanks to everyone who took time to sit down and do this. It has been really positive in that we have been informed of things where improvements could be made. We also know not every club made all of their marshal points and some did but after the first few runners went through. I know it’s tough to get everything right, but let’s work together on this for next year. We have been given suggestions on extra points which should be marked and marshalled and we are already looking into how this can be improved. Any extra feedback and / or suggestions will also be very welcome.  

Next year will be the 15th running of GBR. It will take place on the weekend of 22 / 23 May 2010. Hopefully, it will be a very special event with many teams competing in all categories. Please spread the word and let’s have a great event with not just two or three teams going to the wire in each category, but with four or more, thus adding much more to the enjoyment of the event. To have between 40 and 50 teams would be a great success. Entries will close earlier so you can have the Team Captain’s meeting sooner and it will give you all more time to put your logistics in place.

Stragglers Running Club organise GBR assisted in places by individuals from a few extra clubs. It’s a huge event for one club, and I am very happy for more clubs to join us in putting this event together. Extra help with marking the route, marshalling, crowd control, assisting with car parking at the changeovers, setting up water stations, publicising the race, taking photos and videos of the event, being on call to assist runners who get into distress, raising more for charity, or anything else you care to suggest. Just please contact me if your club would like to be involved. We hope to do something special for London 2012 – we’d love others to join us in achieving this and taking the London Olympics to the people around the capital.

On the GBR Website in the “route” section you can read about the history of the places the relay passes, visit links connected to these places. On the “photos” section you can look at many photos of the course. To date stages 1 – 14 of the “route” are complete, stages 15 and 16 will be added within the next few days and hopefully the whole route write up will be completed by late summer, with many more hundreds of photos also added to the “route” section. I welcome any new information I have missed – just e-mail it to me (see below). There are also lots of photos of GBR2009 on there – there may even be one of you.     

Finally thanks to all those from Stragglers Running Club and others who helped organise and supported GBR2009 and make this year’s event possible: to James & Sue Long and their teams of timekeepers (Emma & Steve Saville, Jim & Merran Sell, Colin Penn & Louise, Sue Waters, Carol Golsby, Paul Viveash, Alan Souness and Keith Howarth) for their work in starting and timing 22 individual races, and for their support throughout the years in checking the route and producing information on the changeovers; to Clare Graham and her husband Paul for producing the results and having them available at ever changeover and at the finish; to Paul Hutchins for transporting them around and not stopping at too many pubs for refreshments; to Nigel Collins & Mark Thomas of Sportsystems for use of their software and ordering the numbers; to Pat Short for looking after all the paperwork before the event, providing the goodie bags, marshalling and marking on 20; to Alan Short for his help in marking, marshalling and supporting Pat in the lead up to the relay; to Clive Beauvais for marking stages 18 & 19 and for doing so for many years – Clive also ran both days for Ranelagh Harriers; to Peter Kennedy for marking on stage 3, 5, 11, 12 & 16 and marshalling – Peter also ran stage 11 immediately after marking it and ran stage 20; to Les Brown and his mighty team at Box Hill keeping the Warden happy; to Tony & Shirley for marshalling for many years now; to Richard Nunn for marking stage 4; to Robert Teer and his team of Thurrock Nomads for marking and setting up a water station on stage 14; to Hugh Saville for marshalling at Maidenhead Bridge and Bedmond; to Stragglers Little Feet for marshalling at Maidenhead Bridge and all of the last stage thus enabling everyone else to enjoy the finish; to Andrew Lane for looking after the accounts; to Patrick & Barbara for helping James Long and keeping him company in the van all weekend; to my two teenage daughters Clare and Emma for putting up with weekends walking and giving me inspiration – also to Emma for her sketches which I used for most of the prizes this year; to Mike Hutchins (now a young 91) for his support and knowledge over 15 years and his wonderful watercolour of the Ankerwycke Yew at Runnymede; to Sue Waters, Keith Howarth & Simon Brazil (all now Timekeepers) for all their support since the first day we started to organise GBR in 1994; to Jim Desmond for his support, advice and promotion of the event; to everyone who helped set up the finish; to YMCA for allowing us to use the Hawker Centre; to Lanson Running for their sponsorship; to the Historic Royal Palaces for allowing us to start at Hampton Court Palace; to all the people at the changeovers who went out of their way make us welcome; and last, but not least Lynda Pile – the lady with the large voice who shouts (sorry talks) at the start and end of the relay, puts in a huge amount of work throughout the year and helps me to mark the route from Friday till Sunday.

An afterthought - Many people ask what Lynda and I do over the weekend. You don’t often see us apart from the start and the finish, but we are really not hiding from you because we want to be. Immediately after GBR2004 I wrote a report about our weekend that year. It may sound hectic, but I have to say, since then things have got even more hectic and organising this event means a lot more red tape and more hurdles to overcome. You can read the report HERE. I hope it gives some of you the inspiration to become more involved with us in GBR. What I would also love is if a few of you would also take the time to write reports of your weekend and let others read your story.

Sean Davis

07746 062183

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