It was cold and windy on arrival at Sutton Park, Sutton Coldfield and there were considerably less cars on the parking field than in previous years. The course used in recent years had been changed to that used for 12 man road relays in the past. After the downhill from the start, there was a left turn onto a loop – downhill at first, then steady climbing back to re-join the main road where we left it and continuing up that long hill as usual, bearing right at the top and a long slight rise to the Jubilee Stone. Here we turn right, mainly downhill to that last right turn and a final effort on the rise to the finish. It’s slightly longer at 5.08K per lap v 3 miles (4.83K)
Our 75+ team had a 10:30 start with all the women and more competition this year with three other M75+ teams entered. They arrived at the Park later than planned and Dave Barber joined the start runners with only a couple of minutes to spare and no warm-up. Exmouth “A” had their fastest man on first leg and Bingley on the last. Dave Barber finished in 28-10 with Exmouth almost 3 minutes ahead. Mike Smith’s 25-00 had reduced the deficit to 30s and Les Haynes’ 22-54 produced gold for Bingley, finishing over 5 minutes ahead of Exmouth! Les and Mike were also presented with first and second fastest M75 lap awards.
We were spared the forecast heavy rain and conditions brightened for the M55+ and M65+ race at 12:25. Bingley’s trio of Don Johnson, Bryan Parkinson and Peter Ellerton put in solid performances of 23-26, 22-15 and 24-31; but that was only good enough for sixth M65+ team out of 14. We did beat Holmfirth though. What does it take to be top team? Well they were Oxford City, who posted laps of 20-24, 22-11 and 21-27 – a good pensioners’ day out.
There were less spectators this year to cheer us on, but that was largely offset by the excellent support given by the marshals. The event was well organised and it is inspiring to see some of the best for age in the country putting on the style.
Report by Peter Ellerton. Mens Vets team manager.