In what felt like mid-November temperatures, the Club descended upon the river bank on Saturday for the mystery that is the Coopers Challenge teams' handicap event thingy. With the Cross Country done and dusted for the year, this event serves as a nice lead-in to the road events through to seasons' end. While the methodology of the event might be something that becomes clearer after copious amounts of illicit grape juice, one thing is for certain – everyone goes like blue blazes. It must be the frustration of all those road runners being vented after a few months cooped up on cross country courses.
Standing on the finish line, there weren't too many keen on conducting post-race interviews – the levels of exhaustion suggesting that the Crown jewels were on the line after all!!
The casual observers around the start-finish line knew that they were witnessing a shut-out by the not-so-fast teams as the first two groups made a mockery of the handicapper(s) to eke out their own competition in front. Teams 9 & 10 were having a race of their own, which was going down to the wire. Storming out front was a determined Louise Hancock was making a mockery of her handicap for Team 9 – her final finishing effort for the 4km being 18 min 53 sec, meaning she had a quicker than 5 runners in teams starting well behind her. Jenny Pearson provided excellent support so that when they crossed the line for 1-2 for Team 9 it was going to make it difficult for the chasing hordes. Teams 9 & 10 filled the first 8 eight placings by over a minute, which left the rest to scrap over the carcass for 3rd. Louise & Jenny were joined by Belinda Hogan & Wayne Smith to win engraving rights by 4 points from Team 10 consisting of Gina Finlayson, Jenny Todd, Anne Rinck and Danielle Pilcher. Sophie Hogan was next home a minute later. However, by the time Marilyn Brown arrived a further minute back, it become rush hour at Paddington Station as the next 30 runners arrived within 3 minutes of each other.
Lucas Duross had stormed through the field with his eyes firmly fixed on the new fast shoes being worn by Ron Middleton. Lucas just missed catching the fastest tree pruner in the Hawkes Bay by 4 seconds but the effort earned him a tidy 13 min 34 sec for the 4km. Robert Strong was next best in 14 min 13 sec while Oliver Marshall stepped up to run against the big boys to impress with a 14 min 49 sec. The times did throw up some interesting reading that will make the handicappers' eyes light up with some indication that there are some runners who hitting their straps – names like Alex Langley, Ron Middleton, Jeremy Moore, Sophie Hogan etc.
With Oliver running in the 4km, that left the gate open for another name to top the U12 charts and Ethan Green duly obliged to head home Johnathon & Robin Moore. While Maia Findlay was busy winning the Cubs race, it was a notable day for Juniper & Meredith Moore to start their quest in emulating their older siblings (& Dad).
See you next week at the Laurence Cup. Also keep, your eyes and ears alert for information on the upcoming Marton to Wanganui relays – places are starting to fill.