Baton handover

Thu 30th Mar 2017

WADAC’s Senior Women’s team secured a major championship title on Saturday, with a nail-biting victory in the Southern 6-stage Road Relays at Cyclopark in Kent. This was the club’s first victory in the competition since the halcyon days of the 2006 team, and their win at the old Milton Keynes venue.

The 6-stage SRR is an event in which Winchester has some history, having competed regularly during the Noughties. The 2006 victory featured many of the club’s best-known female runners, and that was followed-up by the team of 2009, who won silver medals behind local rivals Aldershot.

This year’s event, held for the second year running at Cyclopark near Gravesend, saw the runners having to battle high winds throughout. First off for WADAC was Mel Wilkins, now returning to her best form after a difficult year, and she set the tone for the day with a superb 15m28 third-place run, 18 seconds off leaders Herne Hill, and sandwiched between race favourites Thames Valley in 2nd and AFD in 4th . Next up was Hayley Munn, running one of the three-lap longer legs, and her time of 23m27 kept the team solidly in contention in 5th place overall.

The third leg saw triathlete Simone Dailey run a magnificent 15m10, to take the WADAC team up to second place overall. Ominously though, Thames Valley had now opened a 90-second lead at the front, and with another top runner to come in the fourth leg.  Winchester’s fourth leg runner was Lorna Russell, who completed the long leg in an excellent 23m16, leaving the WADAC team still in the medal positions in third. However, Tracy Barlow, training partner of all the Winchester women, but running for her first-claim club, Thames, had gone even faster, and their lead over second-placed AFD was now over two minutes, and over Winchester in third was two and a half minutes.

In the fifth leg however, the WADAC fight-back picked up in earnest. India Lee, European Champion triathlete and a veteran of the 2009 silver-medal WADAC team, stormed to the fastest leg of the day by any runner, 14m23, and the seemingly unassailable Thames lead was now down to 44 seconds.

The task of completing the job for Winchester fell to Vicky Gill, ironically a member back in 2009 of the AFD team that had beaten Winchester into second place. Gradually she closed on the Thames runner ahead, and with less than a lap remaining, passed her, and ran on to record a time of 15m32, and complete a stunning victory for the team by just 16 seconds.

Coach Nick Anderson summed up the result : “In an event as fiercely competitive as the Southern Road Relays, the only way you stand any chance of winning is if your whole team perform to their best level on the same day, which is pretty hard to achieve. But that’s exactly what this team did, and hopefully it’s the first major trophy of many for our current crop of endurance runners”.