As is the tradition for Arena 80, Monday 18th December was the last training session of the year at Withdean and then we all venture in to the hut where Steve McNealy was serving up some cordon bleu delights for us all.
We arrived to a very dark Withdean track and certainly didn’t look like any running was going to happen there. We soon found out that the management had called the night off due to it being too dangerous to use because of the ice on the track, where the snow ploughs or the gritters were is anyone’s guess but there was nothing that could be done about.
So what to do with 40 Arena athletes that had turned up for their session? We are Arena and a bit of ice wouldn’t put them off; after all they coped with Hove Park on Saturday without their ice skates on. So it was that they ventured out in to the dark wilderness of Withdean with some taking a left turn and some taking a right turn and probably some taken a wrong turn. It was however enough time to get things set up and mulled wine and food heated up before they all got back for the handing out of some awards.
The first of the awards was for the Super Series Challenge of 2017. The women were first with Caroline Wood in 3rd place, Dani Tarleton in 2nd place and Tara Shanahan in 1st place.
For the men, in 3rd place was Al Silvester, 2nd place was Anthony Snelling and 1st place went to Richard Clayton who had this wrapped up a long time ago.
The lowest points of the challenge that also gets an award went to Tara Shanahan for the women and Jon Bowditch who took it for the men.
The London Virgin Marathon places were also drawn with Joanne Marshall being the first name pulled out of the hat only for her to then pull out her partner in crime Ricky Coleman as the second place runner.
The big one of the night was the Bill Mulholland trophy which is awarded for the best road race of the year. This trophy is steeped in Arena history and has been won by Arena’s finest over the years with a Stella line up of names to don this very prestigious trophy.
There were three main contenders for it this year; Mark O’Gara, Caroline Hoyte and Juliette Roberts all of whom deservedly in for a shout and have definitely stood out this year in their respected races.
The winner won by just one vote which shows how close it was amongst these three and anyone of them could have won the award. The winner though was for Juliette Roberts because of her incredibly painful Brighton Marathon where she struggled around the course but was then selected to run for England at the Chester Marathon where she put the demons of Brighton behind her to post a time of 3.15.45 and came home as 9th women in her O40’s category. A massive congratulations to Juliette on such a fine gutsy performance and now has her name adorned upon the Bill Mulholland trophy and now becomes one of the great names to appear on it.
As we said earlier anyone of these three could have won this and we congratulate both Caroline and Mark for being such fine ambassadors as well as being an inspiration to our club members. You have both been outstanding this year and we thank you both for being making it such a close call.
Congratulations to all of our winners and those in the runners-up positions and making it such an interesting year in terms of the competition. We look forward to the new revamped Super Series 2018 and also look out for the new Parkrun mini competition which starts in 2018, another great opportunity to get the club together and to see the blue vest’s out in force to showcase our talents.