Arena 80 Club History – Part 4 – It’s ladies day.

Arena Club History Part 4
It’s ladies day
As the club grew it soon became apparent that Arena 80 had an extremely strong ladies team which is something that seems to have stuck with Arena for some 36 years.
Back in the day very few clubs had a ladies team, although there was some very good individual talent out there, so it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for women from other clubs travelling long distances to run under the Arena umbrella. In fact the stats showed back then that only 8% of women were runners compared to the 48% that now run.
Our Arena ladies team back in the 80’s ran all over the country, as well as touring internationally, representing England in a road race team 15k international in Italy. The women representing England were Chris Naylor, Tracey Owen, Caroline Hoyte, Jackie Richardson and Sue Bushby. Now the saying goes “what goes on tour, stays on tour”… cough cough … so here goes then. The girls were a very tight-knit group who got on extremely well with each other and were very much about enjoying themselves. The night before the 15k race, at dinner, they made sure they got stuck in to the food and the drink that was on offer, whereas the likes of the Portuguese team took it so very seriously and were picking at lettuce leaves and water.
Now the story that surfaced is that the girls got a certain young lady by the name of Caroline Herbert er shall we say ‘quite merry’. With the help of a mobile phone that Chris Naylor had with her (now remember this is the 80’s when phones were built like bricks and the phone bill would have been like a mortgage) they got Caroline to ring up a young man that she was quite sweet on who went by the name of one Mr Kurt Hoyte. Yes the Kurt Hoyte of one of the best independent running shops in Sussex going by the name of the Run Shop in Blatchington Road, Hove (admin says: a blatant plug but such great service and shoes). Well the rest is history as they say and after many happy and competitive running years together, Caroline and Kurt Hoyte have now got two great kids who are also shaping up to be decent runners themselves. Such a fantastic camaraderie the ladies team had.
As for the race itself in Italy, well I’m told it was by all accounts one of the most boring 10ks they had ever raced in. It was up and down a narrow high street which was 800m long so great for spectators but boring as hell for the athletes. I’m still waiting to find out the result of the race to see where Arena came.
One lady’s name that has come up time and time again whilst doing this research is Ragnvi Robson. She is by all accounts one of those people without whom the club would have been very different and nowhere near as successful as it was. She competed for many years and was a mother hen for young girls like Caroline when she joined. She kept the women’s 100 mile relay team together, navigated and drove. She also got Chris Naylor and many of the other girls involved in Cross Country and would still be with A80 now if she hadn’t moved to France! Ragnvi we salute you and on behalf of all of us here at Arena 80, we would like to say a huge ‘Merci’.
A few other ladies names from the past that have come up during my history search that have also helped to put the Arena ladies on the map are Jane Gardiner, Eva Isaccs, Dianne Hepplewhite, Lynn Williams, Julie Briggs, Vicki Clark, Fiona Clarke, Leslie Barratt, Chris Naylor, Tracey Owen and Shirley Cullen, who was a constant running partner of Carol Wilson (Ron Grover’s partner), Camilla Williams and Ziggie Harris. Ladies please take a bow.
Did you know that Arena 80 are the biggest supporters of our local parkruns, more than any other running club.
To date: Number of parkrunners / Number of runs – (figures correct as of 23.07.2017)
Arena – 543 / 13438
B&H – 510 / 10140
Phoenix – 513 / 6516
Did you know that Chris Naylor is still ranked 3rd in the country in the O50’s category for her marathon time and only 91 seconds from first place. #inspirational
2:54:21      Anne Roden (ENG)               9.10.46 36 – Boston, USA    17 Apr 2000
2:54:55      Eleanor Robinson (ENG)     20.11.47 26 – London          18 Apr 1999
2:55:54      Christine Naylor (ENG)    22.10.54  50 – London         17 Apr 2005
2:58:04      Dawn Gibbs (ENG)               9.03.56  61 – London            23 Apr 2006
3:00:22      Sally Musson (ENG)             23.03.52  68 – London          18 Apr 2004

Look what we found in the vaults. A rare newspaper article about the Italian race by the girls and an article about the then Carline Herbert (now Hoyte).

A80 women – the italian job:
Left to right – Chris Naylor, Tracey Owen, Caroline Herbert (now Hoyte), Jackie Richardson, Sue Bushby. There was a reason that they called them shorts!