Arena 80 AC 2017 – What a year, what a club, what a team.

What a year, what a club, what a team.
As we approach the end of 2017 we can look back on what has been an outstanding year for Arena 80 AC.
Firstly we would like to thank all of those members who have given so much back to the club this year. All of these members give up so much of their time and put in so much effort to help keep the club alive and well. Without these members’ help the club would be in a very different shape to what it is now. I won’t list all the names here but you know who you all are and your support to the club goes above and beyond your normal duties, we really are indebted to you and cannot thank you all enough for all that you have done so please take a bow.
Many of the club’s achievements in 2017 were showcased in the Arena advent calendar over the last month and there have been so many highlights that it would just take too long to write them all down here. Along with all the personal achievements that have been created by our Arena members, it really has been a year that stands out as one of the clubs finest.
There was a point when all the PBs from the various races of 2017 were being collated, but in July I gave up at 500, and they still kept rolling in, so I’m sure we’re well over 1000 by now.
The big team highlights for Arena 80 would have to be the success in the cross-country in February where the women were dominant and the men had one of their best seasons in division 1 for many years.
The Sussex road relays were again solid from our ladies with various prizes on offer which were duly taken home in abundance.
The biggest kudos of the year has to go to the ladies winning the South Downs Way 100 mile relay for the first time in 10 years; it was an epic performance from an incredibly strong ladies team. Also our men’s B team secured 1st place for the 2nd year in a row with the men’s A team finishing in a very good 4th place. It’s these races where team spirit and bonding really come to the fore and true friendships are cemented.
In September it was our women again who took all but one of the golds home as they overpowered all the other clubs in the Sussex cross-country relay championships at Goodwood.
Crowning the Arena accolade as the best team in Sussex was retaining the Harvey Curtis Cup. With 6 wins out of 6 it really was an impressive performance which again was dominated by our very strong ladies team. Of course we have a very solid men’s core team which will have helped to push other clubs down the pecking order. This is where Arena’s true strengths lay, our strength in-depth, and the men played their part impressively throughout the year in the races.
Individually we had members who represented GB and England at various events and exceeded their own expectations. It’s a real privilege to have these members at the club as it gives us something to aspire to and keeps us all motivated. Those making the cut in 2017 were Katherine O’Hara, Dave Robinson, Joe Ashley, Jenny Hughes, Juliette Roberts and Vicki Clark all of whom were exceptional on their day bringing home great memories along with some new PBs and medals.
With the Sussex rankings for 2017 having just been released, the club boasts some of the best athletes in Sussex with Al Silvester, Emily Proto, Emily Hutchinson, Tara Shanahan, Dani Tarleton, Caroline Hoyte, Maisie Trafford, Julie Briggs and Fiona Clarke all making the grade. To all of you representing Arena 80 we thank you for being outstanding and giving our members something to strive for.
We can also boast having a Guinness Book of Records record holder within our club as Dave Robinson became the fastest man to run a marathon in a straight-jacket. His time of 3.49.28 was enough to beat the previous world record of 3.49.48.
It was another very successful year for our WSFRL Hove Park 5k race with a record number of entrants. It was very well organised, slick operation and lovely to see so many youngsters turning out for the junior events so many thanks to Tristan Sharp for putting this one together. The Arena volunteers were also out in abundance to help with the smooth running of this event and we thank each and every one of you for your help.
September was all about pebble gate! What a way for Michele and Brigitte to start their Hove Prom 10k directorship as they took over the reins of this key event for the club. Nothing could have predicted the storm that hit the prom throwing tonnes of stones on to the course. True to the spirit of the club, members came out with brooms and were sweeping the course right up until the start. Tough going for Michele and Brigitte but handled brilliantly to make sure that the show did go on. It was another mass Arena volunteer roll out and you did not disappoint us with all your broom wielding and marshalling which ensured this race was a big success regardless of the trying circumstances.
The club has grown tremendously during 2017 with so many new members joining us throughout the year. As the word spreads so does the queue and we now have an induction process in place run by Jenny Hughes to ensure we offer membership to those that meet our high standards.
It has been said many times throughout the year in our posts, but to see so many friendships being made at our club, with those friendships now extending beyond the normal training sessions, either by training together away from the track or meeting up socially, is a testament to the true spirit that lies within Arena 80. We are known as one of the friendliest club and for good reason but that doesn’t stop us also pushing ourselves to be the best that we can (part of the club motto).
Even from this brief review of some of our finest moments in 2017 we can really say that it is one of the best clubs in Sussex in so many ways.
Now it’s time to look forward to 2018, which will bring us a new revamped Super Series challenge comprising 12 races, with the focus on 6 key races as well as 6 of our club only events.
There will also be an exciting new 6 race mini-series, in the form of 6 parkruns, with a league table which will bring our athletes together more frequently and showcase the blue vests out there on Saturday mornings.
With the last cross-country race in February, it looks like it’s set to be another great start for the club in 2018 as we currently hold pole position in several of the ladies tables and again the men are having an excellent season and with many more of our athletes trying it out for the first time and coming back for more this will only strengthen our teams over the coming years.
We have new reps for the WSFRL races in the shape of Shawn Buck, Anne Miners and Fiona Jamie, who I’m sure, will bring their enthusiasm and energy to this race series and get more of our members engaged in these races. At just £3 a race (and a distance of approximately 5 miles) it’s almost sacrilege not to participate. We know that when we do put a proper team out for these events that we do extremely well in them so perhaps this will be the year that we make a name for ourselves amongst the leading pack.
Of course we are the current holders of the Harvey Curtis team trophy which we retained from 2016 so wouldn’t it be just so nice to make it a hat trick. Not since 1966 has a hat trick been so relevant! This is very exciting as it give us a goal to focus on.
There is so much to look forward to in 2018. We know it will be tough as there will be lots of clubs vying for that top spot who will be chasing us all the way to try to knock us off our perch. There is much work to do for us all and I’m sure the Arena members will rise to the challenge as they always do, being the competitive athletes that we are. For the moment at least, let’s look back at 2017 on a job well done, with a great sense of pride, team spirit, achievement and contentment in the knowledge that you were all a part of a great year, a great club and a truly great bunch of people to race, hang out and train with.
Happy New Year to you all and we’ll see you all on the other side!
The club mantra: Be respectful, Be Supportive, Be the best you can
Written by administrator and the views expressed in this post are those of the administrator only.