Arena flying at the SDW 100m relay 2018

The news has come in that the ladies have retained their SDW 100 mile relay title, which they won for the first time in 10 years in 2017.
Our ladies team had two changes from last year’s winning team, with the departure of Emily Hutchinson from the club and an injury prone year for Rachel Woolston ruling her out. This made way for Julie Briggs and Juliette Roberts to step in, and let’s be totally honest hear, you couldn’t wish for two finer to step up.
The ladies took gold but it wasn’t all plane sailing from the start of the race. The race was neutralised for the first few miles due to thick fog and the need for safety. The starting group were all told to run together as one for the first two miles to make sure no one got lost, yes it really was that bad. Once the two miles was up it was time to turn it on but it wasn’t until leg 3 that Arena finally clawed their way back in to the race to finally become the big command. Having endured the cool misty conditions in the morning, the weather became a game of two halves as by midday it had become ridiculously hot (which many of you will probably know already if you’ve been out on training runs or races recently) so the running conditions were far from perfect. Running in those hot conditions, being so exposed with no shade, and to top it all off, those god damn hills, then you’ll find it as no surprise that it took a few casualties along the way due to heat exhaustion.
As the race went on our Arena ladies lead was lengthening to the point that they were so far ahead, that they knew they had it in the bag and could feel a little more relaxed. At the end of the race Arena’s lead was almost an hour ahead of 2nd placed Hailsham AC. Apparently there were a few running in the wrong directions which may have also helped Arena’s cause but it’s all in the planning for these sorts of races. Just to add to the win, the Arena ladies also took home the trophy for being the closest to their predicted time (just 39 seconds out) plus they won the age graded percentages which was 92%. Did you know (and my apologies here ladies but I do think it’s worth saying) that the youngest lady in the Arena team was 41, incredible team.

Our Arena A men’s team came so very close this year with many laying it on the line and pushing the other teams all the way to the finish to come home in bronze position. The difference this year was only 4 minutes which separated 1st and 3rd with only 50 seconds separating 2nd and 3rd place, which really is agonisingly close. The teams matched each other through every leg and were running very much side by side for much of the race so coming 3rd is something we are very proud of and to be able to say we are as good as any other club would not be an understatement here. Last year we came home in 4th place so this year it shows how much we have improved. Big up to our A team who were Anthony Snelling, Dan Vaughan, Richard Clayton, Del Wallace, Timmy Geddin and Michael Barker.

Many it seems ran in flip flops, now that’s confidence.

The Arena men’s B team also came away with Gold with some solid running from all of guys. What an honour it is to have so much talent within our Arena walls.
There were a lot of changes in personnel leading up to the race, and it was with great regret, that the team captain Jim Watson fell ill in the days leading up to it. His experience and leadership were a big loss. But Ricky Coleman was recruited at the last minute to make up the team of six. The team: Steve McNealy, Kevin Price, Kevin Meegan, Andrew Wood, Ricky Coleman and stand-in captain for the day, Teo van Well.
Ricky, Andrew and Kevin Price were all new to the event and this seemed to show on the morning as there were some nerves clearly present. Everyone has their own way of showing this but it was apparent. But they all trusted in each other’s ability and so they set off with optimism.
As per the ladies the race was neutralised for the first few miles due to thick fog and the need for safety. Kev Meegan set the team off and ran wonderfully well against A team competitors who had set off at the same start time. Leg 2 was Teo and the team were surprised to see him finish just outside 40 mins when they had predicted nearer 45. Next came Steve and he ran an incredible leg in just over 29 mins. All his recent good form was being put on show. The latest recruit Ricky took his turn and set himself up for the day with a great effort of around 51 mins on legs 4. More importantly, he seemed to enjoy it and felt better having got one under his belt. Then came the laid back Kevin Price, who paced himself to his target time, followed by a very nervous Andrew who threw everything at leg 6. With everyone now running once the nerves settled and the day got underway with each runner knowing what they had to do. The pressure was ramped up with every good performance, as others felt they had to meet the standards. Teo did his best to get his team-mates focused and determined, and was leading by example with his own running. By this point Paul Arscott joined the boys for a bit of fun on the day and he kept the spirits positive with constant banter, beer drinking and general entertainment. Peter Knee – driver and time-keeper – was keeping the team in check and ensuring all areas were under control. The team were very appreciative to have him in their corner.
The day was hot and long in length but it zipped by quickly and it wasn’t long before each runner did their second and third legs. By leg 13, Kev Meegan from the B team and Del Wallace from the A team were standing together waiting for their incoming runners. Was this the leg in which the As would overtake the Bs? Kevin set off first and although Del caught up with him he never managed to pass. Kevin passed over to Teo on leg 14 and Del to Michael Barker. There was a small gap between them but Teo held Michael off and even widened the gap before passing on to Ricky. It was on leg 15 that Timmy Gedin passed the B team, an improvement on the previous year which saw this happen on leg 17. The A team were running well but the B team enjoyed supporting them and encouraging them within their own race. By this point it was clear the B team, failing any navigational disasters, would win their race so most of the focus fell on to the close affair within the A team section. That said, Andrew, Steve and Kevin still put in exceptional last leg performances to finish the day in style. They just missed finishing under the 12 hour mark but given the neutralised start at the beginning this was a solid effort.
All of the runners enjoyed the day and they want to be included on next year’s team sheet which shows that this is an unforgettable event for most.
More confidence with flip flop running.

An outstanding achievement, I think you’ll agree, yet again from all of athletes and how proud we are as a club to see all of their hard work pay off. This isn’t just a race; this is a race of commitment. There have been many legs practised before this race and there have been days which have been very challenging weather-wise so to see this outcome is a testament to all of our athletes. There is so much that is good about this and it’s not just about the positions. The team building, the team bonding, the opportunity to experience a different kind of race, the laughs, the highs, the lows and the spirit of the club.
There is one more section that we would also like to thank and that’s the backroom support as without them it would never have happened. We had our drivers and navigators in the shape of Al Silvester, Anne Miners, Pete Knee, Fiona Jamie and Chris Naylor who got everyone from A to B with no problems thus keeping our teams chilled and relaxed between points. Also a special thank you goes to Mike, Jim, Michelle and Brigitte who marshalled at handover points 4/5 without whom it may have been a very different story. Steve McNealy also gets a big thank you for organising the vans
Huge congratulations to you all and thank you for being part of a very special club.