Research has found that temperature plays the biggest role in both speed and withdrawal rates, and it appears that optimal conditions for running is around 7C. Clearly, such conditions will always be a direct contrast to those all marshals & volunteers of running events prefer; plenty of sun, dry & heat. The setting for this year’s Coad Cup most certainly made it a non-runner optimal event, especially when the mercury hit 32C 🥵
But as Rudyard Kipling is purported to have said, ‘Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun’. Well, the time was a little later than midday and there were no dogs in sight, rather a collection of Ranelagh Harriers – 41 men & women in total. All clearly as mad as each other, as they amiably gathered in Richmond Park to collect their numbers for the event 🤷
The new route featured one long loop from the top of Queen’s Ride, down & across the playing fields, round Spankers Wood, down the side of Pen Ponds, before the (brutal) climb back up to the start/finish. To add insult to injury (and to make up the 5 mile distance), athletes were required to complete a second, albeit shorter, loop to the Ballet School Gates, before making THAT climb once again.
After the usual mutterings about the audacity, outrageousness and downright unfairness of the handicapper’s decisions, Race Director Andy Bickerstaff set Wendy Fisher, our first runner, off at 7pm. On a count of 3, 2, 1 GO, a steady stream of runners set off, according to their allocated handicaps. 27 ½ minutes later, the 3 scratch men, Marc Leyshon, Ted Mockett & Mark Herbert started their chase.
All was quiet at the start/finish for a while. Genial chit-chat dominated and the fleeting thought that a pint of ice-cold anything would go down quite a treat did cross many a mind. The convivial atmosphere didn’t last long however, as the first runners came up that brutal climb – many running, a few walking but all extremely hot and in various shades of red/puce/sweat. Down they were told to go again by the heartless marshals. Some opted to gratefully hydrate at the impromptu water station provided by Rebecca Bissell but on they inevitably went, once more unto the breach, dear friends.
At the end of the first loop, Jon Holloway (benefiting from a generous handicap) was the first runner in, with Tom Brown next and Marc Leyshon following close behind. Either way, both were running as guests, so Marc was in prime position to take the Coad Cup. Would he catch them up? Or would the terrain & temperature prove too insurmountable? An anxious wait ensued.
As the cry ‘RUNNER’ went up, it was Jon (0:53:46) who came up the rise, crossing the line as the first guest. Marc (0:29:43) was second overall in just under a minute behind but securing the Coad Cup nonetheless. Evidence indeed of his astonishing effort, especially given the conditions.
Tom Brown (0:39:49) was not long after, but as he was a guest, 2nd place went to Paul Wapshott (0:41:55) and 3rd to Dave Lawley (0:31:28), who was 5th overall. 1st Lady was Lizzie Broughton (0:34:12) who crossed in 6th overall, while Suzy Whatmough (0:34:20) took 2nd Lady (13th overall) and Clare Fowler (0:37:40) was 3rd Lady (18th overall).
Well done to everyone who participated. No one got lost, which was testament to the outstanding course marking by our newly appointed Honorary Secretary, Trevor Maguire. A huge shout out & greatest appreciation to all the marshals & volunteers – as always, without your help, nothing would be possible 🥳
At the end of the evening, those remaining headed back to the Roebuck for some serious hydration, amicable socialising and some well-deserved sun-down watching 🍻
💙 PDF of final results @ https://drive.google.com/file/d/1xjNF0Sc1_wNIGuLQ5tNgQzGmAEIt_UZE/view?usp=sharing
💛 Google Sheet of final results @ https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/17B7lvde3kLaf-UXBG7wAJ16GMrGLN_BG0IosPtA-x3Q/edit?usp=sharing