We talked the talk, and then we walked the walk. Phew! what a relief! The NSW Road Relays last weekend on the Central Coast was a great event. We had a great duel with Sydney University, but the relay crown stays firmly in Randwick Botany’s hands for another year. The teams were well-matched this year, and provided for a close race, though my dream is to one day have 5 or 6 teams together with 2k remaining. That would be EPIC!
From the outside, it is apparent that there is a strong rivalry betwen SUAC and RBH, but what may not be known is that while we are rivals, we are all mates who love to have a good laugh and stir up. It keeps things interesting if we sledge someone, or claim we are going to smash them, but it’s always in good fun. As athletes, we all want to win, but having a good race is better than no race at all, and relays are a fun way to bring team spirit to an individual sport.
When Saturday rolled around, we were greeted with a beautiful clear and crisp day, perfect for some fast running. The course on the University of Newcastle Ourimbah Campus was challenging, but quick. It consisted of around, effectively, 1k up and 1k down, was sheltered from adverse weather, and seemed reasonably picturesque for a campus course.
Our lead out runner was David Byrne. Yes, the same David Byrne who came 2nd in the 2003 National 1500m to Al Stevenson and, over the last few years, has become somewhat of a travelling fisherman/gypsy/bag-carrier/photographer/etc without much training. Beaten in only by one of our training partners, Brad “Yugi” Milosevic (who ran a big race in 11:37), Byrney handed over to our newest squad and club member Ben Moreau after 11mins 48s. We had a 6s lead over Uni.
Ben, a 2010 Commonwealth Games Marathon rep for England, ran strongly for an 11mins 44s leg but was only able to run the third-fastest time on that leg, handing over to Jeremy Roff 4s behind Uni. This is when the race started to get really interesting. Roffy caught Hugh Williams from the Uni team, and led through their first 2k lap. Roffy looked to be very relaxed while Hugh looked about ready to drop off. But he hung on well up towards the 3k mark before Roffy “smashed” the downhill to hand over to me in 11mins 35s with a handy 13s lead over Uni. James Nipperess, a fellow training partner, was the final runner for Uni whose task was to run me down.
I knew I had to put the chase out of reach in the first lap, so I ran fairly hard in the first 1km. Nipper would also take off hard, and it seemed he maintained the distance through our first lap. I had tried to run solid, but relaxed and really pile it on over the second lap. Once I started climbing up the hill on the second lap, I put my foot down and ran like I was finishing at the 3k mark. With a downhill finish, it meant I would be able to maintain pace off the top of the climb. As I ran down towards the finish I kept pushing and pushing. I had no idea how fast, or slow, I was running, but just that I was going to be crossing the line first. I managed to squeeze out an 11mins 20s leg, good for the fastest time of the day by 14s.
It was a fun day, and a race that I always enjoy running. Hopefully the RBH/SUAC rivalry will continue, and perhaps the battles will get closer and closer. I have only once race left between now and the Olympic Marathon, and that is the NSW Short Course Cross Country at Rydalmere. Nipper wants my head after Nowra. Yugi wants a medal. Roff wants to beat us all. There are others that will be right there for the challenge. What ends up happening will be interesting.
- 62nd NSW Road Relays: Sydney University V Randwick Botany (jeffreyhunt.com.au)
- Hunt leads Randwick to relay victory (jeffreyhunt.com.au)
- NBN News: Relaying to the Road Title (jeffreyhunt.com.au)