Biggest ever turnout for GCR in season closer

PUBLISHED: 18:17 05 August 2008 | UPDATED: 21:34 26 October 2009

GCR coach and athlete Mandy Livingstone

GCR coach and athlete Mandy Livingstone

GARDEN City Runners wound up their summer running schedule with the annual road race relays at Fairlands Valley Park in Stevenage. The WGC-based club enjoyed their biggest ever turnout with five ladies teams of three and six men s teams of five. For a cl

GARDEN City Runners wound up their summer running schedule with the annual road race relays at Fairlands Valley Park in Stevenage.

The WGC-based club enjoyed their biggest ever turnout with five ladies' teams of three and six men's teams of five.

For a club whose main strength is in longer distances of 5km up to marathon, the 3km circuit was a test of adapting to a quicker pace.

The ladies' A team scored a convincing win in both the open competition and the county championship.

Jenny Gray got them off to storming start in 10 mins 47 secs, handing over to Katherine Philp, who took and held the lead, finishing in 11 mins 08 secs.

Martha Hall ran the final leg in 11 mins 01 secs to bring the team home in 32 mins 56 secs, three quarters of a minute ahead of runners-up St Albans.

Coach Mandy Livingstone suggested mixing up the remaining four ladies' teams, to make each of equal ability, instead of the usual B, C, D and E team format.

It helped to generate interest in the relays from some of the less speedy club members.

Her calculations proved to be remarkably accurate as GCR finished 35th, 36th, 39th and 42nd of 53 teams.

Mandy herself had the grace to run for the slowest team, but still insisted on racing Jenny on leg one for the fastest overall on the night.

It was only later that it was pointed out that they had forgotten to put together a top vets' team - a fact which was gratefully capitalised upon by the hosts Spartans, who took the prize.

By contrast, the men endured the customary last-minute chaos of sorting out running orders with members showing up unannounced five minutes before the entries closing time.

GCR A team captain Mark Dickinson ran leg one in 9 mins 10 secs.

He handed over in third place to David Vaughan, who clocked 9 mins 37 secs. Graham Robinson ran leg three in 9 mins 28 secs.

Simon Mace, two days after a spectacular personal best under 1 hour 15 mins at the Milton Keynes half marathon, somehow had enough left in his legs for 9 mins 43 secs and Patrick Pearce anchored in 9 mins 54 secs.

The aggregate time of 47 mins 52 secs gave the quintet second place in both the open and county categories, a minute behind the young and talented Herts Phoenix squad.

The vets' team of Steve Livingstone, Keith McLellan, Mark Pickerill, Dave Desborough and Steve Kemble came home in 52 mins 24 secs to finish 15th overall, third in the open vets and as the first Herts vets team.

The B, C and D teams were 17th, 24th and 40th out of 57.

But the real stars of the show were the GCR supervets team of Tom Casserley, Mick Wise, Peter Westlake, Dennis Draper and George Woods.

With a combined age of more than 340, they finished in a highly respectable 1 hour 12 mins 06 secs.

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