VHI 2010 Team Manager’s Report
The Gower, 2nd and 3rd October 2010
Every year’s VHI brings with it something new and this year was no exception with the weather playing a most memorable part in the proceedings. It was a weekend of contrasts starting with heavy rain all day on Friday, a string of closures along the motorways and difficult journeys all round. Those of us from the south east ended up travelling to Wales via Oxford!
Saturday dawned bright and clear. The individual was held on Whiteford Burrows a fairly narrow strip of terrain within walking distance of the St Madoc centre where the teams were staying. It was a positive luxury to get up for breakfast at 9am, have a team get together prior to the event and then walk down to the starts some 800m away. There were some stellar performances in the individual classes with 5 overall winners and 8 taking second place. England just got the upper hand, but the results were close (136 England, 129 Scotland) which shows the strength of the opposition, particularly Scotland but Welsh runners also did well. Those nations dominated the 3rd place spot!
The Scots were hampered by one of their runners picking up the wrong map. It is also true to say that the England score would probably have been better if Pete Nicholls had not pulled a hamstring on his way round.
The relays on Sunday at Broughton Burrows were scheduled to start at 9.30am and in retrospect it was lucky that the organisers had gone for an early start as the route into the Burrows was closed by the police because of the flooding before the relay event had even started.
Rain had been forecast to arrive on Saturday evening but it was still dry up until about midnight. However once the rain came, it came with a vengeance; torrential and relentless. We set off in the morning around 8.15am so as to have time to pitch the tent. By that time, the route, 4 miles of narrow road could only be described as a river with deepish pools collecting in each dip. And the rain still fell.
When we arrived at the car park, there were messages from several of the Welsh team who were either stuck or delayed. We also had news from Alan Velecky who had had to turn back but was trying at least to get to the event centre from where it was possible to walk 1 1/2K to the Burrows.
The organisers put the start back 15 minutes in the hope that the Welsh runners would arrive, in addition the team managers agreed that we would run in a different order if necessary should a runner not appear. Come the starting whistle, all the runners apart from one Welsh team member and Alan had made it. As it happened, Alan had also aggravated a knee injury in the individual and so he and Pete had been put in a team which was not expected to count, even so I still wanted to make sure we had back up just in case anything went wrong with the remaining 5 teams (Four out of six to count). Liz Jackson went out on first leg and I was preparing myself to run out of order, then at the same time as Liz appeared on the hill at the final control and began to run into the finish, Alan was spotted on the path approaching the start. There was a frantic scramble to get Alan his competition number, clear the dibber and sort out his map. Within 30 seconds of him arriving, Liz ran in and Alan was off. Perfect timing.
As it was, we ended up being the fifth English team so we weren’t needed. Our four teams counting teams all did an absolutely splendid job with brilliant runs, focussed performances, solid team support,. I was delighted to have the England colours flying into the finish as teams 2, 3, 4, and 5. It made the relay a comprehensive victory, and to cap it all the sun finally shone.
Everyone on the Welsh organising team worked extremely hard (huge thanks particularly to Kay and David Seward and to their energetic team of helpers) and did a great job despite quite difficult circumstances. It was overall a pleasant, friendly and memorable competition and my thanks to the England team for their efforts.
Nick Barrable, Peter Helme, Alan Velecky, Quentin Harding, Charlie Adams, Kevin Harding, Pete Nicholls, James Crawford, Andy Hemsted, Julian Lailey, Charlie Adams, Jonathan Emberton, Tim Tett and Kevin Harding.
Sarah Noot, Anja Stratford, Lesley Ross, Ruth Ker, Sara Campbell, Liz Jackson, Jill Libby, Jane Morgan, Stella Lewsley, Sarah Brown, Liz Godfree, Sheila Carey