Forest of Dean: Mallard’s Pike and Blakeney Hill September 13th and 14th in conjunction with Caddihoe Chase

It was a glorious and victorious weekend with England winning both the individual and the relay trophy and therefore once again keeping the Micklegate Bar, carved from timber from York Minster.

Behind the scenes and also very much in evidence all weekend was John Rye who had done a splendid job with accommodation and the team dinner, more on that later. John had also worked closely with the organisers to get the logistics of the VHI in place so that all the athletes could have a really good weekend. The individual was run on Saturday morning, giving everyone plenty of time to socialise, sight see or relax afterwards and the relays on Sunday morning started early so that those with long journeys could get away promptly.

VHI2014_EnglandTeam copyIt also helped that the areas chosen lent themselves well to a competition where it was very easy to keep in touch with everything. At the individual event, the start and the finish were a few metres apart, and at the relays, the arena, adjacent to the car parking, really was an arena where we could all look down on the event, see the starting run-out, and finishing control and run in. Warm sunshine poured down once the morning chill dispersed which added greatly to the overall ambiance.

As to the competition, England fielded a strong team with some new members, Melanie Slade and Jill Smith but also a lot of experienced runners. We had class winners in seven of the classes: Sarah Rollins W35, Helen Winskill W40, with Sue Bett coming 2nd, Judy Burge W50 with Jackie Hallett coming 2nd, Duncan Archer M35, Nick Barrable M40, Clive Hallett M50 with Tim Tett coming 2nd, and Peter Gorvett M65. We scored 138 points with Scotland second, getting 125.

The relays started unpromisingly with a moment before the first handover when there seemed to be about 7 England runners standing in the change-over pen with most of Scotland and some of Wales having already left. There was certainly nothing wrong with our first leg runs which were in the main good and steady, it was just disconcerting that the other nations all had a fast start. However we began reeling in the leaders with good performances on leg 2 which boosted morale at the change over and then consolidated on leg 3 to bring England teams home with plenty of points.

In the 2W1M category, we took first place with Christine Kiddier, Clive Hallett and Helen Winskill, followed by third place Sue Hands, Tim Tett and Sarah Rollins and fifth Judy Burge, Kevin Harding and Sue Bett. Ireland took second place and Scotland were in fourth place.

In the 2M1W class, we came second (behind a Scottish team) with John Britton, Vicky Thornton and Nick Barrable, Wales took third place, then England fourth place with Steve Whitehead, Lucy Wiegand and Jon Cross and fifth place with Peter Gorvett, Jane Morgan and Duncan Archer. Jon and Duncan had a fine sprint in on the finish run with Jon just managing to hold him off. Our three counting teams were followed very quickly by Paul Addison, Jackie Hallett and Andy Simpson who came an excellent sixth place over all. We scored 116 points on the relay compared to the Scots 88,

So we ended the overall competition with 254 points, a 41 point winning margin over Scotland in second place, Wales came in third position and Ireland fourth.

One of highlights of the weekend is the team dinner and this year it was a triumph ably led by Jackie Hallett and a splendid team of BOK juniors (plus I noticed a number of very hard working mums and dads in the background as well as Clive Hallett). They provided the starters (I had tomato soup which was delicious) and the puddings (all equally delicious), as well as all the waiting on tables and clearing.

My thanks to them and to all those who were helping from the local clubs and region at the competition itself, and of course thanks to John Rye. In addition thanks to my team both for making the effort to get to the competition and for delivering some great performances so that the three trophies remain once again with England.

Sarah Brown
England Team Manager

Photographs of the VHI 2014 individual day courtesy of Philip Baxter

Photographs of the VHI 2014 relay day courtesy of Philip Baxter