Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Bow Valley Harriers are up and... er, Running!

The Bow Valley Harriers excelled in their first team race today in a cold and wintry Canmore Park in Calgary. Temperatures at the start were -5C with an icy cold wind dropping them further still but not even the first few flakes of snow in the air could dampen the spirits of the Harriers who made it to the start line with the excitement of the first BVH team race to spur us on. We had 6 Harriers running; Jeremy Deere, Mark Fewster, Phil Villeneuve, Blaine Penny, Matt Wanford and Duncan Marsden - kudos to Phil Villeneuve for fighting off a hangover and coming all the way from Canmore for the event.

This was the third in a 6 race series and is very much a team event. Times do not matter (as Jeremy reminded me just as I was about to start my watch on the start line!), only places. There are 4 to score in a team and the team with the lowest score wins. Easy. Non-Scorers are vital for these sorts of events though - not only do they provide a safety net but they can reduce other teams' scores.
The race was over a distance of 8k (4 x 2k loops - ideal for spectators) and the event attracts the cream of the Alberta running community. The Harriers knew they would be in for some tough competition. The average age of the field was about 20 and with the youngest Harrier being a sprightly 33 years old, we knew our tough old legs would have some raw young speed to face.

The toughest thing about cross country races, is the intensity. If you relax for 30 seconds, 5 people will pass you. But it's also about not getting sucked in to the early pace which is always much too fast. The Harriers started well and we all watched in awe as the gun went off and Jeremy Deere sprinted into the lead group never to be seen again (at least not by us) and into what was probably a top 5 finish. The rest of us had a very close race which is good in these team events - a team that packs its runners together is generally a strong team. For the first half, Villeneuve led Marsden and Fewster, all within seconds of each other with Penny and Wanford very close behind. The gaps stretched over the last 2 laps, with Marsden finishing second Harrier, very closely followed by Villeneuve and Fewster who, in turn, had Penny and Wanford breathing down their necks.
We do not have the results yet but everyone enjoyed the intensity of the competition - generally, a resounding success!
In the women's event, we had one Harrier - Syl Corbett - fighting the BVH cause. Syl ran a great race having just come back from the World Mountain Running Champs in the UK. We'll give more on Syl's performance when the results are in...
Great running everyone! We can mix it with the best...! Photos will be posted on facebook.

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