The Welsh Castles Relay 2017
Welsh Castles Relay 2017
The Welsh wind and rain was certainly out in full force on Saturday, as the SHM men’s and ladies’ teams displayed true Mancunian grit and let battle commence on the hills. The men’s race picked up pace early on with back to back wins for Callum Rowlinson (Leg 3), Tim Kennedy (Leg 4) and Sam Aspinwall (Leg 5) in a marginal photo -finish victory: a truly impressive sprint finish! This was followed by Gary Rowlinson’s 2nd place overall and stage vet winner on Leg 6. Gary also won the Geoff Wood award for this stage. Salford were hot on the men’s heels but Sale finished the day strongly with Nigel Martin’s outstanding victory in the gruelling Leg 10 half marathon. Nigel ran a brilliant 71.19 to be within touching distance of Gaz Raven’s course record from 2012 of 71.04. Strong performances from all 10 men throughout the day saw Sale end day one in the overall lead; however, they only had a 55 second lead over Salford for the much-coveted Kings of the Mountains title.
In the ladies’ race, Janneke van Beijnum, Jackie Cordingley and Luisa Candioli took on the mountain stages and finished the day leading the Queen of the Mountain race by 4 mins and 32 seconds over Bitton Road Runners. Jackie Cordingley was the epitome of Sale team spirit, powering up Leg 7 in driving wind and rain, only to ask the marshals as she reached the top of the biggest climb ‘Where are these hills?’ The marshals were crying with laughter! Luisia ran an outstanding Leg 10 to finish in 2nd place with a time of 86.34, just 29 seconds behind the 2014 course record. What a debut! The ladies gave it their all throughout the day and finished the day challenging for the top 3 with some strong performances expected on the Sunday.
With The Kings of the Mountain within their grasp, up stepped Steve McCarron (Leg 11), Paul ‘Greeny’ Green (Leg 14) and Chris Donnelley (Leg 16) . All 3 ran brilliantly to secure the title for Sale with Greeny putting in a brave fight against Salford to finish 2nd overall on the dreaded Drovers leg. In doing so Greeny claimed the yellow vest for being veteran stage winner and, as it seems to be tradition now, is Monarch of the Drovers’ Mountain!
Captain Chris Donnelley kept his team on their toes throughout the day, insisting Salford were breathing down our neck for the overall title. This proved to be an outstanding team management approach, ensuring every SHM man ran his heart out to put distance between them and our local rivals. Finally, as the last race drew in, it was left to Dave Marsh to anchor the men home on Leg 20 to the cheers of every SHM member in Cardiff, and the relief of all the Saturday runners back home – they had done it! VICTORY! SHM Men’s team – WCR 2017 Champions in 20:07:28. A staggering 31 minutes and 03 seconds ahead of second place rivals Salford Harriers. Get in lads!
Over in the women’s race, strong mountain legs were put in from Clare McCarron (Leg 11) and Sarah Douglas (Leg 14). Queen of the Drovers’ Mountain, Sarah Douglas, put in an outstanding performance displaying some true Yorkshire grit, as she raced home over 6 minutes ahead of the second lady! Team Manager, Richard Edwards, was truly delighted with the performance of each and every SHM ladies runner. The team spirit over the whole weekend was fantastic and the ladies finished in a brilliant 3rd place overall.
Thanks to all those who gave support at any point over the weekend. It was superb to see so many SHM supporters along the way, especially given the awful driving winds, at times torrential rain and rare glimpse of sunshine! Special thanks to Chris and Eddie for organising the whole event.
With the men’s team having a title to defend, and the women a title to chase…the SHM dragons will be out to roar again next year.
PS. I have ordered sunshine for 2018
Posted 12/06/2017 19:55