Once again it was the women who led the way for Box Hill with an outstanding performance over the tough, undulating course.
The Harcourt to Bendigo Relays differ from most relay events in that no two legs are the same, in either their distance or the terrain that they cross. While several legs are relatively flat, the first leg, the second leg for men and the last leg are particularly tough with several 300 to 400 metre climbs. The men run 7 legs, while the women run 5.
The Box Hill women’s team was led out strongly by the veteran of the team Gabrielle Bombell, who battled hard up one of the toughest hills on the course to bring the team into second place. She handed over to Emily Smith, an under 18 runner stepping up to the senior team, who held onto her position across one of the shorter yet rougher tracks. Over the next two legs Marion Gamble and Georgina Connell were able to maintain contact with the leading teams and were handed a suprise when one of the runners from Essendon, who were infront of Box Hill at that time, was unable to find the changeover point. This meant that the team was in 4th place when the final changeover was made to the clubs strongest runner this winter, Anna Thompson. The 7.9 km leg that included a 1.3km ascent, is regarded as the toughest of the 5 legs. It was through the middle of this leg that Anna Thompson was able to pass two teams to bring Box Hill home in second place, several minutes behind the Knox Sherbrooke Athletic Club.
Harcourt to Bendigo Relay – Box Hill Women Race order
1st Gabrielle Bombell 6.3km
2nd Emily Smith 5.3km
3rd Georgina Connell 7.2km
4th Marion Gamble 6.6km
5th Anna Thompson 7.9km
The men’s team was again weakened by the unavailability of several of our strongest runners. The highlights of the day were:
A gutsy run from club President Graeme Olden, over the leg with the sharpest ascent and descent, his form and commitment have not changed in 10 years
A magnificent run from Victorian U’20 Cross Country representative Christian Ashby who managed to lift the teams placing by 2 spots, over the longest (9.3km) leg
51 year old Graeme Crouch, who competed in the 1976 Olympics and still has the tenacity and commitment to training to run with the best athletes in the state today.
The team fought hard but was unable to hold onto its early strong placing to fade to 6th.
Harcourt to Bendigo Relay – Box Hill men race order
1st Tom Waters 5.2km
2nd Graeme Olden 8.3km
3rd Christian Ashby 9.3km
4th Kynan Dawes 5.3km
5th Graeme Crouch 7.2km
6th Glen Tooze 6.6km
7th Chris Bunney 7.9km