The Cross Country Relay meeting at Brimbank Park was the first event on the 2002 Winter calendar. Box Hill enjoyed a promising commencement to the Winter season, with some fine team performances by male and female teams. This year produced a warm sunny day (not unusual for May, but unexpected by competitors), and many athletes faced a dilemma in making a decision on what to wear, racing flats or short spikes, with most opting for racing flats. We entered three senior men’s teams and an Under 18. Given our current strength, we were a bit disappointed that we were unable to put up more teams and the Section 6 team was one runner short of a full team.
Marcus Tierney led the Section 1 men’s team off and brought us in at the end of the first leg in 7th position, although there were two lower grade teams with outstanding runners ahead of us at the conclusion of the first leg. Doncaster roared to the lead, opening up a huge gap on the other clubs who were likely to be competitive in the race. Olympian Rod de Highden established what turned out to be a winning lead in this leg with a particularly strong second lap. Marcus ran relatively evenly laps and brought us in 7th place in Section 1. Paul Boxshall ran a solid second leg, running the second fastest individual lap in his first circuit, racing alongside Gabriel Bouris from Essendon, who snuck past him to push us into 8th place. Doncaster maintained their lead over Geelong, with Ballarat YCW third, APS fourth and Glen Huntly surprisingly languishing in 5th place. This placed a great deal of pressure on the later Glen Huntly runners.
Sam Hassett ran our third fastest time on the day (20:17), in the third leg. Although the gap between Box Hill, and other more highly placed clubs widened slightly, Sam recovered one place and moved us back to 7th place, passing Essendon, but within sight of two clubs at this point. Ballarat dropped out of contention in this leg, and Glen Huntly moved up to third. Michael Jones was our next athlete on the course, after an outstanding season on the track for Box Hill, and he ran what everyone was aiming to do, namely a faster second lap than his first. The team’s position improved to 6th in this leg, with Michael eclipsing the Ballarat YCW runner. Glen Huntly traded places with Geelong moving to second, ominously, it appeared, only 44 seconds behind first-placed Doncaster.
Barry Lynch took over, and ran a very strong first lap, nearly drawing level with the Peninsula Road Runners’ athlete, but the exertion was too great for him and his second lap was 50 seconds slower than his first. Nevertheless, we were only 27 seconds adrift of PRR and the task of trying to improve one place fell onto Graeme Olden’s shoulders. Graeme reduced the deficit about 25 metres at the end of his first lap, and sped past his PRR opponent shortly after to anchor our Section 1 team into 5th place, 26 seconds clear of PRR in 6th place, which was a sound effort for the team on the day. His performance was the second sub-20 minute time recorded by our athletes, one second faster than Marcus Tierney on the running watch. Glen Huntly, through the services of Nick Harrison, made a late attack on Doncaster’s Dean Paulin, but he failed to catch him by 6 seconds, leaving Doncaster winners of the first Winter race for 2002. APS moved through in the last lap to claim third, with Geelong fading into fourth without the services of Lee Troop and Craig Mottram.
Box Hill has been particularly strong over the last few years in Section 3, and it proved to be the same case in 2002, but by a very slender margin. All our runners performed well, and there was only a 61 second difference across the whole team in their leg times. After the team was in fourth place for much of the early stages, Luke Yeatman, with a noteworthy performance, lifted his team into second place, to build on fine earlier legs from Adam Pepper and Tony Bird. Patrick Kelly propelled the team into a winning position in the fourth leg with a much faster leg than his Essendon opponent and Chris O’Connor extended the lead over Essendon. What Chris did not see was the danger posed by the last runner representing Traralgon, who came back at all the Section 3 teams, after Traralgon had held the lead in the earlier legs, but faded later. Oblivious to the faster finishing opposition, Chris sprinted nonchalantly to the line to lead in Section 3 several seconds in advance of the Traralgon athlete to claim victory.
Our Section 6 team, consisting of David Ayers, Matt Slater and Cameron McIver ran remarkably consistently with only 17 seconds separating their performances, but, unfortunately, we lacked a fourth runner on the day to complete their team, despite being in a leading position.
<style=”mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;=”” mso-bidi-font-size:=”” 10.0pt;=”” mso-fareast-font-family:=”” times=”” new=”” roman;=”” mso-ansi-language:=”” en-us;=”” mso-fareast-language:=”” mso-bidi-language:=”” ar-sa”=””>The Under 18 team placed fifth (unofficially) after a great start from Andrew White. Chris Hamer looked very snappy on the course and Nick Bourke completed the team running the third leg.
Men – Division 1
|Section 1||1st Leg||2nd Leg||Total||Leader||B.H. Time||Position|
1. Doncaster 114:36
2. Glen Huntly 114:44
3. APS 118:31
4. Geelong Regional Centre 119:13
5. Box Hill 122:58
6. PRR 123:23
Men – Division 3