The eighth race on the AV winter calendar, the Road Relay Championship, was held at Sandown on Saturday 9 August and for the first time in nearly 30 years, Box Hill won the men’s Division 1 Sandown road relay championships. In a great consistent display, Barry Lynch, Matt Coloe, Bouchaib Chefnaoui, Chris Hamer, Andrew White and Steve Dinneen all ran fast times in the windy conditions to win the race by over 2 minutes.
It was also gratifying to see 10 Box Hill teams competing on the day, with the men’s Division 3 team also victorious, the under 20 men winning a silver medal and the under 18 girls a bronze.
Box Hill’s Division 1 team was slightly depleted due to a decision by a number of athletes to contest the City To Surf in Sydney. Fortunately, our depth is so great this year that we were able to call on a number of other athletes to cover these absences and still field excellent teams.
What a day we had!! Our Division 1 team performed brilliantly and carried off the title, with an exceptional performance by all our team members. Many of our long term members, including the writer of this report, have waited with varying degrees of patience for a win at Sandown for nearly 30 years. Our patience was rewarded and the back up team of Chris O’Connor, Graeme Olden, Rob Falkenberg, and Ian Sloane were overjoyed with this particular outcome. Along with the 12 km Cross Country, the Road Relay Championship is seen by Winter athletes as a time-tested challenge and the most prestigious race for a club to win.
Box Hill has finally succeeded in its endeavour to win, and what a sweet victory it was. To make the occasion even better, our Division 3 team won decisively as well and our Under 20 Men placed second when not at full strength.
The first leg of the Men’s race is always hard as it is effectively a head to head contest. We selected Barry Lynch to tackle the first leg and he performed well. Clint Perrett (Sandringham) took the lead and attacked the course, leaving all in his wake. Matthew McDonagh (Geelong) made a great effort to staying touch, as did Duer Yoa (Ballarat City) and Kane Willie (Knox). Barry Lynch slipped off the early pace, tucked in and ran at an even tempo, recording a PB for Sandown. At the end of the first leg, Box Hill held 5th position in the Division 1 race, although there were several lower division teams ahead of us. Sandringham’s pre-eminent position evaporated during this second leg and Ballarat City (Tyson Popplestone) surged forward with Knox (Ben Toomey). Wightman (Geelong) slipped back a bit and Box Hill, represented by Matt Coloe, was starting to move forward, overtaking Sandringham. There was a one second gap as the third runner for Knox and Ballarat City with Ballarat City holding a one second advantage over Knox at the change. Matt Coloe improved Box Hill’s standing to fourth, a great platform from which the team could challenge for a win. Knox drew ahead in the third leg, extending a lead over Ballarat City to 44 seconds. Bouchaib Chefnaoui ran a brilliant leg, improving his time from the previous year by nearly a minute (19 m. 47 in 2007; 18 m. 55 in 2008, a PB). More importantly, Bouchaib passed his Geelong opponent.
Behind us, Glenhuntly had overtaken Ballarat YCW, with Liam Adams propelling Essendon into 7th position in running one of the fastest legs of the day. Ballarat City passed Knox in the fourth leg go regain the lead. Chris Hamer ran a scintillating leg, a PB, and reduced the lead to a minute one, compared to what it was when he commenced. In running the fastest Box Hill leg, he also managed to hold off Lee Troop, Geelong’s fourth leg runner, who ran 17 m. 57, a fine performance in the cold and windy conditions. Chris reduced the deficit to 13 seconds behind second place and 38 seconds behind the leaders, with Ballarat City having over taken Knox in this leg to regain the lead.
Andrew White then took over and proceeded to lift Box Hill into the lead, running the smart time of 18 m. 37 for the fifth leg, turning a 38 second deficit in to a 62 second lead. Geelong had a good leg through Ryan Christian, who propelled them into second place just ahead of Knox with Ballarat City slipping to fourth 26 seconds behind Knox. Steve Dinneen has been in excellent form this year and he ran a really solid leg (18 m. 44) his fastest ever time at Sandown. He extended Box Hill’s lead over the field to a 2 minute 15 second advantage, and we had claimed the much-desired road relay title. Of the fifteen sub-19 minute legs, four were recorded by Box Hill, a mighty effort.
There was a fierce battle taking place for second and third with Ballarat City’s Ashley Watson overtaking Geelong’s Brett Coleman to bring Ballarat to second right at the finish line. Knox had expended all their top line runners and faded to fourth, 68 seconds behind Geelong. Glenhuntly were a further 38 seconds behind in fifth place.
Box Hill now holds a commanding lead in the Winter Championship, so we are looking for excellent turn out in the remaining two events.
Our Division 3 team got off to an excellent start and was never headed, winning the flag by a massive distance. We placed fourth in the Over 40 competition and ninth in Division 5.
Our Under 20 Men excelled themselves taking the silver medal with Daniel Balassone, Stuart Watson and Jonathan Tree holding the lead until late in the final leg. This was an excellent result with Josh de Stefanis and Mark Poli being in Sydney, Daniel stepped up from the under 18s and Jonothan, an under 16 ran well to hold his own against the older runners.
Our Under 18 Men placed 12th.
Our women’s team finished 7th out of 13 teams in division1 and 10th in division 2. The under 20 girls were a close 4th, while the under 18 girls team of Emily De Luca, Jayde Anderson and Penny Townshend came away with a bronze medal.
Special thanks to Ian Sloane and Rob Falkenberg and to the parents of a number of runners who helped out as time keepers.
Division 1 Leg Runner Time Position Leader’s time BH time 1 Barry Lynch 19:17 5 18:23 19:17 2 Matt Coloe 19:14 4 37:44 38:31 3 Bouchaib Chefnaoui 18:55 3 56:10 57:28 4 Chris Hamer 18:27 3 75:17 75:55 5 Andrew White 18:37 1 94:32 94:32 6 Steve Dinneen 18:44 1 113:16 113:16 Team Result 1. Box Hill 113:16 2. Ballarat City 115:31 3. Geelong 115:32 4. Knox 116:40 5. Glenhuntly 117:18 6. Ballarat YCW 124:00 Fastest Times Lee Troop Geelong 17:57 Clint Perrett Sandringham 18:08 Matthew McDonagh Knox 18:11 Liam Adams Essendon 18:20 Duer Yoa Ballarat City 18:24 Kane Willie Knox 18:24 Toby Rayner Glenhuntly 18:25 Chris Hamer Box Hill 18:27 Andrew White Box Hill 18:37 Nathan Hartigan Ballarat City 18:43 Steve Dinneen Box Hill 18:44 Division 3 1 Paul Boxshall 20:19 2 Dave Featherston 23:06 3 Luke Yeatman 20:08 4 Andrew Nagle 22:34 5 Otmane Tirhazouine 20:16 Team Result: 1. Box Hill 106:23 2. Melbourne Uni 111:09 3. Geelong 111:12 Division 5 1 Bill Dyer 23:37 2 Russell Clowes 25:54 3 Andrew Tunne 25:44 4 Dave Stevens 27:30 Team Result 1. Bendigo 89:13 2. Oakleigh 89:50 3. Waverley 90:58 9. Box Hill 104:45 40+ Category 1 David Ayers 22:23 2 Graeme Olden 23:17 3 Chris O’Connor 21:21 Team Placings 1 APS 1:01:34 2 Traralgon 1:05:59 3 Ballarat City 1:06:29 4 Box Hill 1:07:01 Under 20 Race 1 Daniel Balassone 22:10 2 Stuart Watson 20:23 3 Jonathan Tree 23:14 Team Placings 1 Ringwood 1:05:15 2 Box Hill 1:05:47 3 Western Aths 1:07:04 Under 18 Race 1 Cameron Nagle 12:29 2 Jack Hill 12:33 3 Jackson Dyer 11:16 Team Placings 1. Knox 29:46 2. Keilor St Bernards 30:53 3. Frankston 31:00 12. Box Hill 36:18 Women Division 1 1 Glenhuntly 2 Knox 3 APS 7 Box Hill 1. Talitha Crawford 25:44 2. Rachel Johnson 23:38 3. Emma Steer 25:29 4. Amanda Harper 26:19 Women Division 2 10 Box Hill 1. Kerry Putt 27:19 2. Megan Sloane 26:53 3. Suzanne Andrews 27:22 4. Kate Ackland 26:42 Women Under 20 4 Box Hill 1. Bridget Aughton 12:28 2. Harriet Hodgkinson 12:32 3. Coreena Cleland 12:31 Women under 18 3 Box Hill 1. Emily De Luca 12:15 2. Jayde Anderson 11:50 3. Penny Townshend 12:40