XCR ’19 Round 4 – Anglesea

June 22, 2019

Box Hill’s senior runners were in top form at the Anglesea Ekiden relays on 22 June, with our men and women over 50 teams both claiming first place. Our division 1 men, division 2 men and women over 40 teams were placed third.

By Ian Sloane

Wintry conditions greeted all competitors, officials and supporters at Anglesea on Saturday 22 June, with several bursts of rain that fortunately abated as the afternoon wore on.  The course was in poor condition, not particularly well signposted, according to our runners, and extremely muddy.  Many athletes finished plastered in mud after slipping or falling over, many head-first.  A number of competitors commented on how dangerous it was, particularly the downhill sections. This is not a spectator friendly course and the only way clubs can encourage and cheer on their team members is by going out on the course, which is not ideal because the track is very narrow, both out and back.  The alternative is to stand at or near the finish.
The Ekiden is a Japanese invention, with the total elapsed distance equaling that of a marathon.  The first ekiden was held in Japan in 1917 as a 3-day, 23-stage run over 508 kilometres from Kyoto to Tokyo.  Later, the distance was rationalised to 42.195 kilometres. The Victorian version has six stages (for Premier Division and Division 2, with a reduction in the number of legs to be run for other grades and the female races) and has a large off-road component.

After the brilliant showing at Bundoora, the Box Hill Men’s Premier Division team was in a buoyant mood prior to the start.  Pam Noden, the starter, sent the field on its way commencing with Men’s Division 2 and Division 3 teams commencing the staggered start which extended over nearly an hour so that there was a reduced chance of falls and collisions in the starting area as well as to minimise congestion on the course.  There are parts of the course where it is extremely difficult to overtake an opponent.
The Box Hill Premier Division team was headed by Harry Summers.  Harry ran out of sight of the other Premier Division teams according to the other club runners after he started the ascent.  Unfortunately, a course marshal directed him the wrong way and what should have been a race-winning lead was turned into a desperate attempt to find the course again.  To his great credit, Harry didn’t throw in the towel and did his best to retrieve the situation, and nearly caught the Collingwood runner in front of him as he tried to recover lost time.  There was a deficit of 4 minutes 30 seconds, behind Doncaster (Joel Tobin-White), the leaders at the end of the first circuit, with SSH a further 28 seconds behind in second and Essendon, third, 55 seconds in arrears. Harry was not the only athlete given inadequate directions, with a number of athletes having to double back after a wrong turn. The course signposting and appropriate briefing of officials clearly needs attention.

Andre Waring ran a really fine race in last week’s Victorian 10 k Cross Country, and he knew what he had to do in his leg as he set off. He ran a great leg, recording the third fastest time of the day in this leg, eclipsed only by Jamie Wagstaff (SSH) and Ben Kelly (GH).  This brought the team into eighth place, within two minutes 31 second of third. This gave us a strong chance of getting our team placing back up the order.  SSH led the race, with Doncaster second and Western Athletics third.
Will Potter also ran a very impressive race at Bundoora and he set out in a very resolute manner.  Will is always at the front end of the field and he has been performing impressively each time the spikes or racing flats have been pulled on this year.  Saturday was no exception and he gave it everything for the team.  He pulled Box Hill into fifth position (86:16), a remarkable effort. He was the fastest runner on the day over this leg, 17 seconds faster than anyone else, a brilliant effort for himself and his teammates.  Even better, we were now just 70 seconds down on third.  SSH led (81:57), followed by Doncaster (83:39) with Western Athletics third (85:06).  This gave the team strong hope for a higher placing.

Nick Baggott was our fourth runner.  He gave his best and recorded the fourth fastest time on the day for this fourth leg.  It was apparent that no club was going to overtake SSH, but Box Hill still had a chance with improving its fifth position being 45 seconds down on Melbourne University (fourth) and one minute 52 seconds down on Western Athletics (third).  Doncaster was in second position, behind SSH, but their best runners were in the tent and they had two female runners running the fifth and sixth legs (with respect, not elite athletes) which suggested that there was a chance that other teams could possibly overtake their team.
Box Hill’s fifth leg was run by Alex Ritchie.  Readers of previous race reports will be aware that Alex is improving at every outing this year and last week placed 20th in the 10 k Victorian Cross Country Championship, his best ever effort. 

This week was no different and he ran the second fastest leg over this distance on the day in 18:31 eclipsed only by Cody Shanahan (Wes) who ran 18:01 for the circuit. Only four runners in this leg bettered 19:00.  Alex took time from the SSH runner (Guiney).  He passed the Melbourne University runner, the Doncaster runner and extended Box Hill’s lead over Geelong and Glen Huntly, meaning that at the end of the leg, he had brought the team into third position. This was a tremendous effort which made Steve Dinneen’s position a lot less difficult to defend, because Alex gave the team a 47 second buffer over fourth-placed Geelong and a 61 second gap over fifth-placed Melbourne University.

Steve Dinneen, our final runner, has not raced this year after suffering an injury.  He was extremely determined to anchor the team to a medal, after the earlier drama involving the official misdirecting the first runner.  There were only four athletes who broke 16:00 for this leg including the APS Division 2 final runner.
Steve was one of these three Premier Division runner, running the second fastest time on the day of 15:10 for the last leg. Only Lachlan Aspinall (SSH) was quicker, recording 15:09. This meant that Steve took a big chunk out of Western Athletics’ lead over Box Hill and he ran away from all the other teams behind Box Hill to bring our team home for a bronze medal, a remarkable achievement.  We estimate that the wrong direction cost the team at least six minutes.  SSH won the race by three minutes and 15 seconds from Western Athletics, with Box Hill a further one minute 46 seconds behind in third. SSH were five minutes one second ahead of our team.  It was an unfortunate outcome but one we now have to take into our stride as we attempt to reclaim the Premier Division lead in the premiership race.

Our Division 2 team also placed third.  Josh de Stefanis opened up and struck a number of Division 2 athletes in top form.  Josh brought the team into eighth place with a time of 33:34, with Brady Threlfall pushing his team (Bendigo) into the lead, where it stayed for the rest of the race. Mentone and Old Xavierians were tied for second.  Keilor St Bernards was fourth and Western Athletics was fifth. Frankston was sixth and Richmond seventh.  Our team was close enough to chase a higher position. 
Zac Hunter was the second runner for our team and he recorded 32:32 for the next circuit. Bendigo maintained its lead over APS and Frankston moved from sixth to third. KSB jumped to fourth.  Zac lifted the position to seventh, 6:26 behind the leaders.  Bendigo and APS had opened up a very large gap on the field, and only the Frankston team looked like they might bridge the gap briefly.

Dylan Perera was next on the tarmac for Box Hill. He recorded a respectable time of 27:34 maintaining our team in seventh position. The first three teams, Bendigo, APS and Frankston, remained unchanged in this leg.  There were no other changes of position.
The fourth leg was run by Ross Thomas, and there were some interesting things happen in this circuit of the course.  Bendigo and APS maintained their ascendancy at the front of the field.  Frankston dropped from third to eighth. Western Athletics moved from sixth to third and Box Hill advanced through Ross’s strong effort to fourth, just 21 seconds in arrears of Western Aths.  Box Hill was 37 seconds ahead of fifth-placed Mentone.

Michael Vaughan ran off in pursuit of the three teams in advance of us. He ran a solid leg reducing Western Athletics team’s lead for third place to just seven seconds, an excellent outcome. Bendigo and APS held first and second places – no change there.  He also stretched our lead over Mentone to 3:10, so there was no likelihood of them getting onto level terms with Box Hill in the last lap. 
Our final runner was Russell Clowes and he ran 65 seconds faster than hos Western Athletics opponent to lift Box Hill into third position, behind Bendigo and APS in that order.  His leg time was 17:02, the third fastest in Division 2. WES was fourth, KSB, fifth, Mentone sixth, Richmond seventh and Frankston was eighth.

Our Division 3 team was three runners short of a team, so Shane Holt (37;06) and Kennedy Chen (37:07) were unable to complete the race.
Our men’s 50 + team got to the lead in the first seconds of the race and did not surrender it for the entire race. John Meagher ran the fastest time for the leg being One minute 39 seconds quicker than any other 50+ runner.  Tony Langelaan followed up this faultless start by maintaining the lead and running the second quickest time for the second leg in his age division. Chris O’Connor anchored the team to victory, completing the third leg in the third quickest time of the day in this age division.  Together, these athletes make a formidable combination, and, on the day, our team crossed the line two minutes clear of APS, second and 10 minutes 45 seconds ahead of Ballarat, third. 

There were only four Box Hill women available to run the relay (other than age division competitors), so we fielded a Division 2 team which finished fifth.  The times in the provisional results showed that Jess Muirden ran 39:37, Rachel Johnson completed the second leg in 34:37, Amy Carrig (on her return to competition) ran 29:40 and the fourth runner, Freya Henricksen was timed at 19:53.  The winning team in this division was Yarra Ranges, which won  from Geelong, with Malvern third.

Our 40 + team won the bronze medal, with Kaman Ip being directed the wrong way near the finish in the third leg.  Talitha Crawford and Caitlin Harrison were the first and second leg runners. There were no times in the provisional results.

Our 50 + women’s team ran as impressively as the 50 + men did.
They won their race by nearly 13 minutes!  Julie Norney, who is in slashing form at the moment, led the division in, in first place, running the fastest time of the day (35:30).  June Petrie was off second and extended the lead in running 29:50. And Pia Hunter completed the team with an excellent leg taking 25:14 for her leg of the Ekiden, bringing Box Hill the gold medal, an admirable achievement.

Men’s team results 
Men’s Premier Division

  1. SSH                               137:35
  2. Western Athletics         140:50
  3. Box Hill                        142:36
  4. Geelong                        144:50
  5. Melbourne University   145:10

Premier Division individual times
Harry Summers                   33:30 (NB, directed off-course)
Andre Waring                     29:00
Will Potter                         23:46
Nick Baggott                      22:39
Alex Ritchie                       18:31
Steve Dinneen                    15:10

Men’s Division 2

  1. Bendigo                        146:58
  2. APS                              147:17
  3. Box Hill                        154:30

Men’s Division 2 individual times
Josh de Stefanis                   33:34
Zac Hunter                         32:32
Dylan Perera                      27:34
Ross Thomas                      23:07
Michael Vaughan                20:51
Russell Clowes                     17:02

Men’s Division 3 individual times
Shane Holt                          37;06
Kennedy Chen                    37:07

Men’s 50 + Team Results

  1. Box Hill                        87:42
  2. APS                              89:42
  3. Ballarat                         98:27

50+ men’s individual times 
John Meagher                     34:13
Tony Langelaan                 29:28
Chris O’Connor                  24:01

Women’s results 
Women’s Division 2 results

  1. Yarra Ranges                111:38
  2. Geelong                        116:08
  3. Malvern                        116:53
  4. Glen Huntly                  120:08
  5. Box Hill                        123:47

Women’s Division 2 individual times
Jess Muirden                       39:37
Rachel Johnson                   34:37
Amy Carrig                         29:40
Freya Henriksen                 19:53

Women’s 40+ team results

  1. APS                              89:34
  2. Mentone                       99:43
  3. Box Hill                        104:07

Women’s 40+ individual times 
Talitha Crawford                TBC
Caitlin Harrison                  TBC
Kaman Ip                           TBC

Women’s 50+ team results

  1. Box Hill                        90:34
  2. Malvern                        103:30
  3. Waverley                      105:03     

Women’s 50+ individual times 
Julie Norney                       35:30
June Petrie                          29:50
Pia Hunter                          25:14