VRUK team-up at Eltham Park 5 miles, 9 June

Start of the 3.5K Junior race (1 lap)
Pre-start team photo left: Simon, Peter, Evie & Vanessa

The Eltham Park 5 miles multi-terrain event in south-east London normally attracts less than 300 runners but it is an event that I enjoy returning to year on year. For me it is not just around the corner or in the next town but approaching 3 hours door to door by public transport. The event is also chosen as a target event for our London members and contacts. This year it was decided to arrange a picnic assuming the weather was suitable. Targeting a small event like the Eltham Park 5 miles is unlikely to be appealing to many but the club has the potential to spring a few surprises. Last year in a low turnout, Andrew Knight was 10th overall and taking it slowly myself due to lack of training I was about 25th.

For the first time I arrived early enough to witness the start of the 3.5K race for mainly junior competitors. The weather conditions were cool and windy but we arranged to hold a picnic subject to a last minute decision.

Although it was cool, conditions turned out to be ideal for a good performance. The wind proved to be mostly in our favour in the exposed parts. The start was certainly exposed to the wind and I did not feel comfortable running the first 1.5 laps in the park before crossing the bridge into Shepherdleas Wood. Settling down in the woods I began to slowly improve my position helped by a couple of sections of concrete path.. Crossing back over to the park, I seemed to slow a little otherwise steady my position. I was however being challenged by the 3rd woman and thought I may get past her second time in the woods but she pulled away on the hard path otherwise we were passing other male runners. The second woman was also coming into sight so I was witnessing competition for the 2nd women’s prize. Back onto the park for the final time and with the wind behind us the whole way to the finish, I pushed harder and managed to overtake the original 2nd woman and finish a second behind the official 2nd woman. I missed the clock at the finish but by my estimate it was under 35 minutes. Simon had a good run finishing in 33minutes although he suffered a little after a fast start. I obviously underestimated Cherryl who is on good form following her London marathon, finishing in 37 minutes. Evie was next to finish well in 41 minutes and despite Vanessa not feeling positive, she finished strongly in 43 minutes and completed our women’s team. It was a little disappointing that we did not have a 3rd male runner to complete the team. The ever present Matt Woodman who runs for Stafford Harriers somehow lowered his best time by about two minutes to 27.01 for overall 2nd place and that includes road events of same distance. Another tremendous performance by Matt who is a vegan. We assume the course is accurately measured.

Official Results:

2nd Matt Woodman, 27.01
24th Simon Lee, 33.22
33rd Peter Simpson, 34.28
65th Cherryl Sinclair, 37.54
101st Evelina Odej, 41.35
118th Vanessa Hudson, 43.25

203 runners completed distance

Team results were listed on the day but incomplete. By my estimates, our women’s team finished 4th, a good performance.

After the prize presentation where we supported Matt, four of us decided to go ahead with the picnic in a sheltered spot away from the wind. We all brought brought food to share. Afterwards three of us continued the social in town. Thankyou to everyone who participated in the event.

Evie approaches the finish
Vanessa striding to the finish
Glorious team left: Cherryl, Vanessa, Peter, Simon & Evie
Matt is awarded for his overall 2nd place