Rob leads the team success
Leighton Buzzard Athletic club has always prided itself on turning all athletics into a social event. The Wednesday training runs always lead to a couple of drinks in the pub. A race that is any distance away means a meal on the way home and a four race series in Lanzarote means a winter holiday in the sunshine.
LBAC’s annual trip to Lanzarote was possibly the most successful yet, although if you intend to run (and most don’t) it is not for the faint of heart. The destination is the sports resort of Club La Santa where you can windsurf, play tennis, lie on the beach, sit at the bar or do any one of a multitude of other sports all within a very short walk of your apartment.
The athletic club (plus lots of friends) go for the International Challenge week. This consists of four races in four days – a 10K road race, 13K ridge run, 5K beach race and then just when you’ve had enough, they make you run 23K across the island back to the resort. This is then followed by a huge party, where the serious runners finally have a few drinks, and the less serious continue to have a few drinks.
This year there were 250 participants who completed all four races, including seven from Leighton. In addition to those seven there were others who did some, but not all the races. Tiff Leek chose to do just the Ridge run and took a camera just to remind herself of what a long way up it is. Pat Neilan, who has recently sneaked into the V60 category surprised himself by finishing as 112 male in a time of 4 hours and 12 minutes. Pat just pipped the fast improving Pete Watkins by two minutes in the overall time.
In 98th place was Richard Inchley who completed his 14th successive challenge with a better performance than in recent years of 4 hours and 3 minutes. In front of him was Paul Dimmock (3.42) would have gone quicker on the last day, but was saving himself for the last night dancing and didn’t want to be too tired to perform his best moves around the floor
The top three from Leighton were focused on the team prizes as last year they had just scraped third place and knew that the standard had improved greatly in the team competition. After the first race on an extremely windy day, the team of Rob Elmore, Tom May and Andy Inchley lay in 4th place, but only 17 seconds off 2nd. Rob had continued his form from throughout the year and finished the day 2nd overall. The race up the mountain on the second day saw Rob come home in 4th and the team move into 3rd place with Andy having his best race of the series in 22nd place.
The trip to the other side of the island for the beach run at Puerto Del Carmen saw Rob continuing to battle at the front and finish third while the team finished 5th on the day. However, with one long race to go the teams placed 2nd to 5th were all within two minutes of each other and this is easily won and lost when the total time of the three runners would be around four hours. Leighton were currently in fourth, but knew the course fairly well. Rob was third overall, just 25 seconds off the Dutchman in front of him.
The Trans-Island race starts up a very steep hill for the first two miles and is then followed by a gradual decent down to the Northern Coast and the resort. Tom, being the only one not to have run the race before was given the advice to take it steady up the hill as it is a long way back from the top, naturally, he ignored everyone and was third at the top, feeling good. Having got over the shock of being behind Tom up the hill, Rob set out to catch the leaders, with 5K to go and found that he was catching them rather quickly. Then, with a mile to go he had moved into second and pulled onto the shoulder of Paul Fleming, the Irish event leader. The two of them kept pushing each other to go faster and faster until eventually Fleming just got in front in the last hundred metres, but the result was that Rob had beaten the next finisher by 50 seconds and had taken 2nd place overall.
Meanwhile, Tom was not suffering after his enthusiastic start and was producing his race of the series. After previously finishing 8th, 10th and 19th he crossed the line in 7th place in a superb time. Meanwhile Andy, as the last member of the team, was trying desperately hard not to be the one to blow up on the last race. He somehow managed to cross the line in 26th place with his best time in eight years. The team knew that they could not have run any faster and would deserve whatever they got. As it turned out, they had been 2nd on the day and taken 2nd overall by one minute. This amounts to about 300m in a total of 153K – very close. The team all staggered back to their respective apartments at sometime in the early hours, not even wanting to think about running until every part of their bodies ached a lot less!