The Inaugural Off-Road Series Yields Total Awesomeness
The Off-Road Series 2017 – Round-up
by James Bell
The LBAC awards evening on Friday 27th April 2018 saw the Off-Road Series results communicated to 60 plus athletes and friends of The Club. I suspect that some of the 76 runners who took part were unaware that they were even in the mix, given that six of the 25 events that were on offer were parkruns (Rushmere, Tring) or relays (MK, DDR, Greensands and Squeaky Bone) which have always been popular races. The remaining 19 individual races ranged from 5k to 86 miles, graded according to difficulty in terms of length, terrain and altitude gain.
The rules of the series are simple; just finish, appear in the results and remember to wear a club vest. I took the idea to the LBAC committee in 2016 but had quite nerdy discussions thereafter with Sam Dear and Andy Inchley and together we came up with an acceptable score for each race. Sam then simulated what we thought would happen: 10k runners would do their thing and run the shorter distances whilst ultra bods would be pounding the trails on the longer distances. Towards the end of the season, we thought that there would be a clash of running ideologies and a bit of a scrap would ensue to grab those last few points.
Before I get to who won, it is worth mentioning that Adam Haylock laid down his intentions early in the 2017 season and declared that he would ‘win the series’ announcing to all present at the club dinner in 2017. We like that ambition, but you have got to follow through Adam. He started well in February doing the first race in the series, the Hardwick X-Stream, following it up with lots of races and even progressing onto the Ashridge Boundary Run, a mere 16 miles of mud and hills. However, his enthusiasm seemed to dwindle by the summer. Adam finished the series in 4th with 112 points, much to the delight of David Killick whose mission seemed to be to beat Adam no matter what.
It is worth saying at this point that the average score across all runners was 32 points which Richard Steeley managed to surpass in two ultra races; the Greensand Ridge Relay (all six legs on an extremely hot day – 32 degrees) and the Wendover 50, a mere 50 miles of torture. A number of runners were fighting for the top 10 spots and whilst not accumulating the necessary triple figure overall score to put themselves on the podium, they all did extremely well: Billy Mead (5th, 82 points), Warren Rose (6th, 80 points), Gareth Bird (7th, 75 points), Andy Inchley (8th, 70 points), Jo Sharples (9th, 62 points) and Amy Farnfield (10th, 61 points).
The winner of the Off-Road series made it his goal to do as much volume as possible, from the short stuff right through to the very longest race of 86 miles and this proved to be an unbeatable formula. When Mark Haynes decides to do something, watch out because his dedication and resolve means that he will always finish the job. Mark finished clear of everyone with a massive 184 points out of a possible total of 286 points completing the hardest race of all, the Wendover 50 which looked just punishing with over 10,000 ft of climbing. Mark gave an emotional talk at the awards evening of his journey, his health issues that he had to overcome and the many other challenges he faced along the way.
The Final top 3 can be found HERE
David K (3rd, 126 points) was not only chicked, but chicked by his wife Alex by 7 points (2nd, 133 points) and we love that. Alex is clearly made of strong stuff as she never gave up and kept the intensity right through the season. I find it astonishing that over two weekends she raced three times in November: Dirt Half on Saturday, Herbert’s hole 10k on the Sunday and then a Wendover 50 the following weekend. Unfortunately Alex and David were timed out of the Wendover 50 and David, now captain, has since removed the Wendover 50 from the series, such is the scar. But, I bet they will both slay the Chiltern dragon some time soon.