Relay more popular than ever

The annual Fidelity Cross Island Relay took place on Sunday 1 February. The race, which celebrated its 35 edition this year, was organised by Hash House Harriers and drew a record entry of 52 teams competing over the six legs of the race. The race took runners from Gun Bay to Smith Cove, with each team member completing a 4 mile run.

In recent years, the event has turned into a two horse race and this year was expected to be no different.

Beauty and the Beasts is a team that in a variety of guises has won the event every year since first entering in 2006. However, UBS under the lead of Scott Brittain has been mounting an ever more dangerous challenge, culminating in a win in the 2008 edition of the race.

This year, UBS would be looking for a second successive title to match the Beasts’ total of two titles, while in their turn the Beasts would look to make it three out of four.

From the start at 6:00am in Gun Bay, it seemed that UBS would have a tough time defending their title.

Jasper Mikkelsen got things off to a flying start for Beauty and the Beasts, charging through the first leg in a time of 24:45, ahead of Samuel Muchangi of UBS who clocked 25:36 and Chad Gilbert of Team Yoshi in 26:00.

The second leg saw Beauty and the Beasts claim the best time again, this time through Beth Schreader, who completed the second leg in 25:04, extending the team’s lead, while Mark Hogan’s 25:07 pulled Team Yoshi up into second place ahead of UBS.

Marius Acker, a stalwart of Beauty and the Beasts, blazed through the third leg in a scorching 22:17, putting an additional three and a half minutes into UBS, who pulled themselves back into second position through Sylvester Dube’s 25:44.

Leg four would be a make or break leg for the teams with ambitions of an overall win, as Brittain of UBS, generally held to be the fastest distance runner on island, took off in pursuit of Hayden Isbister of Beauty and the Beasts.

Brittain comfortably ran the fastest split of the day, reaching the handover point in 21:20. Even though he managed to take three and a half minutes out of Isbister, thereby negating Acker’s gains, it still left UBS trailing Beauty and the Beasts.

JP Hanekom kept the Beasts in the lead on the fifth leg with a time of 25:31, extending the advantage over UBS as Chris Day came home in 26:17. However, for the first time the top time did not belong to a runner from one of the two top teams, as Ole Henriksen of Red Sail Sports raced to an excellent 24:15 split.

Russell Coleman sealed the deal for Beauty and the Beasts as he claimed the fastest time on the sixth leg, crossing the finish line in 22:19 for a total team time of 2:24:50 to claim redemption for the team. Tom Stephens crossed the line in 25:14 to claim second for UBS in a time of 2:29:56, followed by Colin Thorburn of Team Yoshi (2:40:28). The top five was rounded out by Red Sail Sport and DMS Dodgers.

Probably the most impressive team of the day was the Stroller Team, which finished in 25 place. This in spite of the fact that all the runners in the team were running with children in strollers. Fortunately neither the runners nor their passengers had to complete more than one leg each, which is more than can be said for a number of other teams. Due to injuries, illness and absence, many teams were reduced to less than the regulation six members, but still persevered in competing.

Some teams had the misfortune of arriving at the end of a leg to find no one to hand over to, but all found a way to continue.

Even with some teams still crossing the finish line, the main topic of discussion among those who had already completed the relay was how they were going to train for next year’s event. If this enthusiasm is anything to go by, 2010 will be even bigger, better and faster than ever before.