Ignoring the wintry conditions at Battersea Park on 8 May, and by applying sheer grit and determination to cold limbs, the HHH Women Vets team triumphed again – by a very narrow margin of 1.5 points:
HHH 133 (6 match points)
Serpentine 131.5 (5 match points)
Hillingdon 116.5 (4 match points)
ESM 58 (3 match points)
Metros 20 (2 match points)
British Airways 11 (1 match point)
Despite being plagued by injury and absence, and probably helped by the other teams apparently suffering the same, eleven stubborn ladies covered all the events on the card.
Snapping at Serps’ heels, Kathleen Moeller took 3rd in W35 shot put, and Sharon St Luce and I won the W50 and W60 categories – a good start. Sharon and I took our final shot put trials early and dashed to the start line for the 100m races, where it was “welcome back!” to Maria Clayton who took 3rd in the 100m W35 A string. Sharon sailed through in 2nd place against the youngsters in the B string, Mairi Maclean fulfilled her promise to win the W50 and – blimey! – I came 2nd in the W60.
Great to see Penel Cummings in fabulous form, winning W35 2000m Walk 1:22 ahead of the pack – and Mandy Brown wasn’t to be outdone, taking 1st place in the W50. Claire Steward (bless you, Claire!) set a W60 pb of 14:52.3 in her debut at this event, scoring 3 points for the team, and reducing my time by some 5.5 minutes, thus saving the evening’s programme from delay.
However there was still delay for the start of the high jump due to the prolonged men’s event. Mairi equalled her pb at 1.15m, winning the competition against the younger W35s, and Sharon squeezed in one 1.00m jump in 2nd place in W50 before doing her pinball impersonation, bouncing from high jump to discus to long jump – a pity there was no more time for the high jump.
That selfless star Nikki Sturzaker put her injuries aside to come in 2nd in the 400m A string, and returning to the track, Mary Setyabule came in 3rd in the B string, clocking up a pb of 79.0 in the process. Mandy answered the call to cover the W50 and contributed 4 more points to the tally, and long distance runner Claire showed her great versatility with her 2nd place in the W60.
Nikki saw off Serps and Hillingdon to come 2nd in the W35 discus, and though oscillating between long jump and discus, Sharon still managed 2nd in the W50, and I won the W60, returning from long jump for a final throw.
Mairi was meanwhile holding the fort at the long jump, and she and Sharon won the W35 and W50 competitions effortlessly with 3.58m and 3.34m, and I came 2nd in the W60s (with some effort). Ka-ching!
There were pbs in the 1500m when Mary ran 6:24.6 in the W35 A string and Jane Krammer switched down an age category to run a 6:29.9 pb in the B string, each collecting 4 points along the way. Entering the fray again, Mandy took on another long distance to extract 3 points from the W50 race, and Claire chalked up another 4 points in the W60.
So who had legs left for the 4 x 400m? I don’t know what deals and promises were made between the girls (too busy trying to jump and throw at the same time) but I do know Nikki sacrificed her final throw at discus to run the final leg. Fresh from the 1500m (!) Mary, Jane and Mandy drew breath and joined her to bring the baton home safely in 2nd place.
I salute you, ladies – you are all absolute stars. The characteristic team spirit and courage on the night were incredible and the outcome justly deserved.
Next stop Hillingdon on 5 June …