Report 2013 Five and Ten Mile Race
This year the race organisers had to contend with a rather unusual problem – the car park in which runners assemble, and which is used as “Race Control”, was invaded by travellers the day before the race! At one stage concern was expressed that it might not be possible to hold the event, but thanks to the quick response and co-operation of Colchester’s Parking Partnership, local Councillors, a vigilant local resident, and Police, a possible confrontation was averted and the race(s) went ahead as planned, with the travellers occupying an area towards the back half of the car park. It later transpired that members of the Regatta Fair, who had their vehicles in the car park, had first alerted the Police to the situation, and it was due to their initial alarm call that a further approaching convoy of travellers was prevented access. As it was, the presence of the travellers created a number of problems for the organisers, who in true Mersea fashion, remained stoic throughout the day. At least the weather performed as scheduled, and with a blue sky, sparkling sea and onlookers lining the start it made for a perfect day. This year there were some 266 entries, and the runners chatted amicably as they lined up on Victoria Esplanade at the start. However, as the Mayor, Peter Clements MBE, called them to order concentration took over, and once he had given the “off” signal a competitive spirit pervaded, and the runners juggled for that all important position as they ran along the Esplanade in the direction of Seaview Avenue on the anti-clockwise course around the streets of West Mersea. Mersea Island’s very own Chris Froome (Paul Davies) had been sent off just in front of the runners with instructions to cycle the course in 28 minutes whilst ensuring he never lost touch with the leading pack. His task was two-fold. (1) To guide the runners around the first 5 mile lap of the course and (2) To warn the on-course marshals that the race was in progress. Paul’s timing was perfect, and 25 minutes after the start, as he approached Broomhills/Victoria Esplanade, the first runners could be clearly seen just behind him. This is where the marshals based at the entrance to Willoughby Avenue car park took over, and whilst the 5 mile competitors were directed up the finish funnel, the 10 mile runners were waved on to the second lap. The time keepers and number recorders were kept extremely busy as the runners came in groups – some putting in sprint finishes to overtake fellow competitors as they approached the finish line. The 5 mile race is often referred to as the “fun run”, but this year 2 runners contested the lead for virtually the entire race, with Robert Reason of Harwich Harriers being the first to cross the finish line in 27.49 minutes. Robert has, for several years, won the 10 mile race, and on being presented with his trophy he was asked why he had switched to the 5 mile race this year. His response was that this was that having previously won the Round the Island and the 10 mile race, he needed a 5 mile trophy to complete a set!! (The true answer is that he was just returning from injury). Brigid Wallen of Witham Running Club put in a time of 35.48 minutes to take the 5 mile lady’s trophy. This year’s 10 mile race winner was Paul Holley (Newmarket Joggers) in a time of 57.06 minutes whilst Katherine Wilson of “26.2 Road Runners Club” recorded 68.34 minutes to win the 10 mile lady’s trophy. It was particularly encouraging this year to see those black T-shirts of Mersea Ladies Boot Camp worn by Penny Hester and Maxine Jones, to whom on-lookers gave a special cheer. As Peter Downing approached the finish line in a time of 73.25 he too received a special welcome. Peter has competed most years since his first one in 1989 in his wheelchair, and he has become well known to organisers and spectators alike. This year Harwich Harriers lost their grasp of the Male Team Trophy, which went instead to Witham Running Club, whose team comprised Leo Cole, Pete Riley and Daniel Hardy. Eileen Shadford, Laura Emms and Janine Simpson of Great Bentley Runners were the well deserving winners of the Female Team Trophy. Spectators who lined the Esplanade and gathered at the finish to cheer competitors home enhanced the atmosphere at this special event, which is made up of serious club runners, those endeavouring to record personal best times and people who strive to achieve a goal they have set themselves. Together they make up the Mersea 5 and 10 competitors and their support of these historic races is much appreciated. Once again C.C. Discount Heating (Colchester) Limited generously sponsored the trophies and medals, and a figure approaching £1,900 was raised, which Lions will distribute in the usual way to mainly local charities. MI Lions are indebted to so many people without whose invaluable help these races could not safely take place. Some 56 volunteer marshals were deployed around the course and at “Race Control”. Ann and Geoff Pearce once again very kindly made their summer house available, and WMTC/Colchester Borough Council liaised to provide competitors’ with designated parking. Tori Andrews very kindly acted as “Official Photographer” (her excellent photographs are available on www.ToriAndrewsPhotography.co.uk), and of course C.C. Discount Heating (Colchester) Limited. Lions wish to record their thanks to them all. Without their help such a magnificent sum would never have been achieved.