Stragglers Ladies Strike Surrey Silver

Posted by Malcolm Davies on 20 September 2018

An excellent turnout for the club in the Surrey Road Relays on Saturday, 15 September saw the L45 ladies team came out on top in a strong Stragglers showing.

In 2017 ‘the Strags’ had ‘dipped their toe into the water’ fielding a solitary M50 team. This year as part of the approach of further promoting Veteran competition, the club managed to enter an M40, M50, M 60 and W45 teams. This, in itself, is no mean achievement for the club. As many will know, County Competition is based not on the geographical location of the club but instead on the place of residence/birth of the individual athlete. This puts a club like the Stragglers at a massive disadvantage in County competition as the club draws approximately 35% of its membership from the ‘wrong’ side of the Thames i.e. Middlesex and all of these members are not eligible to win prizes in Surrey competitions.  In particular, we lose some of our best male and female runners in this way.  A club located geographically in the middle of the county, such as Woking AC and drawing most of its members from the immediate vicinity is at far less of a disadvantage.

It surely only a matter of time before this arcane ruling is challenged, reflecting the fact that athletes, for the purposes of competition principally identify with the club and the people that they run with, rather than which side of the Kingston Bridge they live. In any event Middlesex as an administrative County ceased to exist in 1965, the same time as which, Kingston became a London Borough!

So, bearing this in mind and having rounded up every Straggler veteran living on the Kingston side of the river how did we do?

The M40s were up against some particular tough opposition but acquitted themselves well finishing 9th out of 14 teams. Trevor Ford and Dan Greenslade finishing within one second of each other on their legs but the star of their team Aaron Israel having a storming leg in a time of 17:33 for the 3 mile hilly course.   The M60s (a team of three) featured a welcome return to competition for newly turned 60 year old Malcolm Fletcher (who also ran the fastest leg for his team) with Phil Davies and David Brewin finish times within two seconds of each other. This was particularly creditable from David considering he was suffering from a heavy cold, which sounded a whole lot worse by the time he had finished!   Overall the M60s managed to claim fourth place, a very good showing.

The M50s also managed fourth place (out of 10 teams) but came agonisingly close to repeating their bronze performance of 2017 missing out on that to South London Harriers by four seconds and the silver medal (claimed by Hercules Wimbledon) only nine seconds ahead. The eventual winners. Herne Hill Harriers, coming in 39 seconds ahead of Stragglers.  The gap to the next placed team (Dorking & Mole Valley) was over 2 and half minutes illustrating how unlucky the team had been, with Dean Morley (17:10) and Roy Reeder (17:04) on the opening and anchor legs, in particular having very strong runs.

However, not for the first time, it was left to the ladies in the W45 category to have the final word. The team of three led out by Patricia Ronksley (20:10), Dee Smale (19:50) and Phyllis Flynn (20:19) were only to be denied gold by a very strong South London Harriers team and came away delighted with their silver medals.  What made their performances even more impressive was that this is a team made up not of W45s but W55s.   Not for the first time, this served to re-open another debate about equality in age categories for men and women in athletics competitions.  This varies significantly across competitions, at Wimbledon on Saturday the highest age category for the ladies was V45 but for the men V60. In some competitions the variation is even more stark, for example the Southern Road Relays which offers an M40, M50 and M60 category for the men but only one veteran category for the women (L40).    Surely competitions of this size can offer more veteran categories for the women?

Full Results here

Malcolm Davies

Stragglers Veterans Captain


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