On Saturday afternoon Sharon and I were in Richmond Park taking part in our first ever Ranelagh Harriers ‘mob match’. These are races against one or more other running clubs where it doesn’t really matter who comes first, second or third - it’s more club versus club.
The annual mob match versus Orion Harriers took place in November 1920 and has been run 80 times previously - with breaks during both world wars. Everyone counts in these races and the scoring is as follows:
Scoring of Teams:- If for example Ranelagh field 60 runners, and Orion 70 runners then we score 57 a side. i.e., 3 less than the smallest team fielded. The winner scores 1 point, the second 2 points and so on down to last place. The Club scoring the least points is declared the winner. Everyone helps to score - Each Orion runner you pass, makes Ranelagh 2 points better off.
The course is the same as the Thomas Cup cross country race that we both ran in September but this time rather than just one 3.88 mile lap, its two, so you get to enjoy the pain that is running through the middle of Spankers Hill Wood not once, but twice! After the traditional Ranelagh ‘club cry’ (kind of like a Maori haka!) before the start it was off we went.
I (David) had a very good run. I wasn’t treating it like a full on race, more of a speedy run (whatever that means). During the first lap I was caught in what I called a bit of an ‘Orion sandwich’ with some of their runners directly ahead and behind of me. I managed to get past two of their runners, and then was overtaken by a fellow Ranelagh runner prior to the end of the first lap. During the second lap I could see two more Orion runners ahead of me and did not think that I would be able to reign them in - however I did. I took one guy as we ran near the wood and the second one at the top of Spankers Hill. The problem from here on in was that all I could hear was the sound of someone running behind me, and I didn’t want to get overtaken. I pushed stronger from here on in to the finish and was able to keep them off of my back.
Out of 106 finishers, 50 runners from each club counted in the scoring and I was 28th overall and 15th scorer for Ranelagh. My time was 51:05 (for info the winning time was 43:41). Sharon had a good run too and finished in 74:42. There were a couple of runners behind her who pulled out of the race and her run meant that her position counted towards the overall score.
After all the positions were counted it turned out that Orion had won (and retain the ‘Harold Lee Cup’).