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229 & Counting – Age Is But A Number

The Cross Keys Road & Fell Relay held Saturday 17 September, is a unique event consisting of alternate road and fell legs, comprising 3 mile road (650 feet climb), 2.5 mile fell (800 feet climb), 2 legs of each.
East Cheshire Galacticos were utterly dominant on the day securing victory by a massive eight minutes, led off by Joe Hudak with the quickest road leg of the day, then backed up by Gavin Browne with the quickest fell leg of the day to place them in a commanding position. Dan Armstrong continued to extend the lead on the 2nd road leg and Tom McGuinness calmly brought them home to glory with the final fell leg.

Such was their dominance that the display served as a mere hors d’oeuvres for what was to unfold with the battle of the club’s vets teams, the M40 (ECH Vets Triers) versus the M55 (ECH Vets Elite). Captain Darren Smith led off for the Triers bringing them in from Simon (Ronaldo) Grundy with a seemingly healthy 2m 13s lead. Off on to the fell James Hartshorne enduring a fell running baptism of fire with (Captain Grimace) Saul Gallagher running him down eradicating the lead, and taking the Elite into a 1m 31s lead.

The look on the waiting leg 3 runners faces with Dennis Thomas looking bewildered and AK82 (Alan Kennedy) looking rather sickly was a true picture to behold! Battle continued and Dennis chipped away on the climbs with Alan making the most of the descents, with the deficit reduced to 32s as the final fell leg commenced.

Ian (Fragile) Fraser headed away for the Elite with Jonathan Aust in his customary chilled manner chasing to try and salvage the reputation and honour of the Triers. Unbeknown to the baying ECH crowd awaiting their return was the fact that the lead was swapped three times within that leg. Jonathan catching and going into the lead on each climb, with Ian recapturing it on the descents utilising all that guile and fell craft amassed from experience.

The atmosphere at the foot of the final gully descent with the full ECH teams gathered was febrile as the runners were awaited. Ian reappeared over the horizon and the crowd erupted as Captain Smith hung his head. But, wait there was Jonathan apparently on his shoulder, no relief it was the foreshortening and the gap was there, the Elite led home by some 25s to secure the vets crown and take the victory in an epic.

Such were the ramifications calls were heard for Captain Smith to consider his position. Buoyed by the competition Captain Grimace & Fragile were some 2m quicker than in previous years proving along with AK82 & Ronaldo that age is but a number, the Elite having a combined age of 229 and counting.

A fab afternoon, great atmosphere conducted in the best of spirits, a superb example of team spirit congratulations to one and all!


Galacticos from left to right: Tom, Dan, Gavin and Joe


Vets elite from left to right: Simon, Ian, Alan and Saul


Vests triers – Dennis (left), Darren (right)