Teddy Hall Relays 2008
By James Kelly
Setting off for a lengthy trip on the X5, the Hare & Hounds quartet of Tim Pattison (Downing), Diarmuid O Seaghdha (Corpus), David Yu (Trinity) and James Kelly (Jesus) -- along with ardent supporters Andy Duncan and Harriet Owles -- plotted the ultimate insult of rival Oxford: victory in the Teddy Hall Relays, the final installment of the University Relay Series.
With the course a 5.7km circuit of Oxford, taking in historic Magdalen Bridge, Christ Church Meadows and the Thames towpath as well as the Iffley Rd track, sightseeing would have been an attractive proposition. But the quartet was in no mind to pause for the view.
Pattison led out the team, and his customarily aggressive start found him at the head of the pack. Eventually the strength and experience of some of the other competitors saw them ease ahead, but Pattison (18:19) finished a creditable 6th, within 30 seconds of the first leg leaders, Birmingham.
O Seaghdha took up the running for the Hareys and put his marathon training to good use. Having been slightly isolated, he was forced to gauge his effort carefully. Bristol's Tom Russell (17:16) posted the second-fastest leg of the day, taking the university ahead of the rest of the field. But after coming home in 18:37, O Seaghdha handed over to Yu having overhauled the OUCCC Old Gits for 5th position.
Yu set off with Oxford and Birmingham in his sight, and he made short work of overtaking the rivals. With just Bristol and Fit2Run ahead, Yu accelerated through his leg. Bristol came and went through the final changeover, but Yu (18:14) had taken 59 seconds out of their lead when he emerged onto the track in second place after a sparkling run.
That left Captain-elect Kelly to strike his first blow against the Dark Blues. Running a hard first mile to establish eye contact with the leaders, he eroded Bristol's advantage, overtaking his rival in front of the passionate support group of Duncan, Owles and Ben Hope. Ultimately Kelly (17:22) was able to ease clear to post the third-fastest individual leg of the day and bring Cambridge the coveted title in 72:32. Bristol University held on to claim second place in 73:02, while OUCCC Middle Age Gits, anchored by the day's fastest individual Jonathan Blackledge (17:06) took the bronze medal.
Victory at Teddy Hall represented a more-than-satisfactory conclusion to the relay season, which began back in September with the Chariots of Fire Relays. With quick times posted so early in March, there remains little doubt that the Hareys will shatter some personal bests on the track in the spring.