RAF RUNNING CLUB
THE REJUVENATED RAF CONINGSBY RUNNING CLUB HAVE CELEBRATED WINNING AN UNPRECEDENTED CLEAN SWEEP OF MEN’S TEAM TROPHIES OF RAF ATHLETICS ASSOCIATION ROAD RUNNING EVENTS WITH VICTORIES AT THE BENSON 7, HONINGTON 10K AND HENLOW 10.
The Coningsby team whose numbers have rocketed in 2018 have sent large teams to all RAF AA events and the rewards have been abundant. Not only have they won all of the men’s trophies where the top 4 finishers count towards the team, they have also had top 3 finishers with Cpl Alec Hunt, 3rd at the Benson 7 and Revd (Sqn Ldr) Chris Carre, 2nd at the Honington 10k.
All three historic events have trophies which often predate them, not least the Henlow 10 which is the RAF’s oldest road running event, dating back to the early 1950’s. This makes the Coningsby team’s achievement all the more remarkable, being the first time the station has won any of the prizes, not least all three in the same calendar year.
Team captain FS Mark Ellison has been instrumental in drumming up interest and arranging transport to events can be justifiably proud of the team’s achievements. The triumphs don’t stop at the men’s team, with Megan Ellison, FS Ellison’s own daughter taking an impressive 3rd place at the Benson 7 and a good contingent of ladies completing all three events.
Benson 7, dating back to 1965 and won 5 times in the 1970’s & 80’s by two-time marathon world record holder Steve Jones was the first of the Coningsby team’s triumphs. On a warm day, starting on a downhill in front of the main gate before turning left up a challenging hill for 1.5 laps of a rolling course, finishing in front of the main station gym. Coningsby sent its first team to this prestigious event for many years. Cpl Alec Hunt, Sgt Ian Williams, Cpl Bruce Brennan and Sgt Andrew Pask were the first four finishers and made the 1st team for the station.
The next trophy was won at the RAF 10k Championships or the Honington 10k as it’s known to civilians. The Honington event, the most junior of the three dating back to the mid 1990’s. On a fast-flat course and in cool conditions, fast times were highly anticipated. Strong winds in excess of 35mph saw runners battle through miles 2-4 and finish times reflected this. Revd (Sqn Ldr) Chris Carre, Fg Off Dan Allum, Cpl Bruce Brennan, Sgt Andrew Pask made the 1st place team for Coningsby.
The Henlow 10, first run in 1952 as a challenge between runners from RAF Cardington and RAF Henlow. In its heyday during the mid-1980s the race took on the mantle of the RAF 10 Mile Championships which continues today, and a new course was established to cater for the 800+ runners who would take part, including some of the country’s very best runners. In 2000 the route was changed again to its current form, beginning at the historic Old Warden Aerodrome Shuttleworth and meandering its way along undulating country lanes through a number of small villages to end at Henlow gym. With RAF Henlow set to close in the next couple of years the 2018 RAF Henlow 10 will certainly be one of the last editions of the race in its current form, if not the last. Conditions would have been ideal with unseasonably warm temperatures for mid- November; the steady southerly breeze was unfortunate given that the point to point course had runners heading in a mostly southerly direction. Fg Off Dan Allum, Cpl Alec Hunt, Sgt Ian Williams and Sgt Andrew Pask made up the 1st team for Coningsby.
Plans are already being made to send large teams of all abilities, men and women to the 2019 season opener at RAF Halton for the Sir Sefton Branker Cross Country event.