This was the 62nd edition of this classic race. And nothing stands still as 2015 saw yet another race venue.
The start was, as last year, outside the Hotel de Ville - a magnificant classic 19th century town hall. The "big" loop was 18km and took familar roads through Roubaix and Croix leading to the new venue at the parc des sports and the Roubaix velodrome. For keen cyclists - this is the finish of the classic Paris - Roubaix road race.
This "small" loop was 1982 metres - the shortest small loop we have had (in my living memory). Part of this small lap took in the outdoor cycling track which was ashphalt. Now this could have a been a problem or even a disaster, if the torrential rain of Friday evening had continued over the rest of the weekend. Part of the track was rather mud bound (and very slippy) for the first few hours of the race, but the sun did in fact dry it out during Saturday afternnoon, thank goodness. The rest of the course was on road/paths - slighty potholed in place - but it could have been worse!!
Facilities were better - plenty of loos! And we were able to pitch our tents on Friday evening which relieved a bit of the pressure on Saturday morning. The 28H race started at 11am and the 24H relay at 1pm.
As usual, the club (CM Roubaix) provided plenty of volunteers to look after the walkers with security around the course, a well stocked feeding station, lap scorers (chip timing was used). For which we are very grateful.
There were several Centurions taking part (British and Dutch) in the 28H individual race as well as the 24H team relay.
Suzanne Beardsmore and Richard McChesney were hoping to do better than last year in the 28H (and they did!); Frank van der Gulik and Johannes Koning taking the Dutch honours. Sadly, Frans Leitjens had to pull out.
The French (male) walkers and Russian (female) seemed to dominate at first and Eddy Roze looked to be a sure fire winner but suddenly abandoned after a few hours. As did several of the more seasoned race walkers. Still, it made for a more excting race!
True to form, Ossipov quietly came through to win. The chip timing (and our nearness to to the "finish line") meant that we could easily keep up to date with who was was doing what on the live monitor, keeping us in touch with the race throughout the weekend.
On the 24H relay front:
The Lightning Ladies and the 3 Amigos made yet another appearance.
This year the Lightning Ladies - Kathy Crilley and Norma Grimsey (Enfield) were joined by Dave Hoben (Surrey WC) who gamely stepped in as injured Centurion Cath Duhig had to pull out. Thank you Dave - you saved the day!
The 3 Amigos. as ever, were Lancs WC walkers- Pat and Dave Evans with Bill Kingston of Bristol & West.
As ever, Team Hollande were there - Ad Leermakers, with father and daughter Annie Van Andel and B Van Andel supported by Ad's daughter Yvonne.
The competition in this race was hotter than ever. But sadly, our results was not as good as in previous years. But it must be said that the combined ages in both GB teams averaged out at between 188 years to 195 years!!
Interestingly, the judging was also hotter than ever. The result was a lot of crosses against some of the teams (but not GB teams!) - Team Hollande were true adversaries - despite having a couple of the dreaded red crossed aganst their name.
One of the advantages of being part of a relay team is that we see the overall race as it unfolds - either as we "rest" between the handovers, or, as we then rejoin the race at any given point and are overtaken or even overtake the 28 hour individual walkers. We see at first hand how everyone is "doing" (or not!)
Makes exciting racing!
Of course, there are those who no longer compete but do make the journey every year to support the race organisation. Centurions Ken and Bob Watts (with well over 20 years of Roubaix 28 hours under their collective belts) made that journey. This year they did the lap recording/checking at one of the turn points on the course and they had the coldest spot during the weekend. But, they always had a cheery wave and a "well done" to everyone throughout. Thank you Ken and Bob - I salute you.
If you are interested in either the 28H individual or the 24H team relay - do get in touch. I coordinate the entries, accommodation, etc, which every race you want to do. It is a true Team GB effort and we help and support each other!