This year it took place in a new venue - kindly organised by Terry Oldham - the Beacon Vaults pub, in town. Although lacking the dance floor and the karaoke of the Rugby Club, which, let's face it, was only really put to good use by Dave Stone anyway!, the venue certainly provided a cosy charm and a nice relaxed atmosphere in which to chat to fellow club mates about the year gone by and plans for the year to come. One of the hot topics of the night was "who will win the awards". Traditionally, there have just been the 3 awards up for grabs - male athlete of the year, female athlete of the year, and the president's award - but this year, the introduction of the new club championship meant that many more Harriers were in the running - literally - for prizes.
It was hard to gauge this year who the winning recipients of all the prizes would be, as 2013 has been such a successful year for the club with more and more members both actively competing and also getting involved with more social events on offer. In terms of competition for the male and female athlete award, that meant that there were many members all vying for the glory, for many different reasons. In the end though, the votes spoke for themselves and the members voted Dawn Teed as the female athlete and Adam Miller as the male.
In Dawn's case, this was the 4th time she has received the trophy: a record in itself as no other athlete - either male or female - has received it more than 3 times. It was richly deserved though as Dawn has had an amazing year. Since turning 50, she has seemingly defied the ageing process by setting some of her fastest times ever in many of the races that she has been running every year for the past 10 or so years. The highlight of her year had to be her triumphant Falklands Marathon win, back in March, but there have been many other noteworthy performances, including a swift 1h44 half in Bideford, a 1st place category win in the high-standard Torbay Half in June, and a 5k PB of 23:27 at Run Exe in August, this latter showing that she has speed as well as endurance. However, most impressively, she has managed all of this whilst concurrently managing the ladies' team as a whole. Dawn has put a huge amount of effort into motivating us ladies this year and giving people the confidence and support to try out races that they would normally shy away from. We have all awaited with eagerness the arrival of one of her legendary, intricately crafted spreadsheets into our in-boxes, in which Dawn has recognised everyone's individual performances whilst also attempting to coordinate our racing plans so that we have been able to get teams out to many events. In so doing, we have wiped the proverbial Devonshire floor this past year as far as team prizes are concerned. So, in terms of both personal achievement and for her team-playing ethos, she is a worthy winner of this award.
In Adam's case, he became the first Harrier male, in the history of the trophy, to successfully defend it in consecutive years. Although some other men have ran strongly this year and might have put themselves into contention, they have not demonstrated the consistency that Adam has throughout the entire year.... oh, and none of them have run a sub 2h40 marathon this year either! Without a doubt, Adam's 2h38 run at London in April that was the performance of the year by any male athlete in the club, and it came off the back of a string of solid build-up races that saw him set PBs at the First Chance 10k (35 mins), the Bath Half (74 mins) and the Yeovilton 5k (16m40s). It is interesting that our male and female athletes of the year have one key thing in common: like Dawn, Adam has also done a sterling job of captaining the Harriers' men's team over the past 12 months. He has rallied interest in the Westward League cross-country, boosting our participant numbers from his solitary, lonesome self at the first fixture last year, to turning out a fully fledged, firing-on-all-cylinders team, to all the fixtures so far this year. As a result, he has ensured that our men's team in now sat in a solid 3rd spot in the league overall. He has also put in many hours of work in putting teams together for relay events, such as the Erme Valley Relays, where he captained the 4-strong team to victory, assisting Hugh with the Parrett Trail Relays, and, more recently, has gotten behind a new idea of a 24 hour relay and camping weekend for 24 members that he is organising for May 2014. The other thing that both Dawn and Adam have in common is that they are both jolly nice people and so, like Dawn, Adam is a popular winner among club mates for this award.
The president's award, unlike the athletes of the year awards, is a little more subjective as it is chosen, as the name suggests, solely by the president, Bob Keast. This award is designed to recognise an individual's contribution to the club throughout the year. Of course, there are many ways in which a person can contribute to the club, the most obvious being by going out on the race circuit, running your socks off and doing your club vest proud, but there are many other, often far more understated ways, in which a member can help to make the club a success. This year's recipient was chosen for being the backbone of the social-side of the club and for taking time to organise many events for members, outside of the racing calendar, that bring the club together as a cohesive whole, in a social, non-competitive setting. This year Terry Oldham has organised the Coast to Coast Relay, for the second year in a row, and also a new weekend on the Harriers' social calendar, in the form of a trip to a bunk house on Exmoor. Oh, he also booked the venue foe the Christmas awards do too! Add in to this that he is the chief marshal for both the club's races - hard work as a stand alone task - and that he is a regular on club nights, always ensuring that everyone is coping and nobody gets left behind. The Harriers, unlike many clubs, don't have an official "social secretary" committee role, but Terry has quietly but effectively been fulfilling that role, with ultimate commitment, all year. All of these things make Terry the ideal recipient of this award.
In addition to these 3 annual awards, this year we had the added excitement of the announcement of the club championships. 17 Harriers in total, 10 men and 7 women, completed the full set of required races and each had their commitment rewarded in the form of a small memento. In addition, the top 3 men and top three ladies received trophies recognising their achievement. In the men's championship, Dave Stone came out on top, with Mike Musgrove a close second and Rob Orton an even closer third. Adam Miller was unfortunate to have just been dislodged late in the game, as the top 4 men all finished within 2% of each other! In the women's, the top three were set in place from early on in the year and from then on worked to consolidate their positions. Cathy Newman took the victory with a whopping average percentage of 89%, followed by Ellie Sutcliffe in second and Hannah Bown in 3rd. Dawn Teed was not too far adrift of Hannah and so will be looking to improve on her 4th place finish next year. Well done to all who completed!
The Harriers' prize winners 2013
L - R: Adam Miller (Male Athlete of the Year), Dave Stone (Male Club Champion), Cathy Newman (Female Club Champion), Dawn Teed (Female Athlete of the Year), Terry Oldham (President's Award Winner)