The ESM Yacht Handicap has been an annual fun event for ESM runners & friends for at least the last 50 years & quite possibly longer. The concept, borrowed from the world of sailing, is designed to give everybody regardless of ability, a chance to win.
In the 1960’s the course was run around the streets of Ealing. In fact our beloved Tony Randall actually won it in 1963. To prevent athletes risking life & limb dashing across busy roads it was decided to move the event into a safer environment. So Pitshanger Park/Scotch Common has been the venue since 1983.
There is a staggered start, working through until the quickest runners go last (there could be a gap of around twenty minutes between the first and last people to start). The idea is that, providing the handicap system has worked correctly, all the runners should all finish the 3.5 mile course fairly close together.
It was very popular in the 1980’s fuelled by a running boom which lasted for about 6 years or so. As other events proliferated elsewhere numbers began to decline with some years just a handful of diehards turning up to battle it out. Last year’s attendance was 16 which we thought was quite good at the time.
Well, in no small part inspired by the Darren Halford effect, we are back in good numbers.
Last night saw 32 athletes actually competing and plenty of on-course support & a full complement of marshals and timekeepers and results recorders.
A balmy evening and the floodlights shining down from the tennis courts created a really atmospheric sense of occasion. John Falvey’s brilliant handicapping ensured a thrilling finish with an overall spread of less than 4 minutes for the entire field.
First man home was Robert Biegala who is part of the EHM training group but first ESM athlete was Leanne Smith followed by James O’Neill as first man. They will both in due course be holding the coveted Yacht Handicap Cups for a year (assuming we can find the woman’s one Leanne!)
Fastest overall time on the night was James Hughes for the men in 19.33 and Leanne Smith for the ladies in 23.08.
Thanks everyone for turning up and creating a truly enjoyable event and in particular to Tony for his organisation & time keeping skills.
Please click below for the full results.