Veterans AC were the inaugural team winners of the Algarve Challenge. The
team of Martin Miller, Dennis Williams and Clifford Hyde won by a total of 10 minutes from
Dulwich Runners and Great Western Runners.. Miller, who was the 1st M55 in the Challenge, also
won an award as third M50 overall, while Dennis Williams, won an award as the the second M60
The event was staged around the classic X Milhas do Guadiana, a 10 mile
race that alternates each year between Ayamonte in Spain and Vila Real San Antonio in Portugal
across the giant Guadiana Bridge that separates the two countries. The race is superb for
Veterans with 5 awards in each age group. The Challenge organisers, Track and Field Tours, put
on three new races leading up to the Sunday race, a 8km cross country, a one mile track race
and a 6.5km beach race, which together with the 10 miler added up to a total distance of 20
miles. Williams had his best run in the Beach race where he beat the overall M60 champion Ray
Adding to the week's entertainment, there was a seminar by the 1962
European 5000m champion Bruce Tulloh, who gave details of his running in Kenya and his run
across America and also offered individual training advice while challenge competitor while
Belgrave Harriers' Will Cockerell gave a detailed account of how he came to choose his "50 top
marathon races of all time," his fascinating book published earlier this year.
Tulloh unfortunately injured his leg in the first 100m of the initial
race and was unable to take further part in the Challenge but he helped out the rest of the
week. Indeed, the famous runner and coach (his protégé Matt Smith ran 2:14:41 in the Dublin
Marathon, the day he arrived in Portugal ) called out the times for the Mile race. Tulloh
himself ran 3:59.3 on a grass track 44 years earlier in Wanganui, a race won by Peter Snell in
a world record 3:54.4.
The X Milhas do Guadiana race entry is cheap by UK standards and whilst
certain areas of the organisation leave a little to be desired - there was lack of pre race
information and the race started three minutes early, surprising a few of the UK contingent -
all finishers receive a t-shirt and fine medal. There were generous prizes and awards, and the
10 mile event was accurately marked in kilometres, with adequate drinks stations over an
interesting and very scenic course and the results (thanks to chip timing) were quickly
All Challenge competitors received a top quality specially designed
t-shirt and bag, and all competitors received a medal, and in addition there were generous
awards for the leading competitors overall and in the age groups.
Other Veterans AC members in action included Stephanie Burchill (though
actually competing for the Dulwich Runners squad) who was third woman overall and first W50.
Steve Smythe was first M45 of the Challenge runners in the Mile and 10 mile but couldn't
complete all Challenge events while Steve Edwards did the first three events but not the
10-mile. Dave Brooks was the second M65 and won an award for his even pace running in the
Challenge while Alastair Jackson ran in the 1 mile and 6.5k beach race but injury kept him out
of the other 2 races.
The facilities in the area are superb and Vila Real San Antonio and Monte
Gordo are proving popular venues for athletes for warm weather training and the British team
used it as a holding camp for the 1999 World Championships in Seville. During the Challenge a
strong squad of German athletes were using the facilities. The track facilities are excellent,
with a new indoor facility, there is a cross-country course close by (used for the European
Masters Championships the year before) and it sits beside the Portuguese National Forest which
has some excellent trails. They are clearly marked and sit both sides of Monte Gordo. The beach
is also excellent for running most of the time, stretching close on 20 kilometres and running
along to the Guadiana river and is flat and not cambered and besides the dunes and forest
trails, very quiet.
Other entertainment organised for Challenge competitors included a trip
to Seville , an Algarve tour and a quiz, while the 4 star Dunamar hotel next to the dunes and
beach, had a gym, indoor pool, sauna and a Games room and a well attended bar. The latter, like
many of the local bars had giant screens and after running the final race, competitors were
able to rehydrate by watching either the England Rugby match, West Ham v Arsenal or the New
York City Marathon.
Anyone interested in taking part in the 2007 Algarve Challenge (and
helping Veterans AC defend their title), or the X Milhas do Guadiana, should contact Track and
Field Tours (01277 354 377) http://www.trackandfield.co.uk or e-mail
M50: 3 CLIFFORD HIDE 2:27:55.
M55: 1 MARTIN MILLER 2:18:03
M60: 2 DENNIS WILLIAMS 2:22:15.
M65: 2 DAVID BROOKS 2:42:17
Women 3 & 1W50: BURCHILL 2:55:47.
COMBINED TEAM: 1 Veterans AC 7:08:13; 2 Dulwich Runners 7:29:49; 3 Great
Western Runners 7:35:06