Saxon represents England at Veteran Home Internationals

Alison Howe at VHI delighted with her run
Alison Howe at VHI delighted with her run
Published: Thu 5 Oct 2023

Alison Howe represented England at the Veteran Home Internationals (VHI) last weekend (30 Sept/1 Oct) in the Forest of Dean.  England emerged victorious on the individual and relay days, beating Ireland, Scotland and Wales – the ‘home nations’. 

The racing was hosted by NGOC and ran in parallel to the Caddihoe Chase. On day 1, VHI competitors were set off in the hour ahead of the Caddihoe ensuring the forest was quiet with limited distractions. Keeping the nerves in check was the most difficult part, but I was determined to enjoy the experience. The game plan was to put in a solid performance and not get carried away with any heroics keeping me in control and mistakes limited. Control 1 can also be a bit of a bogey for me, so I was super conservative and nailed the control allowing me to get into the map and settle the nerves. The course had plenty of changes of direction, and felt a bit middle distance style in places - the planner aiming to keep competitors off the paths. I lost a little time on control 11, not picking the fastest route through the terrain, and I had a moment on route to control 14 before I remembered a last minute rewilding felling plan had added some clearings to the back end of the course for which a map extract had been stapled to the corner of my map! Overall, the solid game plan paid off and I had no significant time losses so I was delighted to find that I had managaed to win the W50 age class. This added to a successful overall performance of the England team with wins in 8 of the 14 age classes, resulting in England winning the individual day overall and being awarded the Rose Bowl Trophy at the VHI Saturday night dinner.

Alison holding the VHI Individual day trophy on behalf of the England team

On Sunday, whilst the Caddihoe progressed to an exciting chasing start, for VHI it was the relay competition. Each country fielding 8 teams in total - 4 MWM and 4 WMW.  The terrain was on the flatter part of Mallards Pike today with a conflagration of small drainage ditches. I was teamed up with Clive Hallett and David Roome, with Clive running first and coming through the competitor control in 2nd place.  The final section however ran through a section of woodland which we renamed the 'ditches of doom'.  This very tricky area meant that the order coming through at the changeover was sometimes quite different from the spectator control only 1km before.  I set off therefore in 4th place but managed to keep my head in the terrain, overhauling a couple of places before being passed by a speedy Kim Baxter (also England), so handing over in 3rd.  David had a great final leg, but couldn't make up the gap to 2nd, so we finished 3rd overall out of the 16 teams. 

Overall England had again delivered an excellent performance with England taking all the top places in the WMW relays (1st through 4th), and taking 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 6th in the MWM relays.

An amazing weekend of racing with England wining overall!