1st Anglo-Dutch Race
Wednesday 12th March 2008
Dutch Civil Servants from The Hague first came to Richmond Park for the Civil Service Cross Country Championships in 1995 and have returned many times since then to enjoy our hospitality and the chance to race in England.
Finally the invitation was extended to the CSAA to compete in Holland and after many months of planning it was agreed that a group of CSSC members would compete in a race organised for Dutch Civil Servants just outside The Hague. Despite extensive advertising it was a small group that met together in Scheveningen (pictured) to compete over a Q shaped course of 2 loops and out and back along the tail. It was not British cross-country as the course included tracks, paths and some testing sand dunes but nevertheless it was quite a testing event of about 6 miles. At 14.00 it looked as if the race might be cancelled as the storm force conditions were whipping the sand about making it difficult to walk let alone run. However, by 16.30 the wind had dropped and the sun was out making for quite warm conditions to race in.
There were almost 50 Dutch runners competing over one lap or two laps depending on their fitness, as the race was the last in a series to encourage heath and fitness amongst the Dutch Civil Service. The 8 CSAA representatives were a very mixed bunch of runners with some like the Chairman and Secretary having seen better days! At the end of the race Dan Merckel and Diana Kennedy took their respective titles and were presented with a trophy each by a senior Dutch Civil Servant (General Secretary Roel Bekker) who has the unenviable job of “trimming” the number of civil servants (sound familiar?) on the Dutch Civil Service.
A Chinese and Indian banquet was laid on for the runners and guests after the presentations, which was a good way to end the proceedings, as it gave time to chat and get to know each other as well as some of out hosts. The 3 kisses greeting, at the awards ceremony, soon become a favourite with the Brits!
Thanks must go to Gerry Trainer for all the hard work he put into organising the trip and to CSSC for very kindly agreeing to assist with some of the financial costs. Everyone who made the trip agreed that it had been very worthwhile and therefore this event looks set to become an annual outing for CSAA.
As each person travelled separately the stay could be as long or as short as you liked. Julian, for example, was staying on to compete in The Hague Half Marathon on the Saturday, whilst most left on the Thursday after a walking tour of The Hague City Centre kindly lead by our hoist, Niek Tetteroo.
Just for information runners travelled from Manchester, Birmingham, East Midlands, Heathrow, Stansted and Bristol Airports plus a ferry crossing, so there are many ways of travelling if this event appeals to you in future years.