3rd Annual Warsaw Club Challenge

3rd Annual Warsaw Club Challenge, 20th September 2014

The 3rd edition of the popular Warsaw Club Challenge saw the event reach new heights as it was expanded to include 4 teams and moved to a new location by La Playa. Reigning champions Ergo were back to defend their title, WITC were desperate to finally get their hands on the trophy, while newcomers MORT! and Accelerate were hoping to make their mark on this 10km race.

The race organisers did a great job!

Signed up and ready to go!

Like the previous two years, there was a ladies and men’s race, with points awarded based on the finishing positions. The course was a picturesque yet tough off-road route along the banks of the Vistula river, with all runners doing two 5km laps. Team Ergo were unfortunately weakened and missing their top runner Marcin, so in his absence Rafal from MORT! won the men’s race by some distance ahead of Alex and Andy from WITC, while WITC’s very own Marta beat the competition in the ladies’ race to finish first ahead of Elwira from Ergo and Beata from MORT!.

It was a tough race, but one held in a great atmosphere

It was a tough race, but a really great atmosphere

Once everyone had finished the scores were added up it was time for the winner to be announced. 4th place went to Accelerate, reigning champions Ergo were 3rd this time round, meaning that there would be a new club champion this year! As the tension was growing Ken Globerman called Alan and Radek, the captains of WITC and MORT! respectively, onto stage and then announced the winner of the 3rd Annual Warsaw Club Challenge ….. WITC!!

WITC’s speed demon Andy Mossop gave us his view about this year’s event: The last 2 years in a row had been close, but this year was going to be even tougher with Accelerate and MORT! joining in. It’s really fun racing against Ergo and it’s always good seeing them at races. MORT! I’ve known for a while and had a friendly rivalry with them at GP Warszawy so I knew racing them would be tough and Accelerate have a really strong group, but for me were the dark horses this time round. On the day of the race, Alan was captain and did a great job of organising and motivating us as well as making sure we ran strategically. Alex and myself had a bit of fun with him, making sure he’d be nervous about the two us forgetting the club part and just prove who’s the fastest in WITC!

Happy Hannibal

Happy Hannibal

The race itself … well if Alan was a character from the A-team he’d be Hannibal loving how the plan just came together. Rafal from MORT! smashed us (like we thought), the rest were close and Elwira from Ergo pushed our star Marta hard, but in the end we came through. It was a brilliant job by our whole club and it was great to see the other clubs pushing us hard.
As for my private rivalry with Alex … he got revenge for last year and we’ll just have to plan the next rematch.
This is definitely one of my favourite races of the year and reinforces what I love about the running community in Warsaw.
Finally, I’d just like to congratulate so many of the guys from MORT! breaking the magical 3 hour marathon mark recently and I’m looking forward to seeing them on another start line soon!”

Radek Selke, captain of MORT!, gave us his opinion on the race from his club’s perspective and is looking forward to next year: “Here at MORT! we’d known about this event for a while and wanted to take part last year in this end-of-summer 10km race, but the date clashed with other races we had planned. When Alan contacted me at the start of the summer about this year’s race my goal was to get as many runners from MORT! as possible to take part and to perform well.
As we’re a small running club, unlike the organisers WITC, it was hard for us to get over 20 people together for one race. So we decided that our goal would be to focus on quality over quantity. We entered our four sub-3h marathon runners and tried to get a some of our improving girls to join us too.
Four teams took part in the challenge. WITC, who had a large team that included Andy Mossop; Ergo led by Darek Knychas, although they were missing their strongest runner – Marcin Krysik. The third team was the somewhat depleted Accelerate, and the fourth was us – MORT!    

Rafal was in a league of his own

Rafal was in a league of his own

As we assessed our chances before the start, seeing who had shown up, everyone knew who was going to win the men’s race – our very own Rafal Budnicki. And that’s exactly what happened. Rafal finished first, nearly 2 minutes ahead of Alex from WITC, with Andy coming in third. In line with our goal of quality over quantity, we had four runners in the top six. Fourth place went to Sylwester Cichacki with Tomasz Kwiatek 5th, just a few seconds ahead of me. Michal Piedel also finished in the top ten. Unfortunately not everything went to plan as Jaroslaw Cibora was unable to finish the race.

Radek (left) and Alan (right) just after the winning team had been announced

Radek (left) and Alan (right) just after the winning team had been announced

After the race we had the awards ceremony. First of all the fastest ladies, with Beata Sieczko from MORT! finishing 3rd. Then the men, with Rafal picking up the top prize. All that remained was to find out which team had won. Fourth place went to Accelerate and Ergo came 3rd. Before announcing the winning team, Ken Globerman asked the team captains of WITC and MORT! up onto stage. Like a referee of a boxing match he held my hand and Alan’s hand. It was close … but the trophy went to our friends from WITC. Still, we can be really proud of what we achieved.
Next year we’ll be back with a bigger team and have a better chance of winning. In my opinion the Club Challenge was a very well organised running event. I think it could be the basis for a bigger event, something like a Warsaw championship between different running clubs. This would of course require more help with the organisation and we’d have to think about reducing the number of people required in the individual teams, as a lot of the clubs in Warsaw are quite small. On a scale of 1-6 (with 6 this highest and 1 the lowest) I’d give this event a 7. Not because I like the organisers but because it was so well organised. We need more events like this. After all, great things have to start somewhere :)

There was also great a finish line photo competition organised by Cristina, while you can view the event photo gallery here.

The individual results are also available here.

Great teamwork - WITC's first ever trophy!

Great teamwork – WITC’s first ever trophy!

Well done everyone who took part and a huge thanks to all the teams for making this such a great event! Here’s to an even better Warsaw Club Challenge next year!

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