Tom Russell AC (alias B&W/Stroud) completed a triumphant treble for us in the Gloucestershire cross-country relay that was held in perfect autumn sunshine at Plock Court.
Tom, who was looking for a stamina-testing workout, decided to run all four of the 1.9mile legs straight off, and yes, believe it or not, he was strong enough to get the better of what are surely the two most talented junior club quartets in the South West as he covered the 7.6 mile course at under five minute mile pace in 37:15.
From our juniors’ point of view the presence of their international clubmate helped them stave off the challenge of their Stroud rivals, while from Tom’s being towed (and doing some towing himself) made sure he got the workout he wanted!
Rich Peters was determined to exorcise the ghost of his kid brother Matty that had shadowed him since last weekend’s Midland road relay, and he went some way to doing so as he put us in front on the first stage, clocking the second fastest time of the event (9:13). With Tom right on his heels. Nathan Young took over, and like Rich running much better than he had last weekend held Tom off till the closing stage of the second leg with the 4th fastest time overall (9:16), which gave us a near 20 second cushion over rivals Stroud.
On the next leg Matt Peters sensibly tucked in behind Tom and actually had the temerity to pop past him at the finish and so extend our lead to exactly half a minute in a creditable time of 9:24, though to his chagrin it was 11 seconds slower than big brother Rich!
Aware that U17 National track champion Tom Curr would be tearing off after him, Sean Hazell not unnaturally started like a scolded cat and quickly opened up a significant gap on Tom, but almost inevitably paid for it later as Tom’s experience and pace judgement told. He had closed the gap by halfway round the lap, and though Sean never gave up, he held on for a “comfortable” two second victory, while behind the pair of them Curr, despite clocking the day’s fastest time of 9:07, never looked like closing the gap on Sean, who matched Matt’s time of 9:24, to give us the “biscuits” by 13 seconds. It was a particularly satisfying win for our juniors as the Stroud quartet of Rob Galt, Tom Purnell, Ben Coldray and Curr would arguably be a match for any other comparable quartet in the country.
Our other men’s team, anchored by Phil Parry with the fastest vets time of 9:40, and including Dan Layton (10:00), Phil Lucker (10:21) and Dan Studley (10:06), took 4th place behind a mixed B&W, Westbury and Stroud team.
The women’s team, an original combination of youth and experience, were good enough to win by more than three minutes from Stroud after being given an impressive start by Imogen Ainsworth. Belying her presumed lack of fitness, she surprised herself by storming round the opening leg ahead of Amber Watson (10;41) in the day’s fastest time of 10:28, and though Sian Davies surrendered the lead to young Imogen Briscoe (11:08), she closed up in the last half mile to set the best vts time of 11:26.
This left Heidi Moulder-North, who was making her comeback for the club following the recent birth of her son, with a small gap to close, and despite being restricted by her teaching job and domestic committments to a once-a-week training schedule (!), she soon had us back in front with a remarkable time for her lack of running of 11:18.
Now well in front no one was going to catch young Emily Merrick on the last leg and she completed an overwhelming victory by matching Watson’s time of 10:41, which proved to be equal second fastest overall.