The National Road Relays – A Chairman’s View in Anticipation of the 2010 Championships

11 Oct
We are approaching the first of the club’s major targets of the winter season – the National Road Relays. We have an excellent record in this event since our rebranding as Bristol & West and the aim is to consolidate our position as one of the top distance running clubs in the country.
Our women have generally been more consistent than the men, though in fairness to the latter they started from a much stronger position as the women’s team had been built up as a result of a 5 year plan that I had initiated in the 1998/9 season and that was to act as a model for the subsequent expansion of our horizons to B&W. The men for instance had finished a lowly 50th in 2003, while the women were already up into the top ten in 9th position.
Since then the positions recorded are as below:
2004 – Men 4th; Women 1st
2005 – Men 14th; Women 1st
2006 – Men 3rd; Women 8th
2007 – Men 5th; Women 6th
2008 – Men 4th; Women 8th
2009 – Men 13th; Women 4th.
Clearly the women have the bragging rights, having never been out of the top 8, but considering the previous decline the men have made a remarkable recovery and should be hoping to regain our position in the top ten. It is always an interesting statistic to combine the men’s and women’s times as an index of a club’s overall strength, and using that criterion we have rarely been out of the top three clubs in the country.
Unlike the 12-stage in the spring when all runners have a full winter’s training behind them, form in the early autumn is far less predictable due to end of summer season breaks etc. but looking at the area road relay results our women’s team of Imogen Ainsworth, Hannah Alderson, Kate Goodhead and Rebekah Randell must be among the medal contenders along with the three area champions Aldershot, Chester-le-Street and our Midland conquerors and perennial rivals Charnwood. What’s more our second quartet of Nicki Brookland, Charley Coffey-Wills, Katie Knowles and Ellie Wimshurst must have an excellent chance of finishing near the top ten and certainly taking the B team honours.
The men face a much tougher task to make the top ten after finishing only 5th in the Midland championship, but will be considerably strengthened by the return of Tom Russell and Steve Mitchell, who will join Jon Wills, Martin Palmer, Tom Merson and Harry Webb in the line-up and will certainly be out to put last year’s disappointing performance behind them.
All eyes too will be on our two outstanding U17 teams in Sunday’s Young Athletes relay championships. If at full strength our girls should give even the mighty Aldershot a run for their money, while the talented young boys team should also be in the shake-up after taking the U15 silver medals last year.
Echoing my fellow team manager Keith’s plea, do make sure you have all your club kit with you as it is essential for any media pics that we look the part!!
MIKE DOWN (10-10-10)
P.S. All men’s team members (or interested supporters!) wishing to travel on the club minibus, which will be leaving Aztec West at 9am sharp, please let Keith (07999511366/0117-3307502) or me (0117-9733407) know.