I wondered if it was a case of ‘Anything you can do we can do better’ as the young athletes set out to emulate the Senior successes at a Sutton Park that 24 hours after the 2 team gold medals was wet and a little windy. Coach Keith Brackstone decided it was too early to ‘blood’ his distance group of young girls in the under-13 race so first up were Ali Hurford’s under-13 boys. Ali has been working this group hard through the summer but this was a big step up and for most it was their first taste of a regional championship. Billy Cochrane ran the first leg for the ‘A’ team and showed great pace judgement for someone new to road racing on a course where even experienced seniors misjudge when to put their effort in. Billy brought the team home in eleventh place in 11:47. Next Anton Mills lifted the team to fifth place in a time of 15:19 before Hugh Sadler ran 15:51 to bring the team home in fourth place – just outside the medals. This was a great result for such an inexperienced team and a medal would truly have been the icing on the cake. Unfortunately we could not must a full ‘B’ team, which was a shame as James Pyke was fifteenth on the first leg (16:24) and Tom Krause was sixteenth at the end of leg 2 in 17.09.
Our first girls to race were the under-15s but here we could not find three athletes and after Jo Taylor had finished ninth in 15.39 Jessica Monk ran 17.21 to finish eighteenth.
It is disappointing to report that we had no under-15 boys entered but there the bad news stops. Last year the under-17 ladies were dominant and it was unlikely that we would repeat that triumph but it didn’t stop the team from trying. Miranda Sadler ran a very solid opening leg to come home fourth in 14.38. Annasley Park then pulled the team into medal positions as a 15.12 leg saw her finish in third place. Victoria Kenny chased Emily Sales of Leicester hard but despite pulling back 23 seconds on the eventual winners could only get up to silver medal position – but this was a great effort as two of the team will be in the same age group next year.
And so to the final event – the under-17 men. On paper the team looked good but then how many times have coaches or team managers said that only for the reality to disappoint. Not so with this team. Will Christophi ran a great first leg to chase Alex Carter of Team Bath hard and bring the team home in second place as he ran 13.13 for the fourth fastest time of the day. On leg two Luke Jacobs looked at home on the roads as he swept into a lead which he extended the further his leg wore on – and looked very controlled as he produced the fastest leg of the day 13.04. That left Zak Tobias to run a virtual lap of honour as he too produced a great performance with 13.08 for fourth fastest leg of the day. The under-17 men were clear winners and with three of the top four fastest legs of the day their performance out-shone that of their seniors from the day before. With Hobie Martin in the wings that leaves coach and team manager Dave Bedwell with a real dilemma as to who does he leave out of the ‘A’ Team for the National.
It was a long and tiring day but the spirit amongst the young athletes was great and whilst it would have been great to have fielded full teams in each of the races to have had three full teams who finished first, second and fourth is a great platform from which to move forward in the 2012 Midland Road Relays.
Full results are available at http://www.race-results.co.uk/results/2011/myarel11.htm and photos will be on the web-site shortly.
A big thank you to Alison Hurford, Dave Bedwell and Dave Taylor whose hours of dedication as unpaid coaches and team managers has helped these athelets to reach the levels they have attained and I am sure that there is more to come.
Keith Brackstone Reports