National Road Relay – Clumber Park – Saturday 13th October 2012

After the ‘Is It/Isn’t It On?’ question was resolved with the move to Clumber Park the club made the 171 mile trip from Bristol with aims of a top ten finish for the men and a top 6 finish (and may be an outside shot at a medal) for the women’s team. Clumber Park was certainly a great venue but I am not sure if it will replace Sutton Park on a permanent basis (E-coli permitting). The weather also played its part with a bright but chilly autumnal afternoon and everyone was back in the minibus and heading for the park exit by the time the heavens opened for a brief but very intense shower.

First up was the ladies race and Hannah Alderson ran a very sensible race to work through into seventh place with a 12.03 clocking as Jess Coulson of Stockport built up a substantial early lead only to tire dramatically and get caught at the end of the first lap as Andrea Clement of Serpentine ran 11.29. Kate Goodhead was promoted into fourth place as three of the first four finishers had no team mate to hand-over to.  Kate ran a solid 12.02 and caught the Serpentine second leg runner but was passed by Aldershot’s Montana Jones who ran 11.28 to maintain fourth position. Jenny Jagger ran a good third leg but had the misfortune to take over behind Lily Partridge and Hannah Walker – both of whom pulled away from her. Jenny did however pull 32 seconds back on Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers’ Victoria Walker who she never saw throughout the race. Rebekah Randell hadn’t raced for 6 months – so many thanks to Rebekah for turning out to support the club – a National Championship isn’t the best of ‘low-key’ comebacks. Rebekah set off as if a medal was on her mind and did manage to pull back a few seconds on Amy Campbell of Shaftesbury on the first of the two loops. However the break and a lack of racing were too big a hurdle to overcome and Rebekah had to settle for fourth place. Team Manager Keith Brackstone was very pleased with the performances of all 4 runners and the team was comfortably clear of Aldershot ‘B’ and Rotherham who finished fifth and sixth.

Charlotte Green continues to get involved in all aspects of the club’s endurance activities and it was great to see her giving 100% on the first leg as she finished 38th of the 48 runners with a 13.34 lap. Clare Stevinson pulled up 8 places on the second leg to take the ‘B’ team into thirtieth place but unfortunately the club had been unable to get four athletes to the start line for a full ‘B’ team. One of the big positives was seeing all of the club’s female athletes still running strongly right through to the finish.

The Men’s race was notable for the great start from the young guns as Dan Studley produced the run of his career to date by going off with the lead group and sticking to it finishing just 7 seconds off the lead in sixth place in front of such notables as Tom Lancashire, Andi Jones and Ben Livesey. On the second lap Steve Mitchell spent the first loop chasing Niall Brooks and was looking as if he was about to hit the front when John McDonnell of Luton passed the pair of them on his way to fastest second leg with a 14.46 clocking. Behind him Adam Clarke of Aldershot caught 18 places and ran 14.48. Steve’s time was 15.15 to finish the leg in fourth place. Charlie Maclean found himself in a good group for most of his leg and one of the great features of the race was the way clubs were moving backwards and forwards as club’s deployed their strongest runners on different legs. Liverpool Harriers played their ace on leg three and Johnny Mellor stormed through the field to take the lead with 14.23 – the fastest lap of the day. Charlie dropped two places to sixth as he clocked 15.20.

Oli Mott returning from a foot injury ran a solid leg of 15.41 losing just one place as Chris Gauson took Belgrave into fifth place with Bristol now seventh. On leg five Robbie Bugden (15.32) just held off Phil Nicholls of Tipton but couldn’t resist Luke Cragg as Leeds went seventh and Bristol dropped to eighth. Mike Willsmore had the misfortune to have a foot problem on the final leg and was getting no real drive as a result. He was very disappointed with his time of 16.08 and was passed by Tipton and Derby to bring the club home tenth.

The race gave Zak Tobias a run out in a senior National Championship and he recorded 16.01 as he finish fortieth out of 64 on a very competitive first lap.

Numbers were down, which was not surprising given the build up to the event, but recognition must be given to ERAA and their numerous volunteers for pulling off such a good event – and what the event lacked for in numbers it certainly made up for with two great races with the lead in both changing several times.

 10 Bristol & West AC  ‘A’ 1:32:50

        Daniel Studley   (6) 14:54
        Stephen Mitchell (4) 15:15
        Charlie MacLean  (6) 15:20
        Oliver Mott      (7) 15:41
        Robert Bugden    (8) 15:32
        Michael Wilsmore (10) 16:08

  4 Bristol & West AC ‘A’ 48:51

        Hannah Alderson  (7) 12:03
        Kate Goodhead    (4) 12:02
        Jenny Jagger     (4) 12:24
        Rebekah Randall  (4) 12:22