Sometimes great days are about results and other times great days are about performances. Saturday’s National Road Relays at Sutton Park was a great day due to some great individual performances.
First our vets Viv McConnell and Phil Parry made sure we had full teams in both races and produced the solid performances we all knew they were capable of but more of that later.
First off were the Ladies. Jessie Sanzo has broadened her horizons since joining the club having run some good local road races but a first outing in a National Championship generated nerves well before Saturday. She was advised to do her best and it would surely be good enough and so it proved as a 15:09 clocking kept the club in touch with the leaders as she finished thirteenth. Just over a year ago Anna Burton still hadn’t taken up serious running so to come out and smash her Midland time as she clocked 15:13 and lifted the club to eleventh was an amazing achievement and was on a par with Jessie’s great first leg. Viv McConnell has never let the club down and this was no exception as her 16:56 brought the team home in sixteenth place. Finally, after training with the club off-and-on over a number of years Sophie Lovell (Morris) finally pulled on the red and white of Bristol & West and ran 15:25 to pull the club up to twelfth place. There have been years when the team has medalled in these championships but it is hard to remember a day when individually the athletes have performed so strongly when measured against their individual expectations. I know Sophie was disappointed in her run but after a long period away from racing at this level it was a fine performance and bodes well for the future as do the performances of all four of our ladies.
The Men took up where the Ladies left off. Steve Mitchell ran the Midlands after his pre-winter lay off so a faster leg was expected but when he came up the hill to clock 17:18 a second behind the first leg leader and sixth fastest of the day overall – it was a performance that had excellent stamped all over it. Next up was Owain Jones who is the master of managing training and recovery after long-term knee and Achilles injuries restrict his training these days. Owain recorded 17:53 to bring the team home in sixth place – another great performance given his training volume these days and testament to the fact that he maximises what he can on his three day a week regime. Phil Wylie had run the fastest leg in the Midland Relays and the word was out that Phil was after another fast time. He did not disappoint as his 17:29 lifted the team back into second place. On leg 4 Charlie Maclean had Sale to chase and this he did valiantly never quite hauling them in but always staying clear of the chasers as his 17:52 clocking kept the club in second place. Charlie was coming back after injury so his performance was another really good effort on the day. The same is true of Phil Parry’s performance: the speed might not be what it was in his younger years but the grit and determination he displayed on his leg kept the team in the top ten and showed that there can be few runners in the country who have given more to their club’s cause over the years – his 19:41 was a truly remarkable run for a V50. Finally Tom Merson put aside any thoughts of the half-marathon he will race on Sunday as he ran 18:05 which included sprinting past Leeds to take ninth position at the end.
So no medals but there were some absolutely great individual performances. As ever with relays we could consider the what ifs had some of the club’s faster athletes been in attendance but the unanimous verdict by the team managers present was what great performances from all the club members who made the journey on the day – you did the club proud.
Full women’s results are at:
and full men’s results at:
Keith Brackstone reports.