Avon Road Relays – In-Depth Report

Jenny Spink proved she has fully recovered from the calf muscle injury that undermined her chance in the World Half Marathon championships by smashing the course record in the Avon county road relays starting and finishing in the picturesque setting of Cleeve Cricket Ground, the GB international helped her club Bristol and West to a near clean sweep of the men’s and women’s team titles.

She set the ball rolling by scorching round the first of the testing undulating 5K laps in a time of 17:13 that sliced all of 20 seconds off club mate Jesse Sanzo’s record of 17:33 set last year. “It’s been a frustrating few months, so it’s just great to be running pain free again,” said Spink who now plans to race the Cardiff 10K in preparation for the forthcoming Bristol Half Marathon.

Despite Spink’s effort her Bristol and West senior team eventually had to concede second best to their formidable vets trio led by the irrepressible Nicky Brookland, whose own contribution of 18:03 on the same leg was the second best time overall.

It was training partners Claire Jolliffe (19:42) and Sarah Everitt (19:40) who closed the gap built by Spink and relegated their younger club mates Emma Jolliffe (20:46) and Imogen Peck (20:19) to second place overall ahead of Clevedon.

The Bristol and West men’s team suffered no such embarrassment, proving in a class of their own as they dominated the event from start to finish to win by more than five minutes’’.

Robbie Stewart (16:24), Josh Moody (16:55),and Will Christofi (16:21) in turn stretched their lead, leaving Luke Evans to finish the four stage race off with the day’s fastest time of 15:55.

Their B team, with juniors Harry Leeming and Hugh Sadler prominent,  also took the silver medals, with Westbury Harriers in the bronze medal position.

The only titles that eluded the huge Bristol and West presence were the women’s V45 and V55 events and the men’s V60, all of which went to neighbours Westbury, the latter owing much to the surprise return of former international stalwart Nigel Gates.

Avon Road Relay championships – Men (4x5K): 1 Bristol and West 1:05:35; 2 B&W B 1:11:36; 3 Westbury 1:13:38; 4 B&W C 1:14:51; 5 Clevedon 1:17:21; 6 Portishead 1:23:13.

Fastest times (All B&W unless indicated): Evans 15:55; Christofi 16:21; Stewart 16:24; Sean Ledger 16:47; Moody 16:55.

Juniors U20: Joe Connors (Westbury) 17:09; Leeming 17:27; Sadler 17:33.

Masters – V40 (4x5K):  B&W 1:12:17. V50  (3x5K): B&W 1:01:16. V60 (3x5K):  Westbury 59:20.

Fastest times: V40/50: Phil Parry 16:50. V60: Gates (WH) 18:11.

Women (3x5K): 1 B&W 58:18; 2 Clevedon 1:06:09. Fastest times: Spink 17:13 (Record); Peck 20:19; Emma Jolliffe 20:46.

Masters – V35: B&W 57:25. V45 Westbury 1:13:33. V55 Westbury 1:34:08.

Fastest times: V35: Brookland 18:03; Claire Jolliffe 19:40; Everitt 19:42; Jo Gallagher (Clevedon) 20:10. V45: Jenny Stevenson (WH) 22:31. V55: Marilyn Palmer (WH) 27:21

Mike Down Reports for the Bristol Evening Post