The Midland Road Relays in Sutton Park on Saturday 24th September 2016 saw the club begin and end with winning teams.
Will CHRISTOFI ran his usual sensible race moving through after a cautious start. Still someway short of his fitness from last year he nevertheless produced a solid 18:43 clocking to bring the team home in sixth place. Luke EVANS spent much of the second leg maintaining sixth place but in what is his familiar charge for the line he lifted the team into third place as he too clocked 18:43. Rich PETERS might not have competed for some time but once half fit his class will always out and on Leg 3 he looked imperious as he strode clear of the field to bring the team home in first place. His time of 17:29 ended up as joint fastest leg of the day and took the team 22 seconds clear of Cheltenham Harriers. On Leg 4 Ben WESTHENRY ran probably his best race in club colours as he consolidated the club’s lead stretching it to 51 seconds. His 18:08 was the second fastest for the club on the day. Owain JONES ran a very solid fifth leg; he was eventually chased down by Graham Rush of Cheltenham Harriers but handed over in second place just one second down as he clocked 18:21. Steve MITCHELL has often had periods out of running in the last couple of years but now seems set on returning to form on the road and track having decided to give up cross-country. Initially planning to sit in and use his 1,500 metre speed late on he felt he had the edge on the Cheltenham athlete so decided to push hard quite early on and by the end had opened a winning margin of 34 seconds much to the delight of Team Managers Mike Down and Keith Brackstone. Steve’s 18:21 clocking matching Owain’s time on the fifth leg. The club were 3 minutes 33 seconds clear of third placer’s Birchfield Harriers.
The usual fraught week trying to secure a second six athletes to form a complete B team seemed like a bad dream once Rob STEWART got them off to a flying start coming home in fifteenth place in 19:19. Bristol University student Will DAVIDSON ran 20:41 to bring the team home in twentieth place as the team set about securing the top 25 finish needed to secure two team spots in the National Road Relay on Saturday 8th October 2016. New-comer Josh MOODY showed what an asset he will be to the club clocking 19:31 to lift the club six places to fourteenth. Tom DOBRA, another recruit from our close links with Bristol University, ran 21:09 as the team slipped to eighteenth after Leg 4 but a strong fifth leg from Miles CHANDLER saw the club back up to fourteenth place at the end of Leg 5 as he clocked 19:20. Harry LEEMING has only just stepped up to the under-20 age group but was keen to make his senior debut: so keen that his Dad drove him up to run the last leg after having school in the morning. Harry clocked 20:59 to hold on to fourteenth place and ensure the B team secured a spot in the National Road Relays. Well done Harry – a great senior debut and our returners for the National should appreciate your efforts – without your support we would have been limited to one team in the National.
Tony ROPER got the masters underway finishing ninth on the first leg in 21:56, Andy WRIGHT ran 24:31 on the second leg as the team finished fourteenth. Dave BEDWELL showed age is no bar to a good performance as he clocked 22:54 to lift the team back up to ninth at the half-way point. On Leg 4 Peter MOUNTAIN ran 23:59 as the team finished tenth and Steve GRANT ran 25:12 to finish eleventh on Leg 5 before Stuart WILKIE brought the team home in tenth place in 23:21.
Hugh SADLER was our sole runner in this event and finished fourth on Leg 1 in 12:31, which was the fifth fastest leg of the day. Let’s hope age group coach Dave BEDWELL can get a full team out for the National.
The Alan THOMAS trained trio did the club proud with a great silver medal in this age group. Alice DAVIES brought the trio home in third place on the first leg clocking 14:45. On Leg 2 Elizabeth PLEWS was caught by Bromsgrove & Redditch but passed Exeter to remain in third place as she clocked 15:07. On the last leg Olivia BURTON passed the Bromsgrove & Redditch athlete to lift the team to a fine silver behind Halesowen who led from gun to tape. Olivia’s time of 14:38 was equal fifth fastest of the day.
Stan HARDING-HILL led out the A team coming home twelfth in 13:58, Nathan MARCHANT brought the team back in thirteenth place after Leg 2 as he clocked 14:25. Flynn BAKER ran the last leg clocking 14:44 as he brought the team home in fourteenth place.
The B Team had Jack BANNISTER as lead-off and Jack finished twenty-first in 14:56, Luke ILES ran a great second leg clocking 14:08 as he lifted the team to eighteenth; a position Fred HAWKER maintained as he clocked 14:38
The C Team finished twenty-ninth. Lewis ADAMSON led them out in twenty-ninth place in 15:46, a position Otto KINGSTON maintained on Leg 2 as he clocked 16:44 and James CASLING held on Leg 3 as he clocked 16:07.
It is a mark of how this age group has progressed over the last season that we fielded three teams in this age group (all with suitable face paint!!). The A team finished tenth as Claudia SPICE overcame a mid-week illness threat to lead them off in 16:08 as she finished twenty-second. Next up Nelly BRIDGER-MORALES clocked 17:09 as the team finished nineteenth before Rosie WHITEHEAD’s 15:52 saw the team finish tenth.
The B Team was led off by Molly ORCHARD who finished thirty-sixth in 17:59, Josie DAVIES ran 16:51 to bring the team home in thirty-first place before Elle RADFORD’s 17:26 brought the team home in twenty-sixth place.
The C Team finished twenty-eighth with Grace EVANS leading them out in thirty-first place in 17:29, Matilda JONES brought them home in twenty-ninth place at the end of Leg 2 after running 18:31, with Taryn ZAHRINGER finishing twenty-eighth at the end of the race in 17:44.
Ali Hurford’s broad grin said it all. An outstanding win by the A Team. Aidan OSCROFT laid the foundations with fourth place on Leg 1 as he clocked 14:11. Cole EDMONDS’ run of 14:52 saw the club up into second place and Rufus THOMAS’ 14:18 on the last leg lifted the team to a 34 second victory. What price a medal in the National Young Athletes Relays?
The C Team defied their billing to come home next for the Club with Joseph Hull (18th in 15:54), Amos KINGSTON (29th in 18:32) and Henry GODFREE (27th in 21:04) getting the better of their B Team rivals.
The B Team had Jacob ROE running 17:46 to finish thirty-third, Ben WILLIAMS (32nd in 17:08) and Vinnie WILLIAMS-BEESE (30th in 24:09).
The under-13 girls A team finished ninth with Grace Ashurst in seventeenth place after Leg 1 in 16:07, Danni SINCLAIR (16:25) improved by 4 places to come home in thirteenth place and Alice BRIDGER-MORALES improved by a further four paces to secure the top ten finish with a clocking of 15:51.
Overall it was one of the best Midland Road-Relay performances by the club and the first in a long time that medals had been won in three different categories. It was also good to see the integration of Paul Owen’s and Alan Thomas’ groups in the girls under-13, under-15 and under-17 age groups. This was a great platform for the club to build on and the winter of 2016/2017 should see some good performances both on the road and on the country.