Mike Down’s National Road-Relay Countdown – Number 6

There has been no resting on one’s laurels since our Midland road relay victory, with most of our runners continuing to hone their fitness with just one week to go until D-day – and our eternal challenge to finally win the National 12-stage.

DAN STUDLEY set the ball rolling the following week on his international debut for the UK team in the World Half-Marathon championship in Valencia. Although his time of 66:20 was a couple of minutes slower than his new PB he set in Barcelona and that clinched his selection, several other members of the team who also did the Barcelona  event were comparatively slower too. Meanwhile in the accompanying open race PETE LE GRICE improved his PB to 70:15.

On the same day JACK MILLAR made his international debut for England in the annual Home Countries cross-country match, and though not quite matching his recent outstanding breakthrough still finished a creditable 15th. Since then he has enjoyed a training break in Portugal to freshen up for the National.

Next day the focus shifted to the Cardiff Bay 10K where our middle distance international MIKE WILSMORE led the way, proving he has not been neglecting his endurance base by finishing a very respectable 12th in a high class field in a new PB for the distance of 31:42. He finished just ahead of OWAIN JONES who also dipped under 32 minutes with a time of 31:58.Only 20 seconds or so further back LUKE EVANS showed he is rapidly regaining race fitness with 15th place in 32:19. Further back our team captain STEVE MITCHELL, after setting off on the heels of the leaders, realised that it wasn’t his day and settled to tempo round in just over 33mins.

Park runs have also proved a useful tool for sharpening up for the challenge ahead and a posse of our leading runners, inspired by coach ROBBIE STEWART, descended on Eastville Park the weekend before last, with JACK BANCROFT proving as promised that he would be using the month since the Midlands to regain race fitness by setting a new course record of 15:39 for the tough hilly course. OWAIN was also inside 16mins in chasing hard for third place in 15:52. Behind our leading pair JOSH MOODY, DAVID AWDE, ROBBIE himself and MACIEJ BIALOGONSKI were all well under 17 minutes.

Midweek just gone, following an encouraging time-trial round our 4K Coombe Dingle training circuit the previous weekend, LUKE EVANS battled bitterly cold and windy  conditions to clock a creditable 15:35 in finishing second in the monthly Hereford Coureurs 5K. Disappointed at being frustrated by the conditions at Hereford he took the long trek to Barrowford in Lancashire on Saturday evening for the Podium 5K, and in far more equable conditions succeeded in equalling his PB of 15:13 to finish 9th just six seconds adrift of former Olympian NICK MCCORMICK in a race won by former international middle distance star TOM LANCASHIRE in a new course record time of 14:19.

Elsewhere others chose to complete their preparations for next weekend close to home in parkruns. Leading the way were KURT TAYLOR and DAVID AWDE with victories at Cardiff and Chipping Sodbury respectively in 16:17 and 16:34. Somewhat slower in due deference to the unfavourable contours of Eastville Park were ROBBIE STEWART and PHIL RADFORD (good to see him back after a frustrating injury break) with respective times of 17:12 and 17:15, while MATT BATTENSBY eased round at Melksham in 17:59.

I will be posting a final countdown midweek with the proposed running order for both of our selected teams. In the meantime if anyone has a potential problem – e.g. a developing cold/virus or injury niggle – that might force them to pull out, could you please warn Chris Elson or myself in advance so that we can have replacements standing by in case you fail to recover.

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