National Road Relays - The Phillips' Perspective (12/04/2019)

Tony Phillips provides his view on the National Road Relays held recently

"The National 12 Stage Road Relay was held at Sutton Park last Saturday (06/04/2019) in warm weather, with a cool breeze on sections of the course, that tested the runners over the undulating roads. The couse was over 12 legs, 6 long of 5.38 miles and 6 short over 3.17 miles. Tipton Harriers last winning performance was in 2012. It takes a team of talented runners to achieve this result. Leeds AC had such a team to win the relay this year. Tipton Harriers finished 21st out of 65 teams, that had qualified through the regional events in England, Wales and Scotland, from Southampton to Gateshead and Morpeth, to Cardiff and Glasgow. Tipton's B team were in 60th place.

The leading team changed throughout the race, with the strong Leeds AC team eventually coming to the front on Stage 8 to stay there to the finish, after challenges from Bristol and West AC in second place with a late move on Stage 9, and Aldershot, Farnham and District just 6 seconds behind, third, after moving into 4th place on Stage 7. Cardiff AC were leading until the 7th Stage but faded on the later stages to finish 18th.

Tipton's Peter Brookes started the relay on a stage that includes fast runners to give clubs a good start on a long leg. The pace was a bit too hot for Peter but ran to his present form after injury, to hand over 33rd timing 27m 58s for the long stage, to Nick Hardy, who ran well to pick up 4 places on the short leg in 16m 41s. He was followed by Tom Bains in good challenging form to gain a place to 28th, in 27m 47s.

Tom Holden's 16m 48s kept his position before Joe Smith on the long Stage 5 ruinning strongly pulled up to 23rd, 28m 22s, and Philip Wilson retained this position with a determined run, 16m 29s short leg.

Richard Carpenter tackled the long leg and ran well to maintain his 23rd position in 28m 22s, on Stage 7. Adam Soley, returning to form picked up a place to 22nd in 16m 50s, then Martin Williams ran the long 9th, a key stage, in 28m 27s to bring Tipton into their best placing of 21st.

Luke Vine kept 21st place returning to improved performances after a long absence, 17m 18s for the short 10th. The 11th long stage was run by Ian Williams in a comfortable position with a 28m 56s timing to hand over to Stephen Corbishley who gained ground on Cheltenham, but ended the relay in 21st position holding off Blackburn Harriers by a comfortable margin, with a time of 16m 55s, and a total team time of 4h 31m 17s.

Leeds AC won in 4h 12m 21s, second, Bristol & West AC 4h 14m 33s, third Aldershot, Farnham & District 4h 14m 39s. Tipton were in front of such teams as Morpeth Harriers, Rotherham Harriers,South London Harriers, Sale Harriers, and Coventry Godiva Harriers, among others.

A weakened Tipton B team - Tipton had 2 teams to qualify - were 60th, but 5th B team. 68 teams started. Best runs for the B team included Dean Bate on long leg 3 making up 6 places in 29m 27s followed by James Booker leg 4 17m 50s, short stage up 3 to 52nd, Thomas Brown on leg 6 up 3 places,to 53rd, and Aaron Brown followed on leg 7 gaining 4, 30m 45s, to 49th the team's best position, finished 60th in 5h 12m 26s.

Tipton's Women's team finished 30th in the 6 Stage National Relay with 2 long and 4 short stages, in a time of 2h 37m 18s. 48 teams finished Larna Partridge ran a steady opening long stage, 36m 22s, and Susannah Davies gained 2 places on the short stage, 20m 28s, followed by a good performance by Catherine Holden improving 7 places on short leg in 20m 43s, Bethany Walker had a hard long stage dropping 4 places to 35th, 38m 21s, Rebecca Turton ran a fast short stage for the team 21m 13s to move up 2 places. and Sallyanne Walker finished the race with the fastest short stage for the team, a good run to move up to a final position of 30th.

It was very pleasing to see several older club members supporting the teams, including Johnny Severn, Mel Evans, Ray Williams, Bud Baldaro, Mike Hagar, Steve Walton, and Chris Holloway, all involved in the club's successes over the years of the relays, but also joining in the 1 minute tribute by the ERRA and those present to Ron Bentley, to celebrate his contribution to the event, by adding so much in the past by his enthusiasm, vocal support for the Tipton Harriers teams, as well as rival clubs and team managers, so there was a great spirit generated, and life was added on the day, when the relay was turned into a happy, friendly and exciting occasion."