National 12 Stage 2008

The usual last minute changes and selection headaches accompanying the run up to this event was to play its part in this years road relays.  The team on paper, pre race week had a shout of contending a top 6 spot.

Unfortunately, Ian Mitchell was the first 'big name' casualty having to drop from the squad with achilles injury.  Next was the dilemma of who was to run short and long legs as to gain the most advantage for the team.  Recent illness and injuries to normally Tiptons strongest runners, Nigel Stirk, Phil Hinch, Phil Nicholls and Neil Burton further clouded the matter.  But credit to these for sticking their necks on the line and putting their own individual aspirations aside and running what managers thought would be beneficial for the team.

The curse of the first leg hit Tipton men again just as the Midlands, as Nigel Stirk on the first long leg struggled in at 39th position nearly 3 minutes off leaders Salford.  Nigel still suffering the effects of a recent virus infection.  On second leg (short) John Millington powered around the course and clocked 14.55mins and gained 13 places to bring Tipton up to 26th.  Phil Hinch was next long and clocked 28.14 gaining another 2 places.  4th off for Tipton was Mark Dalkins a long leg specialist who opted for a short stage at this event, gained another 3 places bringing Tipton up to 21st.  Martin Williams was up next for the long leg and went off hard till halfway and brought Tipton into 13th in 26.40 mins. Youngster 18 year old Dan Cotterill in his first senior national race, didnt dissapoint and arose to the occasion improving 20 secs on his Midland relay time running 15.06 mins and Tipton were now in 11th and closing in on the leaders who were still a couple of mins adrift.  Next up was Tiptons GB International Phil Nicholls, who has missing from race action for some months but flew round in 25.58 running the 4th quickest time of the day.  Tipton were now 6th and could almost sniff the medal positions.  In next was Neil Burton who had only been able to run 2 weeks ago after a lengthy injury spell.  He went off hard and moved to 5th before falling back to 8th position towards the end of his leg.  Welsh International new signing Ian Williams ran a solid leg, 27.58 moving us back into 7th before handing over to Tom Holden who held fast and ran 15.26min (short leg) still in 7th.
At the front end Leeds City were now in the driving seat, followed by Notts, Belgrave, Birchfield and Bristol.
Steve Marriott was next long and showed a return to form running 27.32 and putting Tipton back into 6th.  Finally last leg (short) Dan Beier ran sub 15 mins for the first time and gained Tipton one more place into 5th.
The team have shown that the strength in depth is there, and that if the current crop of runners remain committed to training hard, the prospect of future national medals looks good for the 6 stage and going into the Cross Season.
Final Positions:
1 - Leeds City
2 - Notts AC
3 - Belgrave Harriers
4 - Newham and Essex Beagles
5 - Tipton
6 - Woodford
Nigel Stirk      (39) 28:47
J Millington     (26) 14:55
Phil Hinch       (24) 28:14
Mark Dalkins     (21) 14:52
M Williams       (13) 26:40
Dan Cotterill    (11) 15:06
Phil Nicholls    (6) 25:58
Neil Burton      (8) 15:37
Ian Williams     (7) 27:58
Tom Holden       (7) 15:26
Steve Marriott   (6) 27:32
Dan Beier        (5) 14:57
The Mens 'B' team performend well finishing 26th, with fastest long leg from Matt Lockett in 28.32 and fastest short and a welcome return to form from Phil Clamp in 15.51.
The Womens Tipton team had a less successful day finishing 27th, but had notable individual performances from Sally Anne Walker running 18 mins and Lynne Cox 18.11 mins for 3 miles.