Tipton Champions!

On a sunny but blustery Saturday afternoon Tipton Senior Men stormed to victory in this years Midland 12 Stage Road Relays.

 Tipton Harriers

Phil Clamp - John Millington - Phil Nicholls - Joe Gripton - Neil Burton - Mike Buntin - Steve Marriott
Jelle Verwer - Martin Williams - Ian Williams - Dan Beier  (Pat Kavanagh and Nigel Stirk not in photo)

The team was led off by Ian Williams, who was first to the top of the hill and had a cracking run to come in fifth in 26.57 - nearly 40s faster than last year. Next leg was Jelle Verwer at 18 years of age in his first 12 stage came home in 15.19 picking up 2 places for a great debut. Pat Kavanagh has come back to racing and ran solidly to pick up another place. Nigel Stirk then set off and held the position, his time probably reflected still having last weekends half marathon in his legs.

Four legs in and we were sitting in a great position with some big guns about to come. Dan Beier had his usual good run with 15.12 and handed over to John Millington about 30s down on Coventry. John had his best run a Sutton Park to date and stormed round in 14.42 for 4th fastest short leg of the day and taking us into the lead. Phil Nicholls then delivered another cracking leg for 25.54 and fastest long of the day. His fourth time under 26 minutes in as many outings shows what outstanding performer he has become.

Steve Marriot and Phil Clamp were next up and both exceeded their own expectations with excellent runs. Steve was in his first serious race for 9 months after many injury problems and came back with a 15.08 clocking. Phil Clamp was fresh back from representing GB Masters at the indoors in Italy and ran nearly 20s quicker than ever before.

The joys of last long leg went to Martin Williams who had been seriously struggling with illness the day before and nearly cried off. Despite this he pulled a 27.32 out the bag and, although down on what he was expecting, was a solid run given that he went down ill again the day after. Still a minute and a half clear at this point Neil Burton made a start to his come back trail after being bogged down for months in his PhD. Handing onto myself (Mike Buntin) on last leg I was nervous about how I'd do (being another one on the come back) but was pleased to run solidly and ecstatic to bring the title back to Tipton. Coming up that finishing straight clear was undoubtably one of my best running experiences.

This was the first time since 2003 that we've won the Midland 12-stage and that year we went on to a National silver medal - so that bodes well for 2 weeks time!

The Masters team also medalled with a bronze: the team of Mark Hall, Aaron Keene, Mark Wright, Henryk Piotrowski, Mike Hager and Dean Hill being in the medlas from start to finish. The women's team were slightly depleted and finished 10th, Lynee Cox being the team's fastest with 18.05.