National Road Relays (16/04/2016)

Bob Lynch reports on the ladies race,

"It was cold as a January Cross Country but at least it stayed dry for us. We had one full team out on this the second year of the new format of two long legs and four short ones.  And they did us proud, winning 21st place in a field of 42 top-notch teams.

First off on a long leg of 8+km was Amie who ran round in a good 32.17, handing over to Sophie Lynch in 20th. Sophie did her 5k short leg in 20.04 and kept hold of 20th. Then came another Sophie (Byrne) on another short leg, clocking a creditable 21.31. Now came Lynn on the second long leg and she managed to top her Midlands performance by 16 seconds, coming in at 34.40 and gaining three places to boot. Sue Davies followed on a short leg and ran 21.04 - a real blinder, knocking a whole minute off her Midlands time and keeping 21st place. The final short leg was relative new lass Claire Hotchkiss who possibly surprised herself with an excellent time of 21.25, holding on to 21st place.

The team's total time of 2hrs31min1s was a stunning 17 minutesfaster than the Midlands, which just shows how hard they tried. Well done! The photos show all the team but across two shots - best I could do!"

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Mens Results | Ladies Results

Tony Phillips reports on the Men's race.

"Tipton Harriers achieved a creditable performance in the English National 12 Stage Road Relay at Sutton Park  when they finished 13th out of 67 teams that started. The club has a strong tradition in performances at this event, finishing in the medals on 26 occasions, winning 15 times in the last 50 years.

Teams qualified from their regional championships, and clubs came from all parts of Britain as far apart as Glasgow, Swansea, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, London, Bristol, Manchester, Southampton., and Nottingham. The winners were Highgate Harriers, N. London, who won the race for the first time, Aldershot, Farnham and District  were runners up, and Bristol and West were in third place.

The relay was run over 12 stages with alternate legs, 6 long stages of 5.4 miles and 6 short of 3.1 miles. After early falls of snow and hail the day turned out to be fine, but a cold breeze made conditions for the runners more demanding on a challenging course, particularly on the exposed sections.

Up at the front of the race the first three teams to finish  had challenged for the lead for most of the relay.

The outstanding runs for Tipton were by Mike Aspinall  on stage 5, a long leg, when he ran a fast and  fluent race to gain 7 places pulling up Tipton from 20th to 13th position, and young Luke Vine followed with a high level run to further improve to 11th spot, his time being 15mins. 48 secs. that followed Mike's 27.05 for his long stage.

The first leg had been run by Sean Byrne, who had recently returned from army training in Kenya. He had a hard task on the opening leg with teams selecting good performers to get a good start. Sean battled through to finish 26th in 27 mins. 42 secs.,. and handed over to Tom Holden who ran a sound leg to gain a place with  4 runners within 10 secs. in front. This put Ian Mitchell in a position to chase these clubs and he gained 2 places after a solid run in 27m. 38 secs., Tom having recorded 16m.32 secs. to move up the field.

Junior Gareth Griffiths gained another 3 places with a fine effort that was just outside the top 10 on the stage. to bring the club into the first 20, handing over to Mike on the 5th stage then Luke, by which time the club were among the leading teams; Luke had run the 3rd fastest time on his leg.

Ian Williams ran his usual determined race but was below his best in 28 min, 15 secs. losing 2 places, but Aaron Brown was able to regain two places with a good run on stage 8 timing the 8th fastest in 16.26, to hand over to Joe Smith to take on the traditional very competitive 9th leg and gave a determined run in 28.57 losing 2 places but was within 20 secs. of three teams in front. This placed Chris Gillespie in a position to chase these teams and he succeeded in improving by one place, a good performance that gave him the 9th fastest time on the leg.

Stuart Hawkes then had the task of running the long 11th stage, a hard effort gave him a time of 29.01, with the club in 14th spot. Jonathan Carter had the final stage to improve the club's position and succeeded in taking one place, giving Tipton a final 13th place. but showed good form in running the 10th fastest time in 16.35, to round off a good team performance.

With five team members in the fastest 10 on their stages, and finishing in front of notable teams such as Leeds City, Salford, Woodford Green, and Birchfield, and finishing within a minute of such clubs as  Cardiff and Central AC, Glasgow the aim should now be to improve over the coming months to challenge the teams the club have beaten in the past, and this should be possible with several new members of the team on duty this year, and promising young runners showing improvement."