BMAF Road Relays 2019 Report

Author: Bridget Cushen, BMAF Secretary

Great weekend racing in Sutton Coalfield
Just 3 seconds decide Men’s Trophy!

In ideal running conditions and in the presence of England Athletics’ Dean Hardman, all ladies teams and the men aged 75-plus were set off promptly at 10.30 and the Park became a hive of activity.  Just 18.19s minutes later, Sarah Lowery was home to give Rotherham H. a 28sec lead over Telford AC led by ever reliable Claire Martin, from Vicky Tester who sent Sophie Voller and Westbury H off in 3rd position. The Yorkshire Club retained their dominance with a combined 1.19.43 run that gave them the W35 title from Derby AC, for whom Lisa Palmer circuited fastest time of the day in 18.18sec, on the 4th and final leg taking them up three places for the silver medals. The Tonbridge AC quartet of Liz Weeks, Nicola Evans, Louise Insley and Eleanor Baker, who ran the 4th fastest leg in 18.35sec, got the bronze medals. 4th team were Westbury H, 5th Stroud & District AC, 6th Vale Royal AC, 7th Sale H, 8th Chorlton Runners, 9th Bristol & West AC, 10th City of Norwich AC. 30 Clubs went to the start line in the 35-44 age category.

Bristol & West were never in danger after Annabel Granger handed over to Clare Joliffe with 6sec to spare from Westbury’s Kate Hughes (19.13sec) in the W45-54 Relay, both times remained the two fastest circuits of the day. Julie Cook brought Salford H into 3rd from Jackie Bradshaw, Halesowen, Ruth Hatton setting South London H off in 5th and Helen Pool Reading Runners just ahead of Reading AC’s Susan Francis. After the second stage the top four Clubs held their positions with Beverley Simons, Salford, closing in on Westbury and Sarah Unwinmann taking Reading AC up a few places into 5th.  The final Lap saw Susan Macdonald’s 19.37sec move SLH into third for bronze as Bristol’s cumulative 58.17sec gave them a clear victory from Westbury. Halesowen held 4th, Salford 5th, Reading AC 6, Reading Road Runners 7, 8th Westbury B, 9th Sale H, 10th Bourneville Harriers.

Another hardy perennial at this venue is Jane Clarke, City of Norwich, here leading the W55-64 charge in after the first lap well clear of Bristol, Steel City Striders, Altrincham, Datchet Dashers, Les Croupiers, Dulwich H, North Herts AC and Wolds Vets AC making up the first 10 Clubs and all in with a shout. Angie Norris moved Dulwich up into 3rd on the penultimate stage behind Norwich and Steel City and the other Clubs may have felt like throwing in the towel as Angie handed over to multi World Record holder Clare Elms who sped round the undulating circuit in a breathtaking 18.45sec.

Six Clubs fielded teams in the W65 race with Worcester AC holding off Steel City Striders, bronze going to Wolds VAC, 4th were Les Croupiers and 5th Chorlton Runners.

The Bingley trio of Les Haines, Mike Smith and John Smithurst kept up the Yorkshire Club’s long and successful record in these Relays as they were crowned M75 winners.

Tommy Hughes, Leicester Coritanian set his 3-man team off to a 48sec advantage after completing the first lap in 17.40sec in the Men 55 race, from Ifan Lloyd Swansea H, Colin Bishop, Warrington AC, the long serving Andy Wetherill bringing Mansfield into 5th from Jonathan Grainger, Southampton, Richard Evans Altrincham, Rob Andrews Royal Sutton AC, Brian McAvoy Birmingham Running & Triathlon, Vic Maughan Herne Hill H and Jed Turner Sheffield H, making up the first 10 Clubs.  Warrington (Stephen Watmough), Leicester (Rob Sheen) and Swansea (Steve Smith) held top three positions after the penultimate stage, but on the last lap Phil Makepeace blazed round in 17.19sec to capture the M55 title for Leicester Coritanian in the cumulative 3-stage time of 54.38sec from Warrington AC and Phil Parry moved Bristol & West up four places to snatch the bronze medals.  4th  were Herne Hill H, 5th Sheffield RC, 6th Swansea H, 7th Aldershot Farnham &D, 8th South London H, 9th Altrincham & Dist 10th Dulwich Runners all ducking under 60 minutes.

BMAF Treasurer David Oxland led the M65 charge home but unfortunately Notts AC were not able to field any other runners on the day and it was Stewart Thorp who sent Roy Threadwell, Oxford City, off with a 12sec advantage from Tonbridge AC and David Spackman Gloucester AC. John Exley extended Oxford’s lead to, one could easily say, retain their own property! David Bedwell had made up three places before handing over to Mike Chipping who brought Bristol home 2nd from Tonbridge AC.

Chomping at the bit for the M45 and M35 finale were the 46 M45 teams and 41 M35 first leg runners which the Officials stage-started, all getting away to a hassle-free and safe start. The M45 would run 4 stages and were led home by Jonathan Walton, Leeds City, Simon Coombs Herne Hill H just 3sec in arrear from Stuart Doyle getting Vale Royal off in 3rd. Martin Roscoe extended Leeds advantage on Stage 2, Gavin McDermott brought Leicester Coritanian within 6sec and marathon runner Paul Cheetham gained six places for Thames Hare & Hounds. Out on Lap 3 Chris Southam handed Leicester over in pole position to Mark Johnson, Andy Weir ran the fastest time moving THH up to 2nd from Leicester and Aldershot were now challenging, Les Croupiers, Southampton and Salford could all still pull one out of the bag on the final circuit. Johnson proved too strong for any of his pursuers and with arms raised broke the tape to give Leicester Coritanian the gold medals. THH were secure in 2nd and Mark Symes moved Aldershot up to 3rd. Fierce battles were taken place further down the field as narrow margins separated the next 20 clubs.    

The black-vest of Birchfield Harriers crested the hill first on Lap 1 of the M35 race in 15.48sec when Andrew Peat handed over with a 7sec lead to Alex Parker, hotly pursued by Karl Welborn who had taken over from Dan Robinson, Birmingham Running & Triathlon (B.R.A.TS), Tipton, Dulwich, Royal Sutton, Datchet Dashers, Westbury, Leicester, Marshall Milton Keynes, Leeds City and North Derby quickly followed. Michael Burrett took Leeds up seven places on Stage 2 handing over to Liam O’Brien in 3rd, but it was James Connor, Havering AC who did the fastest lap in 15.53 and Tipton had now extended their lead to 20sec. Leg 4 saw Karl Darcy’s 15.29sec whittle that down to just one second when he took Salford up a few notches and his time remained fastest of the day. Phillip Nicholls moved Tipton out of immediate danger on Stage 5, but such is the B.R.A.T’s club depth that Rob Ryan moved their B team up 10 places to 17th. Jonathan Carter had set out on the final stage for Tipton as Chris Livesey took the baton from Bruno Lima for Salford H. Livesey had run a 15.08.7sec 5,000m for 2nd in the Lancashire County Track & Field Championships the previous weekend and was also a key member of both their 12-stage Northern and the National Road Relay team, but despite gnawing at the 20sec gap try as he might to close in on his green and white hooped quarry, with both teams’ supporters biting their finger nails, Carter gritted his teeth and held on to give the Midland club yet another victory at these Championships, but only just, a mere 3sec separated them at the finish – what a race! Leeds got 4th Trafford 5th, Havering 6th, Telford 7th, Marshall Milton Keynes 8th, Colchester H 9 and Datchet Dashers completed the first 10 Clubs.

BMAF Road Running Secretary, Walter Hill, confirmed that 17 May 2020 should now be penned into your diary for next year.