Northern 12 & 6 Stage Road Relays
Sefton Park,(Liverpool) was this year's venue for the Northern 12 & 6 stage Road Relay Championships. It was my personal trip to an alma mater of the 1970's when, as a member of Liverpool AC, I trained regularly on the paths that this year challenged the north's best runners. It was a superb day for a major Championship that took over four hours. Hundreds happily chilled and chatted like campers and renewed old acquaintances among the sea of club tents whilst most awaited their 'leg' and strut their stuff in personal and club prestige on the flat, zigzagging course.
Liverpool clinched their first 12-stage Northern Championship victory in thirty years when they last won it in Blackpool. Salford AC did well to deliver their best position since 2004 and last year's champions Morpeth H & AC were third. It was also a good day for our men and women who recorded improved performances from last year. Our 'A' men were sixth and our women twelfth. Team manager Dave Rodgers did exceptionally well to also turn out a men's 'B' team (a total twenty-four runners) who also qualified for the National Championships.
For the uninitiated, these relays are run in alternative long and short legs. Gaz Raven, Peter Crawford, Antony Ford, Charles Hulson, James Bailey and Ian Wetherill took the longer stages. Antony, hot from his fine win at the Wilmslow HM a week earlier and sharpening up in pursuit of the Olympic marathon qualifying standard in the London marathon, ran one of the day's fastest laps and is in superb form. Gaz has been making a difference in these Championships for over a decade and he showed he's back to his best. Youngster Charlie Hulson and James Bailey zipped round in the next two fastest times for the club. Evergreen M40 Ian Weatherall who had a superb run with 6th in his category the previous week in the British Masters Championships must again been one of the day's fastest vets with his fine run. Finally, Peter Crawford made a very good debut. Congratulations to Peter who's been selected for one of the Olympic catering venues.
On the short stages, Tom Atkinson and Niall Brooks were our two fastest. Callum Greenwood showed he's matured tremendously even whilst at university and Matt Holmes need not have worried one bit that he went off course about six minutes because it didn't affect the final positions. Former sprinter Dean Hardman, hot from his latest massive 5k PB of 16:20 and confident of dipping under 16:00 minutes in the near future, never thought he'd be representing the club in the 'A' team of a major championship this spring and what a fine run he also had! Finally, it was great to have Andy Blair back in competition mode and it was he who anchored the team to its final 6th place.
Team managers Alison Pye and Jo Street produced a team that surprised. Jan Nichols is in the form of her life and ran the fastest time with Sian Holland producing the second fastest. Zoe Gmerek and Kimberley Wilson have improved so much in their short time as newcomers and integrated so well you'll certainly be hearing more of them. Seasoned campaigner Alison proved her top form with a new PB of 41:49 in the Derby 10k that was over a minute faster than her previous 10k.
Finally, the men's 'B' team. It's great to have Dave Howlett back in the team and he ran the club's fastest long 'B' stage followed by M45 Gary Rowlinson, then Chris Donnelly, Carl Barber, Steve Townley, Nicholas Whittle all of whom were within a minute of each other. Well done to Simon Mills who, though unable to train because of work shifts as a doctor, still produced the club's fastest 'B' short stage on the anchor leg with Mike Kilmartin the next fastest. Newcomers David Rich and Danny Whittaker were the next fastest with Paul Barrett, Elton Davies delivering typically solid runs than, in both cases, improved the club's overall standing. (Written by Fechin Mc Cormick. To view photos, log on to http://www.darkstarphotos.com/and www.justloverunning.co.uk
Posted 03/04/2012 12:58