Northern Road Relays.
This year's autumn Northern Road Relays returned to Birchwood for the 2nd time in five years and the flat, largely traffic free course with good spectator viewing around the lake and set in a quiet industrial estate just off the M62, made for a very successful championship.
In the women's four-stage event, Donna Jones toed the line first for the 'A' team. Feeling slightly under the weather, she ran strongly to bring the team home in an excellent 3rd position, recording the 5th fastest time of the day and making an excellent start to the autumn season. Hannah Griffiths took over from Donna, again having a strong run to bring the team across the line in 6th position at the half way point. On third leg, Cara O'Brien made her return to team competitions, after missing most of the track season due to injury. It was a very successful return with Cara maintaining 6th position. Team manager Alison Pye, then ran the final leg for the A Team. She finished in 10th position, running over a minute quicker than she expected, again after time out due to injury. 10th place was an excellent result for the team, building on the 11th position recorded last autumn at Wythenshawe Park. This demonstrates the strength in depth of the current middle distance squad, and the potential for success this winter if we were able to field a full strength team.
The B team also had a successful afternoon, finishing in 36th position, consistent with the 31st place finish from last autumn's relays. Lynda Rawlinson demonstrated her reliability in these team events to finish in 53rd; Jan Nicholls recorded the quickest time on the B team, moving the team up a massive 14 places to come home in 39th positions; club newcomer Zoe Gmerek made an excellent relay debut to bring the team into 35th position. Having only been training with the club over the past few months, she's made massive improvements and will be an asset to the team over the winter. On fourth leg it was great to see Cat Jones back in relay action, wearing her race face and finishing in 36th position.
The men weren't quite so successful in their 6-stage relays. The 'A' team of James Bailey, Niall Brooks, Mike Kilmartin, Charlie Hulson, Phil Scowcroft and Simon Mills, though all gave their the best were no match for most Northern teams and finished an uncharacteristic seventeenth. James ran the team's fastest leg and it was great to have Simon Mills back into the ranks. However, they succeeded in being inside the top twenty-five teams who will be invited to the National 6-stage relays in Birmingham on October 15th.
The 'B' team of Tim Kennedy, George Kirk, Gary Rowlinson, Alan Pitman, Dean Hardman and Colin Gell also finished a lowly 54th. Of note is that M45 Gary Rowlinson recorded the fastest time of anyone in the 'B' and 'C' teams showing relative 'youngsters' how it's done.
The highlight of the 'C' team, comprised of Carl Barber, Paul Barrett, Elton Davies, Chris Heys, Steve Gavin was possibly team manager Dave Rodgers, making his racing debut after about fifteen years having contributed to the club's success in his younger days. The team finished eighty-third from the ninety-three completed teams. We mustn't forget M55 Jerry Smith, M60 Terry Lonergan, who'll remember finer days for the club and M50 Brian Bradshaw, making his relay debut, who finished an incomplete team.
At the front end, the battle was between Leeds City AC who succeeded in their aim to regain the title from Derby AC who broke their treble championship sequence last year. Derby AC were runners up and Morpeth AC, returning to National prominence having been either Champions or runners-up in the early part of the Millennium and 12-stage winners last Spring taking the third spot.
(Written by Alison Pye and Fechin Mc Cormick)
Posted 15/01/2012 19:55