The nearest that running gets to being a team sport was evident in Sutton Park, Birmingham on Saturday (April 16). Athletes gave everything for their clubs; team managers fretted and shuffled their squads; supporters cheered and after hours of combat, two teams emerged as champions in the National Road Relays.
The men’s relay requires a well balanced squad of 12 athletes who compete over alternating long (5.38mls) and short (3.16mls) stages. The women’s race is over six stages, with just the first and fourth legs being of the longer variety. This all makes for interesting team selection, as clubs try to play to their strengths.
After 4hrs16min30sec for the 51-mile race, it was Highgate Harriers who took the men’s title from Aldershot, Farnham and District (4:17:15); Bristol and West AC (4:18:08); Liverpool Harriers (4:19:50); Tonbridge AC (4:20:21) and Swansea Harriers (4:21:13).
Fastest on the long stages were Dewi Griffiths (Swansea, 25:28), Graham Rush (Cheltenham Harriers, 26:08) and Andy Maud (Highgate, 26:12). The short stage leaders were Ross Murray (Gateshead Harriers) and Matthew Jackson (Liverpool Harriers) at 15:14 and Lewis Lloyd (Herne Hill Harriers, 15:18).
The women’s relay saw Aldershot, Farnham and District (2:08:44 for 23.4mls) defend their trophy ahead of Leeds City (2:13:41); Cambridge and Coleridge AC (2:16:32); Thames Valley Harriers (2:17:33); Rotherham Harriers (2:18:43) and Birchfield Harriers (2:19:41).
The long stage leaders were Aldershot’s Steph Twell (28:31) and Louise Small (29:00) plus Charlotte Arter (Cardiff, 29:09). Swiftest on the short stages were Susan Partridge (Leeds, 17:01), Kate Hulls (Bristol, 17:07) and Lillian Partridge (Aldershot, 17:08).
Full details of the National Road Relays are here
Image of Dewi Griffiths courtesy Bryan Dale. More great photo action of the National Road Relays at the Race Photos website.