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Northern Athletics Road Relay Championships

Northern Athletics Road Relay Championships, Birkenhead Park  – 24th March 2019

Holmfirth Harriers athletes and supporters were blessed with a beautiful spring day for the Northern Athletics Road Relay Championships in Birkenhead at the weekend.

Mark Buckingham, 2nd fastest leg of the day (23:03) 

Mark Buckingham
2nd fastest leg of the day (23:03)

An event was also held for the juniors which was a straight 5km race and Holmfirth had representation in both the U15 and U17 Girls’ races.  Last year’s team were now split across the age groups, meaning there wasn’t a complete team for Holmfirth in either race.  Zara Tyas had a fantastic run to finish 4th place in the U17 race, in 19:20,  with Olivia Dyson in 9th in 20:15.

Mollie Scaramuzza was the only representative in the U15s, finishing well in 39th in 21:57.

The senior relays consisted of 12 legs for the men (4 x 8km and 8 x 4km) and 6 for the women (2 x 8km and 4 x 4km).  With both races running simultaneously, it made a great spectacle for supporters, and the Holmfirth club had one men’s and two women’s team entered.   It is a crucial qualifier for the men because only the first 25 ‘A’ teams can enter the National Road Relays at Sutton Park in April to compete against the Midlands and Southern qualifying clubs.   Holmfirth have managed to qualify for the last 20 years, but has often been a close call in such tough competition.

The men finished in 24th place last year, only just qualifying, and with six first teamers missing it looked like being a close call again this year. Fortunately our top runner, Mark Buckingham was available. He got us off to a flying start on the first long leg, running a great tactical race sitting behind the leading group, in the windy conditions, for most of his leg before sprinting clear over the last 200m.  23.03. Luke White, making his debut for the seniors, took on leg 2 being chased by much more experienced runners. He had a great run though, only dropping to 4th in 12.13. Aaron Kettlewell has the next long leg on 3, running strongly to finish in 7th. 24.34. Another debutant on leg 4, Peter Laing, ran excellently, 8th. 12.40. Kai Sunman on leg 5, the penultimate long leg, stuck to his task, 11th. 26.23. Phil Hewitt, leg 6 only dropped one place with a good time of 13.25. The last long leg, 7, saw Steve Green take over. A veteran of this race, Steve ran very well in a time of 26.00 and hanging on to 12th. He said afterwards he would have been much happier with 25.59. Twenty or so years ago Steve ran the fastest time for a long leg on a couple of occasions and his competitive edge still burns strongly. With only five short legs left we were confident of qualifying for the National relays. Alex Robinson, 12.37. Clark Hind, 13.08. Lavelle Pierre,13.48. Jacob Harman, 13.37, all ran well leaving Craig Sheard to bring the team home in 17th place, 15.51. Craig is normally a sprinter, and these sort of distances are out of his comfort zone, but he is always willing to run and never lets the team down.  Total time. 3.27.19.    Leeds City AC won comfortably, beating second placed Sheffield & Dearne AC by almost six minutes in 3.06.43.

The women’s team delivered an excellent result of 11th out of 54 complete teams amongst some very tough competition.  Helen Berry led out on leg one and got the team off to a good start handing over in 10th place (28:21).  Meanwhile Debbie Hall put in a solid performance for the B team, coming home in 39th place (33:46).  Claire Leaver-Hewitt dropped just four places on leg 2 to handover in 14th (15:27).  Nikki Brown gained a place for the B team to 38th (17:04).   The A team clawed back a place on leg 3, thanks to Zoe Storr’s efforts (15:42).    Jordan Mullinger, in her first race back after a prolonged period of illness and injury, showed that she was back to fitness, gaining four places to 34th (15:36).  Ruby Sykes took the A team up to 11th on leg 4, the second long leg (29:53).  The B team continued to move through the field, with Helena Croft taking them up to 27th (32:35).

Clare Locke ran well on the penultimate leg for the A team, holding position in 11th (15:45).  Cara Bintcliffe, in her first road relay for the club, gained a place for the B team to take them to 26th position (17:22).

It was down to new member, Amy Smith, who has shown promise in training to bring the A team home on the final leg.  She delivered an impressive run and maintained 11th spot (15:56).  Margaret Sykes had a storming run on leg 6 for the B team, and despite running and racing less in recent months, bought the team up to 24th in an impressive time (15:25)

The women’s race was fought out between Yorkshire clubs Leeds City and Rotherham Harriers, as has been the case for the last few years, with Rotherham taking the victory this time.

The teams will be out racing again at the Yorkshire Road Relays at the Brownlee Centre in Leeds on 30th March, before competing at the National Road Relays the following weekend.

 

Pre-2012 news, results & reports are on the old sites: 2009 to 2011, Pre-2009

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