English National Road Relay Championships

Saturday 4th October 2014, Sutton Park, Birmingham

Holmfirth Harriers send three teams down to the National Road Relays in Sutton Park, Birmingham, last weekend. The men’s team had qualified a fortnight earlier in the Northern Championships, but as the women did not need to qualify, they chose to send two teams.

The day started very wet but just before the Women’s Championships started at noon the weather improved giving way to perfect racing conditions. The event attracts top class athletes and 75 runners set off on leg 1.

Margaret Sykes

Maggie Sykes has an impressive run
(photo Jerry Watson)

First off for the Holmfirth women’s ‘A’ team was Ladies’ Captain, Helen Berry. The course was very crowded round the first few tight bends, with at least one athlete taking a tumble. Helen did well to return in 34th place (15:53). Maggie Sykes had a superb run on leg 2, picking up 5 places (16:17). Claire Leaver ran well on leg 3 to hold the team position (16:36), and Helen Fines chased down four teams on the final leg (16:19) to bring Holmfirth home in a very respectable 25th in a total time of 1:05:05.

The ‘B’ team (with their finishing position and time in brackets) put in a fine performance finishing in 50th place (1:13:50) out of the 60 complete teams. Lucy Farquhar had a fantastic race on leg 1 (54th 16:53), backed up by solid performances from Ruby Sykes (48th 17:38), Sophie Spencer (49th 18:44) and Emma Serjeant (51st 20:35).

Aldershot, Farnham & District dominated the event, taking the Championship title in 57:13, with their ‘B’ team third across the line (though B teams cannot be awarded medals) and GB International Steph Twell clocking the fastest time of the day; 14:04.

With the women’s race over, and the weather improving, the men’s race got under way at 1.30pm.

Richard Smith

Richard Smith runs strongly 
(photo Jerry Watson)

With 80 teams taking part there was potential for accidents on the initial tight loop but Richard Smith, on leg 1, managed to stay out of trouble until the field started to stretch out at the top of the first climb. Alberto Sanchez, for Derby AC, made his break here and held on to come back in first place with a time of 17.12, the joint second fastest of the day. Richard wisely didn’t go with the early pace but worked his way through the field coming home in 43rd. (18.34). Student Peter Brookes was on 2. Though not as sharp as earlier in the season he still ran well, dropping just 4 places to 47th. (19.21). Veteran Dave Watson on 3 showed that at 44 he can still mix it with the best, pulling back 4 places to 43rd. (19.14). Having welcomed a new arrival to his family earlier this year Dave Turnbull hasn’t managed to keep to his usual gruelling training regime but still put in his usual gutsy performance on 4, only dropping 2 places to 45th. (19.54). Stuart Sharp, who had been disappointed with his performance at the Northerns, put in an excellent effort, holding on to 45th. (19.28). The last leg saw Philip Hewitt, promoted from the Northern ‘B’team, dig deep, bringing the team home in 47th. (20.22).

1st Aldershot Farnham & District 1.46.48
47th Holmfirth Harriers 1.56.53
Fastest leg. Andrew Butchart. Central AC 17.08

Complete results:

 Photos (more available): https://www.facebook.com/the.jerry.watson/


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