Holmfirth Harriers enjoyed a great day out on in Redcar on Saturday 1st April as they fielded one men’s team of 12 and two women’s teams of 6 at the Northern Athletics 12/6 Stage Road Relays. The runners’ idealistic visions of a warm and sunny day by the sea unfortunately weren’t fulfilled however, as they were instead greeted by a very cold and drizzly outlook with swirling winds and low cloud.
The men’s team of 12 had to run 4 long legs and 8 short legs between them, whilst the women had to run 2 long legs and 4 short legs. The course featured a 2.5km out and back section along the Coast Road, which was almost completely flat and closed to vehicles. This was completed twice by those on a long leg, with a turn-back some 250m before the finish line. The section between the turnback and the start/finish was packed with spectators lining both sides of the road, which made for a fantastic atmosphere as runners were almost sucked towards the finish by a cacophony of cheers and applause.
The men were the first to race, with the first runners setting off at 12:00. Kai Sunman ran a very well measured long first leg for the team, as he refused to get carried away in the frantic start and instead steadily worked his way through the field to come back in 22nd place (31:03). James Young ran the second leg in his first race for the Club, and produced the fastest short leg of the team (18:08). He was followed by three runners who were taking part in their first relay race for the club and all ran excellently – Jamie Wood (34:10 – long), Gary Putnam (21:24 – short), and Paul Sammonds (36:34 – long). The sheer quality of other clubs meant that the team had dropped to 37th place overall by the time Chris Beadle set off on leg 6 (21:27 – short). He was followed by Oliver Glover on the final long leg (35:08), and the team maintained their position as Bob Dickinson (22:13) and Jon Burdon (20:55) performed strongly, before Adam Sunderland ran an excellent 10th leg (19:16) to climb one place. Matthew Rose (19:54) and Michael Sanderson (18:09) completed the team, as both set off in the mass start and between them managed to claw back another 6 places as the team finished in 30th position. Unfortunately this wasn’t enough to qualify for the National Road Relays in a couple of weeks’ time, but the team will no doubt be back next year to have another go.
31 Holmfirth Harriers AC 4:58:18
1 Kai Sunman (22) 31:03 2 James Young (29) 18:08
3 Jamie Wood (27) 34:10 4 Gary Putnam (34) 21:24
5 Paul Sammonds (37) 36:34 6 Christopher Beadle (38) 21:27
7 Oliver Glover (38) 35:08 8 Robert Dickinson (39) 22:13
9 Jonathan Burdon (37) 20:55 10 Adam Sunderland (36) 19:16
11 Matthew Rose (35) 19:54 12 Michael Sanderson (30) 18:09
The men’s race was won by Morpeth Harriers & AC, who clinched the title for the first time since 2011.
The woman had a very strong ‘A’ team who all ran brilliantly as they came 8th out of 35 finishing teams. Lucy Byram was out first, running a long leg of 9.5k and coming back in 8th place (34:37). Katie Walshaw followed on the second leg of 5k, and had an excellent race as she gained two places to come back in 6th (18:27). Isabel Richardson held the team’s position on the third leg (18:45 – short), before Erica Byram ran the second long leg and did fantastic to come back in 8th (36.32) despite struggling with a knee niggle. Claire Leaver-Hewitt ran well on the fifth leg (20:30), before Helena Croft had a strong run on the anchor leg (19.08) and managed to gain one place bringing the team home in 8th place overall.
8 Holmfirth Harriers AC ‘A’ 2:27:59
1 Lucy Byram (8) 34:37
2 Katie Walshaw (6) 18:27
3 Isabel Richardson (6) 18:45
4 Erica Byram (8) 36:32
5 Claire Leaver-Hewitt (9) 20:30
6 Helena Croft (8) 19:08
Holmfirth Harrier’s B team also ran fantastically well with some excellent performances on the day. Helen Haigh returned after a long lay-off with njury, whilst Ruby Sykes stepped in the day before the race despite carrying a niggle. The team finished a very respectable 30th place in an overall time of 3:04:48.
30 Holmfirth Harriers AC ‘B’ 3:04:48
1 Sophie Cromwell (33) 43:56
2 Ruby Sykes (33) 22:16
3 Helen Haigh (33) 25:29
4 Diane Baldwin (33) 46:13
5 Liz Woodfield (32) 20:44
6 Becky Burdon (32) 26:10
The winning women’s team was Blackburn Harriers, who had some very strong runners including Olympian and two-time British 5000m champion Jess Warner-Judd.