Strangers in a Strange Land: Northern 12 & 6 stage Road Relay Birkenhead
(report by Gary Graham)
On a beautiful sunny Spring Day, we made our trip on the M62 through the Wallasey tunnel into Birkenhead and onto Birkenhead Park. The legs were advertised as follows for the men: Stages 1, 3, 5, 7, (4 x Long Legs) are approximately 8K Stages 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11 & 12 (8 x Short Legs) are approximately 4K. Me, Michael and Amy did some recon around the course which basically followed the perimeter of the park. There was on slight rise after four hundred metres from the start a longish downhill section arcing around the side of the grassland onto a flat stretch for about a mile. That was the worst part of the course with only a few spectators many of them walking a dog often without a lead!!
Damo had done great he got a team out and put together a workable plan to please all the troops.
Then it was a short detour around a small pond for the beginning of eight hundred metres rise to the finish of the short leg. For the long leg once you left the pond it was a sharp left two hundred metres up the rise. At this level of competition, it is always a gamble with leg strategy and keeping the team as involved if possible. Dave Watson made a guest experience and as Mr Motivator gave a Churchillian speech for the assembled troops!
On leg 1 Phil ran his usual sensible race – strong and steady bringing us home in 43rd place. Rob then ran well levelling us around 44th. Then we seemed to keep around that position for quite a while. Alex ran the fastest long stage with 28.45 for the men. Michael ran well and could have kept going for another lap. I tried out these new shoes from Nike and was bouncing around like Michael Jordan. Stopped me pronating!!! Did ok a commendable time for a 55-year-old. Then Curtis pulled us forward a couple of places with an astutely judged run. Neil set off as he meant business and ran a commendable 14.44 – strong and stable. Then John, Mark and Chris pushed us forward to 41st. Finally, Craig brought us home with a solid 15.48. Putting on the fastest last two hundred metres of any of the competitors.
39 Holmfirth Harriers AC 4:09:26 1 Philip Hewitt (43) 29:05 2 Rob Kersey (44) 17:14 3 Alexander Hannay (44) 28:45 4 Michael Hall (45) 19:24 5 Michael Sanderson (45) 29:42 6 Gary Graham (45) 14:27 7 Curtis Firth (43) 31:13 8 Neil Dutton (43) 14:44 9 John Saeki (42) 15:52 10 Mark Wilson (41) 15:15 11 Christopher Beadle (41) 17:57 12 Craig Sheard (40) 15:48
Team mascot, ‘O’
The women had one 6-stage team out and ran well to finish 14th. Ruby Sykes had a strong start on the first long leg finishing 9th running exactly the same time as Alex Hannay on his long leg for the men. Cara Inch picked up one place and clocked 7th fastest of leg 2. Claire Leaver-Hewitt was pleased with her run, in a time quicker than on the same course in 2019, finishing 10th. Helena Croft managed to put a sore knee niggle to one side and ran strongly, dropping just two places. Amy Smith picked up one place on the penultimate leg and youngster Olivia Dyson ran well on the final leg to bring the team home in 14th.
14 Holmfirth Harriers Ac 2:01:54 1 Ruby Sykes (9) 28:45 2 Cara Inch (8) 13:51 3 C Leaverhewitt (10) 15:10 4 Helenamarie Croft (12) 30:30 5 AmySmith (11) 16:18 6 Olivia Dyson (14) 17:20
4/6 of the women’s team; Cara, Amy, Ruby, Claire Helena in action on the 8k leg