SOUTH­ERN ROAD RELAYS

ELEVENTH WOMEN’S TI­TLE FOR ALDER­SHOT AS HIGH­GATE REGAIN MEN’S CROWN WITH BLACK­HEATH ON TOP IN THE YOUNGER RACES

Athletics Weekly - - nEWS - REPORT: STEVE SMYTHE PICTURES: MARK SHEAR­MAN

High­gate Har­ri­ers win the men’s six-stage and Alder­shot the women’s four-stage at Crys­tal Palace

THE SOUTH of Eng­land relays re­turned to Crys­tal Palace af­ter a 30-year ab­sence. Many would pre­fer a re­turn to Rush­moor Arena where the race was held from 1988 to 2015 and Alder­shot’s su­perb or­gan­i­sa­tion but the South of Eng­land seem de­ter­mined to or­gan­ise it them­selves to max­imise rev­enues and the home of their of­fices looks like it could be used in the fu­ture.

De­spite glo­ri­ous sunny weather, it was not an en­tirely suc­cess­ful re­turn but cer­tainly was bet­ter re­ceived by teams and com­peti­tors than the ill-judged and re­mote Bed­ford Au­to­drome of 2016.

There were prob­lems with the course, lack of mar­shalling, pre-en­tries and pre­sen­ta­tions, lack of in­for­ma­tion and com­men­tary – that is, al­most ev­ery­thing but the course, though in need of tweak­ing for dis­tance, at least has po­ten­tial.

The start and fin­ish on the fa­mous track was liked by all, the track in-field has never looked busier or more colour­ful, and the course on the mo­tor rac­ing cir­cuit is a good test al­though it was way too short at just three miles for the men and around 2.3 miles for the women.

The pro­gramme missed a num­ber of teams such as those from Ton­bridge, which meant they were ab­sent from the rather lim­ited results on the day, which had no names on it, and the ab­sence of de­tailed results meant no fastest laps were awarded. As AW went to press, the results were still far from sorted with an in­ex­pe­ri­enced re­lay re­sult provider at this level strug­gling with the size of the event.

Chip tim­ing should have made results quicker but in­stead may have com­pli­cated the is­sue.

With around 600 teams en­tered at an av­er­age en­try fee of around £50 (£60 for the se­nior men), it did mean a rev­enue of over £30,000 which many thought should have been bet­ter spent on the in­fra­struc­ture of the event.

In fu­ture, the event may be bet­ter to re­turn to a two-day af­fair to avoid races hav­ing to start and fin­ish within five min­utes of each other.

SE­NIOR MEN

HIGH­GATE won a com­pet­i­tive se­nior men’s race. They did so with a very con­sis­tent team per­for­mance with their sex­tet run­ning be­tween 14:50 and 15:18.

The ad­ver­tised dis­tance was 6km per leg but the two laps of the old mo­tor rac­ing cir­cuit ended up be­ing less than 5km.

Black­heath and Brom­ley came home first in the open­ing leg through Phil Se­se­mann’s 14:26 as he un­leashed his 3:41 1500m speed over the clos­ing stages and utilised the track fin­ish.

Ma­hamed Ma­hamed of Southamp­ton fol­lowed with a 14:35.

Brahma Pochee brought High­gate in around 200 me­tres back with a 15:18 but they moved closer to the front with a 15:05 from Ro­bel Ba­helbi as Black­heath held the lead through Will Fuller’s 15:10. The fastest on the leg was Jonny Hay, who moved Alder­shot into con­tention with a 14:43 and a par­tic­u­larly strong fin­ish­ing kick on the track.

Al­most as quick was Ser­pen­tine’s Nick Torry, he ran 14:44, and it would have been far away the quick­est M40 time had he not been in the se­nior race.

The third leg saw South of Eng­land 12-stage cham­pi­ons Ton­bridge to the fore as Ge­orge Dug­gan’s 14:42 moved them past High­gate, for whom Shaun Dixon’s 15:04 con­tin­ued their rise to the front.

It also con­tin­ued on the fourth leg as Pete Cham­bers’ 14:53 over­hauled Ton­bridge’s Corey De’Ath’s 15:02, putting them four sec­onds clear.

The fifth leg saw the north Lon­don club im­prove their fastest lap time yet again – this time it was Audun Nordtveit’s 14:50 and this was suf­fi­cient to open a clear lead over Ton­bridge (75:49) and

Alder­shot (75:57).

The lead was enough for Chris Rains­ford to hold con­trol with a 15:02 to al­low High­gate to regain the ti­tle they had pre­vi­ously won in 2015.

The gap closed be­hind as three of the fastest legs of the day fol­lowed but Chris Ol­ley of Ton­bridge’s 14:37 and 14:42 from Alder­shot’s dou­ble na­tional ju­nior cham­pion El­lis Cross’s en­sured the other medals.

Back in fourth, BUCS cross-country cham­pion Alex Teuten brought Southamp­ton up to fourth with a 14:37 to share the third fastest leg with Na­tional fourth-placer Ol­ley.

SE­NIOR WOMEN

Alder­shot con­tin­ued their dom­i­nance, but on the first leg 17-year-old Amelia Quirk led the way. Us­ing the mix­ture of speed that saw her come fourth in the Euro­pean un­der-20 1500m and strength that won the Na­tional ju­nior ti­tle, the Brack­nell AC run­ner shot round in 11:57.

It was not that clear-cut a first leg ‘win’, though, as chas­ing her home was Kingston’s Phoebe Law in

11:59 and Alder­shot’s Katie Bin­gle in 12:04. These stood up as the fastest runs of the day.

At half­way, just three sec­onds cov­ered the lead­ing trio with Cam­bridge and Co­leridge ahead thanks to

Katy Hed­geth­orne’s 12:39, with West Suf­folk level with Alder­shot.

Leg three saw Alder­shot go clear thanks to Philippa Bow­den’s 12:32. South­ern six-stage cham­pi­ons Thames Val­ley moved into con­tention thanks to world cham­pi­onships marathoner Tracy Bar­low’s 12:27, though the quick­est on the leg was Bel­grave’s So­phie Har­ris, who ran 12:05.

On the fi­nal leg, Alder­shot had South of Eng­land cross-country cham­pion Emily Hosker Thorn­hill and a 12:05 to match Har­ris’s time gave them

the win, their 11th in the last 12 years.

Over 100 sec­onds back, Cam­bridge and Co­leridge and West Suf­folk took the other medals.

The men’s race was less than 5km, but the women did a race not much over two miles. The ques­tion re­mains as to why they couldn’t have run the same dis­tance as the men.

The strangest part of the course de­sign was that run­ners in this event had to go twice around a small 800m loop in the mid­dle of the lap, which was im­pos­si­ble to po­lice. That may work in a nor­mal race sit­u­a­tion or on the open­ing leg but not in the later legs when ath­letes are in­ter­min­gling with run­ners a lap ahead or a lap be­hind but pos­si­bly run­ning the same pace.

Two of the top 10 teams listed in the results last Mon­day night clearly ran a loop short and there may have been more fur­ther down.

There were also prob­lems with the un­der-17 men’s race which used the same loop.

A busy day of races un­folded at Crys­tal Palace un­der sunny skies

High­gate Har­ri­ers (left to right): Brahma Pochee, Ro­bel Ba­helbi, Shaun Dixon, Peter Cham­bers, Au­den Nordtveit and Chris Rains­ford won the six-stage ti­tle

The se­nior women’s race gets off and run­ning

Chris Ol­ley:

sil­ver for Ton­bridge

Amelia Quirk: quick­est stage of the day

Peter Cham­bers: put High­gate into the lead

Winners AFD: Katie Bin­gle, Jo Har­vey, Phillipa Bow­den and Emily Hosker Thorn­hill

So­phie Har­ris: quick­est on leg three for

Bel­grave

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