MID­LANDS ROAD RELAYS

BIRCH­FIELD AND BRIS­TOL & WEST BOTH WIN THE SE­NIOR EVENTS IN STYLE

Athletics Weekly - - nEWS - REPORT: MARTIN DUFF PICTURES: DAVID GRIFFITHS

Bris­tol & West’s men and Birch­field’s women tri­umph at Sut­ton Park

THERE was a sense of déjà-vu as Birch­field made it three in a row in the women’s race and Bris­tol & West re­tained their men’s ti­tle. The vet­eran men’s race again saw Le­ices­ter Cori­ta­nian come out on top while, in the age group races, Wreake & Soar Val­ley took two girls titles.

SE­NIOR MEN

OVER the same 5.88km lap as last year, the two West Country clubs – Chel­tenham and even­tual winners Bris­tol – came out on top.

Af­ter a slow start and fall­ing nearly a minute down at the mid-point, Bris­tol fought their way back to win by 32 sec­onds as Stephen Mitchell took the glory leg in 17:51.

Course spe­cial­ist Gra­ham Rush built on the lead given to him by Chel­tenham club-mate Dave Roper, to ex­tend their lead over Bris­tol mid-race, as he again posted the fastest time of the day. His 17:35 was just two ticks quicker than Bris­tol’s Dan Stud­ley on the next lap, but said: “I was a bit down on last year and be­hind where I wanted to be, but I took it out and wanted to ex­tend the lead.” He added that “it was a bit muddy un­der the trees”.

Phil Beast­all kept Chel­tenham ahead, on stage four, with a use­ful 17:53, say­ing: “that was a course record for me,” but his side could not main­tain the chal­lenge and grad­u­ally fell back into the clutches of their ri­vals. Ben

Price kept them ahead on the penul­ti­mate lap but said: “It was tough run­ning on your own.”

Bris­tol’s job was com­pleted by Jarath McKenna and Mitchell, who said of Chel­tenham, af­ter he had taken the lead mid-stage: “They mid­dle-loaded but we made it as even as pos­si­ble.”

Ear­lier, Peter Brookes had won a steady first stage for Tip­ton with an 18:00 clock­ing af­ter bat­tling with Heanor’s Joe Rains­ford, but his young squad drifted off the pace to even­tu­ally place a dis­tant fourth.

Mid-race ef­forts from Alex Tovey and Will Richard­son had boosted Birch­field’s chances but their chal­lenge fal­tered and they fin­ished a minute down in third.

The vet­eran men’s six-stage event was in­cor­po­rated and Le­ices­ter re­tained their ti­tle by nearly two min­utes. They had led on the open­ing leg through Gor­don Lee’s 19:31 be­fore ced­ing the ad­van­tage and then fin­ish­ing strongly to win from Tip­ton, with Wolver­hamp­ton third.

Tip­ton led go­ing into the fi­nal leg, but Chris Jor­dan’s 19:43 and 19:19 from Mark Pow­ell se­cured the Le­ices­ter vic­tory.

Mark Could­well set the fastest mas­ters time of 19:17 on stage two as he had taken Charn­wood into con­tention but they fell back to wind up out­side the medals.

SE­NIOR WOMEN

Birch­field’s win made it three in a row as the women again ran over the shorter 4.33km lap and led through­out af­ter Re­becca Straw posted the fastest lap of the day, by front-run­ning 14:43 on the opener.

The 22-year-old for­mer Mid­land cross-country cham­pion, who only re­turned to com­pe­ti­tion in July af­ter nearly two years out due to car­ti­lage surgery.

Of her run, she ad­mit­ted to be­ing sur­prised by her per­for­mance and to “watch­ing

to see what the Bris­tol girl was do­ing” in the early stages.

The Bris­tol girl in ques­tion was Eli­nor Davis, who fol­lowed Shaw home in 14:50.

Mari Smith then ex­tended Birch­field’s ad­van­tage on stage two, to nearly a minute, as the places be­hind changed with Chel­tenham ad­vanc­ing to sec­ond, thanks to Gil­lian Palmer’s 15:00. Smith said: “I had a good sum­mer do­ing 800s in 2:04 and had all of the men to race with.”

Bry­ony Gunn main­tained the lead on the penul­ti­mate stage, de­spite a chal­lenge from Chel­tenham’s Hi­lary Mott but said: “It was tough chas­ing the men ahead.”

Birch­field were still well clear and Katie Allen was able to round things off for the ‘Stags’ and said: “The girls did the work but I worked hard all the way to get a quick time.”

West­bury’s Han­nah Hobbs was sec­ond-fastest over­all as she moved up from tenth to just out­side the medals on the fi­nal stage, with 14:49. They were nar­rowly pipped by Bris­tol & West who took bronze.

AGE GROUP RACES

WREAKE & SOAR VAL­LEY won the un­der-13 race last year but here added the un­der-15 ti­tle as well. Some of their win­ning un­der-13s moved up this year and, al­though not fig­ur­ing near the front of the un­der-17 race, where Charn­wood won by more than a minute, they are on the march.

The un­der-13 and un­der-15 age groups, both boys and girls and the un­der-17 men, all saw the over­all quick­est laps com­ing from the open­ing stage winners.

For the un­der-17 men, Soli­hull & Small Heath’s Chris McLeod ‘won’ in 11:56, but it was Notts who nar­rowly took the ti­tle.

Charn­wood might have won as they placed three teams in the top five. Their A team slipped up on the sec­ond stage, al­low­ing their third squad to take sil­ver af­ter a fine 12:19 from Dan Maud on the an­chor leg, as Oliver Rouse pulled the A squad to third with 12:12.

How­ever he and they were de­nied bronze medals as a club can only take one set. This al­lowed fourth-placed Can­nock, who had Josh Ward run 12:14 on stage one, to take bronze.

Ryan Shields had en­sured that Birch­field’s un­der-15 boys got off to a good start with the quick­est lap of 12:38 and, al­though pressed by Wreake and Taun­ton, held on to win nar­rowly.

Ex­eter won the un­der-13 boys race. They usu­ally com­pete in the South of Eng­land cham­pi­onships but their team man­ager said it was down to “lo­gis­tics”. Worces­ter’s An­drew Jeav­ons had ‘won’ the un­der-13 open­ing stage with a run­away 13:16, as the stage yielded seven of the top ten times. Ex­eter were sixth there, but Oliver Capps and Char­lie Hin­gus saw them win by over a minute.

Wreake’s girls were taken to sec­ond by Rachel Nealon af­ter Katie Parker’s un­der-15 opener, be­fore Holly Gam­ble rounded things off with 14:12.

Ear­lier West­bury’s Dalis Jones had ‘won’ the first leg in 14:02, two sec­onds up on Wolves’

El­lie Sam­ple for the two fastest un­der-15 times.

Wreake had ear­lier also come from be­hind to nar­rowly win the un­der-13 race from Birch­field, whose Amy Har­land gave them a good start with the fastest 14:16.

Charn­wood had Mia Atkin­son to thank for their un­der-17 women’s vic­tory as she took them from fifth to gold on the last leg, with the fastest time of 14:23.

Mid­land se­nior men’s 6-stage winners Bris­tol & West (l-r): Miles Chan­dler, Jack Mil­lar, Daniel Stud­ley, Jarath McKenna and Stephen Mitchell

Start of the se­nior men’s 6-stage re­lay

Phil Beast­all: pro­duced a run of 17:53

Stephen Mitchell: helped Bris­tol fight back to win

Re­becca Straw: made a strong start for Birch­field

Winners Birch­field: Re­becca Straw, Mari Smith, Bry­ony Gunn and Katie Allen

Wreake & Soar Val­ley un­der-13 girls’ team

Ryan Shields: ran a quick­est lap of 12:38

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