SOUTHERN ROAD RELAYS
GUERNSEY’S WOMEN AND ALDERSHOT’S MEN GAINED VICTORY AT CRYSTAL PALACE ON SUNDAY
Guernsey enjoyed an unexpected women’s four-stage victory while Aldershot’s men took the six-stage senior men’s title at Crystal Palace
ALDERSHOT’S men and Guernsey’s women won the senior titles in style at Crystal Palace as the event finished in bright sunshine having started in torrential rain so bad it resulted in the nearby Kent Masters Championships being abandoned.
Aldershot, who have so long dominated the women’s event, could only finish fifth there this time, but they were the most successful club of the day with four men’s gold medals.
Yet again, the event struggled with some aspects of the organisation. The venue is not popular amongst officials and many runners found the route too narrow in places. A loop to make up the distance – an outand-back section in and around a car park – was a particular health and safety concern, as was the exit from the track with 150 men squeezing through a narrow gap after the start while women runners were also entering the stadium through the same gap to finish.
ALDERSHOT won their sixth senior men’s title in an exciting six-stage relay contest, only taking the lead on the final leg.
Only seventh on the first leg through Ben Bradley, Luke Prior moved them up to sixth. On the third leg Josh Grace’s 17:36 put them up to third.
Ricky Harvie maintained third on leg four before former double National junior champion Ellis Cross moved them up to second on leg five.
Richard Allen, who was second to Mo Farah in the Vitality 10,000 British Championships, soon made up the 200m gap ahead and by the finish he had reversed the margin to win by 35 seconds.
Tonbridge had to settle for second for the third year running. They were always in a medal position. Cory De’ath started with a 17:30 and they moved up to second on leg three with Ryan Driscoll, who was fifth in the British Championships steeplechase, moved up to second on leg three although their fastest was Henry Pearce who ran 17:09 on leg four.
Dominic Brown kept them ahead on leg five but George Duggan, who won National titles as a youngster in 2010 and 2012, was unable to repel Allen on the last leg.
Cambridge and Coleridge took third. They went ahead on leg two through the greatly improved Jonathan Escalante Phillips, who ran 17:30, and then European under-18 1500m champion, Thomas Keen, who was in Cambridge’s winning under-17 team last year, kept them ahead on leg three.
Hercules Wimbledon continued their recent
improvement to take fourth while Southampton and Shaftesbury completed the top six.
Mo Aadan, who led the opening leg for Thames Valley, ran the fastest leg with 17:07.
Kent AC won their fifth successive M40 gold which is just as well as last year’s engraver accidentally put 2018 down on the trophy last year!
They started well enough with their opening leg runner Rob Laing a close second on 19:04 just behind leg leader Andy Leach of North Herts (19:03), who is actually in the M50 category.
North Herts stayed ahead of Kent on leg two before a 19:23 on leg three put them ahead. Though well out on his own, a 19:02 on leg four from their final leg runner Che Compton narrowly proved the fastest of the day and gave them a clear minute victory over North Herts.
Herne Hill Harriers, who won the event back in 2008 and 2009, were third throughout. Aldershot dominated the M50 race though the fastest leg though went to John James, who was the fastest M40 back in 2009 and 2010, and his 19:19 compared well to the leading M40s here.
Colchester and defending champions South London took the other medals.
The latter were also defending their M60 crown and with ease they won by over three minutes anchored by new M60 John Foss, a former London marathon age-group winner. Foss’s 21:55 just lost out on fastest leg though to Oxford’s BMAF 5000m champion Brian Green, who ran 21:54 also on the last leg.
Oxford, who had won the title the previous decade until finishing second last year, were again second while former multi World and European masters medallist David Wilcock moved Barnet into third on the last leg to win their sixth medal in the last eight years.
THE women’s race saw a firsttime victory for Guernsey. It was a superb win for the Islanders which no one anticipated when Laura McCarthy came in 24th on the opening leg in 18:07 – a total of 80 seconds behind first leg ‘winner’ Amy Clements, who moved Kent clear with a 16:27 after a strong second lap.
At halfway they were still anonymous as Jenny James’ 17:33 advanced them to ninth. At this stage they were two minutes down on leaders Wycombe Phoenix, who had moved from eighth to first thanks to a sparkling 16:17 from Pippa Woolven. Winchester and Cambridge and Coleridge were in the other medal positions at this time.
Wycombe stayed ahead on leg three but Highgate closed menacingly through Hannah Viner’s 17:28 and a fine 16:45 from Commonwealth Games representative Sarah Mercier moved them into a challenging third.
Louise Perrio was clearly the strongest of the leaders on the last lap and a 16:59 moved her away to a comfortable 50 seconds victory as Highgate and Wycombe bagged the other medals.
Both Cambridge and Aldershot – the only previous winners in the last 10 years – completed the top five within a minute of the medals.
Marathon international Tracy Barlow was the fastest last leg, moving Thames Valley into the top 10 with a 16:41.
As per Monday afternoon, the results were showing Anne Marie Smith of South London as fastest with a 15:31 although it is presumed Woolven will be awarded the fastest leg award once investigated properly.
Winchester regained the masters title they won back in 2014 and 2015, remarkably with an all over-50 squad.
On leg one a lightly-raced former world masters champion Lucy Elliott, who was fastest in those two years of Winchester’s success, ran 18:09 and trailed fellow W50 and former fastest Clare Elms’ 17:48.
Fellow W50 Maria Heslop then took over the fastest leg honours as she ran a 17:38 on
leg two, moving Tonbridge from seventh to third.
South London went ahead on leg two through Sue McDonald but Winchester were back ahead on leg three. The final leg then saw world W50 champion Kath Bailey (18:17) repel South London’s Mary James’ 18;15 and win by 17 seconds, as Teresa Murphy moved Kent into third on the final leg.
While most of the fastest legs were set by W50s, some younger vets competed in the senior race and W45 Julie Briggs ran 17:17 there for Arena.
APART from winning the senior men’s and M50 gold, Aldershot’s younger male athletes were also in form.
Only sixth at halfway in the under-17 race, they came through strongly with Will Barnicoat’s 15:08 anchor leg proving decisive.
Hastings’ National fourthplacer George Pool was fastest with a 15:05 on leg one.
Aldershot did even better in the under-15 boys’ race as they were first and second.
Their A team was languishing back in 19th after leg one and were only ninth at halfway, 48 seconds in arrears of their B team who led legs two and three but Will Jerome’s 10:05 moved the A squad up to second
Ryan Martin’s 10:14 anchor was enough to bring their A team to golds ahead of their B team.
South London’s Felix Vaughan was fastest with a 9:52 although his team failed to finish.
Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow won the under15s and led all the way after Charlotte Dewar put them
narrowly ahead on leg one with a 11:22.
Eloisa Harris extended the advantage on leg two and Jasmine Young kept the lead around the 20-second margin with a 11:17.
It was close for fastest leg though as Bracknell’s Nathalie Camp (11:14) was less than a second quicker than Aldershot’s anchor leg Pippa Roessler as a healthy 66 teams finished the event.
Shaftesbury Barnet won an exciting under-17 women’s race by just four seconds.
Lia Radus was third after leg one before Freya Stapleton gave them a clear lead which Grace Ingles retained on leg three though the gap was closed to four seconds by a strong last leg from Bedford’s Scarlett Dalrymple.
Bedford also provided the fastest leg through Tia Wilson 10:59 opening leg ahead of Tonbridge’s Katie Goodge’s 11:04.
Tonbridge fared better in the under-13 girls’ race. Lily Stack’s 11:27 gave them an early lead and took the fastest lap award and Sophie Stack and Olivia Breed extended the gap to almost a minute over Chiltern.
Isaac Morris gave Cambridge and Coleridge an early lead in the under-13 boys’ race with a 10:45 and Lewis Buchallet kept them ahead on leg two, while Matthew Smith and Luca McGrath kept them clear.
William Rabjohns, who has dominated the under-13 boys age group all year, ran the fastest leg for Poole with a 10:34 anchor stage, passing 14 runners in his 3km run around the Crystal Palace course.
Winning Alderhot, Farnham & District team: Ben Bradley, Luke Prior, Josh Grace, Ricky Harvie, Ellis Cross and Richard Allen
The men’s race gets underway on Sunday on a course at Crystal Palace that wasn’t to everyone’s liking
Senior women charge away in the battle for honours intheir four-stage race
Winners: Louise Perrio, Laura McCarthy, Sarah Mercier and Jenny James
Jasmine Young: U15 girls’ win for WSEH
Isaac Morris: led off U13 boys winners Cambridge & Coleridge