NORTHERN ROAD RELAYS
CLAIRE DUCK COMPLETES LEEDS’ SUCCESS AS LINCOLN RETAIN MEN’S RELAYS TITLE AT SPORT CITY
Lincoln Wellington retain their men’s crown as Claire Duck anchors Leeds City to victory in the women’s race at Manchester’s Sport City
THE RAIN which had been forecast thankfully did not materialise and the races took place in glorious sunshine, albeit with a late hail storm that only affected back markers in the senior races. There was, however, a cold wind that hampered the runners across the open spaces of the Etihad Stadium car park, where much of the race unfolded.
This did not hinder Leeds’ women or Lincoln Wellington’s men, who retained their title after taking the lead mid-race, though the wind slowed their time compared to last year.
There were issues with the course, as Lincoln’s women were disqualified for inadvertently cutting a corner and more than one of the women’s teams mistakenly ran the longer men’s lap. They reported their problems to race referee Terry Bailey.
The fastest laps went to Charlie Hulson for the men and Jess Judd for the women. In the young athletes’ races Vale Royal took two of the girls’ titles and Lincoln lined up their men’s future with an under-17 men’s victory.
Lincoln had an easier run than last year when they didn’t hit the front until the last lap. Here, it was fourth-stage runner Lucien Allison who was their quickest with 19:40, as he moved up to take the lead after starting third.
Shane Robinson and Matt Bowser then rounded things off. “I was a minute ahead and for the last mile I just didn’t push it,” said Bowser, whose 19:44 was Lincoln’s second-best effort.
Earlier, Charlie Hulson had given Liverpool a good start before they conceded to Stockport’s Jack Martin at the end of the second leg. Hulson, whose 19:30 for the 6.4km double lap was the fastest of the race, said: “It was windy but I broke clear on the second lap.”
Explaining why he had not been even faster, he reported that he had work problems during the summer which had restricted his training time.
After a steady start, as Aaron Scott put them in seventh, holders Lincoln moved up to third after lap two, through James Straw, as Martin had taken Stockport to the lead on that second stage and his 19:34 was the third best of the day. “It was very tough in the wind as there was nowhere to hide,” said Martin, whose club had three of the top eight times but, without back up, could only finish sixth.
Liverpool had been back in front through Dejene Gezimu at halfway, as his fourth best effort of 19:38 saw him ahead of Derby. Lincoln were third at this point after Tom Straw’s 19:59.
Leeds progressed throughout the race after a 25th spot opening lap and new signing
Phil Sesemann was their quickest with the day’s secondbest effort of 19:31 on stage four as they closed up on the podium places to fourth.
Ollie Lockley and Linton Taylor then continued their advance by shunting Liverpool down to third, but they were still 81 seconds behind Lincoln at the finish.
Fourth-placed Derby had a sniff of a podium place after Richard Weir’s 19:45 had seen them move up to second midrace, but they then slipped back into an isolated fourth.
With their second string taking the B team award and their under-17s also winning, Lincoln Wellington look well set for the future and also their National 12-stage aspirations.
Stevie Stockton led the first lap for Leeds after joining them from Vale Royal last year. “I took it easy on the first lap before I moved to the front,” said the 29-year-old. “I had a difficult summer and was off from June until now,” added Stockton, whose time for the 5.4km double lap was 20:24.
Leeds then lost the lead as Leigh took over thanks to Lauren Howarth’s 20:22. Then Laura Riches increased Leigh’s advantage to 35 seconds.
But at the finish Claire Duck sealed the Leeds victory with a 20:40 clocking after steaming past Leigh’s Abigail Howarth.
“I had to work hard to catch her at the start of the second lap,” said Duck. “It was nice to get back after a few weeks off.”
Howarth had enough in hand to withstand a challenge from Rotherham’s Sophie Cowper on that last leg, but fourth-placed Salford were nearly two minutes down.
Also, on the final lap and deep in the field, Jess Judd turned out for her new club Blackburn and posted the quickest women’s lap time of 19:52 in moving up nine places to 10th. She said: “That was hard work, especially after two weeks’ holiday as I only came back on Friday.”
The day began with the under-13 age group races and, with many youngsters having their first ever outing, there were falls and fights in the first few metres before they settled down.
The first gold went to City of Sheffield & Dearne, who retained their under-13 boys’ title as Salford followed but the fastest lap times went elsewhere. Jack Spark moved Sale up to third from eighth on the final leg with the fastest split of 11:32 for their 3.1km circuit. His time was equalled by James McGraw, who had scythed through from 43rd to 18th on lap two for East Cheshire.
Liverpool then followed behind to take the under-13 girls’ event from Rotherham and Chorley. On the final leg Freya Murdoch moved Stockport from eighth to fifth with the quickest effort of 12:40.
Morpeth took the under-15 boys from Salford, who had
Sam Hopkins comfortably fastest overall with 10:47. Vale
Royal moved up on the final stage of the under-15 girls’ race through Holly Weedall’s fastest lap time of 11:45, from Longwood and Wirral.
After being fastest under-13 last year, Weedall said: “I moved up this year but it was quite windy.”
Team-mate Grace Roberts was second best with 12:20.
Lincoln then triumphed in the under-17 men’s race and did so after second leg runner Luke Stonehewer moved up from 10th to the lead on lap two with the under-17 men’s third best time of 11:21.
Joe Green then brought them home, despite complaining of stomach problems, as Leeds and Houghton followed to complete the podium placings.
Many had thought that Max Burgin, the world’s fastest 15 and 16-year-old 800m runner with 1:47.36, would shine on the opening under-17 stage but it was not to be and he was 13th behind leader Matt McKay.
The Rossendale Harrier’s 11:14 stood up as the fastest of the race and he said: “I took the lead on the way out past the stadium but the wind was strong when coming back.”
Leeds’ Ethan Hussey was second best overall with 11:18 on the final stage but, although closing on leaders Lincoln, could not get close enough to challenge.
The under-17 women’s race saw Holly Smith move Vale
Royal up from second last year to win by a good margin from Salford and Houghton after her fastest lap time of 12:48.
The senior men’s race got underway in bright sunshine
Continued success: Lincoln (l to r) Matt Bowser, Tom Straw, James Straw, AaronScott, Shane Robinson and Lucien Allison retained their senior men’s title
The senior women get off and running at Sport City
Women’s winners Leeds City (l to r): Stevie Stockton, Georgia Malir, Claire Duck and Emma Clayton show off their medals after finishing first in Manchester
Jessica Judd: quickest women’s leg of the day
Charlie Hulson: ran 19:30 for 6.4km
Blackpool’s Emily Japp leads from Leeds’ Stevie Stockton on leg one
Morpeth hero: Dylan Davieshelps his clubto the U15 win
Holly Weedall: her fast final lap led Vale Royal tovictory
Joe Green secures the U17 men’s race for Lincoln