There were some tremendous races at Sutton Park as the autumn ERRA Road Relays titles were decided.
As well as the Senior six and four stage events the young athletes were in action on the same day meaning athletes across the age groups were able to cheer on club mates and friends.
Those gathered found that there was plenty for them to be cheering about. The reports on the senior races are below. Click here for reports on the young athletes’ races.
Cardiff came out on top in an epic battle in the men’s race as Tom Marshall (James Thie) slugged out the last leg against Swansea’s Jon Hopkins (Ridley Griffith). While the stampede of spectator’s finished the dash across from seeing the two fighting it out at Keeper’s Pool to the homestraight Marshall was already attacking hard on the last hill and came away to crest the brow and take the tape first.
The opening leg had seen Aldershot, Farnham and District’s Joshua Grace (Mick Woods) leading the teams in three seconds ahead of the Swansea vest of Danal Dester as Liverpool Harriers were also a club which stated their intentions very early as Daniel Cliffe lay fourth behind Mahamed Mahamed (Peter Haynes) of Southampton. At this point Rowan Axe (Craig Winrow) had Cardiff in fifth place as he handed to Matthew Clowes (James Thie).
John Ashcroft (Andrew Henderson) moved Liverpool into pole position courtesy of a 17:40 clocking as Clowes moved Cardiff second as Alex Wall-Clarke of Southampton stayed in the medal positions ahead of Cheltenham & County whose Graham Rush pulled them through with a 17:07 clocking.
The Merseyside club’s lead was maintained by Cameron Field (Julian Field) as Sale moved second thanks to Jaimie Roden (Paul Roden) and Cardiff went third with Carwyn Hastings. While Phil Wylie kept Cheltenham fourth Swansea were still very much in the fray with Guy Smith (George Edwards) clocking a 17:59.
It was then that Swansea unleashed Dewi Griffiths (Kevin Evans), with the UK CAU cross country champion and British 10,000m bronze medallist haring around the course in 16:49 for the second fastest time of the day. Ieuan Thomas (James Thie) was second home for Swansea with Dejene Gezimu (Anthony Clarke) completing the medal positions ahead of Aldershot, Farnham and District’s Jack Rowe (Mick Woods).
The three teams in the medal positions were destined to be locked in a battle covering the last two legs. While the fifth stage saw Olympic 5,000m finalist Andrew Butchard (Derek Easton) blaze the fastest time of the day to carry Central ten places through the field to sixth with a 16:29 the gap to the medallists was starting to grow.
Michael Kallenburg (James Thie) moved Cardiff back ahead of Swansea’s Jonathan Tobin (Kevin Tobin) and Ben Stevenson (John Pentecost) consolidated Liverpool’s third position.
Then came the last leg battle between Marshall and Hopkins that saw Hopkins claw back the gap only to see Marshall move clear in the dying stages with just enough time to be able to break into celebrations just before he crossed the line. Mathew Jackson (Bud Baldaro) was through in third to secure the bronze medals for Liverpool Harriers.
As with the men’s race the women’s four stage relay all came down to the last leg. This time it was Aldershot, Farnham and District’s Louise Small (Mick Woods) who completed her club’s progress through the field to take them from second to first as she clocked an impressive 14:20. Louise Webb (Bud Baldaro) ensured there were silver medals for Birchfield as she opened out the gap back to Cardiff’s Carys Hughes.
Phoebe Law (Kingston & Poly, Mick Woods) was home first at the end of the first stage in 14:29 but with no runner for her to hand over to Claire Duck (Mike Baxter) and Leeds City were effectively race leaders as Duck handed on to Lucy Crookes (Matt Esche). Rachael Burns (Liverpool Harriers, was third home on that first stage whilst Aldershot, Farnham and District at this point lay fourth with Philippa Bowden (Mick Woods).
While Crookes ensured the Yorkshire club held throughout the second leg Birchfield’s Katie Allen (Eddie Cockayne) was moving the club up to second after Sara Treacy’s (Bud Baldaro) fifth placed opening. Cambridge and Coleridge hit third place after Victoria Knight’s 14:38 as AFD went fifth with Laura Gent (Luke Gunn). Cardiff were lying in 12th after Kath Marshall’s (James Thie) second leg moved them from 27th after the opener.
But the half way point is often a critical stage of the race and so it proved. Nicole Roberts put in a 14:41 as Birchfield went into the lead. Emily Hosker-Thornhill (Joe Franklin) put Aldershot into second with a 14:29. But even faster was Charlotte Arter (James Thie) who made major moves for Cardiff on fourth leg taking 14:16 to move them into third.
So it was Louise Small (Mick Woods) set out on the anchor leg for Aldershot, Farnham and District and was able to catch and pass Webb from the Midlands club to secure the gold medals for Aldershot with the Birchfield team taking silver and Cardiff bronze.
The honour of fastest leg of the day went to Kate Hulls (Chris Frapwell) who went sub-14 to take the honour ahead of Jessica Judd’s (Chelmsford, Mick Judd) 14:11.