The first All England Marathon Club Team Championships took place in Chester on Sunday 6 October, with three new clubs crowned England Champions. The organisers of the MBNA Chester Marathon once again put on a great event which was enjoyed by runners of all abilities, providing a high-quality race in a fantastic location and a great venue for this new initiative.
This pilot competition format aimed to provide an alternative team competition that both rewarded performance and participation, with mixed teams accumulating points based on a cross-country scoring system. Clubs competed in one of three categories based on their club membership size, enabling smaller clubs to still be competitive in their respective group.
In the A Group, local rivals Newcastle Staffs AC and South Cheshire Harriers battled it out for the title with Newcastle Staffs getting the upper hand and taking their first England club championship title. Daryl Smallwood was the first of the nine person team to finish in a time of 02:50:42. Craig Taylor, Neil Dixon, Paul Tatler, Matthew Basnett, Lindsay Dixon, Michelle Buckle, Carey Dyer all packed in between 02:50 and 03:44, with Sarah Hibbits completing the scoring team in a time of 04:01:03 and giving them a total team score of 140 points.
The club’s motto ‘teamwork makes the dream work’ certainly proved effective!
Lindsay Dixon commented after the race: ‘this was fabulous, unique opportunity to truly perform as a team. Very few competitions unite the men with the women, where both have an important part to play. It is always exciting to see your team mates cross the finish line, but more exciting when so many count towards the final result.’
Team Captain Michelle Buckle, a driving force behind the team’s success was delighted with the result: ‘I loved being part of this competition where literally everyone running for the club in this race was in it to win it. From me personally, I have achieved many things in the marathon, race victories, sub 3 hours, a National medal at London, next week the chance to run for England Masters at the distance and coached many athletes to their own PB's, but Chester gave me a unique opportunity to share a special day with my team mates, training partners, coached athletes and friends. Stressful but loved it and look forward to doing it again.’
South Cheshire were a close second with their first runner, James Nicholls finishing in 02:55:21 and their ninth runner Suzanne Harrison completing in 04:02:32. Kirby Milers AC took bronze with a score of 300 points.
In the B Group, where clubs required 4 male and 3 female runners to score for the team it was West Cheshire AC who comfortably took the title with all seven runners completing in under 4 hours. Daventry Road Runners finished in second with Widnes Running Club in third.
For those clubs competing in the Group C, clubs needed 3 male runner and two female runners to complete the race for a score and it was Matlock AC who took the title with all five runners finishing within just over 40 minutes of each other. North Cotswold Run & Tri finished second and Run Sandymoor third.