A sunny Sutton Park hosted the English Road Running Association’s Men’s 12 Stage and Women’s 6 Stage Road Relay Championships, as Tonbridge AC and Leeds City AC emerged victorious.
Medals were also up for grabs in the ERRA English 5k championships for Under 17 and Under 15 athletes earlier on in the day.
Men’s 12 Stage
In the Men’s 12 Stage race Tonbridge AC held their lead from the 7th leg onwards to secure the Championship title ahead of 2016 winners Highgate Harriers.
Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers were the early pace setters as Jake Shelley (David Chalfen) completed the fourth fastest long leg of the day (26.10) with just 1 second separating him from Birchfield Harriers athlete Will Richardson (Peter Stewart). Wondiye Indelbu followed just four seconds after to ensure Leeds City AC were also off to a good start.
On the 2nd leg Kieran Clements extended Shaftesbury’s lead with a speedy short leg of 15:25, the fourth fastest of the day. Dominic Brown’s (Mark Hookway) strong leg moved Tonbridge AC up four places to second while Gus Cockle (Mick Woods) clocked the third fastest time of the day in 15:24 to move Aldershot Farnham & District AC up into third position at the handover. Further down the field Kieran Wood (James Thie) of Cambridge & Coleridge AC was on his way to the fastest short leg of the day with his time of 15:06 propelling them up 19 places into 22nd.
The leading pack continued to change during the 3rd leg as Charlie Hulson (Steve Vernon) powered to a 26:15 lap to move Liverpool Harriers & AC up four places to become the new frontrunners, trailed by Mark Pearce of Shaftesbury in second. Charlie Joslin-Allen (James Thie) handed over to Tonbridge AC teammate Jamie Goodge in third, and a strong lap by Goodge ensured the leaders changed again as they moved to the top for the first time going into the fifth leg.
It was at this point that Highgate Harriers came to the fore with Andrew Maud racing ahead with a third best long leg of the day (26:08) moving them from fifth and eventually past Tonbridge AC’s George Duggan (Mark Hookway) for the lead. The top two positions remained the same at the half way point, as Alex Crossland maintained a lead for Highgate, although Alasdair Kinloch (Mark Hookway) ensured Tonbridge AC were still hot on their tails. Third place was currently being held by Leeds City AC after Ossama Meslek (Philip Townsend) went around in a rapid 15.21, also taking the second fastest leg of the day in the process.
Max Nicholls (Peter Brenchley) regained Tonbridge’s lead in the seventh leg, while Emile Cairess (Philip Townsend) was making inroads for Leeds City AC while chasing behind second place Highgate. Alex Yee (Kenneth Pike) meanwhile produced an absolutely storming leg for Kent AC, leapfrogging them 12 places into sixth, his time of 24:57 was the top long leg of these Championships.
Positions were maintained during the eighth leg with Tonbridge AC’s Jamie Bryant and Highgate’s Fergal Smithwick clocking the same times. Tonbridge’s Christopher Olle (Mark Hookway) established some daylight between the teams in the ninth leg, which also proved a productive leg for last year’s Champions Swansea Harriers as Kristian Jones’s solid run moved them ahead of Leeds City AC and into third place.
With just three laps to go time was running out for Highgate in chasing down leaders Tonbridge AC, and Tonbridge’s Kieran Reilly (Mark Hookway) ensured the leading margin remained constant going into the eleventh leg before Ryan Driscoll (Mark Hookway) put the burners on to increase their lead over Highgate by a further 30 seconds giving them a seemingly unassailable two-minute lead. Swansea Harriers in third with Phillip Matthews, were also quickly pulling away from Leeds City AC in their push for a medal, while also bringing them within 30 seconds of Highgate.
Those top four clubs got away prior to the final leg mass start, which meant the remaining clubs results were determined by aggregated times, which may have made positions on the road difficult to gauge for those athletes.
Highgate Harrier Robert Wilson made a valiant attempt at chasing down Tonbridge’s Sean Molloy, clawing back over 40 seconds, but the gap was such that Molloy was able to stroll through the line in emphatic style to claim his team’s gold medal victory in a total time of 4:17:24. Matthew Rees ensured that Swansea Harriers secured the bronze medal, while Leeds City AC were the third English team to cross the line.
Women’s 6 Stage
In the Women’s 6 Stage race it was a tussle between Leeds City AC and Cambridge & Coleridge AC throughout, with Leeds City AC eventually coming through strongly in the latter stages to successfully defend their 2017 title.
The first leg saw Thames Valley Harriers take an early lead courtesy of Annmarie Mcglynn’s 29.39 which proved to be the third fastest long leg of the day while Stephie Pennycook (John Lees) of Fife AC bagged the fourth fastest time of the day to hand over in second place ahead of Leeds City AC’s Claire Duck (Mike Baxter).
Julia Paternain flew out on the second leg on her way to the days fastest short leg of 17.02 lifting Cambridge and Coleridge four places right up into first position, while Georgia Malir (Andrew Henderson) overtook Alison Mcgill of Fife AC to put Leeds City AC into the top two. Natasha Hatswell (Nigel Brookes) kicked to a 5th fastest short leg of the day (17.39) to help Rotherham Harriers & AC leap nine places into third, while Herne Hill’s Fiona Demauny and Highgate’s Emma Burgess were chasing hard in 4th and 5th respectively.
The third leg saw Kelly Grant maintaining Cambridge and Coleridge AC’s place as frontrunners at the half-way point, while Heather Sellars continued to put pressure on behind her for the chasing Leeds City AC, who were clearly not ready to give up their title without a fight. A very strong run by Southampton AC’s Jen Elkins ensured they also staked their claim as one of the challengers.
A sublime fourth leg run by Stevie Stockton (Rob Denmark) of Leeds City AC, saw her clock the second quickest long leg of the day (29.22) to overtake Katy Hedgethorne of Cambridge and Coleridge AC, and therefore taking a place at the front of the pack. Stockton’s time was only bettered by Tracy Barlow’s (Nick Anderson) superb 29.07 which had moved Thames Valley Harriers up seven places into fifth during the same leg. Meanwhile Rotherham Harriers & AC climbed up into third place thanks to a solid leg by Hayley Carruther (Gary Warhurst).
Alice Leake put in a commanding running display in the penultimate leg for Leeds City AC to move them even further ahead of their rivals going into the last leg. Rebecca Frake led the chasing pack for Cambridge & Coleridge Ac, while Nicola Devine (David Tune) of Rotherham Harriers & Ac and Tessa Hill of Highgate Harriers ensured their clubs still had hopes of challenging for medals.
There were to be no big surprises in the final leg as Lucy Crookes (Philip Townsend) stormed home in the joint 3rd fastest short leg time of the day (17:24) to grab a well-deserved gold medal for Leeds City AC in a total time of 2:11:27. There was a gap of 2 minutes and 52 seconds to Silver medallists Cambridge & Coleridge AC, led home by Holly Archer (Gordon Palmer) while Sophie Cowper (Gary Warhurst) helped Rotherham Harriers & AC claim the bronze medal with a total time of 2:15:45.
Young Athletes' 5k championships
Earlier in the day the ERRA 5k Championships saw young athletes compete for U17 and U15 titles. In the U17 Men’s race Worcester AC’s George Beardmore (Coach: David Walker) took the win in 16.19, ahead of Rugby & Northampton AC’s Matthew Chronicle who took Silver followed by Wirral AC’s Tom Spence (Coach: Ian McBain) in third.
Aldershot Farnham & District’s Katriona Brown (Mick Woods) took the U17 Women’s victory in 19.50, ahead of teammate Josie Cox in second, and Gina Rawlinson of Wolverhampton & Bilston in third. More medals went to Aldershot Farnham & District AC in the U15 boys race as Ryan Martin (Mick Woods) took gold with his time of 16.41, while fellow teammate Michael Gar took bronze behind Bury AC’s Brandon Quinton (Geoff Little). In the U15 Girls race Katie Goodge of Tonbridge AC secured victory with a time of 19:05, with Vale Royal AC’s Megan Dingle (Liz Nuttall) taking Silver ahead of third placed Rachel Gillett (Aldershot Farnham & District; Coach: Mick Woods).