The National Road Relays returned last weekend to Sutton Park in the West Midlands as clubs from across the country came together to battle it out and see who would be crowned the new national champions.
Aldershot, Farnham and District showed their fantastic strength and depth of athletes as they took the 1-2 in the women’s 4 stage race, whilst northern powerhouse Leeds City claimed top spot in the men’s six stage event.
Having won the last two years, Aldershot, Farnham and District returned to the relays in fantastic form but retaining their trophy would not be easy. From marathon to 1500m specialists, each club had brought their own set of tactics on the day.
After the first leg, it was previous England representative and Highgate Harrier Jacob Allen (coach: Steve McGowan) who was first home (16:58) with a healthy lead from York’s Angus McMillan (17:12) and Reading’s Jonny Davies (Luke Gunn) on his heels (17:14).
However, the second stage saw a change of leadership with Omar Ahmed (Birchfield, David Lawrence) flying round in 16:38, as eventual winners Leeds City saw themselves break into the top three for the first time thanks to Graham Rush (17:38).
It wasn’t going to be plain sailing for Leeds as Morpeth’s Rory Leonard had an outstanding leg to move his club from 19th place to a staggering 1st in a lightning time of 16:38.
Despite being deep in marathon training for Valencia clocking some 120 miles during the week, Phil Sesemann (Andrew Henderson) showed his grit and strength as he led a charge to take Leeds to a 51 second lead on stage four clocking a 17:03 split.
By stage five all was to play for as World Road Running mile runner-up Callum Elson was fresh off the plane from Riga and hungry for more success, this time representing Cambridge and Coleridge. His achievement on the world-stage clearly wasn’t still in the legs as he continued the trajectory of his teammates and put Cambridge back onto the podium in 2nd place for the time being.
The excitement didn’t stop as the top three chopped and changed once again on the final stage with a fast-finishing Will Barnicoat clocking the quickest time of the day (16:36) to bring Aldershot back onto the podium, settling for silver this year. Breaking the tape and claiming the title for 2023 was Leeds City, brought home by Richard Allen (17:21).
It was a clean sweep for Aldershot Farnham and District as their women’s A and B teams finished in 1st and 2nd place respectively. Having won the title thirteen times since 2007, it was all to play for throughout the four-stage event.
Despite AFD taking the top two spots overall, it was Birchfield’s Lily Partridge who halted her marathon training for the weekend to finish first on the opening stage (13:55). Not only giving Birchfield the lead ahead of Hallamshire’s Lauren McNeil but setting the quickest time which stood for the rest of the race.
Heading into stage two it was the turn of Aldershot’s B team and Lauren Hall (14:24) to take the lead by six seconds from Vale Royal’s Holly Weedall (Andrew Carter) (14:30), with Aldershot A close behind.
On the penultimate leg, Leeds City’s Georgia Malir (Andrew Henderson) (14:33) timed her strike to increase the team’s standing by two places whilst the Aldershot A team remained in third with Lily Coward representing (14:44).
It was a day for the marathon runners to stretch their legs and test their speed as Phily Bowden (Helen Clitheroe) (14:15) executed a fantastic final leg for the Aldershot A team, moving them up two places to top the podium. Finishing some 24 seconds behind was Emily Moyes (14:39) bringing home second place for Aldershot B, with Leeds City’s Eleanor Curran (14:37) completing the podium.