National Road Relays (09/04/2017)

Senior Women, two teams, 28th & 44th. Awaiting Report & Pictures. Results

Senior Men two teams, 22nd & 44th. Awaiting Pictures. Results

Tony Phillips sends us his personal view of the Senior Men's race:-

"The 2017 National 12 Stage Road Relay was held last Saturday, 8th April, in Sutton Park, on a warm, sunny calm day. Some endurance runners would consider 20C too warm, and some runners showed it, finishing with vests soaking in sweat. It was on contrast to some of the cold, windy, and rainy days in the past.

The relay consisted of 6 long stages of 5.36 miles and 6 short ones of 3.165 miles, run alternatively over a demanding course, with fast, flat stretches, and undulating roads, and testing gradients.

The National Road Relay has been held at Sutton Park since 1970, its predecessor being the London to Brighton Road Relay until 1966. It was followed by four events held in Derbyshire and Leicestershire before settling in Sutton Park.

Some of the running greats have taken part over the years including Brendan Foster, Dave Moorcroft, Ian Stewart, Bernie Ford, Eamonn Martin, Richard Nerurkar, Julian Goater, Nick Rose, Steve Jones, among others, as well as Tipton's Tony Milovsorov, Mike Kearns, Alan Rushmer, Ian Stewart, Steve Emson, and Phil Nicholls plus numerous other outstanding Tipton runners like Bob Westwood, and Brian Cole, John Wheway.

Tony Milovsorov, Alan Rushmer, Ian Stewart and Phil Nicholls have all recorded fastest times on their stages, while Tipton Harriers hold the second fastest time of all the Nationals. Only Bristol AC recording a faster time of all in the epic event in 1980 when they beat Tipton.

The course was changed last year by the park officials, against the wishes of the clubs' representatives, so comparisons of best performances will be difficult.

This year two teams from Tipton qualified for the event, and 67 teams started, with 61 completing the course.

Tipton had several runners unavailable, but a number of the team were competing for the club in the national event for the first time.

Among them was Lee Slater, and he had the task of running the first long stage, one that is tough as the clubs want a good start. Some of the fastest on the day opened the relay, and Lee gave Tipton a reasonable start finishing half way in the field in 33rd place in 28 mins. 02 secs.

Paul Hammond, also making his debut on the short stage, running well to pull up six places to 27th in 16 mins. 34 secs. Ben Gamble, who has been in good form in recent weeks continued it with a fast run to gain four places to 23rd, the best of the club's long stagers in 27.34.

Tom Holden followed on the fourth short stage with a steady run dropping two places in 17.07, to be followed by Gareth Griffiths, a junior recently winning his first Welsh vest, and the youngest team member, showing his talent improving two places in 28.22. Philip Wilson pushed the club into the top twenty at the half way mark, improving all the time with a 16.38 stage.

Mike Aspinall took over for the 7th long stage, after a period away from racing, so was below his usual high standards, to place 22nd in 28.46, after a hard effort.

Aaron Brown improved his Midland time by 22 secs. to hold the team position, and achieve a top 10 time on the stage, 16.34. Dean Bate set off on the 9th long stage one that usually has top runners from the clubs, and a critical one to get teams in a position to challenge or maintain leading positions at the three quarter mark.

So after a challenging stage Dean made up a place in 29.24. Gary Whitehouse came into the team after his good performance in the Midland relay, performing well he lost one place to 22nd. Karl Welburn came into the team on the challenging 11th long stage, another important stage to hold or improve position before the final stage when relays can be won or lost. Karl had a disappointing run for him with a time of 30.21.

This left Ian williams to finish the race on the 12th leg, quick for him after his Manchester Marathon 8th place, but he finished in style, picking up a place in running the fastest short stage for the club in 16 mins. 29secs. in 22nd position, and a top 10 time on the final leg.

So the club finished ithe relay in a solid position. Tipton's 'B' team placed 47th, with best runs of Richard Powell on the first long leg in 30 mins. 05 secs and Oz Ellis had a good hard effort on the 4th short stage making up six places in 17.10., comparable with 'A' team runners.

Veteran Paul Rogers had his usual hard run on the long 7th stage, 31.27, and James Booker on the 8th short leg performed well on the short 8th in 18.00. The B team gave those team members a chance to compete in a national event that should motivate them to improve over time.

Tipton Harriers have 15 wins in this National event, with 8 second and 7 third places - the present teams have something to aim for in the future to approach their previous members' performances.

In between times it was stimulating to hear the views of a Tipton great Tony Milovsorov, a fastest stage runner, and a marathon time of 2 hrs. 09 mins. 50 secs., in the London Marathon, and Tony Fern, referred to in a previous article, a former Tipton Harrier and ultra distance runner with the highly successful Tipton team, who moved to Southampton and became a very successful coach. Members should hear their views on running performances and training, and the so-called sophisticated coaching methods, and athletes support services."