National 6-stage Road Relay Champs – Birmingham – Sat 07 Oct 2017

Saturday 7th October 2017 marked a great day in the history of Ealing Southall & Middlesex AC, writes Phil York, as the senior men took part in the National 6-stage road relays at Sutton Park near Birmingham. Never before, to our knowledge, had the club fielded a team in this competition. It was a proud moment when the squad, comprising Jamie Taylor-Caldwell, Ben Waterman, Moe Hashi, Mukhtar Farah, Sam Ashcroft and Chris Hepworth, finished 46th out of the 82 teams. This was the same tight-knit group of runners who secured a comfortable qualification from the Southern Counties 6-stage event at Crystal Palace in September. The performance was all the more remarkable for the fact that all six athletes were returning from taking a well-deserved break at the end of the summer track and field season.

Jamie, Sam, Mukhtar, Ben, Moe and Chris

The opening leg in these relays is always a bit fast and furious, but Jamie T-C got the club off to a solid start, coming home in 58th place. During the summer, Jamie set a new club record over 5000m, but was a little unhappy with his run over this undulating 5.8km road course. 800m specialist Ben Waterman advanced ESM to 54th position at the end of the second leg.

Moe on his way to clocking the team’s fastest time of the day

The team’s fastest leg of the day went to Moe Hashi with a swift 19:01, gaining six places as the race settled down during the third leg. Cheered on by the watching Steve Mann, Tony Hepworth and Phil York, the youngest member of the team Mukhtar Farah kept the club in 48th position. At national level, margins are tight and there is no room for error over these short relay legs. Sam Ashcroft, although lightly raced this year, produced a solid 19:29 to lift the club one place. On the final leg, Chris Hepworth made a cautious start and by the final incline had closed on several teams just ahead of him. He overtook the Cardiff runner just ten metres from the finish line, and our heroes finished in an amazing 46th position. It brought a tear to my eye!

Many of you are used to covering 5km at parkrun and would appreciate that a time of 17 minutes represents a very decent performance. At Sutton Park our runners times were all very consistent (only 40 seconds between the fastest and the slowest) over the longer distance of 5.8km, and equate to an average of 16:33 over 5km. Fast running! The quickest leg of the day was in fact 16:40 by Swansea’s up and coming Dewi Griffiths.

The six team members will be travelling to Claybury this Saturday for the opening Met League fixture – looking forward to seeing lots of other ESM men lining up alongside them.

Summary team results:

1st team – Swansea Harriers 1:45:16

2nd team – Tonbridge AC 1:46:30

3rd team – Lincoln Wellington AC 1:46:34

46th team – Ealing Southall & Middlesex AC 1:56:07

82 teams finished

ESM results by leg:

Jamie Taylor-Caldwell (58) 19:04

Ben Waterman (54) 19:14

Moe Hashi (48) 19:01

Mukhtar Farah (48) 19:41

Sam Ashcroft (47) 19:29

Chris Hepworth (46) 19:38

Provisional results here.  Full results to follow on powerof10