Chris Hepworth reports from Sutton Coldfield:
An excellent result for ESM at the National 12 stage Road Relays saw the Senior Men’s team finish in 46th place, the team’s highest finish since 2005.
This performance is even more impressive, given that the team’s three fastest athletes from the Southern Road Relays two weeks earlier were unavailable, showing the team’s growing strength in depth.
Chris Hepworth lead the team off for the first time, after a strong run at the Southerns. He finished with the team’s fastest long leg of the day, 28:49, and handed over to Mukhtar Farah inside the top 50. Mukhtar showed he’s rapidly running back into shape, finishing his 3.16 mile short leg in 18:26. This was the team’s second fastest short leg of the day and kept the team in with a great shot of a top 50 finish.
Ben Waterman must have enjoyed his first ever long leg at the Southerns, as he once again took on a long leg, experiencing the tough and hilly 5.38 mile Sutton Park long leg for the first time. Despite having missed some training recently, he had a solid run, finishing in exactly 30 minutes and putting the team into 50th place after leg 3. Ben handed over to Reece, who was aiming to once again take down the time of his training partner, Mukhtar. He had a great run, finishing in 18:28, although he was two seconds shy of Mukhtar’s time.
Jamie T-C ran an impressive time of 29:22 on leg 5, finishing with the team’s second fastest long leg, despite still fighting a long-lasting injury. Rob Brown, the team’s reliable reserve, once again stepped up at short notice. He took over from Jamie, running even better than at the Southerns, finishing in a time of 19:32.
At the half-way stage the team were sitting in 49th position and had Akira Anzai-Jackson taking to his first ever long leg. He found the course really tough, but dug in well to finish in 32:46 and lose only one position. Mark Kencroft gained that position straight back with a time of 18:42. Peter Flewitt was next up, stepping in for a long leg after missing the Southerns. He showed his quick recovery abilities, running 31:48, despite having only recently come back from injury.
In his first ever 12 stage appearance, Joe Gilbert had a strong run, finishing his short leg in 18:54 and moving the team up to 48th place. Sam Ashcroft took on the last long leg, in what ended up being an early massed start. He has been plagued by injury issues in recent years, but despite his lack of training was able to muster up a respectable 32:12, keeping the team in 48th.
The team finished on a high, with Elliot Jones running the team’s fastest short leg of the day, in what was an unusual second massed start. He crossed the finish line in 18:16, moving the team up to a final position of 46th, ESM’s best result since 2005.
The next ream relay is the Southern 6 Stage Road Relays, which will take place at Crystal Palace on 22nd September. With the impressive strength and depth shown in the Southern and National 12 Stage Road Relays, the club hopes to field at least two teams for the first time in many years. It would also be great to see at least one women’s team this year.
ESM team result:
46th – 4:57:15
Chris Hepworth (47) 28:49
Mukhtar Farah (51) 18:26
Ben Waterman (50) 30:00
Reece Asik (51) 18:28
Jamie TC (48) 29:22
Robert Brown (49) 19:32
Akira Anzai-Jackson (50) 32:46
Mark Kencroft (49) 18:42
Peter Flewitt (50) 31:48
Joe Gilbert (48) 18:54
Sam Ashcroft (48) 32:12
Elliot Jones (46) 18:16
Full results on runbritain