The South of England Road Relay Championships took place at Rushmoor Arena over two days in Aldershot last weekend. This is an important transition period from the summer to the winter season, and we entered teams in almost all categories.
This year’s star performers were the veteran women. Three of the team of four turned 40 this year, so there were high hopes of a good result in the 40+ race, but they exceeded expectation by winning silver medals. Their combined time of 60:48 over the 4x4km race was the fastest the club’s female teams have produced since 2008.
Sarah Richardson led the team out on the highly competitive first leg, bringing them home 5th. Alison Hopkins then reeled in the veteran from Aldershot Farnham & District, handing over to Fiona Kennedy in 4th. Fiona overtook the Dulwich veteran early on leg three, bringing the team into bronze medal position. When Grazina Narviliene set off on the final lap, she was 32 seconds behind the Reading athlete in silver medal position, but also had to hold off a threat from Dulwich, whose final leg runner holds veteran world records at various distances. Grazina delivered an outstanding performance, overtaking the Reading athlete with 800m to go, and crossing the line with an 8-second lead.
Kath Mertens led the senior women’s team, finishing leg one in a very respectable 33rd. Nikki Shelley, making a rare appearance in a distance race, followed that with a strong performance, losing just three places. With several key senior women being unavailable, it was left to veterans Patricia Thomas and Carol Jones to complete the team, which finished 48th.
A number of the club’s faster runners were also absent from the senior men’s team. Newcomer Samir Haddad brought them home in 49th, followed by team captain Chris Hepworth, who ran their fastest leg of the day to finish in 46th. Seb Zajaczkowski maintained that with a solid third leg, but the team slipped two places when Zephon Allen suffered from a stitch mid-race. Novices James Hughes and Florjan Bakalli completed the line-up, both performing well in their first taste of competition at this level, and the team finished 50th. This was well down on last year’s position, but it was a young team, with ages ranging from 24 down to just 18.
The veteran men’s team was almost the same line-up as last year, but none were in quite the same form. Pete Flewitt handed over to Angelo John in 15th after the first leg, a position which Angelo maintained. Steve Morris, back in action after a prolonged overseas posting, struggled to hold onto that place and the team slipped to 21st. The experienced Rob Brown fought hard on the final leg, losing only one place.
We fielded teams in four of the six junior age groups, but also struggled to match some of the highlights of last year. However, Lucy O’Brien was in sparkling form on leg one for the Under 13 girls, finishing 10th. Fiona Coutts and Anisa Ibrahim also ran competitively, with the team finishing about halfway up the field.
Similarly, Nicola Ravenhill got the Under 15 girls off to a flying start, handing over to Roisin Lynch in the top third. Roisin lost a few places, but Cameron Thomas managed to claw back a few on the last leg, bringing them home in 58th.
George Kerry, William Coutts, Luke Adar and Naoki Kanai represented the Under 15 boys, and George opened with a fine first leg to hand over in 23rd. The other three put in a consistent and competitive set of runs to finish 31st.
The Under 17 men adopted a different strategy, with the fastest runner on the last lap. Charlie Sillett took them out with a well-paced effort, handing over to newcomer Osse Senga in 30th. Osse ran well, slipping only a couple of places. Unfortunately, Reece Farren was overtaken by a couple of runners on the penultimate leg, but Mukhtar Farah ran well to bring them back up to 28th.
Full results here.
Our distance runners will now turn their attention to the cross country season, with the younger members competing at the first North West London League fixture at Horsenden Hill this coming Saturday.