THE country’s top athletics clubs returned to Milton Keynes for the South of England Road Relay Championships at the weekend.
Held in Milton Keynes for the last 13 years, the race was moved to a new venue based at the Stantonbury Athletics Stadium, using the redways round Linford Woods.
Fourty four men’s and 33 women’s teams lined up at the start, with famous clubs such as Belgrave Harriers, Blackheath Harriers and Newham & Essex Beagles turning out with strong contingents as hosts Marshall Milton Keynes also had good squads out.
Racing for the men’s 12-stage relay, over four hours and almost 50 miles – alternating between very long stages of 7.7k and short stages of 5.1k – saw a tussle between Kent AC, Bedford & County, Woodford Green and Highgate Harriers, before Newham & Essex Beagles surged into the lead thanks to the fastest short stage leg of the day by National Cross Country champion Keith Gerard.
Highgate moved ahead of Kent on the last leg to claim second and Kent were almost caught by a fast finishing Woodford Green.
The women’s race – over six stages of 5.1k and almost 20 miles of running – was dominated by Aldershat, Farnham & District, who had the first two teams home, ahead of Dulwich Runners, with Windsor just outside the medals.
MK had two men’s teams. Michal Glowacki, a polish runner who recently joined the club, returned home 12th on the long stage in 24m 36s. Sam Deathe dropped five places on the short stage, before Michal’s compatriot, Marcin Fudalej, stormed to 7th in 24m 15s.
With runs from Steve Green, George Ashdown, Ross Threlfall, Steve Tuttle, Chris Hearn, Ian Van Lokven, Chad Lambert, Eliot Winter, the club took 16th place before Paul Erwood moved through to 14th after the team’s fastest short stage time of 16m 15s.
The MK B team, thanks to Mark Dowson, Matt Clarke, Daniel Webber, Ed Dunn, Peter Mackrell, Ian Pheasey, Robin Dowswell, Andrew Wasdell, Chris Cahill, Matt Eager, Richard Pownall and John Lyman, finished a very creditable 33rd.
The women’s race saw Lara Bromilow – recovering from a skiing accident – lead off in 19th place, before new signing Emily Tallen from Canada worked her way up to 7th place with the third fastest time of the day, 17m 15s.
An excellent run from Wendy Webber, followed by Tanya Taylor – returning from a long lay-off through injury – Sarah Cox and Di Baldwin, saw the team home in 11th place.
The B team of Julie Dalzell, Maria Calleia and Alana Slater were 27th before they ran out of runners.