Weekly update – 29th March 2024

You know you are coming out of the harshness, and the dampness, of an English Winter when the Midlands Road Relays come around and you are standing in Sutton Park experiencing the wild of Spring and trying to keep a tent disappearing into the stratosphere towards Birmingham. Athletes from Wolverhampton & Bilston were forced to enjoy a little bit of spring sunshine, but also suffer torrential rain and stinging hail. With team selection debated the best selection made was to take the club tent, something one of our local rivals had neglected to do and no doubt regretted that decision as they were huddled in a circles of camping chairs braving the worst of the weather.

The morning had started with the Midland U13 U15 U17 5k Championships however this was not something we had chosen to enter, the young guns leaving the stage to the older brigade on this occasion. This left club interest with a high noon start with the senior mens 12 stage relays, followed 20 minutes later by the ladies 6 stage version.

With two teams in the mens event it was up to Ben Foster to get things under way for the A team, running a 30.11 long leg before handing over to Derrick Milligan who clocked 32.18, Jake Brown ran 30.17 and Dan Turner ran the last of four long legs in 31.12. Gary Worrall was 5thrunner off the start running 18.03, James Neilson clocked a superb 16.59, and as we reached halfway Louie Lambeth placed the club in 26th with a 17.27 leg. Dylan Illiidge moved up a couple of places with 18.03, Harry Dyall ran 17.19 and Jon Hart recorded 17.47. Danny Malone moved the club into 21st with 18.40 and James Wright maintained that position with a final leg of 18.27, good enough to qualify for the National 12 Stage Relays in a fortnight.

The B team were led off by Tony Cheema, “fresh” from his sub 3 hour time in the Tokyo Marathon, with 32.54, Jay Patel ran 34.45, Alex Kelly made his relays debut on a long leg with 35.56, Dave Newport clocked 34.19, Paul Dean ran 19.59, Andy Dyall 21.01, Greg Asbury 19.24, Rich Amor-Wilkes 19.40, Mark Illidge 21.20, Rob Edwards 23.15, Lee Partridge 23.51 and Stu Whitehouse brought the team home in 22.41 in 42nd of 57 complete teams.

The club were able to field a strong team in the ladies event over 6 stages, with legs one and three over the longer course, and like the men qualified for the National version but with far more style. Lucie Tait-Harris led the team off the start with a 33.10 leg placing the team in 10thplace, Beth Rawlinson ran a storming 18.51 to place the club in 5th, Holly Baddeley had a long straw rather than a short one running 34.34, Beth Tabor charged through the field to place the club in 4th with an 18.47 leg, Veronika Foster clocked 23.07 with the club in 7th and Jo Lane ran 23.14 to give a final position of 7th and only about 30 second off 6th place.

Elsewhere, a couple of club mates travelled to Stroud to take part in the Fission 20 mile race as part of their marathon build up. Darren Owen Jones clocked 2.20.21 to take 69th place and Sabrina Thomas was 85th stopping the clock in 2.25.22. Luke Maskew also competed over 20 miles running the Hillingdon 20, one of the oldest and most prestigious 20 milers in the country, placing 3rd, just over 60 seconds behind the winner in a superb time of 1.55.21. Daniel Maskew was a place better over a shorter distance placing 2nd in the Weston Super Mare Half Marathon in 1.16.38.

And finally Rich Amor-Wilkes had a chalk and cheese weekend in some respects, after a short relay leg on Saturday he travelled north for the Heptonstall Fell Race over 15.4 miles with 3170 feet of ascent, with navigational skills required and local knowledge an advantage over and around the Calder Valley. The website claims that “you’ll be hurtling down grassy slopes, struggling across stretches of bog, scrambling up through thick heather, dodging through dense woodland and – most of all – racing over some wild open countryside. If you get the chance to look around, you’ll see for miles across some of the most beautiful and remote scenery in the South Pennines.” Not sure if Rich took in the sights but placed 98th in a leg shredding 2.51.12.

Dave Norman

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