BROMSGROVE & REDDITCH Athletic Club’s men’s team finished 42nd in the national 12-Stage Road Relay Championships at Sutton Park on Saturday – the club’s best position since 2001.
The historic race, which has in the past seen the likes of Mo Farah represent their club over a combined distance of 52 miles, was this year won by Morpeth Harriers in 4 hours, 21 minutes.
This year’s race saw the athletes run a longer course with legs of 5.56 miles on odd numbered legs and even numbered legs of 3.15 miles.
Joe Smith had the honour of leading B&R off on leg one and, despite not feeling 100 per cent, Smith ran a gutsy race amongst many national class athletes to bring the club back in 38th place in 29:30.
Taking over on leg two was Darren Hale, who found himself in the thick of the action. Hale, who has been on a taper ahead of Sunday’s Manchester Marathon, utilised his fresh legs and clocked 17:54 for the 3.15 miles to bring the team back in 42nd.
Leg three fell to James Bowler, who was in the 2001 team which finished 32nd and is currently back from an eight-year sabbatical from competitive running. He clocked 29:36 for the 5.56 miles, lifting the club to 37th.
Taking over was another member from the 2001 era – James Adie – who has recently rejoined the club and he ran B&R’s quickest short stage of the day, clocking 17:46 to bring the club back in 38th.
Stepping up on leg five was Simon Lanckham, who is currently in the form of his life and clocked 32:07 for the long leg to bring the club back in 40th place.
Kevin Fisher took over on leg six and the former Telford AC man improved five seconds on his Midlands time from two weeks previous to clock 18:18 and keep the club in 40th place.
Leg number seven fell to Ashley Ross who, despite the blustery conditions, made a 45-second improvement on his time at the Midland Championships a fortnight earlier to return in 42nd place.
James Hood took on leg eight and, buoyed by his run at the Midlands, took on his leg aggressively to lift the club a place to 41st with an 18:13 clocking.
The penultimate long leg of the day fell to Steve Brooks who was called up at short notice but still managed to put in a solid run for the club, returning in 45th with 35:30.
Following on for leg ten was the club’s track and field manager Andy Freeman, who was another athlete showing true club spirit by stepping in late on. Freeman ran a solid 18:43 for 44th place.
The final long leg of the day saw a welcome return to B&R colours for Adam Peacock. The naval man demonstrated his quality in running shoes to lift the club three places into 41st place with a time of 30:53.
The anchor leg duties fell to Sam Moran, who again is an athlete who stepped in at late notice. Moran, who has many athletic strings to his bow, completed the final short leg in 20:09 to confirm the club’s highest position since 2001.
The 12-Stage traditionally marks the end of the winter season, however several athletes have marathons to attend to ahead of the track season.