Saturday 18th May saw Harriers turn out in force at the National Masters Relay Championships in Birmingham. Full strength teams set off to represent the club in the vet 35 category for both the mens and ladies events at a picturesque Sutton Park. Our 4 stalwart ladies were joined by a collection of 8 old geezers, each ready to do battle over the 3 mile course.
With the blue tent finally consigned to Ince tip, the squad were indebted to Richie Noone for the supply of his elegant green item in which to shelter and change. The replacement item fits together in an entirely different manner to the one we have been using for the past couple of seasons, a fact which prompted coach Waddington to consider just how far one irritated runner could actually throw a partially constructed garden gazebo…He could have spared himself the effort. With only the frame erected Jayne Taylor saw no reason to wait for a covering canopy or sidewalls before stepping ”inside” to start getting changed into race kit. Public decency was saved by the intervention of Mr Collins.
The first mile of the course is all uphill and any runner overcome with a rush of adrenalin in the initial stages is soon collecting the lactic dividend. Julie Platt was the first to test her control as she set off with the pack on the first leg of the day. The forecast rain hadn’t arrived in the Midlands but there was still a blustery headwind to contend with just after the sapping climb. Julie was straight from a heavy training week in Font Romeu but attacked the course with gusto. Her opening time of 19:16 got the team effort off to a great start before she handed over to Tracey Dutton.
Tracey Dutton pulled out all the stops and delivered a quality performance on the day. After a frustrating time coming back from lingering injury we saw signs of the old Tracey as she stormed round in 19:37. Its good to see one of our top runners regaining form and what an ideal time to do it. Tracey handed over to another Harriers runner building back from injury in the form of Jacqui Jones. Jacqui also belied her recent aches and pains to notch up a 21:09 and set up Jayne Taylor for the glory leg!
Jayne put in a superb 19:22 to bring the ladies team home in a very impressive 8th place overall from 24 teams.
Next out were the men with 8 legs to complete in the V35 category. This despite the fact that most of our men are very much the “experienced” side of 40!
Chris Smullen set the standard for the men with the fastest Harriers time of the day in 17:16. Thankfully the stiff breeze that had hampered the ladies had abated somewhat which was very much appreciated by Mike Harris as he the thankless task of maintaining the pace set by Chris. A fine performance of 18:43 consolidated the team position as Bobby Kasabov tore off the line for leg 3. Bobby has only recently defected from fellow north West club Horwich RMI and what an asset to Harriers he is setting a time of 18:55 despite being bothered by a dog wandering across the track as he began his lap!
Graham Millington was next and dug deep for his first competitive outing over the distance and crept in beneath his target time of 21 minutes with a 20:22. The Team was lying in 25th place at this point but a swift 17:44 from Mark Glynn hauled back a few places followed by Dave Collins, (18:36). Darren Jackson. Jackson was fresh back from altitude training in Font Romeu with members of team GB and managed a sterling 18:38 to set up Coach Waddington on the final leg. Waddington dug deep and produced a run of 19:00 dead to pull the squad back to a respectable 20th place overall from 33 Teams.
Harriers were well satisfied with their showing in such a high profile event and celebrated with commemorative T-shirts all round!