Bristol & West men lose grip on Midlands road relay title

FOR Bristol & West AC’s senior men the 2022 Midland Counties 12-Stage Road Relay Championships ended up with a silver lining.

Team manager Mike Down had challenged the squad to retain the trophy for a fifth successive time having dominated the event from 2016-19; since then Covid had forced the organisers to cancel the race.

But Notts AC were smarting from their defeat at the hands of B&W at the Midlands Cross Country Championships and they exacted revenge in the best way possibly with an emphatic victory by 1min 38secs.

Super fast: Kurt Taylor flew around the final short stage

“There`s no avoiding the conclusion that it was disappointing to lose the title that we had won and defended the last four times the race had been held from 2016-2019,” said Down.

“Maybe after our triumphant Midland cross country victory over Notts I had been guilty of underestimating the threat they posed, while the three-year gap since we last won it in 2019 meant it has been very difficult to assess form as there are so many new faces on the scene.

“What`s more taking the silver medals in a championship contested by as many as 77 teams is no mean achievement.”

On the plus side it was great to see Johnny Thewlis make his debut for the club at last after a year marred by injury and illness while the return of GB international Dan Studley after a bad Achilles tendon injury and Harry Allen who has been out for over a year due to illness and work commitments was heart-warming.  

Hopefully they can both push on over the coming months and return to the form he showed a few years ago,.

Felix McGrath and Jack Bancroft also ran solid long stages but when the eight short stages started B&W were already trailing Notts and that is how it remained.

Late replacement Adam Stokes, cross country star Jack Millar, Will Parkin, who was making his road relay debut, Ben Westhenry, Allen, Owain Jones, Josh Moody and Kurt Taylor all ran solidly.

Well, Taylor was more than solid as he tore around the final stage, despite not seeing the Notts AC man, to clock the second fastest short stage of the day with Millar fourth fastest with Jones and Parkin also making the top 12 overall.

Sadly on the day it wasn’t enough but at least the club was again in contention for a big prize.

“The most disturbing feature of our current team`s performance was that our overall finishing time of 3:58:34 was a full three minutes slower than our time of 3:55:33 when we won the race when it was last held in 2019,” added Down.

“It suggests we have something to find if we are to mount a serious challenge at the National championship in two weeks` time.”

Well done to Clevedon AC on also fielding a team and finishing 30th of the 56 teams who completed all the 12 stages.

Men: 1 Notts AC 3:56.56; 2 Bristol & West AC 3:58.34; 3 Birchfield Harriers 4:00.36

2  Bristol & West AC              ‘A’  3:58:34

        Felix Mcgrath    (4) 26:52

        Jonathan Thewlis (7) 28:13

        Daniel Studley   (3) 27:32

        Jack Bancroft    (2) 27:18

        Adam Stokes      (3) 16:28

        Jack Millar      (2) 15:26

        William Parkin   (2) 16:04

        Benedict Westhen (2) 16:26

        Harry Allen      (2) 16:55

        Owain Jones      (2) 15:59

        Josh Moody       (2) 16:10

        Kurt Taylor      (2) 15:11

11  Bristol & West AC              ‘B’  4:16:30

        Marcus Dunsford  (18) 28:48
        Peter Bains      (20) 30:22
        Daniel Shepherd  (17) 29:38
        William Christof (19) 31:26
        Graham Breen     (15) 16:49
        C Neilson        (16) 17:05
        Andy Salmon      (15) 16:46
        Adam Wilson      (14) 17:02
        Hugh Brashaw     (13) 16:59
        Graham Donald    (11) 17:41
        Andrew Drake     (11) 16:57
        Tom Foxon        (11) 16:57

30  Clevedon AC                         4:44:29

        Jack Richardson  (36) 30:44
        Jack Last        (34) 31:28
        Luke Murray      (30) 31:25
        Steve Wood       (30) 31:28
        Martin Hewlett   (32) 19:50
        Gary Lewis       (33) 18:58
        Jonah Murray     (33) 19:29
        Matt Browning    (30) 19:51
        Matthew Crocker  (28) 19:29
        Alex Murray      (29) 20:05
        Clive Richards   (29) 20:45
        Nick Hides       (30) 20:57