BRISTOL & West AC men’s team ended a 36-year wait to finally get back onto the podium at the National 12-Stage Road Relay Championships in Birmingham on Saturday.
With a superb display of running over the six short and long stages around Sutton Park the squad finished third behind Highgate Harriers and Aldershot, Farnham & District as only 1min 38secs covered the top three.
“At last, at last!” exclaimed delighted B&W team manage Mike Down.
“I was looking back at recent records and since 2004 we have twice finished fifth and sixth, were seventh on two occasions and also eighth, ninth, 11th and 12th.
“For Bristol and West to finally win a men’s team medal is a milestone for the club.”
The club actually led at the halfway stage after a brilliant start. Will Christofi set the temp as he came home an excellent third on the key stage one clocking a time that would eventually rate him equal sixth fastest of the day which is a significant achievement for the 21-year-old.
Mike Wilsmore maintained third and then former Easy Runner athlete of the month winner Jarlath McKenna too B&W into the lead with a super run on stage three. Luke Evans lost two places but kept the team in touch and then Steve Mitchell and Ben Robinson brought them back into the lead at the halfway point.
Tom Merson didn’t run as well as he did in the Midlands and slipped back to third and that is where the club stayed apart from a mighty effort by Cornishman Pete le Grice on stage nine to briefly lift Bristol back into second.
1 Highgate Harriers 4:16.30; 2 Aldershot, Farnham & District 4:17.15 3 Bristol & West AC 4:18.08
William Christof (3) 26:19; Michael Wilsmore (3) 15:52; Jarlath Mckenna (1) 26:57; Luke Evans (3) 16:10; Stephen Mitchell (1) 26:42; Ben Robinson (1) 16:06; Tom Merson (3) 27:22; Miles Chandler (3) 16:22
Peter Legrice (2) 26:55; Benedict Westhenry (3) 15:56; Owain Jones (3) 27:26; Adam Speake (3) 16:01.
BRISTOL’S ‘B’ BOYS ALSO GET AN A-STAR FROM THE TEAM MANAGER
IT was not only Bristol & West’s A team that impressed at the National 12-Stage Road Relay Championships in Birmingham on Saturday.
The second string squad also ran strongly to finish first B team in 37th place overall and underline their current strength on the road.
“The target was to win a medal for the A team and finish first B team and we did just that,” said team manager Mike Down.
37 Bristol &West AC ‘B’ 4:44:49 (Jack Millar (39) 28:37, Andrew Watt (40) 17:03, Maciej Bialogons (44) 30:15, David Awde (38) 16:27, Andy Salmon (43) 31:13, Will Davidson (43) 18:05, Matthew Battensby (41) 29:27, Mark Edwards (36) 16:42, Tom Dobra (41) 32:24, Matthew Krelle (40) 17:26, Philip Parry (40) 30:13, Harry Lane (37) 16:57).
KATE’S SCORCHING SHORT STAGE TIME IS SECOND BEST AT SUTTON PARK
IRONICALLY in a year when the men finally burst onto the podium the Bristol & West women could only finish 10th in the six-stage event.
The women have won this event in the past and also regularly made the podium but injuries and unavailability weakened the squad on this occasion.
Team manager Keith Brackstone loaded the front end with his best runners so after Jessie Sanzo’s solid start in 11th Kate Hulls scorched through the field to lift the club into fourth on stage two.
Hulls’ time of 17mins 07ecs was the second fastest of the day behind GB international marathon runner Susan Partridge (17:01) and ahead of Lilly Partridge (17:08) of champions Aldershot.
Ellen Harrison kept Bristol in fourth at halfway and the trio of Julia Belyavin, Alexa Parker and Imogen Peck fought tenaciously to ensure the club finished in the top ten. A very respectable team performance.
Women: 1 Aldershot, Farnham & District 2:08.44; 2 Leeds 2:13.41; 3 Cambridge & Coleridge 2:16.32.