Team boss Down salutes Bristol & West men after silver success

A stirring performance by the Bristol & West AC squad saw them finish runners-up in the Midland Counties Six Stage Road Relay Championships on Saturday.

For the first time since 2019 the popular autumn event returned to its spiritual home at Sutton Park, Birmingham and as on that occasion it was the same one-two-three as Birchfield Harriers retained their men’s crown and Notts AC again finishing third.

Solid silver: Bristol & West AC men (L to R): Adam Stokes, Josh Moody, Kurt Taylor, Jack Millar, Felix McGrath, Ben Westhenry

“Top Birmingham club Birchfield Harriers dominated the race as they had done two years ago though admittedly we were closer to them this time,” said team manager Mike Down.

“The only change for us was that our second team finished just two places lower in 12th position – a nonetheless impressive result in a field of 117 teams as only ten clubs across the whole Midland area beat our second string on the day.”

Fastest time of the day went to Birchfield’s Ethiopian star Omer Ahmed, the man who was disqualified after winning the Bristol half marathon the previous weekend having originally entered the 10k and then taken the wrong course.

 Josh Moody ran a superb tactical opening stage, starting cautiously and then winding up his tempo gradually to move from just inside the top 20 at halfway to fifth at the finish, around 40 seconds quicker than his previous best on the testing circuit.

“Josh put his outstanding effort down to the fact that he had not had his usual break after the track season,” added Down.

The 13 second deficit set up Felix McGrath nicely and despite the effects of the previous weekend`s UK Fell running championships he tore around the course to bring Bristol & West into the lead.

That put the pressure on Ben Westhenry, in his first serious race on his comeback for the club but he held it together and only narrowly lost the lead to Birchfield while holding off Notts to maintain second at the halfway stage.

And that is how it remained as Jack Millar, Adam Stokes and Kurt Taylor all ran solid solo runs as the dominant Birchfield disappeared up the road.

“On reflection perhaps the most remarkable stat of the team`s performance was the incredible consistency of our times, with the fastest four clocking within a second of each other and the slower two the same,” reflected Down.

Thanks to a superb start from junior Alex Parsons, clocking the eighth fastest time of the day overall on stage one, Team Bath AC squeezed into the top twenty finishing 19th overall.Clevedon AC made the top thirty in 27th with Sam Tabbener fastest on leg one with 19:25 while Steve Wood also dipped inside 20 minutes with 19:58.Alan Uren was the fastest runner for Westbury Harriers with 19:46 on stage two with Joshua Morland also breaking 20 minutes clocking 19:59 as the team placed 31st.

Senior men: 1 Birchfield Harriers 1:47.49; 2 Bristol & West AC 1:49.37; 3 Notts AC 1:50.16

B&W A: 1:58.31 (Josh Moody 18:03, Felix McGrath 18:03, Ben Westhenry 18:41, Jack Millar 18:04, Adam Stokes 18:42, Kurt Taylor 18:04).

12 B&W B 1:58.31 (Ben Maliphant 19:30, Joe Connors 18:54, Felix Rusby 20:07, Adam Wilson 19:31, Stephen Kerfoot 20:03, Tom Foxon 20:26).

19 Team Bath AC 2:00.48; 27 Clevedon AC 2:03. 27; 31 Westbury Harriers 2:03.46.

Fastest: Omer Ahmed (Birch) 16:50; Tom Mortimer (Stroud) 17:17; Will Richardson (Birch) 17:27.