More than 4000 athletes race for club honours across the UK

The first ever British Masters Virtual 5km Relays was a huge success, attracting 4040 entries.

While results were not official as organisers Russell McIntyre and Peter Kennedy pored through the data checking athletes ran the right distance on a legal course, what is official is that the event – held from June 14-20 – was hugely popular.

This report is based on results available on Sunday evening as provided by OpenTrack but will be updated if any amendments are made by the organisers.

Kent AC proved the top men’s team, winning both the M35-44 six-stage and M45-54 four-stage.

All six of Kent AC’s younger sextet broke 16 minutes and they were headed by former South of England cross-country champion John Gilbert who ran a 14:51 at Reddish in Manchester for his Southern club.

Kent totalled 1:33:33 to defeat Leeds’ 1:35:09. The Yorkshire team were led by Graham Rush’s 15:05 while South London, headed by Kevin Quinn’s 15:09, were third on 1:36:16.

The fastest leg was provided by senior international, and now M40, Paul Martelletti, who ran 14:41 on a circuit on Hackney Downs.

Close behind came the top M35 who was Salford’s Chris Lovesey with 14:45. Former National senior medallist Andy Coley-Maud, who has only done a 17:50 Christmas parkrun since last year’s Brighton Marathon, showed he is on the comeback trail with a 14:47.

No less than 82 teams provided six runners and 809 runners recorded times in this age group. Last year just 35 teams completed.

Kent AC, who last summer won the South of England masters M40 relay title, were equally dominant in the M45-M54s.

That was largely down to multi masters title winner Chris Greenwood who ran 15:25 in Regent’s Park in London. He described it as “terrible” though far happier was team-mate Phil Sanders who ran a 15:58 PB in Greenwich Park.

Salford were 101 seconds back in second, led by Ian Grime’s 16:18, while Aldershot were third on 67:21, just a second up on Colchester with world and European masters track champion Mark Symes impressing with a 15:42 at Frimley, which was the quickest M50 time just ahead of masters international winner Tim Hartley’s 15:45.

The second fastest overall though in the end was another England international, M45 Andy Bond, who set a 15:38 PB in Dulwich Park.

A total of 674 competed in the event and there were an astonishing 115 teams who finished compared to just 40 in 2019.

Leicester won the M55-64 three-stage event by over two minutes and were aided by their Irish star and incredible M60 sub-2:30 marathoner and world record-holder Tommy Hughes who blasted a 16:11 in Victoria Park in Belfast.

Two minutes back were Colchester, who had UK M60 record-holder Paul Mingay (17:05) as their fastest, while Warrington, led by another British masters champion Steve Watmough (16:51), took bronze.

Hughes was the fastest overall, top M60 by almost a minute, and also won the overall men’s age-graded event with a 98.67% score.

The fastest actual M55 was South West’s Guy Woods, who ran 16:19, with European Masters 10,000m champion Andrew Leach only fifth quickest overall with 16:39.

Here 76 teams of three finished, which is well up on last year’s 29, and 347 individuals competed.

Over recent years, Oxford and Barnet have proved to be among the better clubs in the older age groups and it so proved again with Oxford winning the M65s by just five seconds from Barnet.

There was nothing between the top individuals of each club either, as Stewart Thorp and British masters track record-setter Dave Wilcock both returned a 19:50.

Thames Hare and Hounds were third, though it was BMAF 3000m winner Nigel Gates of Westbury who was fastest with 18:06 but only by a second from European Masters silver medallist Anthony Whitehouse of Totley who ran a PB 18:07, even though he has not run faster than 20:00 in competition this year.

The quickest M70 was Newbury’s London Marathon age group winner Mike Sheridan with a 19:47.

There were 130 individuals and 23 completed teams of three. Last year it was 14 teams.

Oxford, the 2019 winners, thus became one of the few teams to retain a title virtually but they were matched by Bingley in the M75 plus event.

Just as in 2019, only two teams competed with Bingley, spearheaded by Les Haynes’ 22:55, winning by eight minutes from Holme Pierrepont as 13 competed.

The quickest M75 individual was 1976 Olympic marathoner Jeff Norman of Altrincham, who ran his 5km on a country circuit at High Ligh in Cheshire and pipped Haynes by just five seconds.

David Tomlinson of Bolton was the fastest M80 with 27:43.

The women’s W35-44 age group was one of the most competitive of the event with 40 seconds covering the medallists. It attracted 524 finishers and 92 teams of four, way up on last year’s 29.

Lisa Palmer-Blount has often ran fastest BMAF relay legs and her 17:48 headed the Derby quartet who moved up from second last year.

They pipped South London by 27 seconds. April James-Welsh was South London’s fastest with 17:33. Springfield were third, just 13 seconds down on South London, with W40 Elizabeth Davies running a very fast 16:54 which was the quickest women’s time of the event.

Vale of Aylesbury’s Sophie Delderfield was the best W35 with 17:13.

Winchester, who have enjoyed plenty of BMAF relay success in recent years, dominated the three-stage W45 event to also retain their title.

All three of their runners – Sarah Gurney (18:15), Sarah Sheridan (18:18) and former masters international winner Kath Bailey (18:52) – were inside 19 minutes.

South London had a pair of quicker runners with world masters medallist Sue McDonald (18:06) and Mary James (18:10) both in action together at Bushy Park, but South London did not quite have Winchester’s depth.

Brighton were third, largely thanks to the event’s fastest leg runner Linda Schofield, who ran 17:32 on Hove seafront, almost a minute quicker than her actual PB at the same venue.

Kate Rennie of Dacorum and Tring also went much quicker than ever before with a 17:43 while McDonald was the best W50 with former Commonwealth Games marathoner Debra Mason (formerly Robinson) second best with 18:26.

In total 424 individuals ran with a superb 108 teams competing compared to a mere 20 in 2019.

Olympic marathoner Mara Yamauchi ran 19:37 for Thames Hare and Hounds.

Clare Elms, without a W55-64 team, was faster than all the W50s though competed for a W45-54 team.

A clash with the weekend’s BMC 3000m, where she scored a staggering 103.70% age-grading, meant she was unable to put the same effort into the 5km but her 18:01 at Burgess Park was still easily the top age-graded women’s performance of the weekend at 98.11%.

The W55 relay saw a narrow 14-second win for City of Bath.

The best W60, Jo Thompson, who still holds the UK W50 marathon record, was their fastest with 20:13 in a Bath park.

South London, who also medalled in the two younger races, took silver headed by Ruth Hutton’s 19:35 (the best of any in a W55 team) while international Caroline Wood (20:07) headed Arena 80’s bronze medal-winning team.

Here 47 teams finished a trio – again miles up on last year’s eight – and 201 individuals competed.

Ten teams competed in the W65-74 event, compared to four in 2019, and Steel City won by 40 seconds from Winchester with Totley a distant third.

The winner’s quickest was Dot Kesterton (22:59), with Joy Radley (23:36) the best of Winchester.

Kesterton was the best in the relay of this age-group.

Anna Garnier of Hercules Wimbledon, competing individually, ran 22:30 at Rutland Water to narrowly pip Shirley Oglesby of East Hull who ran 22:34.

1976 Olympic 1500m runner Penny Forse was the fastest W70 with a 23:02, which she clocked while running alongside the beach at Lee-on-the-Solent.

Anne Docherty of Forres was the quickest W75 with 27:03, bettering Waveney’s Penny Elliott’s 27:32, though no teams finished in the W75 plus race.

Altogether £12,142.50 was raised for McMillan Nurses from the donated entry fees.

Summary of fastest times

Team winners

M35-44 (6 legs): Kent AC 1:33:33
M45-54 (4): Kent AC 65:15
M55-64 (3): Leicester 50:52
M65-74 (3): Oxford 63:40
M75+ (3): Bingley 84:01

W35-44 (4): Derby 74:57
W45-54 (3): Winchester 55:25
W55-64 (3): City of Bath 63:34
W65-74 (4): Steel City 75:22

Individual age-group fastest

M35: Chris Lovesey 14:45
M40: Paul Martelletti 14:41
M45: Chris Greenwood 15:25
M50: Mark Symes 15:42
M55: Guy Woods 16:19
M60: Tommy Hughes 16:11
M65: Nigel Gates 18:06
M70: Mike Sheridan 19:47
M75: Jeff Norman 22:50
M80: David Tomlinson 27:43

W35: Sophie Delderfield 17:13
W40: Elizabeth Davies 16:54
W45: Linda Schofield 17:32
W50: Susan McDonald 18:06
W55: Clare Elms 18:01
W60: Joanna Thompson 20:13
W65: Anna Garnier 22:30
W70: Penny Forse 23:02
W75: Anna Docherty 27:03

Results can be found here.

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