British clubs battle for honours in chilly and damp conditions at Sutton Park
In contrast to the Virgin Money London Marathon six days earlier, the British Masters Athletic Federation Road Relay Championships were held in cold and wet conditions at the home of British road relays, Sutton Park, and on a revised course with legs of just over 5km.
One of the closest races of the day was the W45 event. Dulwich’s Clare Elms led on leg one with a 18:50 leg just ahead of Telford and Winchester. Telford went ahead on leg two but ended up out of the medals on an exciting final leg.
Karen Rushton of Winchester (pictured, far right, with clubmates Kathryn Bailey (left) and Samantha Parkinson) went ahead but with 600m to go, but her lead was being rapidly closed on by Maria Heslop of Tonbridge. Heslop had won the W50 category in the London Marathon and looked sure to catch her but Rushton found a strong sprint to win by seven seconds although Heslop’s 18:36 earned her the fastest lap award.
The W35 race was more of a procession and Sarah Lowery’s 18:27 opening leg gave Rotherham a big lead which they extended to over two minutes at the finish. Lisa Palmer Blount ran the fastest leg in bringing Derby from fourth to second with 18:00 on the final leg.
City of Norwich won the W55 race by a minute with Jane Clarke’s opening leg of 20:48 winning the fastest lap award.
Westbury won the W65 race by four minutes but Elizabeth Bowers was fastest with a 23:47 split.
Bingley dominated the M75 race which was held within the women’s event and they won by over five minutes with Les Haynes fastest with a 22:54.
The second set of races were the M55 and M65 races. Dulwich’s Tony Tuohy was a clear leader on leg one with a 18:21. But on the second the top three of South London, Cambuslang and Herne Hill set off at the start of the final leg separated by just 10 seconds.
Thanks to the day’s fastest leg of 17:28, Andy Tindall increased South London’s lead while Herne Hill’s Gary Ironmonger’s 17:41 was the second best and guaranteed silver.
Oxford City dominated the M65 race, winning by two minutes, although Salford’s Stan Owen was quickest with a 19:47, just edging first lap winner Frank Hurley of Cambuslang, who ran 19:48.
The final races of the day were the M45 over four legs and the M35 over six stages. The M45 was a high-quality affair and Cambuslang narrowly won from Salford with Thames Hare & Hounds a close third after overhauling Leeds and Leicester late on the last leg.
Leicester, who set off ahead after three legs, dropped to sixth but did have the consolation of Mark Johnson running the fastest leg with a 16:30.
Simon Baines of Thames, who led leg one, was second fastest with a 16:35.
The final event to be decided was the M35s and that saw a runaway win for Salford, who took gold by over three minutes.
Thames Hare & Hounds took second with Phil Tedd’s 16:33 moving them up from fourth on the final leg.
Tipton, for whom Brighton Marathon winner Stuart Hawkes led home the opening leg runners with a 15:43, were a close third, while Salford’s Carl Hardman was the fastest leg with a 15:19.
» See the May 3 issue of AW for full coverage and photos from Sutton Park