National Road Relay Championship 2016 - Report

The venue was the same and the distance ran was the same but this years National Road Relays at Sutton Park, Birmingham, had a very different feel as all races, senior and young athletes, were squeezed into one day. Blackheath and Bromley’s young athletes have done well at these championships over the last few years and so expectations were high and our youngsters didn’t disappoint.

First off were the U13 boys and five minutes later the U13 girls race also started making for very different racing conditions and slightly confusing for the spectators as the races developed.

Sam Reardon had a strong run on leg 1 (clocking a time nearly 30 seconds faster than last year) in one of the fastest U13 legs of the day and handed over to young Ben Campbell on leg 2. Ben competing in his 1st National Road Relays showed great determination and looked comfortable handing over to Tom Brash in a great 9th place. Tom clawed back the field and brought the team home in an impressive 6th place. The U13 boys are so strong we were able to field two further teams and they finished 21st and 45th. Thomas Penlington had a great opening leg in the B team handing to Max Gregson who overtook 8 teams to pass over to Matt Smith who continued to pass another 3 teams finishing in 21st. The C team was led out by Alex Sibley who had a strong first leg (running 30 seconds quicker than last year) passing over to Nick Paddington on leg 2. Nick’s good run left Callum Carlton to bring the team home having run a strong final leg as well.

The U13 boys were involved in the first of two running shorts incidents when one boy discovered (to his horror!) that he had forgotten to put his shorts on under his tracksuit. A quick dash to the sports clothing tent soon corrected the decision and got us wondering whether that was the young athletes intention all along!

The U13 girls also have a strong squad and the trio of Daniella Harper, Maayan Radus and Ellie Dolby combined well to finish a high 6th place. Daniella did well finishing 21st on leg one despite being knocked about badly on leg one. Maayan made up a further 10 places handing over to Ellie in 11th. Ellie gave chase and caught 5 other teams crossing the line in 6th, having run the 6th fastest leg of the day. The B team had to make last minute order changes and Amarisa Sibley, to her credit, took it all in her stride as she took on the opening leg handing over to Ella Smith who ran well passing over to Olivai Berry bringing the team home in 32nd. Kelsey Pullin, cheered on by her travelling supporters club, ran well on leg 1 passing over to the versatile Sofia Elliot but unfortunately they didn’t have a third runner to complete their team.

Next up were the U15’s, boys first then five minutes later the girls. Joe Georgiadis continued his great form with a blistering opening leg (and 10th fastest of the day) handing over to Oscar Heaney Brufal who had an equally strong leg passing three teams and giving third leg runner Peter Guy an outside chance of getting among the medals. Peter set off in his usual gutsy fashion and clawed back one of his opponents and had his eyes set on Tonbridge in third. Unfortunately, Tonbridge gave nothing away and left Peter and his team with a still fantastic 4th place finish.

The B team opened up with Cameron Swatton on leg 1 working hard on the 3.8k circuit, passing to Ben Gardiner on leg 2 who had a brilliant run swallowing up a massive 17 places and handing over to Robert Suckling. Robert continued the momentum moving up another 8 places and crossing the line in 24th place as an impressive 3rd B team. Keir Lundy set of on leg 1 of the C team clocking a fast time and handing the reigns to Jake Leng who passed 6 clubs on his way to a fast leg but like the U13 girls we were one short of completing the scoring team.

The second shorts incident occurred with U15 boys as another pair went missing. On hand to sort this one was our very own president who kindly donated his own pair. I’m not sure if these were hastily removed from the President’s body or kit bag! President Bill Fosters kit is used to running fast and yesterday was no exception as they flew around the Sutton Coldfield course albeit on a far younger model.

BB U15 girls are strong and plentiful and were tremendous despite having to compete along side the busy boys race. The A team of Lia Radus, Morgan Squibb and Sophie Hoare were brilliant as they battled their way to a marvellous silver. Lia led off well despite not feeling 100% and handed over to Morgan who battled well taking seven places passing to Sophie who had the 3rd fastest run of the day overtaking two teams and just missing gold by the smallest of margins. A great team effort. The B team of Lily Tappenden, Amy Miller and Zoe White combined brilliantly to be the first B team home. On 1st leg Lily had a strong run before handing to Amy Miller who carved through the field jumping 30 places during her leg then passing to Zoe to bring the team home in 16th place but importantly as 1st B team. The C team all ran well, with a recent international to her name Isabelle Bridge leading them off followed by a good leg from Gracie Horton consolidating their position and Emily Davis gaining 9 places crossing the line in 53rd position. Niamh Milmo had a great run as our only reperesntive in the D team. The U15 girls are a large and strong squad.

Without time to draw breath the U17 boys and five minutes later the U17 girls were off. Callum Myatt started out with a positive leg on one passing to Oscar Hussey who made up 8 places with a great leg before passing to Charlie Andrews who also made up places and brought the team home in a satisfactory 26th place. Lewis Mills lead an incomplete team off on leg one and recorded the quickest U17 time of the day.

The U17 girls all ran well finishing an impressive 7th with Millie Smith having a great opening leg run passing to Lottie Weitzel holding her own, then Amy Leach gained three positions finishing strongly in 7th. Stephanie Taylor on leg 1and Grace Scopes gaining 7 places on leg 2 had strong runs in the incomplete B team.

There were no U20 categories so our U20’s had to run in the senior ranks and Niamh Bridson Hubbard and Jess Keene held their own with Amber Reed and Elaine Rayner and helped the team to a positive 16th National finish.

In the senior mens race U20 Will Fuller helped the team finish in a reasonable 43rd.

Athletics aside the highlight of the day must be hearing the news that past president and Norman Park track manager offered and bought someone a cup of tea! 

Blackheath support is always strong and these National Championships were no exception. Our tent had prime position on the finish straight care of Dave and Hanna Cordell and Ken. Dozens of parents, grand parents, siblings and friends all made the six hour round trip to support our athletes and huge thanks go to all who made the effort that get our athletes to the venue on time and especially to John Reardon, Paul Brash, Mick Gregson and Nick Swatton who brought many of the athletes with them.

We now have two Kent league fixtures before the enjoyable cross country relays at Mansfield on bonfire day 5th November.