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ERRA National Road Relays report

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Leeds City's relay champions
Leeds City's relay champions

Leeds City AC won the ERRA National 12 Stage Road Relay for the first time while Charnwood AC clinched gold in a thrilling finish to the Women’s 6 Stage event in sun-drenched Sutton Park on Saturday 14 April.

 

Hannah Whitmore clinched Charnwood’s second victory since this women’s competition began in 2000, gallantly fighting off a fleet-foot attack by European Junior Cross Country Champion Steph Twell (Aldershot, Farnham and District AC) on the final 2.995-mile stage.

 

A week after breaking the UK Junior Women’s half marathon record, 17-year-old Twell set out in third place, 32 seconds adrift of Whitmore.

 

“It was pretty exciting,” said Twell afterwards. “I knew I was pulling her in and the atmosphere was getting very exciting. I went past but maybe not as decisively as I should have. It was neck and neck. We had a good battle and unfortunately I didn’t deliver the goods in the end.”

 

Twell did, however, deliver the fastest stage of the race, 15 minutes 57 seconds. It was a second quicker than Sophie Morris, who ran a blistering opening stage for Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow AC, for whom Norwich Union GB cross country team leader Hayley Yelling clocked 16:05 on the third stage.

 

The men’s race was a triumph for Northern team spirit after defending champions Newham and Essex Beagles lost their captain, Dave Mitchinson, at 3am on race morning. The good reason: his wife, Jo, went into labour. So he raced back from the team hotel at Walsall to be beside her before she gave birth at about the time the first stage runners were warming-up.

 

Battling Beagles finished fourth, a mere 11 seconds outside the medals, in a race led by Leeds pretty much from halfway. They clocked 4:11:31 to win by 2 minutes 11 seconds from Morpeth Harriers with Belgrave Harriers third in 4:14:13 despite being without Mark Miles, who withdrew with a cold that he earnestly hopes will clear up before next Sunday’s Flora London Marathon.

 

Morpeth’s Norwich Union GB track international Nick McCormick contributed the fastest short stage, 13:39, to go fifth on the all-time list. Birchfield’s Jean Ndayisenga – who had PBs of 13:32 for 5000m and 28:20 for 10,000m back home in Burundi before moving to Birmingham for family reasons – was quickest over the long stage with 25:21. Tipton’s Phil Nicholls was quickest of the UK athletes, clocking 25:52 to round-off an excellent winter in which he earned his Norwich Union GB debut at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Mombasa. Sutton Park was almost as hot as the Kenyan resort – a welcome change from last year when a this event was hit by something akin to a monsoon!

 

For full results please go to http://www.race-results.co.uk/results/2007/index.htm