An Aldershot, Farnham & District runner led at the end of all six stages at Saturday’s national road relay championships for the club’s sixth consecutive women’s title. Comparisons with previous performances at Sutton Coldfield, the venue since 2000, were rendered irrelevant by the introduction of two long legs and the lengthening of the shorter.
The two long legs came at the beginning of the race. The first saw Emelia Gorecka give AFD a lead of 56 seconds over Royal Sutton Coldfield’s Laura Whittle, who was sixth in the 5000 metres at last year’s Commonwealth Games, as the pair recorded times that were not beaten on the second leg.
Georgie Bruinvels clocked the tenth fastest long leg overall when she added a second to AFD’s advantage while Sian Edwards, who once finished tenth in the junior event at the World cross country championships, moved Swansea Harriers into second. The Welsh side fielded the bronze medallist from the Principality’s cross country championships, Alaw Beynon Thomas, on the first of the short legs and she reduced the deficit to 29 seconds at the halfway point of the competition where Ruth Haynes handed over to Bryony Proctor for AFD.
Swansea’s Kate Roberts closed to within five seconds but any hopes her club had of going ahead on the penultimate stage were dashed by Amy Griffiths. The junior international went away from veteran Andrea Whitombe (1998 Commonwealth 5000 metres silver medallist) and built a lead of 54 seconds.
Louise Small finished for AFD, the winning margin was 2 minutes 55 seconds over Bristol & West, promoted to second by Claire Hallissey who competed in the marathon at the London Olympics. Among short-leg runners only 2012 1500 metres finalist Laura Weightman of Morpeth Harriers was faster than Small but she was chasing athletes on the third stage (passing eight of them).
This was the 6th year in succession AFD have won this title.It also means that the Women’s team won all four of the winter National championships, comprising the 4 stage road relay, 6 stage road relay, XC relays and XC champs. The depth is shown by the fact that 9 different athletes have featured in these victories.
Report by Roland Yeomans, pictures by Mike Neighbour (appologies to Ruth Haynes for the lack of a picture, I was in the wrong place)