Mallory Park saw various winners but Salford’s men and Bristol’s women pick up a pair of titles

BMAF OPEN MASTERS ROAD RELAY CHAMPIONSHIPS, Mallory Park, Leicestershire, November 19

With Sutton Park unavailable for its traditional mid-May date and costs escalating, organisers were forced to seek both an alternative venue and date, with a motor racing circuit brought into play, Martin Duff reports.

British Masters’ road supremo Walter Hill said, when praising local organisers Active Training World: “We had to find an alternative and we are also coming back next year in May,” getting cheers from the assembled runners at the presentations.

The weather forecast was not good and heavy rain was predicted for the start of the first race at 11am but the weather was mild at 12C and all were pleased that the rain predominantly held off.

Whilst entry was not up to the levels seen in previous years – there was poor take-up from London-based clubs with some noting the venue was isolated and that there was no public transport available on a Sunday – both past and present international athletes produced a smattering of good performances.


Salford Harriers had the two youngest age groups and, in the six stage M35 event, took the lead through Karl Darcy on stage two of this technical course with its twists and turns against a biting wind, whose 15:04 was the third quickest on offer. They then extended the lead, particularly through their fourth stage runner Gary Priestley’s second quickest 14:54.

Aldershot, winners of the inaugural relay in 1988 were never really in the hunt although they kept the Salford margin down to just over a minute by the line.

Salford M35 team (Martin Duff)

Earlier, the fastest stage time was set by City of Leeds’ John Beattie’s 14:32 on the opener, after he hit the front from the gun and went further away as the lap unfolded.

Beattie, who ran for England at 10,000m in the 2010 Commonwealth Games, said: “It’s a lovely surface but then we were slowed by the wind. I am using this as a build up for the Wilmslow 10km where I want to complete a run for 14 sub-30 years.”

John Beattie (right) (Martin Duff)

Aldershot’s B team fielded former international Martin Mashford, who joined in an AFD master’s revival under vet’s team manager Tad Dicker.

Salford also took the M45 race and led throughout thanks to Anthony Taylor’s first lap of 15:41 which then stood up as the best of the age group. Pontypridd’s Joe Thomas followed him home with the third fastest split of 15:48, but his team fell further back as the race unfolded.

Salford M45 team (Martin Duff)

Trafford’s Jeff Prest ran 15:42 and earned the silver lap medal.

The first race that took place was the M55 and Southport Waterloo led throughout after a fastest leg of 16:30 by Francois Rafferty, who was sixth in the previous week’s Masters International. Just ahead of him was Cumbernauld’s Stephen Allen and they were first and second quickest overall.

Rafferty said of his rival: “He took me going up the hill but then I got him back in the last mile. It was brutal and I expected him to beat me as he got me in the cross-country.”

Southport Waterloo M55 team (Martin Duff)

Thereafter the Southport trio extended their lead but the margin was only 28 seconds at the line.

The M65 men ran with them after David Gill gave Warrington a lead that they were never to lose after his 19:13.

After a slow start, Cambuslang came bouncing back firstly through Paul Thompson’s second best 18:59 and then finally through Colin Feechan’s best effort of 18:02, which built on his overwhelming win in the previous week’s Master’s International for Scotland.

Colin Feechan (Martin Duff)

A M75 race was offered and Oxford City entered full of hope but they were the only takers and so were denied medals thanks to a new rule that allows for this only if at least two teams enter. They got round, with former fastest M60 (in 2009) Roy Treadwell brought out of retirement. The fastest was John Exley with an unofficial 22:10.

Men M35 (6x3M): 1 Salford 93:08 (J Bailey 15:18, K Darcy 15:04, T Hodgson 15:50, G Priestley 14:54, C Hardman 15:51, B Lima 16:08); 2 AFD 94:16 (J Quinlan 15:37, H MacLean 15:34, A Smith 15:41, S Blake 15:29, C Tizard 16:16, R Lovejoy 15:36); 3 Chorlton 94:48 (S Curley 15:34, A Haney 16:04, J Savage 16:01, M Devlin 15:33, B Hobson 16:06, T Charles 15:27); 4 Tipton 95:09; 5 Mansfield 95:17; 6 BRAT 95:43

Fastest: J Beattie (Leeds) 14:32; Priestley 14:54; Darcy 15:04

20 teams finished 

John Beattie (Martin Duff)

M45 (4x3M): 1 Salford 66:07 (A Taylor 15:41, B McCartney 16:27, M Collier 16:54, C Tully 17:03); 2 Pontypridd 67:32 (J Thomas 15:48, G Edwards 17:51, M Horsman 17:30, A How 16:32); 3 AFD 67:56 (P Young 16:31, S Cooper 16:49, K Myazaki 18:01, M Symes 16:34); 4 Vale Royal 69:07; 5 Datchet 69:38; 6 Swindon 70:15

Fastest: Taylor 15:41; J Prest (Traff) 15:42; Thomas 15:48

17 teams finished 

M55 (3x3M): 1 Southport W 51:49 (R Rafferty 16:30, D Hamilton 17:02, R McGrath 18:16); 2 Cumbernauld 52;17 (S Allen 16:48, W Henderson 17:13, R McEachern 18:16); 3 Salford 53:58 (M Russell 18:50, G Dale 17:26, S Chambers 17:42); 4 Steel C 55:33; 5 Peterborough & NV 55:38; 6 Havering 56:46

Fastest: Rafferty 16:30; Allen 16:48; M Crabtree (Vale R) 16:58

17 teams finished 

M55 plus start (Martin Duff)

M65 (3x3M): 1 Warrington 58:56 (D Gill 19:13; S Ogden 20:00, D Watson 19:42); 2 Cambuslang 59:34 (B Gough 22:32, P Thompson 18:59, C Feechan 18:02); 3 Datchet 61:49 (C Higgs 20:19, S Armstrong 20;19, R Smith 21:10): 4 Sheffield RC 52:49; 5 BRAT 64:14; 6 Oxford C 65:22

Fastest: Feechan 18:02; Thompson 18:59; Gill 19:13

M75 (3x3M): 1  Oxford City 72:26 (D Parsons 26:07, R Treadwell 24:06, J Exley 22:13)

Fastest: Exley 22:13


Uptake in the women’s race was less than the men’s but there was some quality on show and Bristol & West took two of the age groups, plus a resurgent Aldershot vet’s team claimed the W35 four stage event.

Team manager Dicker said they were a team of mums who have come back to the sport after many years away but who were never previously part of any of the great AFD senior relay teams.

Aldershot W35s win (Martin Duff)

They were nearly a minute down on the first stage as Datchet’s Jilly Raw and Rutland’s Helen Pape narrowly headed Jane Potter’s Charnwood, with 18:21. All were then beaten by Aldershot’s Clare Rees’ 18:12 which took them to a mid-race lead that was never surrendered. Missing the injured Gemma Steel, Charnwood had no answer and wound up more than two minutes down.

Aldershot’s third stage runner Lucy Wright summed up their new found spirit when she said: “I ran as a child then just joined from small club Farnham Town.”

Last leg runner Karen Andrews added: “It was quite tough with the wind but I thought it best to go out strong and maintain the lead.”

Aldershot W35 team (Martin Duff)

Bristol more or less led throughout the W45 three stage event after Jesse Sanzo’s 18:47 and they went on to beat Huncote by more than four minutes.

A strange feature of the relays had been that the timing mats were some 30 metres short of the change over point.

All runners were timed over the same distance but in some races the lead changed clubs before that hand-over. It made little difference but did cause some confusion and Lucy Cooke matched Sanzo’s time but was behind at the hand over.

Bristol stayed ahead, on stage two, but then Annabel Granger compounded the damage with a fastest race time of 18:08 on the third and final lap.

They also took the W55 race and again led throughout after Sarah Everitt’s 19:28 first lap time. She said of her battle with many-time British Masters age group champion Kate Ramsey: ‘I did most of the leading until the hill and we were together but it was very windy.”

The Charnwood runner explained her absence in recent years by saying: “I have been travelling the world with my actress daughter.” These two were quickest overall.

Bristol’s W55 team (Martin Duff)

The 2006 W35 international cross-country champion Nikki Nealon anchored for second placed Huncote with a third quickest 19:50 and she explained her recent activities by saying: “I had an Achilles op and was out for a couple of years.”

There was another Master’s International winner behind. It was this year’s W75 champion Angela Copson running two age groups down for Rugby & Northampton, with 23:24.

Anchoring for Bristol was another international as Jill Harrison, who ran in the 1986 Commonwealth Games, completed their win and added: “I am a W65 now but I didn’t mind a few hills into the wind.”

Jill Harrison anchors (Martin Duff)

The final age group was the W65 where Sally Masters gave Westbury a lead they were never to lose after a 20:39 clocking. Former fastest runner Dot Kesterton brought Steel City close by the finish but they were two minutes down.

W35 (4x3M): 1 AFD 74:53 (L Faunch 19:16, C Rees 18:12, L Wright 18:36, K Andrews 18:49); 2 Charnwood 77:03 (Jane Potter 18:24, V Baddick 19:01, C McKittrick 20:04, E Dammant 19:33); 3 Rutland 79:13 (H Pape 18:22, S Sheridan 20:40, H Duncan 21:19, E Brown 18:51); 4 Rugby & N 82:12; 5 Sale 84:25; 6 Macclesfield 86:25

Fastest: Rees 18:12; J Raw (Datch) 18:21; Pape 18:22

W35 start (Martin Duff)

W45 (3x3M): 1 Bristol & West 56:33 (J Sanzo 18:47, T Chowdrey 19:38, A Granger 18:08); 2 Sale 57:44 (L Cooke 18:47, H Armitage 19:44, A Chinoy 19:13); 3 Reigate P 58:02 (J Davey 19:31, N Wilson 19:06, G Stoneley 19:23); 4 Datchet 63:05; 5 Huncote 66:21; 6 Rugby & N 67:43

Fastest: Granger 18:08; Cooke/Sanzo 18:47

10 teams finished 

W55 plus start (Martin Duff)

W55 (3x3M): 1 Bristol & W 60:56 (S Everett 19:28, C Jolliffe 20:18, J Harrison (W65) 21:09); 2 Huncote 65:26 (H Mercer 22:32, S Gardner 23:03, N Nealon 19:50); 3 Westbury 66:07 (K Hoffen 21:40, S Andrews 21:04; A Gooder 23:22); 4 Charnwood 66:42; 5 Rugby & N 68:14; 6 Wolds 71:54

Fastest: Everett 19:28; K Ramsey (Charn) 19:33; Nealon 19:50

W75: A Copson (R&N) 23;24

W65 (3x3M): 1 Westbury 68:48 (S Masters 20:59, F Russell 23;56, A Dockery (W75) 23:52); 2 Steel C 73:52 (C Beattie 23;29, H Erbelin 24:30, D Kesterton 22;42); 3 Westbury B 80:14 (E Noonan 26:14, G Anagnostakis 26:32, M Palmer 27:27); 4 Vale & Sodbury 80:28; 5 Mansfield 82:46; 6 Wolds 86:56

Fastest: Masters 20:59; N Stevens (Mansf) 22:32; Kesterton 22:42

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