Monday, April 13, 2015

Keswick Take On Nation's Finest at National Championships

Keswick AC rose to the occasion of their first National 12 Stage Road Relays on Saturday, finishing 45th. The team were also the 14th highest placed Northern club - a superb result for a club with less than 200 first claim members.

The National 12 Stage Road Relay at Sutton Park is a classic event of the athletics calendar, and over the years has seen many of the greats of British distance running take part -Dave Moorcroft, Seb Coe, Brendan Foster, and Mo Farah to name just a few- and every year is of a high standard giving an opportunity  young runners to race against international athletes.

The event was again held at Road Running's equivalent of Wembley Stadium, Sutton Park in Birmingham. Despite the bright sunny day making for great spectating conditions the route was quite exposed and a brisk wind coupled with an undulating route made the challenge for the athletes all the more compelling. The spectators, many of whom consisted of runners waiting their turn, based themselves either side of the finishing straight. The Keswick boys made sure each of their compatriots were given an encouraging cheer as they slogged their way up the uphill finish.

The format of the 12-stage saw six runners having to tackle a long leg of 5.5 miles and the remaining sixmembers had to do a shorter 3.5 mile leg. 

Club captain Steve Hebblethwaite had selected a strong quartet of runners to tackle the longer legs.  Sam Stead kicked off the Keswick challenge on the first leg against an elite field headed by National XC Champion Charlie Hulson. Thriving off the electric atmosphere, he set Keswick's fastest long leg of the day in 29:13 to return the team in 34th place.  Pete George then ran a superb 3rd leg in 32.46 despite struggling with an achilles problem, but perhaps the gutsiest performance of the day went to Chris Brewer whose effort clear to see as he headed down the finishing straight of his leg of 32.56. Pat Malkinson followed with 33.20, and Keswick's strategy of placing stronger runners towards the end of the field paid off as Marc Brown (29:23) and captain Steve Hebblethwaite (29:41) clawed back 3 and 4 places respectively.

Interspersed with these runs were shorter legs run by Rob Wynne, Ian Davies, Rob Jones, Steve Jones, John Curran and Adam Campion, who demonstrated the strength in depth possessed by the club. Every runner is on their own personal journey and it is no different in this team - Rob W, Ian and John are all returning after injury, Steve Jones is training for an Ultra Marathon, Adam Campion for the Edinburgh Marathon and Rob Jones, competing in his first relay for the club, is chasing a long term target of a sub--40 10k. These individual journeys were set aside for a day and each athlete put their body on the line for their teammates, displaying some impressive times in the process. Of particular note was Ian Davies. who showed he is getting back to his best by setting the fastest short leg of the day for Keswick in 18:37. Adam Campion put the icing of the cake by finsihing the club in 44th place.

44 Keswick Aac 5:03:15

Sam Stead (34) 29:13 Rob Wynne (47) 19:07 Peter George (48) 32:43 Ian Davies (51) 18:37 Chris Brewer (51) 32:56 Steve Jones (53) 20:17 Patrick Malkinso (54) 33:20 Robert Jones (54) 20:15 Marc Brown (51) 29:23 John Curran (50) 19:02 S Hebblethwaite (46) 29:41 Adam Campion (45) 18:41

At the head of the field, Morpeth Harriers took their first ever Men's 12 Stage title and Aldershot, Farnham & District continued their dominance of Women's running by winning the 6 Stage title. 

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