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Lord Lawson of Beamish

by Karl Oakes

March 21, 2011

2011 Northern Men’s 12 stage road relay championship

Team Birtley headed to Catterick on Sunday to take part in the annual Northern Men’s 12 stage road relay championship, hosted by Richmond & Zetland Harriers. The team assembled at 11am and saw the welcome return to the squad of Tim Bateson, running his first event for the club of 2011.Several other athletes were also making their first team-relay debut following on from Harrier Leagues and individual road races at the end of last year. The event consisted of 6 shorter legs (approximately 3.75km in length –  1 lap) and 6 longer legs (Approx 7.5km- 2 laps). The route itself was fairly flat and ran on a mixture of minor roads and public footpaths, cutting through some parkland and passing by the military hospital situated just off-site.  The most testing part of the course was the final 300m leading up to the change-over point with a steady climb of 55ft which felt like it was never going to end. A quick glance around the site displayed the high calibre of clubs at the meeting with some of the major clubs and cities fielding 2 teams. Representatives from Leeds AC, Liverpool Harriers, Blackburn Harriers & Manchester Sale Harriers were all in attendance amongst the 35 complete teams taking part. With many clubs fielding their strongest runners on the 1st long leg Richard Scott was given the difficult task of running amongst a group which included Olympic athlete Serod Batochir. Nevertheless he maintained a steady pace and following subsequent legs from Ronnie Eilles and Darren Purvis the club was lying in 25th place.  Despite only being on the road for just over 24 minutes, Darren managed to overtake 9 other runners, recording one of the fastest times on Leg 3. Dan Fletcher ran solidly on Leg 4 and handed over to Peter Farnie on Leg 5. After Richard’s difficult competition on Leg 1, Peter was up against former world triathlon winner Alistair Brownlee to once again underline the strength of the field. David Scott anchored the club through to the half-way mark of the race and handed over to Lee Millmore on Leg 7 which consisted of 2 laps. At this point the club was lying 31st place, 6 places behind the initial target of 25th which would have secured a place to the national finals in April. Legs 8,9 and 10 were completed by Tim, Shawn Laws and Michael Keenan with all 3 maintaining the clubs position of 31st. On the penultimate leg Neil Allan ran very well to gain 2 positions on his 2 laps round, clocking almost 4 to 5 minutes faster than some of the runners around him. On the final leg Karl Oakes was released with a melee of 20 or so other runners as many of the final athletes were set off together to save time at the end of the event.  He led the pack over the first 200 meters and came home 2nd in the pack to consolidate Birtley’s final position of 28th. Although the club was a mere 3 places outside of the top 25, it was still a magnificent achievement to be able to compete at such a high, regional area against such stiff opposition. It was also a great indication of the strength which the club now has in depth and follows on the back of a very successful Harrier League season which concludes next weekend. A special mention also for Tommy, Ed & Pedro who all swapped their Sunday roast for sandwiches and gave the team encouragement throughout the 4 hours. For full results click here. Club Results 28  Birtley Athletics Club              4:03:40 Richard Scott    26:15 Ronnie Eilles     13:48 D Purvis             24:18 Daniel Fletcher  14:58 Peter Farnie        27:07 David Scott        15:57 Lee Millmore       25:43 Timothy Bateson 15:00 Shawn Laws       28:37 Michael Keenan  13:30 Neil Allan            25:18 Karl Oakes         13:09

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