Bedford And County Take Third in Southern Road Relays
Bedford and County AC's men were in action last Sunday 27th March, in the South of England 12 Stage Road Relay Championships at Stantonbury Campus in Milton Keynes. Due to Covid, this race was last held in 2019 when Bedford took the bronze medals in a highly competitive race which saw the first 3 teams break the old course record. With only a couple of Bedford's top men missing, it was hoped that that achievement could be equalled or possibly improved upon. The race is run over 12 alternate long and short legs. The course was revised this year from that traditionally used with the long leg being increased in length by a kilometre to 8.67K and the short leg reduced by 60m to 4.99k.
Unfortunately Bedford got off to a much worse start than anticipated with 1st leg runner Sam Winters suffering a bad stitch and coming home in 16th place in a time of 27:18 almost 2 mins behind the leaders, to leave Bedford playing catch up. Second leg runner Ben Davies soon got stuck into the task, moving the team up to 11th place with a fine 15:05 short leg. Jack Goodwin on leg 3 continued this charge, as he blasted an excellent 25:55 to move into 6th place. Bedford eased up into 4th place over the course of the next 4 legs through Alex Alston ( 15:10 short), Harry Brodie (26:42 long), Alfie Yabsley (15:13 short) and Darren Deed (26:35 long).
Leg 8 finally saw Bedford move into the medal positions with James Minter’s 15:37 moving the team into 3rd. Ben Alcock with a superb 25:31, the 3rd fastest long leg of the day, considerably reduced the gap to the leading 2 teams, sending 10th leg runner Matt Bray off just 20 secs down on 2nd place. Matt’s excellent 15:05 moved Bedford up into the silver medal spot, but more importantly opened the gap to the 4th placed team to almost 3 minutes. Sam Knee-Robinsons very solid leg of 28:04 saw the team drop back into 3rd spot, but anchor leg runner Craig Emmerson set off with a cushion of over 2 minutes to the team in 4th place. Club stalwart Craig had one of his best ever runs recording a superb 15:39 to bring home the bronze medals. Bedford’s overall time of 4h 11m 58s for the 50.8 miles (average pace of 4m 57s per mile) was a superb performance considering the difficult nature of the course.
Bedford also fielded a B team which performed creditably finishing 37th. The individual times were: Long Legs: Will Mullins 30:09, Jake Richardson 30:56, Andrew Headley 29:00, Alan Turnbull 30:32, Steve Herring 31:42, Chris Riley 32:08. Short Legs: Jamie Webster 17:00, Harry West 17:01, Glen Mulkerrins 17:13, Richard Henderson 17:15, Jim Black 20:06, Simon Murray 26:20.
The Senior Women’s team sixteenth place finish included notable legs from Tia Wilson, whose 16:18 was the fastest first leg of the day, and Rebecca Murray, who ran 30:15 for her long leg. Further down the age groups, Millie Dunger ran a fine 17:33 to win the Under 15 Girls individual event.
The focus now moves to the National 12 Stage Road Relay Championships which take place at Sutton Coldfield on Saturday 9th April, where Bedford will again be hoping to make the podium.