Strength in depth

The Midland Counties official in charge of releasing the out-going runners asked "where are Hermitage from?". PG duly explained and she said "the camaraderie from your lot has been brilliant today" (we were heavily camped around the changeover area) so well done all for the support we gave our 4 competing teams - and the mark we left on these high profile championships!! It was fantastic to field 4 teams and see the smiles on the faces of our Midland Relays debutants (relays really do cement team spirit) so a thoroughly worthwhile day out in a lovely sunshine-bathed park.

Starting the Harriers interest was Mia Weston on leg A of our Ladies team. Mia brought our ladies home in 49th place clocking 19:05 for the 4.315km leg - our fastest time of the day. Laura Owen ran 20:53 on leg B to come in 51st then Michelle Shillabeer 20:41 and the team were up to 48th. Kate Reeves anchored our ladies home in our 2nd fastest time of 20:14 and the Harriers finished 44th in 1 hour 20 mins 53 secs. There were 58 finishing teams and a further 14 incomplete teams.

Ally Watson ran the opening leg for our Men's team and ran an absolute belter to record by far his fastest 6-Stage time of 18:14 for the 5.847km lap - this brought the Harriers A in in an incredibly lofty 6th as he finally thrashed the County 10K Track Champion Gordon Lee of Coritanians. Ally's' time was the 2nd fastest county-based time of the day -just 3 secs slower than Tim Hartley of Notts/Barrow. With the pressure on and Ally exceeding expectation to set up a credible National qualification attempt it was Darren Weston who bravely took up leg B. Darren ran 21:56 and handed over in 31st place. Darren Wilson on leg C ran 22:09 and brought the Harriers in 37th. Matt Adcock then posted 22:02 on leg D to hand over in 40th before Shaun Coulton pulled a place back with the Harriers' 2nd fastest time of the day 21:29. Paul Gregory anchored the Harriers home in a leg-H-neutral showing (lost 1/gained 1) to almost match Shaun's time and bring the A home in 21:34 and an accumulative 2 hours 7 mins 24 secs. The showing was unfortunately just over 2 mins off National qualification and around 40 secs off our previous best set in 2008 so although "sent homewards ta think agen" all are determined we'll do it in 2012!!! It's only 5 secs-a-mile if that sounds better!

The Men's B team were spear-headed by Chairman Andy Buck who recorded 22:42 and handed over in 77th place. Peter Armstrong then made his club debut and powered to the finish line in 25:09 handing over in 83rd. Stephen Lee on leg C recovered a couple of places with a 23:26 showing/81st then Dean Kelleher ran the team almost back to Andy's opening placing with 24:09/78th. Jason Lavine enjoyed a relay return (member of the '08 team) with a fine 22:34 showing that saw the team climb to 75th before Mark Frost posted by far the fastest B team leg of 21:52 and anchor and push the team up to 69th in 2 hours 19 mins 52.

And there's more - Carl Rutt started our C team challenge and posted their fastest time of 25:57 to handover in 95th place. Webmaster Craig Johnson on leg B ran 26:54 to hold the position then Dave Kind (a much-appreciated last minute replacement on race day morning) ran 26:11 and the team were up to 88th. Andy Harriers ran a fine leg D, almost matching Carl's opening leg and his 26:01 pushed the team up another place to 87th. Aaron Bird ran leg E in 28:27 handing over to Trevor Hope on the final leg in 83rd place. Trevor anchored the C team home in 28:41 and 80th complete team - 2 hours 42 mins 11 secs. There were 82 finishing teams and a further 20 incomplete teams.

All bodes well for our first entry into the Midland 12-stage next Spring - same course and with most of the legs shorter than we ran Saturday (so not as far out to the turnaround cone!)

(Paul Gregory)