Every September Sutton Park has clubs from over the Midlands arrive and compete in relay teams of three from the age groups of Under 13’s to Under 17’s and teams of four in the Under 20’s and Seniors. The Road Relays are always an uplifting and popular event during the break between track and cross-country and usually softens the somewhat tough transition from the short and sharp asking’s of the track to cross-country where its courses require strength and stamina. The team aspect is what makes the event so enjoyable every year as everyone wishes to display their best running in order to improve their team’s chances as each leg commences.
However, one should not be fooled into assuming the course is a piece of cake. Each age group with exception to the Seniors run the same distance and for the Under 13’s it is in fact one of the longest races they have to run, hence why a team from Godiva was not put out. After the gun sounds the stampede of athletes are unleashed onto the road and are almost immediately met by a gruelling hill that the athletes must endure for almost 1 km. Even after this the runners never truly escape the hill as a slight incline is ever-present for a large portion of the course. Fortunately, as the last kilometre is entered there is the light relief of a downhill, competitors employ this to gain places up the field before they arrive at the final stretch, which does not make a sprint finish any easier by placing the line at the top of one last gradient where the spectator’s support drive the athletes up one final climb towards the next runner who awaits their call in the pen.
All this just adds to the competitive buzz that surrounds the Road Relays every year.
Godiva put out a full U15 Girls’ team, Tally Smyj-James, Rosie Cherry and Bea Sheehan ran amongst the top of the field and placed 14th; not forgetting Isabella Taplin who completed the 3.8km in an impressive time of 15:49 for the B Team. Unfortunately, availability was an issue for U15 Boys, consequently an incomplete team ran which was a shame as Daniel Paston ran a tremendous time of 14:29 coming through in 23rd and handing over to Archie Shields who, despite injured ran an admirable race.
Alice Hillary, Emily Reed and Freya Bennett were hoping to finish inside the top 10 in the U17 Women, a category that can make a tough run even tougher, it being a smaller field and therefore harder to gain places in. Even so, after a series of accomplished running from each teammate, Freya Bennett brought the team home in a respectable 9th. The final Junior race of the day was the U17 Men and as a club it looked promising. A strong team consisting of Thomas Keenan, Pierce Clisham and Lucas Bennett were due to run. Each one of them ran a toilsome leg as they raced the entirety of the course among some of the best athletes and definitely delivered what was promised by finishing in 11th.
As the day proceeded and it became slightly slippery underfoot, it was the Senior’s turn to take their marks with two athletes from the endurance group making up the team. Holly Cherry made her debut appearance for the Seniors in second leg whilst Alicia Roberts returned to the team for a second time to secure 25th place out of 105; a fine finish to end a successful day of racing.
Congratulations to all those who competed last Saturday, including Nick Bennett and James Bennett, two of Godiva’s coaches that participated in the Senior Men’s team and set an excellent example to all younger athletes. As a club Godiva can utilise Saturday’s success to enhance their confidence as they enter the formidable but exciting cross-country season and hopefully mirror the accomplishments of the weekend.