What a weekend!! Blackburn Harriers started off by declaring 14 teams for the Northern Road Relay Championships at Redcar on Saturday 18th September, which was reduced to 12 in the week leading up to the Championships as a result of Covid having an impact on a couple of teams. So twelve teams lined up on the day for the Harriers and what a set of results they produced with one Bronze and two Gold Medals, including a fastest Leg of the day at what many have described as a very good and scenic location for the Northerns.
Many thanks to Adrian Royle for making his photos available for use – an invaluable contribution to the day
Some Quotes from the athletes about the day
Senior Tim Raynes “Great to be running the relays again after so long. It was absolutely fantastic to be part of a bronze medal winning team, making history for the Harriers! Well done to all the lads on the day, with a masterclass from Nick McCormick to bring back the bronze. A lot of credit has to go to Paul Guinan as team manager and all the lads who have kept on turning out to relays (as well as other northern and national championships) over the last few years and building the momentum to get us to where we are today. Looking forward to seeing what we can do in the Nationals, and beyond! My own run didn’t get off to the best of starts as I was tripped and fell in the opening minute of the race. Thankfully managed to gradually get back to the front of the pack. Joe Hudson really pushed the pace after the turnaround. I was a little disappointed that I wasn’t able to go with it, but glad I managed to hold it together to leave us in contention. Hopefully more to come at the nationals.”
U17 David Holman “we all ran a solid race at the Northerns and happy to place top 10. It’s been a very good season topped off with 2 good road relays. Happy with what i’ve achieved and the team.”
Senior Chris Walton “First Road Relay for Blackburn it was Fantastic and enjoyed it glad to have helped the C team come second and what a brilliant result for the A-Team”.
Senior Paul Guinan “Yesterday was a great day for BH on all fronts, 2 Golds and a long awaited Bronze Medal for the Senior Men plus 3rd B Team and 2nd C Team absolutely brilliant. Every runner playing their part. The way the race played out at the top end was fantastic, mixing it with the big clubs added extra pressure but more than welcomed !! I genuinely thought a fifth place was on the table going into the last leg, The gap was around a minute, over that distance and the quality that was being chased left us thinking maybe not today ? I also did say you never know ! How right I was !! Incredible run by Nick, amazed is an understatement, what a great feeling seeing the team come home third in the Northern’s so pleased for everyone involved in the team, what a great group we have, all pulling in the same direction, back to the drawing board ! National Team selected and another nice headache”
U17 Keira Haxton “Great job by Abby and Izzy putting us out in front, and I really enjoyed running the last leg”
U17 Isabel Holt “Really enjoyed running as part of a team today. Can’t believe we got gold. So exciting…”
The Senior Men had a fine day which saw our teams finishing 3rd, 19th, 29th with a fourth Team finishing one runner short, running the first five Legs. The Bronze Medal earned by our A team represented the first time that the Club had been on the podium with a senior team at the Northern Road Relays, whilst our B Team finished 3rd B Team overall and our C Team 2nd C Team overall – hugely celebrated by all of the athletes and those who had also gone up to Redcar to support.
Front Row (L-R) – Chris Walton – Ryan Bradshaw – Tom Blaney – Josh Holgate – Karl Billington – Mark Magee – John Chaplin – Tim Baldwin – Paul Guinan
The A Team was led off by Tim Raynes and as Team Manager – Paul Guinan – commented, his trip just 300m into the race could have meant the end of the race for the team in the context of figting for a podium finish. But Tim got back up and even though bloodied ran a brilliant Leg to finish in the joint second fastest time of the Team in 17.51 and handing over to U20 Matt Ramsden on Leg 2 in 6th place. He clocked 18.32 and passed over to Callum Davidson – one place further back in 7th – which saw Callum “batter the first half of his Leg” to pick up four places and bring the team back up to 3rd place with his time of 17.51 – identical to Tim’s on leg 1. Ben Fish took over on Leg 4 and maintained our place with his run of 18.11 handing over to our second U20 athlete in the Team – Ben Makin – on Leg 5 who clocked 19.35. Former Olympian & Blackburn Harrier Coach – Nick McCormick – took the last Leg, starting off in 5th position and ran a stormer of a Leg to clock the fastest time of the day for the team – 17.39 – the 4th fastest time of the final Leg and the eight fastest Leg of the overall day, bringing the lads home in 3rd place and the Bronze Medal.
Mark Magee (18.31), Joe Gebbie (20.03), Marc Hartley (20.02), Tim Baldwin (19.15), Tom Blaney (19.46) and Josh Holgate (19.18) saw the lads start off in 23rd position, going out to 27th before finishing in 19th place overall and automatic qualification for the Nationals. Joe Bridge (19.55), Chris Walton (20.58), David Almond (21.30), Stephen Walter (19.59), Ryan Bradshaw (20.04), Jacob Watson (19.31) came home on Leg 1 in 46th spot and pulled that back throughout the day to place 29th overall and 2nd C team on the day.
The day began for the Club with our U13 Boys Team comprising Sam Aspey, Oliver Brown and Theo Robinson who had gone to Warrington last week for the first of the seasons Road Relays and came away winning the Lancashire Championships and North West Championships; So going into the Northern Road Relays on Saturday September 18th at Redcar, they were full of confidence – and boy, did that confidence pay off. Sam took the first leg, as he had the previous week at Warrington and came home in 2nd place with the second fastest Leg of the day (10.39), just as he had done in the North West Road Relays. Legs 2 and 3 switched from the previous week with Theo pulling the team back that one place with a time of 11.33 – the 3rd fastest time on Leg 2 – as he handed over to Oliver on the last Leg in 1st place. Oliver clocked 11.09 – and 3rd fastest time of Leg 3 – to bring the team home in first place, 20 seconds ahead of 2nd placed Liverpool Harriers and 28 seconds ahead of Trafford in 3rd to win the Gold Medal and Title – 2021 Northern U13 Boys Relay Champions. In two consecutive weekends, the U13 Boys Team, have become Lancashire, North West and Northern Road Relays Champions.
Sam Aspey – Theo Robinson – Oliver Brown
The second Gold Medal and Northern Title for the Harriers was won by our U17 Women’s team who had won the Lancashire title the week before. One change to the team saw Isabel Holt come in to join Abigail Stratton and Keira Haxton. Abigail led the team off on the first Leg and brought them home in 4th place with a time of 13.30 – and sixth fastest Leg of the day overall. Isabel – who in the two previous weeks had been part of the U17 England Gold Medal winning team in Ireland at the Junior Home International and followed that up last weekend with a Bronze Medal in the English Junior Fell Running Championships – was waiting on Leg 2 and what a storming run she had, taking the team up into first place with the fastest time of the day (13.06). Keira took off on the final Leg in first place and held the position, running 14.35, to bring the team home 47 seconds ahead of 2nd placed Rotherham.
Our U15 Boys Team whoi had also won the Lancashire title the week previous had one change which saw Daniel Smith come in alongside Oliver Gill and Ben Stratton. Daniel led the team off on Leg 1, clocking the 9th fastest Leg and the 10th fastest time of the day with 10.27 – handing over to Oliver on Leg 2. Setting off in 9th spot, Oliver ran 11.00 – 8th fastest time of the Leg – gaining three places to bring the lads up to 6th and changed over with Ben on Leg 3 who pulled back anopther two places in clocking 10.53 – 7th fastest time of Leg 3 – to finish with the team in 4th place.
Hayden Mercer, David Holman and Codie Dewhurst made up the team for the U17 Men’s Relay placing 10th overall. Hayden clocked 12.02 on Leg 1 with David taking over on Leg 2 in 12th place. David pulled two places back to move the lads up to 10th – also with a 12.02 time, a position that was maintained by Codie on the final Leg as he ran 13.19.
The Senior Women’s Race featured forty five complete and four incomplete teams, among which were two teams form Blackburn Harriers – the A Team placing 18th and the B Team 37th. Annabel Ralph led the A team off coming home in 30th spot in 23.25 handing over to Joanne Nelson on Leg who pulled back four places with her time of 24.05. A welcome return to racing for the Club saw Helen Leigh take over from Joanne on Leg 3, running 23.42 to pick up another six places who in turn passed on to Katie Buckingham on the final Leg, which led to the team going up to 18th overall with her time of 24.00. The B Team had Amy Davies on Leg 1 (26.24), Lindsay Davies on Leg 2 (29.13), Hannah Cookson Leg 3 (27.47) and Eleesha Charnley Leg 4 (24.43).