Sean Kelly reports from the annual Good Friday Relays.
It was Good and it was Friday.
Kenny Mac has a store of terrible jokes which are only funny if you bear in mind that they are meant to be awful. One of which is, “Why are they called the ‘Good Friday Relays’? Answer, ‘They are quite good and they are always on a Friday’. Ho ho. Don’t ask him about finding a skeleton under the floorboards…
Anyway, the weather was high on the list of concerns in the lead up to this annual road relay. Would there be deep snow, gale force winds, would it be safe to go ahead? The answers turned out to be ‘No, no and yes.’
Leodhais was first out of the traps in the Under13’s race. After what seemed like an eternity waiting on the line (the officials like to ensure that each race begins EXACTLY at the time advertised) our young gun shot off to record his first mile in 5 minutes and 56 seconds. This is not really his forte and he would have preferred a few hills, a bit of mud and another mile but he managed to reel in a lot of runners in the final half-mile to seize 11th position in 9 minutes 43 seconds. Better than good.
A few of us returned to the race headquarters to warm our hands around hot drinks before the Ladies race. Lucy Matheson was spotted leaving the warmth of the building with only ten minutes to spare before the start of her race. This was a wise move as it had turned very cold and snow was falling.
Sophie Marr led the charge of TBH at the end of the first section of the 2.2 mile course with Lucy in close attendance in a pack which included some of the North East’s top veteran runners, such as Yam Thiru of host club Elswick Harriers. She even managed a smile as I shouted this information to her! Claire Miller-Grosset, Sophie Wardrobe and Lizzy Clamp all managed to smile as they passed the groups of Tyne Bridge supporters who were all around the course. The support, as always, is the difference between a good and a brilliant personal performance, it’s a painkiller and a tailwind for everyone in black and white. Vicky Forster was milking it a bit, mind; What would your coach say if he saw you giving the thumbs up as you battled through the second leg? Work those arms woman!
I missed the latter stages of the Ladies race as I was warming up to run in the second leg of the Men’s Relay. The results showed the continuing improvement in Tyne Bridge Harriers women’s competitive running. Two years ago in TBH’s very first team competition there was only ONE WOMAN in the Ladies event, Mrs Emma Moir. This year our complete teams finished thus;
Senior A Team (Sophie Marr, Rachel Adamson and Megan Parkin) 19th out of 46 finishing teams.
Senior B Team (Claire Miller-Grosset, Annette Kelly and Anji Close) 28th.
Senior D Team (Sophie Wardrobe, Clare Smith and Stephanie McFarlane) 43rd.
Veterans A Team (Lucy Matheson, Vicky Cuthbertson and Kerry Reed) 6th out of 15 finishing teams.
Sadly, due to unforseen circumstances, there were a number of incomplete teams from the club. Nevertheless, everyone who took part should be thanked for representing the club and supporting their team-mates.
Senior C Team (Incomplete) (Lizzy Clamp and Vicky Forster).
Senior E Team (Incomplete) (Victoria Waugh and Sara Sedgley).
Senior F Team (Incomplete) (Alison Bulman and Denise Waugh).
Veterans B Team (Incomplete) (Emma Moir and Sinaed Coffey).
Special mention must go to Denise Waugh who made a brave return to competitive running after suffering injury problems. Despite the disheartening experience of being injured herself, she has continued to encourage and organise our inspiring Ladies.
It turned into a GREAT Friday when the men’s race exploded at 12 noon. Marc Fenwick looked calm and relaxed running at the front of the field from half a mile onwards. He never looked like relinquishing his lead and he handed over in 1st place to a cursing Shaun Brown. What a thankless task Shaun had, setting off with no-one to aim for and some of the cream of north-east running chasing him. It would have been easy to go off too hard, to try to follow those runners who went whizzing past but he stuck to a sensible plan and produced a superb performance only a couple of weeks after running a 2/58 marathon in Barcelona. For the veterans, Kenny produced his usual brilliance and handed over to Dave Moir on the shoulder of 3rd position. Matty Tomlinson handed over to me in the veterans’ B Team and, for understandable reasons, I didn’t see the remaining first leg runners coming across the line. I had intended to use Dave Moir as a target, expecting him to set off ahead of me. There was no chance of this as he unleashed Hell upon the runners ahead and behind him (and possibly upon spectators to his left and right). He gave it absolutely everything to pull the veterans team into a medal position. I saw him after the sharp turn around point and he had fire coming off his trainers as he burned along the paths. He handed over to Club Captain, Paul Hilton. I witnessed Paul hit the final 200 meters and rise to the shouts from the TBH supporters to close the gap on the second place team, represented by Phil Walker. With superstar Stevie Cairns (who seems to produce stellar performances after virtually no sleep the night before a race) on our anchor leg we were assured of a medal finishing position. Stevie was his usual, eyeballs out, arms pumping running machine. He thundered around the 2.2 miles in a mouth-watering time of 11 minutes and 2 seconds.
For me, the team relay events are about much more than the winning of medals and the final finishing positions, they are a great way to build and cement friendships. You watch many of your team mates who you might not train alongside and you can appreciate the effort and guts that goes into everyone’s running, not just those at the sharp end of the field. The only downside is that you might have to listen to some of Kenny’s ‘jokes’…
Men’s Senior Teams:
A Team – Marc Fenwick, Shaun Brown, Mark Jackson, Darryl Davison – 14th out of 68 complete finishing teams.
B Team – Andy Lisle, James Knox, Nick Pearson, Elliot Hailes 35th position
C Team – Chris Graham, Matt Walker, Dave Young, Scott Wilkinson 59th position
Men’s Veterans Teams
A Team – Kenny Mac, David Moir, Paul Hilton, Steve Cairns 2nd out of 28 complete finishing teams
B Team – Matty Tomlinson, Sean Kelly, Chris Meek, Keith Smith 8th position.
C Team – John Tollit, David Appleby, Mal Gibson, Andy Harrison 12th position
D Team – Stuart Dickson, Ron Murray, Colin Whittle, Chris Parkin 26th position
E Team – Graham King, Kevin Cheetham, Steve Allerdyce, Michael Duff 27th position
Congratulations to Morpeth Harriers, winners of the Men’s Senior and Veteran races and also the Women’s Senior race, and to Jarrow & Hebburn for winning the Women’s Veteran race.
Full results can be found here
Thanks to Vicki Deritis and Becky Parkin for the photographs.