True Grit, Team Spirit and 4 complete teams!!! Autumn Road Relays

The road relays, a biannual event where clubs from all over the Midlands region field teams to compete over the tough course at Sutton Park. The autumn relays see’s the event run as the six stage relays where the men’s team require teams of six and the ladies teams of four to a leg of approximately 5k (2.6 miles for the ladies 3.6 miles for the men). Despite a somewhat stressful start to the event thanks to Sutton traffic and it taking over an hour to get to the venue form the club HQ the event finished with a true display of team spirit with many members staying behind to cheer the final WBH runner over the line.

For some this was their second experience of running the popular relays and this time the weather was just as disappointing, made marginally worse by the fact that the team management failed in their bid to arrive early and to set up the shelter! This turned in to a positive day for the club with another historic achievement in its recent history. The first time five years that the club have fielded a complete team, in 2013 two male teams and a female team completed in the event  whereas this WBH surpassed that mark with two male teams, and two complete female teams and runners to spare! At the time of writing I gave up looking for the last time two complete ladies team were in out in force. WELL DONE!

So the start wasn’t the best experience due to unusual traffic swamping the approaching roads to the park leaving the team managers somewhat stressed as they only arrived 15 minutes before the start and were frantically revisiting the running order due to others being stuck in the traffic the event progressed into an enjoyable one.

With one men’s team in the Masters event and the other in Senior competition the strength of the men’s squad was split between the two teams who both got underway at 1:15 with Blind Dave Heeley running for the Masters and Karl Moore leading the Senior team in the first leg so they could dash off to watch West Bromwich Albion. Karl lead the charge of the Maroons in 22:30 to hand over to Gurmal Singh, Dave brought home the Masters  first leg in 31:03.

Whilst the men were underway ladies team manager was frantically organising her two teams and due to the traffic had to promote herself from reserve on the first leg of one team whilst Beverley Ward lead the other team.

Gurmal completed his leg for the seniors in 21:35 taunting the men’s team manager Dave Long that he had set a good time to beat ready for when he ran his leg. Dave Page ran the third leg on his West Bromwich Harriers debut – Dave deserves a special mention as he took the event in his stride with his loyal band of supports in tow and completed the tough course in 25:11 firmly cementing himself into the squad, we welcome Dave Page to the WBH family look forward to seeing Dave in action over the winter months.

Meanwhile in the Masters race David Kendall despite being move from the senior’s team (due to the late call up of some runners of a younger age) ran the fastest leg for the Masters team in 25:40 a time that would be fit for the Seniors team and earned him the kudos of “Runner of the Day” from the Men’s Manager.

With five Dave’s in Maroon David K handed over to Dave Jones. Jones, one of the longest serving members of the club proved he still has what it takes to be competitive with a time of 27:24, the third quickest Master.

Fourth leg runners were Dave Long for the Senior Men and Stephen Coley for the Master Men. Dave spurred on by the words of Gurmal secured the quickest time for the Harriers on the day with 21:28 and Steve improved the Masters position by one place running 30:07.

The final two legs for the Senior team where filled by two last minute drafts to the squad who can be proud of their achievements as neither disgraced themselves or the vest with the fourth leg being ran by another Dave in in 24:41 and the final leg by Collins in 31:18 with the Senior team finishing in 87th place in 2:26:43 just a minute short of the time the team achieved last time they were at the relays four years ago and setting a benchmark for the continued improvements at club level.

The final masters legs where ran by Dan Floyd in 26:53 and Pete Donnelly in 27:50 who braved the rain to bring home the Masters in 24th place with a combined time of 2:48:57.

As mentioned early in this report Beverley Ward and Kate Facey were preparing to run leg one for the ladies team race which started 10 minutes after the men. Kate Facey lead Team B home with the fastest ladies time of 23:55 and Beverley Ward for Team B in 24:37. In the ladies squad there were also two runners making their West Bromwich debut and both heading out on leg 2 – Heather for Team A moved the A team from 111th place in 106th with 27:08 – moving the A team in front of the B and sending off Elaine Donnelly on the third leg who recorded the second fastest ladies time of 24:18. In Team B Katie Downward who was also experience club competition for the first time ran the hilly course in 32:13 handing over to Emma Sheldon for Team B wo ran 29:13.

The final legs for the ladies were Tara Donnelly for Team A and Michelle Cresswell for team B who both ran 28 minutes bringing in the A team in 98th place and the B team in 102nd place. All 20 athletes who competed can be proud of their achievements I have mentioned in this report times and but what was key at the event was the team spirit and the grit and determination on show by those who wore the Maroon with pride that is the reason why I enjoy working with you all on club nights and helping move this historic club forward.  The relay races always mark the end of one season and the start of the next – this time it marks the start of the cross country season, how many Maroon teams will there be at the Cross Country Championships?

Summary of results

Ladies Team A:
Beverley Ward 24:37
Heather Davies 27:08
Elaine Donnelly  24:18
Tara Donnelly 28:11

Ladies Team B:
Kate Facey 23:55
Katie Downward 32:13
Emma Sheldon 29:13
Michelle Cresswell 28:31


Senior Men:
Karl Moore 22:30
Gurmal Dehl  21:35
David Page 25:11 4
David Long 21:28
Dave Bennett 24:41
Stuart Collins 31:18

Masters Men:
David Heeley 31:03
David Kendall 25:40
Dave Jones 27:24
Stephen Coley 30:07
Daniel Floyd26:53
Pete Donnelly 27:50


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