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South Of England 12 Stage Road Relays, Milton Keynes, 16 March 2014

A strong team effort by Hillingdon AC’s Senior Men saw them finish in 20th place in the South of England 12 Stage Road Relays at Milton Keynes and in doing so, claim an automatic qualification place for the National finals on 05 April.

The 12 Stage Road Relays are contested over 12 legs of alternate “long” legs of 7,664 metres and “short” legs of 5,053 meters and with 48 teams contesting the race, Robert Thompson got the club off to a fantastic start on the first leg, running 24.44 over the 7.7km course to finish in ninth place. After Rob’s fast start, Chris Ingram had a challenging run on leg 2 but he judged his effort well to run 17.44, finishing his leg with the club in 20th place. James Laing displayed the consistency he has shown all season to keep the club in 20th place with a 26.05 clocking before handing over to Dean Clark who ran the quickest short leg for the club on the day, recording 17.11 and moving the team up three places to 17th.

James Manley and Simon Connell were on legs five and six and both ran well despite both training for upcoming spring marathons to put the club in 20th place at the halfway stage.

Going into the second half of the race, Ed Campbell and Mark Speight ran 28.26 and 18.06 respectively but with a high standard of competition and with small gaps between the teams, the club had now slipped to 25th place. Sam Blanshard has recently returned to the club after working abroad and despite competing in (and winning) the Marlow Duathlon in the morning, clocked 27.01 to take the club back up to 21st place. Dan Thompson has been struggling with injury all season but stuck to his task to record 18.09 before handing over to Martin Bateman who continued his steady improvement since having his appendix removed earlier in the season to record 26.34 to leave the club in 20th place with the final short leg remaining.

The task of bringing the team home fell to team manager Paul Leppard and the final leg was full of incident as despite catching and passing Luton AC in the early part of the leg, Paul was quickly passed by both TVH and Harrow AC. Paul was then passed by athletes from London Heathside and Serpentine over the final two kilometres. However, the race wasn’t over yet and after almost four and a half hours of racing and cheered on by his teammates, Paul caught and passed athletes from Herne Hill Harriers and Ealing in the final 300 metres to bring the team home in 21st place. This was upgraded to 20th position when Harrow were disqualified due to their 11th leg runner going the wrong way and not covering the full course distance.

Full results may be found here