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National 12 Stage Road Relays, 05 April 2014, Sutton Park, Birmingham

Hillingdon AC’s Senior Men toasted a fine end to the 2013/2014 road and cross country season as they finished 37th in the National 12 Stage Road Relays at Sutton Park in Birmingham.

On an amended course of alternate “long” legs of 5.1 miles and “short” legs of 2.7 miles, the team got off to a good start thanks to Rob Thompson, finishing 23rd on leg 1, clocking 25.53 over the undulating Sutton Park course. Following Rob’s fast start, Dean Clark ran strongly on leg 2 to record 14.48 before handing over to James Laing, who had an improved run compared to his performance in the Southern 12 Stage three weeks earlier, recording 26.59.

Chris Ingram on leg 4 ran well to record 15.09 before handing over to James Manley, who put in a gutsy performance that left him ashen faced after clocking 29.40. Joe Carton who had returned from University for the Easter break and has recently recorded 16.30 over 5k replicated that form on leg six, clocking 14.00 for the club’s fastest short leg of the day to leave the team in 37th place at the halfway point of the race.

Mike Dooley, in the midst of tapering for the London Marathon ran 29.02 on leg 7 before handing over to 18 year old Dominic Speight, running for the first time for the club at senior level in a major road relay championship who clocked 17.08.

Ed Campbell was suffering from a head cold but still made himself available to race as he recorded 29.48 on leg 9. At this point, the team was in 44th place and a repeat of the situation at the Southern 12 Stage where Hillingdon were in a tight race with local rivals TVH (45th) and Ealing (37th) that was only decided on the final leg looked likely. However, Hillingdon had kept back the experienced trio of Dan Thompson, Martin Bateman and Paul Leppard for the final three legs.

Dan has been suffering from an ankle injury for the whole of the 2013/2014 season but showed the type of grit that has been typical of his performances for the club, clocking 15.18 before handing over to Martin Bateman who had a fantastic run, recording 27.37 and moving the team up five places from 44th to 39th position. Team manager Paul Leppard again had the task of bringing the team home, recording 15.40 and gaining two places on the last leg to leave the club in a final position of 37th.

62 teams contested the National 12 Stage Road Relays but to put this result in a wider context, as a club can only compete in the National 12 Stage if they qualify from their regional championship, the total number of clubs who took part in those regional championships was in the region of 160. Furthermore, with Shaftesbury Barnet and Harrow failing to qualify for the National 12 Stage, TVH finishing 45th and Ealing being disqualified for running the same runner twice, Hillingdon AC can lay claim to being the best 12 stage road running club in North West London.

Well done to everyone involved.

Full results may be found here

Photos of the race (when published) may be found here