Roses Bloom at Relays by Susan Jardine
As the seasons change from summer to autumn so too does does it mark the end of the track and field athletics campaign and the transition to the roads and the cross country schedule
And it was Birkenhead Park on the Wirral peninsular who played host to to Northern Athletics road relay for the U13, U15 and U17 age groups together with the stage six and stage four senior men’s and women’s events
Birkenhead Park is a lovely setting and inadvertently walking some of the course the subtle inclines as you reach *tent city corner ” make it a challenging circuit. The format for the age group relays was three people per team, each running a 3K course, extended to 3.8k for the U17, one athlete per leg before handing over the baton.
First to take to the circuit were the U13 boys and it was dominated by the North West as Warrington, Liverpool and Preston fought it out for the title with Liverpool stretching clear in the last lap leaving Warrington and Preston in second and third place respectively.
Five minutes after the U13 boys began Birtley U13 girls began the defence of the title that they won last year in Manchester, and as they came through “tent city corner” it was Nell Graham of Birtley with a narrow lead over Rotherham as they reached the changeover. Also well placed were Warriors Pentathlon, and as Nell Graham handed over to Kitty Graham Warriors Eve Beddow wrestled the initiative with a stunning second leg which saw her reach the transition with a massive advantage where she handed over to Isobel Beddow. The Warriors Pentathlon sister act ensuring that Warriors maintained their advantage to take the title ahead over Beatrix Soper of Sale, Soper holding off Olivia Murphy of Birtley who took the bronze.
A closely contested U15 boys first leg saw Liverpool lead into the first changeover from Tyne Bridge and Southport Waterloo – but lurking in the pack were Trafford who after a blistering second leg from Pio Aron had a impregnable lead, especially as Finlay Dobson Emmas was waiting to take over the baton. Dobson Emmas, the winner of the junior Great North Run anchoring the team home from Southport Waterloo and Rotherham.
And the North West monopoly continued as Liverpool dominated the U15 girls, but not from the start as they were just outside the top three with Wakefield, Sale and Lincoln Wellington holding the top three positions. But as the second leg unfolded Rebecca Murphy of Liverpool into the lead and it was a lead that Liverpool were not to relinquish as Molly Carvill brought them home to the title with Ellarose Whitworth of Lincoln Wellington securing silver ahead of Isobel Hall of Sale in third.
Just as Birtley’s U13 girls returned as defending champions to finish third so too did Morpeth’s U17 boys. Joseph Close led Morpeth off but it was Jonson Hughes of Rotherham who led into the first changeover with Morpeth in a queue from third to 7th but just as Trafford’s second leg athlete turned the race Trafford’s way in the U15 boys so too did Oliver Gill for Blackburn. It proved decisive as Ben Stratton brought them home with City of York finishing second and Oliver Tomlinson who teamed up with Elliot Kelso and Joseph Close to take the bronze for Morpeth.
Could North West clubs sweep the board of age group wins. The answer was to be no as Rotherham broke the dominance by winning the U17 girls with Warriors Pentathlon and Vale Royal taking silver and bronze.
So to the senior events. The men competing over six stages the women over four. While the red rose clubs of Lancaster had held sway in the age groups it was the white rose of Yorkshire who were unbeatable here, or to be specific City of Leeds. Graham Rush handed over to Linton Taylor and Taylor secured victory ahead of Liverpool and Hallamshire. Meanwhile in the women’s event Eleanor Curran took the lead in the second leg which grew as Georgia Malir ran a 16.55 minute final leg, Vale Royal and Salford completing the top three as the competition in Birkenhead Park came to it’s conclusion. Next stop on the Northern Athletics championships calendar is Sheffield for the cross country relays in October
Susan Jardine is presenter of Sportszone on Nova Radio North East every Saturday from 2pm-6pm. You can listen by accessing www.novaradio.co.uk