Heanor Running Club will be the only Derbyshire representative at the National 12 Stage Road Relay final in two weeks’ time as they successfully qualified from the Midland Counties event held at Sutton Park, Birmingham.
In their first season competing in the Midlands division, Heanor RC’s men negotiated the long and short stages to finish comfortably inside the top-25 qualification mark in 19th overall.
The National 12 Stage Road Relay Final is possibly the biggest road racing team event on the UK race calendar and in Birmingham, Chris Rainsford led the team out on the opening leg towards qualification for the final.
Over the 5.38 mile course, Rainsford paced the undulating early stages well before picking off tiring athletes throughout the second half of the race.
The Matthew Walker 10K race winner battled hard to the line to immediately put the team in a strong position, finishing seventh in a time of 27:36.
Paul Clarke, making his Heanor RC 12 Stage debut, took over on leg two, consolidating the team’s position inside the top-10. Clarke completed his 3 mile short leg in 17:06. Lee Perkins (17:17) maintained the team’s position and put over three minutes between the team and 26th position at this point. Joe Rainsford (30.01), on the second of four long stages, brought the team home in 11th with a third of the race gone.
Following a strong start, Ed Godber (19:30), Darren Ridout (16:58), Steve Ashmore (30:25) and Carl Hughes (19:34) consolidated the team’s position inside the mid-teens before passing the baton over to Ben Radbourne.
Radbourne, making his first appearance in the yellow and blue since last July’s Derwent River Relays following a succession of injuries, pulled a 17:25 effort out the bag on leg nine to see the team lie 15th with a third of the race remaining.
The vast experience of seasoned performers Tony Weatherson (32:18), Alastair Hobday (17:47), fresh from the Lisbon Half Marathon the previous weekend, and Jon Wainwright (19:31) made sure the job was successfully completed as the men’s team efforts were rewarded with a 19th place finish and a place in the final.
The next day, over 20 Heanor RC members were amongst the 3,400 in action at the 11th annual Derby 10k.
Starting outside Pride Park Stadium before heading out into the city centre and back along the river to finish with a lap inside the stadium, plenty of personal bests were achieved in glorious sunshine on April Fools’ Day.
Lee Perkins and Paul Clarke, fresh from their exploits at the road relays the previous day, ding-dong battled the entire race as they swapped positions and spurred each other on to fast times. Perkins (35:48) came out on top as Clarke (35:50) finally dipped below the 36-minute mark to set a new personal best.
Alastair Hobday (37:50) came out on top in another Heanor RC duel as he battled it out with fellow clubman Simon Neumann (37:57). Heanor RC’s newest recruit, Nick Lees, making his unofficial debut for the yellow and blue and his first race appearance in over 12 years, ran a solid 39:29 not too far behind.
22 Heanor RC runners participated in the event and there were numerous other notable runs and personal bests achieved amongst them. Jill Burke (40:37) finished 2nd V45 and 10th female overall; Steve Wardle’s London Marathon preparations are obviously on the right track after he posted a new PB of 41:36 while a host of Heanor RC women, including Tracie Morris (48.21), Donna Baker (48:55), Jo Potter (49:21), Rose Leivers (49:47) and Gemma Housley (49:21) also set new personal best performances.
Next up for Heanor RC is the National 12 Stage Road Relay Final this Saturday, April 14, at Sutton Park, Birmingham followed by the first Booth Decorators League summer road race league fixture of the season the following Tuesday at Darley Park, Derby.