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Northern Road Relays

Sunday 24 March 2019, Birkenhead The Northern Road Relays and under 15 and under 17 5k road championships were held at Birkenhead Park on the Wirral on a sunny but very blustery day. The races involved long loops of the park, with one public road intersecting the park being closed to traffic. The advertised race distances also appeared somewhat shorter.

The races for the younger age groups were started with short intervals between them, and the U15 boys went first, all running together. Harriers’ team placed 5th, with Tom Durney the highest placed finisher in 7th. The U15 girls won the team event ahead of Wirral AC and the Harriers B team were 3rd. Grace Brown led the A team home in 5th, Imogen Blackwell was 7th and Scarlett Sutton 11th. For the B team, Jess Watson was 12th, Olivia Miller 20th & Emily Reynolds 23rd. The U17 men also won the team event, with Ben Preddy finishing an excellent 2nd. Matthew Fazkerely was 4th and Liam Blackwell 9th. Tom Dickinson and Harry Everrett also ran, recording places of 12th & 15th respectively. The U17 women were led home by Darcey Lonsdale in 3rd spot and with Annabel Duffy in 13th & Caitlyn Preddy in 19th; they won silver team medals.

The men`s relays were 12 stages, and Harriers fielded two teams. The stage lengths were approx. 4k and 8k. With so many runners and teams taking part, it could be quite difficult to follow where individual teams were. Andy Benson took the first long stage for the A team and Lee Foley for the B team. With Benson finishing 9th, a good platform was set up and the team jumped to 6th after Kian Davis ran stage 2. Nathan Dunn ran the 4th fastest stage 3, so the team were now 5th. Daniel Neal on stage 4 was followed by Chris Durney on stage 5 and the team had improved to 4th. Tiarnan Crorken kept the team in 5th and Jack Dee-Ingham then ran stage 7. Ian Aguilar picked up stage 8, and Harriers had dropped a little to 8th. Wesley Wilkinson, a late replacement, ran next and kept the team in contention. With the race now getting towards the conclusion, for the leading teams and supporters excitement was building. Byron Sowerby ran stage 10 and Matias Grixti stage 11; he recorded the 9th fastest stage 11 time.

Dan Bebbington now ran the final stage and in a great effort, he posted the fastest time for the stage, and also on the day, it was the 3rd fastest stage time overall. Harriers A team finished a superb 7th overall in 3 hrs 16.59. Leeds City, dominant in such team events won, with City of Sheffield 2nd and Salford Harriers 3rd. The men`s B team finished 56th in 4:01.10.

The women`s teams had to deal with very late withdrawals which meant wholesale changes and credit goes to those who actually ran in the six stage relay. However, there was a brilliant performance from Kirsty Fraser who ran the 3rd fastest short leg of the event in 13.02. The team finished in a creditable 27th place.

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