This year’s South of England 12 Stage Road Relay Championships saw a move from last year’s race at Milton Keynes to a new course at Cyclopark in Gravesend on Sunday.
There was a team of 16 Valley men travelling to Gravesend, including 7 who were making their debut in the 12 Stage Road Relay and a good all round team performance produced a final finishing position of 23rd out of a total of 34 finishing teams.
This result sees the men’s team qualify to go forward to the English National 12 Stage Road Relay Championships in Birmingham on Saturday April 16th.
In the club handicap competition between the Valley men to find the fastest overall relay leg, Andrew Mitchell was the fastest of the day and wins the TVH Southern Road Relay Cup, congratulations Andrew!
The weather remained cool, dry and breezy throughout the day, with occasional bursts of sunshine breaking through to warm things up and counteract the wind chill effect.
The course was spread out over a lap around an undulating cycle path that connected the off-road cycling circuits within the cycle park and included a number of relatively short up and downhill sections to make for a fast running lap overall.
The men’s race consisted of 12 alternating long and short relay legs of 7.2km and 4.8km, with 3 laps of the course for a long leg and 2 laps for a short leg.
However, early race legs confirmed by GPS that each lap only measured approximately 2.2km, giving a race distance of 6.6km for a long leg and 4.4km for a short leg.
Leading off for the men’s team on 1st leg, a long leg of 6.6km, and also being welcomed onto the team for his Valley debut was Conor Kissane-Wood.
The start always sees a large number of fast runners on 1st leg and being conscious of not going off too fast himself he wasn’t able to establish a steady rhythm until the final lap of his 3 laps, which brought him home in a time of 23m 22s and in 37th place.
As one of the junior Valley men on the team Robert Vallance made the most of the fast downhill start as he began leg 2, a short leg of 4.4km, he sped round the course in double quick time to record the fastest short leg time for the Valley, 13m 43s, and gained an impressive 11 places to move the team up into 26th place.
Leg 3 saw a 12 Stage Relay debut for James Ellis and with the added incentive of catching and overtaking the leading female runners as the women’s race began over the same course, he moved up through the field into 24th place in a good time of 21m 24s.
Road relay regular Manuel Da Silva took over for leg 4 and despite not being fully fit after a number of injuries throughout the winter he worked hard for a time of 15m 46s and 25th place after his leg.
On leg 5 Andrew Mitchell carried on his good form from the cross country season onto the road to produce another very good run which saw him gain 2 places and move up to 23rd place with a time of 21m 23s.
Making his 12 Stage Relay debut on leg 6 Botond Safar made good use of his track training to record a time of 15m 02s, which kept the Valley men in contention in 24th place at the halfway point of the race.
Starting leg 7 and another 12 Stage Relay debutant was Chris Thomas, who quickly got into his stride and didn’t look back as he overtook 2 places to move up into 22nd place in a very good time of 21m 03s, which was also the joint fastest long leg for the Valley.
Running on leg 8 and having only recently recovered from illness Steve Norris still managed to put in a decent time of 15m 24s to finish his short leg in 23rd place.
Fahad Abdi was keen to impress on leg 9 and with the first 1km of each lap running nearly all downhill may have started his long leg a little too fast as he came home in a time of 23m 04s and in 24th place.
It was a 12 Stage Relay debut for Christian Nielsen on leg 10 and he ran the course well with a good paced time of 15m 20s to maintain 24th place.
A second junior Valley man, Toby Clyde, took over on leg 11 and with no other runners around for company he ran an extremely well paced long leg to close the gap on the teams in front and maintain 24th place in a very good time of 21m 03s, to match Chris’ time as the joint fastest long leg for the Valley.
Stepping up for leg 12, the final short leg, was Kieron Sexton, who proceeded to close in on those ahead of him over the 2 laps with a good time of 14m 18s, until he eventually ran out of road in a very close sprint finish which saw him cross the line just 1s short of the next team ahead, to move the Valley team up 1 place to a final finishing place of 23rd out of 34 finishing teams.
Also racing on Sunday was a 4 man Valley B team, which included 2 men making their 12 Stage Relay debut.
Up on 1st leg, a long leg of 6.6km, was Richard Hooley, who set a good pace around the 3 lap course to record a time of 25m 40s.
For leg 2, a short leg of 4.4km, junior Valley man Louis Marriot was making his 12 Stage Relay debut and having missed out on recent training finished the 2 laps with a time of 17m 21s.
Setting off on leg 3 David Ford maintained a good rhythm throughout the long leg for a time of 27m 56s on his 12 Stage Relay debut.
The final member of the B team on leg 4 was Scott Brewer, whose improvement since last year’s race was reflected with a time of 16m 26s for the short leg.
Well done to everyone who raced and supported the team on Sunday as the 12 Stage Road Relay made a successful transition from Milton Keynes to Gravesend, though whether the race returns to Gravesend next year remains to be seen.
To conclude the day’s events for the Valley men the winner of the men’s TVH Southern Road Relay Cup still needed to be decided for the fastest overall handicap time on the day.
The 2 fastest handicap times for a long and short leg were produced by Andrew Mitchell with a time of 20m 23s for his long leg and Robert Vallance with a time of 13m 43s for his short leg .
To decide the overall winner, the athlete who has the faster average time wins the cup – Andrew averaged 3m 05s per km and Robert averaged 3m 07s per km.
So congratulations to Andrew, who wins the TVH Southern Road Relay Cup for the first time!
Up The Valley!
Men’s South of England 12 Stage Road Relay Results, 20-03-16.
23 : TVH Senior Men – A Team – 3:40:52
|Leg||Time||Race Position||Total Time|
|1 Conor Kissane-Wood||23:22||37||23:22|
|2 Robert Vallance||13:43||26||37:05|
|3 James Ellis||21:24||24||58:29|
|4 Manuel Da Silva||15:46||25||1:14:15|
|5 Andrew Mitchell||21:23||23||1:35:38|
|6 Botond Safar||15:02||24||1:50:40|
|7 Chris Thomas||21:03||22||2:11:43|
|8 Steve Norris||15:24||23||2:27:07|
|9 Fahad Abdi||23:04||24||2:50:11|
|10 Christian Nielsen||15:20||24||3:05:31|
|11 Toby Clyde||21:03||24||3:26:34|
|12 Kieron Sexton||14:18||23||3:40:52|
Incomplete Team : TVH Senior Men – B Team – 1:27:23
|Leg||Time||Race Position||Total Time|
|1 Richard Hooley||25:40||43||25:40|
|2 Louis Marriott||17:21||42||43:01|
|3 David Ford||27:56||40||1:10:57|
|4 Scott Brewer||16:26||40||1:27:23|
34 finishing complete teams
Men’s TVH Southern Road Relay Cup Handicap Results
Long Legs : 6.6km
|1 Andrew Mitchell||20:23|
|2 Richard Hooley||20:50|
|3 Toby Clyde||21:03|
|3 Chris Thomas||21:03|
|5 David Ford||21:06|
|6 Fahad Abdi||21:14|
|7 James Ellis||21:24|
|8 Conor Kissane-Wood||21:52|
Short Legs : 4.4km
|1 Robert Vallance||13:43|
|2 Christian Nielsen||13:50|
|3 Botond Safar||13:52|
|4 Steve Norris||13:54|
|5 Scott Brewer||14:06|
|6 Kieron Sexton||14:18|
|7 Louis Marriott||14:21|
|8 Manuel Da Silva||14:26|
Overall winner :
1 Andrew Mitchell
2 Robert Vallance