This is the one we wanted to win and the competition, at a baking hot Christ's Hospital, was as fierce as ever. Arch-rivals Brighton and Hove led for the early laps but the Phoenix senior men's team took fire and emerged the winners by almost a minute.
After two legs of the six-stage relay (the course is 2.05 miles) it looked as though our chance was gone. Will Durkin had put in a steady 10:14 for leg 1. Max Pickard then had what he would concede was a difficult run on second leg (10:53) leaving us in 6th position. Finn McNally steadied the ship with a fine 10:09 and then Josh Guilmant put in a captain's performance running a stunning 9:55 which proved to be the fastest run of the day. Then it got tastier as Tom Hopkins handed over a lead to Charlie Grice having run 10:01 (third fastest). Charlie needed no better invitation and blasted his way round the course in 9:56. His time would have given him second fastest lap behind Josh's first but as an under 17 runner he took gold in that category. The under 17 individual medals all went to Phoenix with Will Durkin silver and Jake Elliot, running for the senior B team, taking third spot (10:36).
'Our' senior B team included a fine selection of athletes including Ben Warren from Harrow AC, our own Garry Thayre (not far off 50) and Liz Durman's dad Garry Durman – a fine athlete in his day. A non-scoring team but a fun one!
In the same race (four legs) the over 40 men fielded two complete teams with the A team making 4th spot. Ray Matthews was our fastest runner with 11:26.
Earlier, other teams had set the pace. In the under-13 boys race we finished in silver position with Reuben Hoyte (6:24), Archie Davis (6:12) and Matt Berridge (6:40) continuing their remarkable success story, backed up by a fine B team (Will Russell, Harry Swindels and Joe Lillie). Archie Davis took individual bronze.
The under-13 girls were the only other junior category to field a team. Well done to Eve Hull, Alex Vidler and Elorah Mann.
The women, with a senior A and B team ran alongside the O50 and 060 men. Same course but just three legs. The women's A team with Erica Martin running a fine 12:17 first leg managed 7th place in a fiercely fought race.
The O50 men also had two teams in the mix with Bob Novis running 12:29 for their fastest leg. The reward was an excellent 4th place for the A team.
The O60men have a great record in this event, and we rose to the occasion once more with a strong (and remarkably evenly matched) trio who took team gold just 19 seconds ahead of defending champions, Brighton and Hove. How are these for timings? Malcolm Kemp 13:25, Terry Avey 13:23, Andrew Field 13:24. Congratulations gents!
Full results can be found here
Thanks to Lance Bellers for these excellent shots.