A long, long time ago, back in the 1920’s, was the first London to Brighton Road Relay. It was run in stages over 50-plus miles, and was first competed in by clubs from the South of England. In 1951 it was opened up, attracting top clubs from all over the country, and soon became the “unofficial” National Road Relay Championships. The London to Brighton Relay carried on until 1965 when, due to increasing traffic, (and the logistics of getting runners to each change-over point), it was forced to stop. In 1967 the first AAA National Road Relay Championships were held with 12 stages, each run over the same course, with one change-over point, for a total distance of more than 50 miles. For the first three years the relays were held in Leicester, but in 1970 moved to Sutton Park where they have been held to this day.
All the greats of British middle and long distance running have competed for their clubs in the National Road Relays (if their club qualified). This year was no exception – amongst the spectators there was Steve Cram supporting his daughter Josie Cram and Olympic 1500m finalist Laura Weightman, whom he coaches, both running for Morpeth in the 6 stage women’s relay. Tom Holden, son of the late Andy Holden, who represented GB in the steeplechase in the 1972 Olympics, was running for Tipton. Young Alex Yee, already an international both on the track and in duathlon and triathlon, ran the second-fastest long leg of the day for his club, Kent AC, behind Dewi Griffiths of the winning club Swansea Harriers. Other promising young athletes were there, such as Ben Davies of Bedford, fresh from representing GB in the World XC Champs in Uganda. Jack Wild, the son of legendary fell-runner John Wild, a subject of Steve Chilton’s latest book, was running for Serpentine.
And so the baton continues to be passed down the generations in the National 12 Stage Road Relays
Barnet and District, there for only the third time in our history, but now two years in a row, were a combination of experience and youth, with Andy, Adrian, Costa and Yitzhak supporting young runners such as Oli and Alex.
The team was led off by Alex, who had a brilliant run, where he went toe-to-toe with former member Michael Wright, eventually finishing five seconds clear, before handing over to Andy. Every Stag ran his heart out for the team and for the club. Danny eventually brought us home in 48th place – beating last year’s position by 10 places, and by nearly 9 minutes. A great result on a beautiful sunny day in Sutton Park, making the team managers proud and sunburnt.
The other time, apart from 2016 and 2017, that Barnet have completed a team at the National 12 Stage was in 2003. Adrian Mason and Costa Michael are now the only Stags to have run in all three of Barnet’s National 12 Stage teams. Will they make it four, or will they be pushed out by more of our younger runners? In 2003 the club was 43rd. The aim next year is to beat that. With our strongest teams for both the Southern (to qualify) and for the National Road Relays it can be done.
Full results here
Barnet & District AC – 5hrs 1min 52sec – 48th
Long legs (5.38 miles): Alex Lepretre – 27.44; Adrian Mason – 31.06; Dan Davies – 28.54; Will Morris – 31.20; Nick Barber – 34.52; Dan Nichols – 32.02
Short legs (3.17 miles): Andy Cunningham – 18.45; Costa Michael – 19.37; Yitzhak Ben-Aroya – 20.22; Darren White – 19.36; Oli Formby – 18.47; Danny Digweed – 18.47