City clubs Peterborough AC and Nene Valley Harriers both had cause to celebrate at the Southern Road Relays at Bedford on Sunday.
Nene Valley picked up a bronze medal in the men’s Over 50 race while Peterborough’s senior men’s team finished 23rd to qualify for the National Road Relay finals for the first time since 2006.
The successful Nene Valley veterans team, which comprised Dave Neal, Chris Mooney, Barry Warne and Paul Parkin, spent much of the pre-race period comparing aches and pains caused by a refusal to respect the ageing process.
However, the fleet-footed foursome rose to the occasion once the starting gun was fired.
Battling gale force winds on the exposed Bedford Autodrome course, the Harriers team rolled back the years and were only just pipped for second place by Dulwich Runners AC after a close tustle.
PAC were delighted to qualify for the nationals for the first time in 10 years.
“It was our goal to make the top 25, so obviously we’re really happy,” said team manager Elaine Larkins.
“2006 was the last time we made it and that was with a team that included international athletes Glen Watts, Daniel Pettit and Matt Gunby, so to get back to the top level says much for this team.”
On their last final appearance Pettit ran a leg just 35 seconds slower than the fastest runner at the event, a young Newham and Essex Beagle called Mo Farah!
Peterborough 5k Grand Prix Series champion Stuart Haw got things off to a flying start for PAC bringing the team home in 20th place with a brilliant 18:16 clocking (the 45th fastest of the day from the 300-plus runners) and from there the team remained competitive all afternoon.
Larkins added: “Everyone ran really well, but I have to say ‘well done’ to Jon Peet (21:22).
“He only started training just over a year ago because his daughter Olivia was training at the club and now he’s made the national championships.”
Steve Robinson ran a cracking 18:48 on leg three to move the team up 11 places and is now targeting the Great Eastern Run next weekend (October 9).
Steve Hall (21:18), James Whitehead (19:50) and Shaun Walton (20:12) all had solid runs around the 6km windswept circuit.
The squad are now desperately trying to re-jig their racing and training programmes along with work commitments in order to compete in the national event, which takes place in Sutton Park, Birmingham, next Saturday, the day before the Great Eastern Run.
Nene Valley’s veteran ladies team came home in sixth place. Laura Grimer, Sophie Wilkinson-Hargate, Louise Blake and Nicky Morgan all completed the 4.5k circuit in pleasing times, on a day when the unrelenting wind was the real winner.
The Nene Valley senior men’s team finished 51st. The team of six had some good individual performers, and opening leg runner Chris Wright was the fastest with an 18:43 clocking.
Men’s Seniors (6k): Peterborough AC - Stuart Haw 18:16; Jon Peet 21:22; Steve Robinson 18:48; Steve Hall 21:18; James Whitehead 19:50; Shaun Walton 20:12. Nene Valley A - Chris Wright 18:43; Mike Chapman 21:19; Michel Channing 19:50; Sam Hunt 21:51; John Nash 23:20; Sean Beard 21:52. Nene Valley B (incomplete team) - Ollie Slater 21:17; Tim Hunt. 26:19.
Men’s Over 50s (6k): Nene Valley - Dave Neal 22:05; Chris Mooney 22:07; Barry Warne 23:46; Paul Parkin 25:27.
Ladies Vets (4.5k): Nene Valley - Laura Grimer 18:58; Louise Blake 20:31; Sophie Wilkinson-Hargate 19:36; Nicky Morgan 18:53.