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Senior and Junior Ladies Relay Success

With the close of the league track season the emphasis switches to the road for Harriers teams of all ages and the curtain raiser for the season is, by tradition, the Yorkshire Road Relay Championships. The event was held this year at Sheffield's Don Valley Stadium, one of the last big events at the venue before it closes its doors for good in October, and Rotherham Harriers were represented in every section, bringing home two gold and one bronze medal after a very satisfactory day.

In the younger age groups teams of three or more compete for positions and the team with the three best finishers wins. The Harriers U13 Girl's team showed a clean pair of heels to the opposition with excellent packing to win the Gold medals in this category with Grace Harris 4th, Mya Taylor 5th, Annabel Johnson 12th and Keiva Rennocks 21st earning a team score of 21pts, 5 pts clear of Keighley in second place, with Hallamshire Harriers a further 5 pts back in third. The U13 Boys just missed out on a medal as they packed well in mid field to score 51 pts for fourth place, Matthewe Stevens 16th, Will Johnson 17th, Bailey Stead 18th, Jack Stokes 27th and Howard Kniveton 33rd making up the squad.

The Under 15 Boy's team of Joe Massingham (5th), Kane Smith (17th) and James Johnson (35th) scored 57 pts to take 5th place overall and Louise Oak ran as an individual in the U15 Girl's race, achieving an encouraging 12th place in a big field.

The older age group team events are relays with teams of 3 at U17 level, 4 in the Senior Ladies and 6 in the Senior Men's races competing head to head in each leg to produce some exciting races as each team fields athletes of different strength on each leg and positions change hands frequently.

The Harrier's star team has been the Junior/Senior ladies squad for some time and they were defending the title they took in convincing fashion last year. Once again the Rotherham team starting out as one of the favourites for the title, and Jess Fawcett (11.17) gave them an excellent start on the highly competitive first leg, handing over in 2nd place to Laura Spence just behind local rivals Hallamshire Harriers. Laura (11.12) rapidly overhauled the Hallamshire second leg runner but was unable to hold off GB international Susan Partridge of Leeds, fresh from the World Championships in Moscow, who recorded the fastest time of the day by a wide margin (10.16) to take Leeds into a 30 second lead over Rotherham as Natasha Hatswell set off on leg 3. Running strongly and gaining time on all the other teams Natasha (11.23) swept into a big lead of almost 90 seconds as she handed over to Steph Burns on the last leg. Step (11.01) was in excellent form and gave the opposition no chance of coming back as she ran the fastest time of the day for the Harriers and stretched out to a lead of well over 2 minutes from Hallamshire who had pulled back into the silver medal position with a strong last leg. The consistency of the Harriers' team was evidenced by the fact that they recorded the 5th, 6th,7th and 8th fastest times of all 64 runners on the day. A strong looking 'B' Team was 7th overall (Jess Mangham 12.22, Mary Jenkinson 12.13, Jess Freeman 12.41, and Emma Dutton 12.43) finishing as the fastest B team by some margin and demonstrating the depth of the Rotherham squad at this level.

The U17 men's team was the third medal winning squad on the day as they held on for Bronze in a very strong field. Devon Stead (10.34) had an excellent run on leg 1 against some very strong runners and handed over in 2nd place to Ryan Beale, 20 s. behind Sheffield AC and only a few seconds ahead of Wakefield AC and Hallamshire Harriers. Ryan (10.34) brought the team within 5 s. of Sheffield in the lead with Hallamshire only 20 s. further back as he handed over to Daniel Bradford on the last leg. Daniel (11.16) was not able to hold off Hallamshire's fastest runner (Connor Milnes) for the Silver but he was able to hold on to third place from Josh Schofield of York AC who ran the fastest relay leg of anyone in the field but was just unable to snatch the bronze from the Rotherham Harriers' grasp in an exciting finish.

Harrier's U17 Ladies had Maisie Elliott (14.59) on leg one and she established the team in 8th place. Charlotte Dodds (13.13) maintained their position on the 2nd leg and handed over to Ruby Torry. Ruby (14.33) was able to pull the team into 7th at the finish.

The Junior/Senior Men's team competed as an open team because first leg runner Kyle Craib is not qualified for Yorkshire and they were the first Open team to finish as they took 5th place overall. Kyle opened up with 20.46 to hold 4th place at the end of leg 1, an excellent start against some of the best runners from the other teams, and handed over to veteran Harrier John Comrie. John's 23.50 saw the team slip back into 9th place but the teams were pretty closely grouped and Aidan Johnson (20 51) was able to claw back 3 places into 6th on leg 3. Running the Harrier's fastest time on leg 4 Richard Harris (20.45) took them into contention for the podium as he also gained 3 places. With Nigel Brookes, in his 50th year, running 24.06 on leg 5 the team slipped back to 4th place and Chris Cotton's 22.01 on the last leg saw the team lose another place to finish in a highly creditable 5th, an excellent effort for a team with two runners rapidly approaching 50 years of age.

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