Not even the return of the Beast From The East could prevent Mansfield Harriers’ men qualifying for the National Road Relay Championships for the first time for several years.
Snow blizzards and freezing weather greeted the runners at the Midlands Spring Road Relays, one of the classic events on the road race calendar, held at Sutton Park, near Birmingham.
But Harriers’ men produced a superb performance to finish 27th, which comfortably beat last year’s 37th and was enough to earn them a crack at the nationals next month.
The race consisted of four long legs over 5.38 miles, followed by eight shorter legs over 3.165 miles, and Harriers clocked a fine aggregate time of four hours, 53.17 minutes.
Leading the team out was marathon man Adam Fairfield, who was a tremendous 41st in 33.40. On the back of his debut for the county the previous week, Neil Cope ran a brilliant 31.11 to lift the team into 32nd before recent recruit Dan Ellis showed he is going to be a real asset to the club, recording 32.37. The long legs were completed by the evergreen Andy Wetherill in 33.10.
The first of the short legs were run by Stuart Whysall and Jack Cooke, who clocked solid times of 21.00 and 19.36 respectively. Next came the fastest short leg, run by Phil Shaw in 19.23, before Martin Fickling (20.00), Steve Capewell (19.32), Sam Bradley (19.36) and Dave Robertson (24.40) continued to move Harriers up the placings.