Two medals for Mansfield Harriers at top road relay event

MEDAL MARVELS -- Mansfield Harriers' U17 men's team, (from left) Cam Walker, Archie Rayner and Matt Buchan, who won a bronze medal.
MEDAL MARVELS -- Mansfield Harriers' U17 men's team, (from left) Cam Walker, Archie Rayner and Matt Buchan, who won a bronze medal.

The successful year of Mansfield Harriers just got better when they won two bronze medals at the Midland Autumn Road Relay Championships at Sutton Park, Sutton Coldfield.

Harriers entered seven teams in the championships, which comprised races of 5,800m for men, 4.300m for women and 3,900m for juniors over an undulating course.

And even though the event attracted clubs from across the country, including powerhouses such as Birchfield Harriers and Bristol, Mansfield’s U17 men and men’s masters teams bagged magnificent and well-deserved third places.

The U17s even came close to a silver medal, missing out by just one second in a thrilling finish. Archie Rayner (12.20) was first out, finishing a terrific third, despite rustiness in his first race since an end-of-season rest. Matt Buchan (13.14) ran a strong second leg to bring the team home in second. And then Cameron Walker (12.31) ran a fantastic third leg, holding off a string of challenges before getting caught on the line by one of the UK’s top junior cross-country internationals.

The six-man masters team of Mark Johnson (18.41), Chris Allcock (22.45), Nigel Watkins (22.18), Alan Smith (19.53), Philip Shaw (21.29) and Andy Wetherill (20.17) even finished 32nd overall too. Recent Mansfield 10K winner Johnson was first home on his leg.

Of the other Harriers teams, the men’s senior sextet of Alex Rieley, Paul Scott, Gary Morley, Steve Davies, Dave Robertson and Martin Fickling were 80th overall.

The senior ladies fielded three teams. The A team of Hannah Vardy, Alice Venkatesan, Kahli Johnson and Helen Jones finished 26th, while the B team of Beverley Armstrong, Jackie Duers, Alice Mortiboy and Sharon Armitage were 46th, and the C team of Heather Shone, Sue Pepperday, Denise Winfield and Amanda Shaw finished 68th.

Completing the line-up were the U17 ladies, who finished 40th. Jade Bacon, on her debut in the event, and Jess Tomlinson ran well, but May Roberts (14.57) excelled herself, coming eighth on the opening leg and becoming the first Mansfield junior female athlete to run under 15 minutes for several years.