Bristol & West snatch victory as Midland Relays end in drama

IN dramatic finale Bristol & West AC’s senior men cinched victory in the Midland Counties 12-Stage Road Relay Championships yesterday,
In the most exciting race for several years Bristol & West only took the lead on the 12th and final stage around Sutton Park, Birmingham, as Adam Speake over-hauled Cheltenham’s Dave Roper.
Roper had set off on that final leg with a slim lead of three seconds but it didn’t take long for Speake to run him down as he uncorked a time of 16mins 18secs to turn that deficit into an advantage of 12 seconds by the finish.
Cheltenham’s disappointment was all too clear to see as they have never won the title before and had led the race since stage four, which this year was the fourth and final successive long stage as the organisers changed the format.
Eight short stages then followed and Cheltenham kept their nose in front, even stretching their lead to 1min 46secs at the half-way point.
The ninth stage was pivotal as Will Christofi zipped around the course in 15mins 54secs, which was the second fastest time of the day for the short circuit, to slash Cheltenham’s lead to just 24 seconds.
Harry Lane cut another 12 seconds off that n stage 10, but ironically that stage saw Bristol slip to third as Notts AC moved second as Doug Musson clocked the fastest time overall.
On the penultimate stage Notts dropped back as Miles Chandler hunted down Cheltenham leader Andrew Van Kints as the gap was reduced to just three seconds – setting up Speake for that sensational finish. Brilliant stuff.

1 Bristol & West AC [A] 4:01:48 (1 Luke Evans (4) 27:51, 2 Benedict Westhenry (2) 27:41, 3 Owain Jones (3) 27:28, 4 Tom Merson (2) 27:08, 5 Robert Stewart (2) 16:47, 6 Mark Edwards (2) 16:34, 7 Ben Robinson (2) 16:11, 8 Jack Millar (2) 16:49, 9 William Christof (2) 15:54, 10 Harry Lane (3) 16:41, 11 Miles Chandler (2) 16:26, 12 Adam Speake (1) 16:18).

2 Cheltenham & County Harriers 4:02:00; 3 Notts AC 4:02.19.
12 Bristol & West AC B 4:30.55; 27 Team Bath AC 4:43.44.

Fastest – shot: 1 Doug Musson (Notts 15:15; 2 Will Christofi (B&W) 15:54; 3 Mike Aspinall (Tipton) 15:58; 4 Chris Davies (Telford) 16:05; 5 Ben Robinson (B&W) 16:11; 10 Adam Speake (B&W) 16:18.

Long: 1 Graham Rush (Chelt) 26:32; 2 Phil Wylie (Chelt) 26:38; 3 Aaron Scott (Notts) 26:44; 4 Tom Merson (B&W) 27:08; 7 Owain Jones (&W) 27:38; 9 Ben Westhenry (B&W) 27:41; 12= Luke Evans 27:51.

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