Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
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MEN'S NATIONAL 12 STAGE ROAD RELAY (April 2012)

It was Tipton Harriers again, after winning last year. They went into the lead on 'Stage 5' at Sutton Park, on the 14th of April and never relinquished the lead..There was tremendous 'Club Spirit' at Tipton, something one always notices. They won despite being three top men short, Josh Lilly, Ryan McLeod and Phil Nicholls (Injured).Then again you can go down the clubs to see many others had  people  missing like Newham & Essex Beagles-Gerrard, Beattie, Merrien, Sam Farah (ILL), Mo Farah and Skinner and, the team that was second in the Southern behind Newham Highgate Harriers, were without three of their top four serious players Ed Jackson, Shaun Dixon and Danny Russell (Injured)  but they still managed 11th of the 69 club teams that started.
First Six Teams:- 1 Tipton Harriers (Adrian Holliday 26:26; Ian Mitchell 14:45; Ian Williams 27:19; Phil Hinch 14:53; Martin Williams 27:19; 26.44; Matt Granger 15:03; Ben Gamble 27:19; Daniel Beier 14:59; Michael Aspinall 26:30; Ross Jones 14:47; Neil Burton 26:46; Ian Rawlinson 14:45.---(4:10:17) 2 Leeds City AC 4:13:12; 3 Notts AC 4:14:12; 4 Birchfield Harriers 4:15:25; 5 Newham & Essex Beagles AC 4:15:53; 6 Belgrave Harriers 4:17:01.

Here are some of the  history and accounts from the Stage winners

Leg One:- PATRICK MARTIN of Stockport Harriers who did the fastest long stage of the day with 26:01

He was surprised and pleased for Stockport to win the last National cross country relay.
   "I had moved from Sunderland to Stockport so, besides dropping out of a race, that was the first race I did for Stockport.'
' I was influenced by my Father Adrian Martin who did  26:02 in the Park for Gateshead Harriers. I have been running since I was 11. I did the Sunderland School cross country for the Primary school. I took it more seriously
when I was at secondary school'
' I am a Primary school teacher now. We train as a group at Stockport four times a week.--Steve Vernon, Alex O'Gorman, and my brother Jack Martin. My brother ran 29.50 for 10k the other week.
'Football was my first sport . I played for a team called Grangetown but I was better at running."

Leg 2:- RICHARD WEIR of DERBY AC

" I went into the lead at the top of the hill after 100m and I feel I ran around 14:40 (Correct) My best  for the course is 14:30 but I had been coming back from a stress fracture and was out for 10 weeks so just been training for 31/2  weeks now'
   ' Not done a lot of races but on January the 7th did an indoor 3000 in 8:07 which was pleasing but it was straight after that I developed a tibia stress fracture in the right leg so pleased to be back'
   'I first started running when I was 10 or 11. I was brought into it by my Dad Malcolm Weir who is a club runner and still running in the 'Over 60' group. We used to do all the Fun Runs and all the local races and then I joined Derby at 12'
   ' I felt my best result for me was a PB in the 1500 last Summer of 3:43.69 and before that my best was 3:43:88 in 2006. I never gave up really. I am 27 now."

JAMES SHANE

On this leg was James Shane the AAA's 1500m Champion of last year so, I felt it would be interesting to know how things have gone with James recently.
   " I am not far away from what I was last year endurance-wise and considering I have only just started again after illness I feel I am getting back my form, which was indicated by me moving the team up nine places (31-22)
I ran 14:19 last year and 14:25 this year'
   'I have just been out in Kenya and got viral enteritis. Kenya is a fantastic place but there is a downside to going out there, as it is a third World country'
' Before that in the Winter it was a stop start training programme with niggles and so things did not go particularly well and also going into the world Championships'
   ' My sixth place in the final of the AAA's 800 in 2010 was not particularly good as I should have been further up but the AAA's 1500 that I won went very well and, now things appear to be going right again."

Leg 3:- DARREN DEED of Bedford & county AC 3rd to 1st in 26:14

" I went into the lead by the ice cream vans by the stone"
He thought what so many clubs said 'It is so hard to get a team out. '
To me winning the National 4 man cross country really three times was special'
' I thrive on chasing people. I am not to say it but, I am probably one of the most consistent runners around in County and Nationals. I have been in the top 12 for many years now.'
' I do very physical work as an engineer. I began running at 11 years old and I am 34 now."

Leg 4

MICHAEL SALTER of Leeds City athletic club went into the lead with a time 15:06.
" I Went into the lead approaching the start of the hill and then hanging on for deer life!' (Having taken over from James Walsh (26:14). What were his best distances then? ' The 800/1500' -1:50.6/3:47.61. This is probably one of my best runs.'.


Leg 5:- MARTIN WILLIAMS took Tipton from 3 to 1
   " I set off in third and there was Bedford (Matt Janes) just in front of me and the Leeds guy just further ahead (Mathew Clough). I caught Matt going up the first hill and caught Leeds just before the turn round.at the dog leg. Then when I knew half of it was over I started stretching things.'
   He added " I started running when I was about 25 and I am now 34. That is nine years ago now. My wife brought me into it really, as she has always been involved with Tipton. She eventually persuaded me to come down and do some sport."
  Hero in Tipton over the Years " Andy Holden. They used to tell me about the times Tipton ran and the training after a normal days work and, they are willing to help you  out, very inspirational
   Race that  stands out for you over the period of time?
" Running for Great Britain in Barcelona a big achievement. European Championships 2010 I finished 28th in that then I went to the Commonwealths' (Fastest 2:17:36 for the marathon in Seville in February 2010).
    " I am doing the London next week." He thought the qualifying time for the Olympics was, at this point in time, a bit too stiff for him but as the Commonwealth qualifying is 2:19 he is capable of making as, he already been inside that time..

Leg 6:- MATT GRANGER

        About Matt Granger
:- " I ran 15:20 in the Midlands' (Faster on the course of 15:03 here.)
" I started running 12 to 13 years ago. I ran for Kidderminster & Southport initially but we just kept on getting relegated and not getting teams out so I joined Tipton in the end. That was at the end of last Summer."
  Good races? " National Cross this year was probably quite good. I was 60th and we got a team silver medal that is always a bonus, definitely.'
 Looking forward " 10k's in the Summer and a half marathon in the Autumn and just go back to the cross"

Leg 7:- BEN GAMBLE
 
" My season has been stop start so far. I hope to do the London. I did 2:23 last year.'
   ' I started running about five years ago. I ran to keep fit really. It was at my local club initially then I joined Tipton as they are a really good bunch of people. The team spirit is the best. Last year we won, even though we have no 'Super Stars' but across the board fairly mediocre as opposed to some of the top guys but it is a genuine team effort really.I like also running on my own because it is an individual sport.'    'I did do London last year in 2:23 but I feel I am constantly improving, ' Touch Wood."

Leg 8:- DANIEL BEIER

 " I was on my own so it is a bit difficult how hard to go. I did about 14:59 I think (Correct).One of my better one's'
 ' I started running when I was about ten years old'
  Things going well this year? ' Not bad. A bit up and down. Before Christmas it was going well. After Christmas not done much but I found myself in the team. I think I ran about 14:50 last time.'
   'After the English at Parliament Hill I had four weeks without a step. I had achilles problems for two weeks.The achilles problem I had already had for a few weeks in the cross-country season so, I pulled out of the Inter-Counties. I was 77th in the National which was my best position."

Leg 9:- MICHAEL ASPINALL

" I felt strong all the way round.'
' I had a bit of a shaky start to the year but well into my marathon programme for the end of May.
My best time was 2:20:29 at Frankfurt in 2010.'
   ' I first started running at six but competitively when I was about 17.
   ' My first  memory of getting some satisfaction in a race was when I did 2:34.6 and ran through the field in the London marathon of 2004 and it was quite a fond memory. I have got a lot of fond memories here of the National and Midland relays.I have only been with Tipton for 21/2 years."

Leg 10:- ROSS JONES

" I expected it to be a bit quicker (14:47) but it was a bit blowy till you come back towards the finish.'
'I was 17th in the Home countries race and 39th in the Brussels Lotto Cup in December
' I started running three years ago I was overweight 15 stone overweight I was!. I started jogging at Wolverhampton and Bilston and I quickly came on and  joined Tipton. I  have come on more in the last 12 months.
It is the spirit in Tipton and the desire to do better (Coached by Bud Baldaro).
' The best race I had was in the Birmingham League I was third and it was a big breakthrough for me against a top field (Leamington 12th of November last year). I have suddenly come on in the last six months from being like what I was three years ago. Regarding the weight I had, it was just work at a stressful job, eating late, drinking. Running helped me to relax and think things through. That was why I started running-I am Operations Manager for Royal Mail."

Leg 11:- NEIL BURTON

"That is my first relay run for two years.I am now in Switzerland and I am back for this, just for the weekend.
I have not been fit for a long time. Decided last Autumn to get fit again. I had had two years out. '
' I had been running for years.I have been in the six stage when we finished second back in about 2006.
Favourite result :- " Probably in the six stage  when we came second. I came 12th in the Liverpool cross so that was probably my highest place in the cress-country. I was finishing my PHD at Birmingham in Biological sciences
.I went out to Basle. My contract finishes at the end of the year and, I seem to have found more time to train recently. There is a group there of good runners."

Leg 12:- IAN RAWLINSON

" It was hard work. It is hard to push it and just to keep something in reserve. The time was not quick (14:46). '
We are all friends on the team and live locally.'.  
He went on to say " I started running when I was 10 or 11. I am 28 now. I was good in school and decided to keep going with it."

Alastair Aitken

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