Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
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Aldershot Champions Again (April 2013)

Aldershot & Farnham's Women's team ran their second fastest time for the Sutton Park course with 1:37:56, in the National Six Stage Road Relay Championships on the 13th of April. The fastest time since the start of the Women's event in 2000 was last year when, they ran 1:36:30. This year it was quite good conditions but the wind would have been a factor in slowing things a little and it was on he cool side!.
   The strength and depth of Aldershot's team was there for all to see, as they filled the first two positions out of the 55 'starting' teams The first Six Clubs were 1 Aldershot Farnham & District AC 'A' 1:37:56; 2 Aldershot Farnham & District 'B' 1:43:06; 3 Bristol & West AC 1:44:13; 4 Birchfild Harriers 1:45:00; 5 Rotherham Harriers & AC 1:47:03; 6 Thames Valley Harriers 1:47:12.
   On Leg One:- Laura Whittle of Royal Sutton Coldfield came in First in 15:48 (Equal second fastest time of the day), followed by Claire Duckof Leeds, (16:25) and Amy Campbell, Shaftesbury Barnet (16:31) but none of those clubs were in the first nine places by the finish of the event. In fourth place on stage one, in contention was Aldershot runner Montana Jones who ran 16:32.
   On Leg 2:- Laura Weightman took Morpeth from 5th to 1st in 15:48, which was the second,equal fastest time of the day and Katrina Wootton of Coventry, further down the field ran the fastest overall of 15:39 but here Aldershot made a real significant move with Emily Pidgeon taking them from 4 to 2 with Vicky Webster keeping Shaftesbury Barnet in the frame for the last time in 17:18.

EMILY PIDGEON "I did Ok and made it 16:12 on my watch. I did not catch Laura Weightman but we ended up
being the winning team, that was good.'
"I have never been part of a relay team before and, won that wins!."
'After you came third in the Southern you told me the people you were racing  racing with as a team helped you back to good form.'
'That is because I train with all the team I am competing with. I was really happy with my run today but I know Steph and Lilly would have run quicker and it is amazing that I am part of a team with them.'
What are her hopes for the track season ahead then?
'I want to get lots of PB's as I have  had several years of not running that well. I would love to do that. I love the 5k I have not had a good enough one yet. I don't want to move up beyond that. I want to focus on the 5k."

On Leg.3 Stephanie Twell (16:02) went into the lead with Susan Partridge of Leeds City (16:19) second and Emma Holt (18:14) keeping Morpeth Harriers in the frame.

STEPHANIE TWELL "I was pleased with my run. I went into the lead probably after 1500m. Got the first lap out of the way and overtook mid-way up the hill going out.'
   'You did not do too badly in the World Cross Country Championships (40th in the Senior race and 3rd UK athlete)
    'I really enjoyed it. I felt I was getting further good form in every race!'
     'You ran better than you did in the World Trials!' (5th)
      'I would say so. I felt like my training had been a step up in that, at the right time. When you race at the World Championships, with all those amazing athletes, it was no time to be nervous but to embrace the event. I lapped it up really and just ran as hard as I could when I got there. I was really pleased."
  'In the 2011 cross country season you had a bad fall and fractured your ankle, You must now have got your confidence back and gradually, made strides forward again.
   "It is nice that I have but I try not to think about that much. Every race is another step forward in a way. Just have racing opportunities to try and get fitter."

On Leg 4:- Alison Greggor (16:30) kept the momentum up in front. Leeds were having their last picture in the frame at that stage. 2nd came  Kirsten Young  of Leeds (17:44) .3rd in was Sarah Graham of Morpeth (18:37) in next place.

On Leg 5:- Lillian Partridge extended Aldershot's advantage with a handy 16:02 clocking; with Natasha Doel  (16:31) moving the 'B' team into 2nd place  with Deborah Nicol (16.59) put to 3rd for Bristol West.
LILLIAN PARTRIDGE (Her parents were 'Class' athletes and she is coached by, as many others are by Mick Woods):-
"I am happy with my season because, I have only got to think of where I was last year in February/March time when I did not want to run or anything.'
'I am concentrating on getting my track times back to a descent level'

                 "What is the secret about Aldershot being such a good top club?"
 "Hard work. We all work really hard. Our individual performances, without being a team, show that individually we all work hard'
'Montana today ran our first and I was on the fifth leg. She helped me put my number on. We are all friends".'
'I don't think there is a  secret--we just all work hard individually  and we come together'
'It is very lucky we have got six strong runners to rely on. We always have the girls we can rely on.'
      The women could be considered 'The Tipton' of the South, they are so strong over recent years!
                "We are lucky"
         What were your best races then?
      "I was really happy with Liverpool. It kind of came to-gether in the last minute (7th of over 14 in McCain Challenge on 24/1. She was also 6th in the Inter-counties and World CC Trials in 2013).
       'Before Liverpool I was not running very well 4 or 5 weeks before that. Then it started getting better and better. Winning the Southern at Parliament Hill Fields was a surprise as I was not aiming for it. As a club we got Gold, silver, bronze and fifth."
         Do you feel Steph Twell is an inspiration in your team?
         'Definitely. I would love to achieve the things Steph has achieved. She is very strong mentally. I think I take more from her in that aspect than physical performance.'
'In the club I think we can kind of take things from each other. If I learn a lot from Emelia Gorecka. Emelia can learn a lot from us being older."

Leg.6:- Georgia Bruinvels, who was sixth in the National cross country Championships, kept Aldershot well clear on the anchor leg. Even though she did the slowest of the Aldershot 'A' women, her time of 16:36, was the fastest on Stage 6.She was followed in by Louise Small (16:54) of Aldershot' B', Rebekah Randell (17:17) of Bristol & West and Aamara Armoush (17:38) of Birchfield Harriers.

Alastair Aitken

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