Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
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National 12 stage Road Relay (April 2014) Part 2

April 5th at Sutton Park, Birmingham
Leeds City Athletic Club are getting the reputation for being a consistent road and cross-country club as it was in the 'Great Days' of Tipton, when the late Andy Holden was in the team, along with other good performers and that was no more evident than in this year's road relay championships at Sutton Coldfield over a slightly revised course.

Stage One (Long)
Ieuan Thomas of Cardiff AC came in first with the equal fastest time of the day of 24.20 ahead of Jonathan Taylor (Morpeth) 24:41; and Shaun Dixon (Highgate Harries) 24.54-Leeds Simon Deakin was 7th in 25:09. Sixty One club athletes started the first leg at Sutton Park.
   IEUAN THOMAS "I usually run a short leg but I have been in really good shape so I wanted to go off lead to-day and see if I could be in front for Cardiff at the end of the leg."
   "I have been a steeplechaser for the last couple of years. I ran 8:46 last year".
Last year I was out in the 'States' and I ran 8:46 one day and came back the following day and ran 13.49 for 5k so, I knew I was in really good shape then. A week later took a barrier wrong and put my back out and had to take 5 months off without running. That injury is still kind of around."
   "I started running again last July. The plan for this year is to really attack the 10k. It would be too risky to do the steeplechase so I tried to enter the Highgate Harriers' Personal Bests' meeting and Trials at Parliament Hill Fields but I was a little bit late. I know my coach JAMES THIE was trying for me. We want to go for the Commonwealth time of Sub 29's and obviously, I feel in great shape to do that. I need to get in that race really!."
   How did the race go for him at Sutton Park "It went 'Great' I was really hoping to get out and have a good run, maybe lead the team and get us off into a good position. It was just about staying relaxed."
  Interesting people around him. Shaun Dixon was one of them coming through.
  "The key was not to go off too hard. I think everyone  was quite sensible with that.
Johnny really pushed on and he really wanted to run from the front and really go for it. It takes some real guts to try and run the whole race at the front. He put a gap on everyone by about 30 metres so, once we came into the extra loop I decided to go after him a little bit. I was trying to stay as relaxed as I could then once I got down to the cone, if I felt good there, I could start pushing on a title bit. I could feel myself clawing it back and then, once I went passed him, I tried to put the move in. I could feel he was having on."
It must be special having BERNIE PLAIN around in his club
"He is around Cardiff. We really love having Bernie around. A lot of those guys. Mike McGeoch , Steve Brace, working for Welsh athletics. We have Steve Jones who is in Colorado as well. It is great to have that expertise are round and JAMES THIE is my coach as well, a 1500 runner- Just won three gold medals at the World Masters Indoors (M35). To have people around you like that who have been there and can guide you."
Ieuan works for Nike Retail, in Retail Management in a Running specialist Cardiff Store. It works perfectly really but hard with a full time job as I run around that. A lot of early mornings and late evenings."
His Start "I have been running since 13 or so which is eleven years but I was always a very good junior. I ran good cross country when I was younger. Won the cross-Challenge Under 17 then everything plateaued off a little bit. Last year I had a entered a Scholarship at Western State Colorado University. It was at 7,500 feet and in the middle of nowhere so, all there was to do was training run. It brought back my love for running."
   Lap 2 (Short Stage) Michael Ward still held the lead for Cardiff (13:03) with Ben Harding of Kent (13:01) second and, in third spot with Nathan Shrub of Morpeth (13:20).
   MICHAEL WARD "I thought it was really good. I was out in the front on my own so, I kept a similar pace throughout then at half way to try to push it on to increase the lead. I enjoyed it."    
   He started running properly in year 9. He was in rugby before but through injury, started running instead .Although he started running at all in year 7 it was when he was nine he took it up more.
Races that gave him satisfaction
"Under 20's World Cross. I was 51st."
Was it a good experience for him "I enjoyed it and loved it."
Cardiff his club  "I do like it. We get along well together. Through injury It has been a bit of a funny season"
   "My favourite event is the 1500. I have done 3:48 for that. I am going to try and get my speed down this year. See how it goes."
Niall Brooks ran the fastest short leg of the day taking Sale Harriers Manchester from 19 to 6 in 12.39
Lap 3 Audun Nortvelt, who was an ATW Metropolitan League winner and also a Norwegian cross country international took over from Robel Bahelbi of Highgate (13:18) who had been in fifth position and Nortvelt came out winning the stage in 24:48 with James Connor (25:01) of Kent AC in 2nd and then Darren Deed of Bedford  (24:41).third.
   AUDEN NORTVELT "It was windy on the way back. I waited till the top of the hill but I felt that I put in a good show. It was in the last 500metres I got a small gap on James Connor."
   His National cross country run in which he would have been hoping for a bit better than 14th
    "It was my first time in such a big field. I was a bit stressed in the 'Big' field there. I was afraid to get trapped and so I started out a bit too fast."
    The Metropolitan League race he won comfortably coming through the field at half way at Alexandra Palace
     "I was more certain of my own level there."
    Road Running and track running are now his favourites despite making the Norwegian team at cross-country
   "I had a good one in the European Clubs cross-country Championships and first Norwegian in that. I was only 19 seconds behind the European Champion. Here it is so different conditions than Norway where it is snowy and icy"
It was good for him to-day "To be in the lead in the National 12 Stage. My next big objective is 'The Night of the 10,000m' at Parliament Hill (Saturday 10th of May). I dream about qualifying for the European Championships for Norway in the Summer on the 10k. I think the night of the 10,000m  will be the specification for that. It is really hard to find good 10,000m races."
  Stage 4. Gordon Benson moved Leeds City into the lead on this one in 12.42 with veteran Ben Pochee (Born 2/9/70) only dropping one place for Highgate Harriers with, what must be easily the best veteran time of 13:43 for a man well over 40! In 3rd was Michael Harrison of Bedford & County in 13:33.
GORDON BENSON took over from James Walsh (25:18) who was in 7th place for Leeds.
"I went into the lead at the reservoir. I am a Tri-athlete but turned out for the team."
  Recently "I was 8th in Armagh 5k. I went to the World Cross last year for juniors. Today was better than cross-country for me"
 Stage 5 Danny Russell another successful Tri-Athlete, took Highgate Harriers back into the lead in 25:00, with Steve Connor moving Aldershot Farnham & District into 2nd place (25:04) and in 3rd was Stephen Lisgo of Leeds City in 25:28
 DANNY RUSSELL "I went into the lead just after the first  kilometre."
"My breathing, I was in pain but was able to control it. I am glad that I was not under too much pressure.
Although the result last week was huge at the tri-athlon. My running has come a bit undone without the intensity at Highgate. I got found out last week in the elite tri-athlon championships and faded in that but to-day I tried to work out things. It was very much faster on the way out. I managed to put more time into the way back and they chased me down the first lap. I hit the wind and I guess it was my strength  but it hurt. I was 4th Elite in the UK for my event which was not bad but I was hoping for the top 2 duathlon. That was last Sunday. The top 2 went to the World Championships. I have got a European Cup race next Sunday in Portugal so, for the first time representing GB. I got called up as a substitution but it is better than nothing. I wanted to go to the top games selection and I am not but I will get the experience."
   Leg 6 Joshua Grace took Aldershot from 2 to 1 making them serious contenders. His time 12:58 with Pulo Pinheiro of Morpeth 2nd in 12.44 and Dominic Easter 3rd for Leeds in 13:26
   JOSHUA GRACE (20 years old) "I went into the lead in the home straight"
   Had he had a good season "Not amazing cross-country as I have been a bit injured but I am looking forward to the track which should be good."
   Started running "A long time ago when I was in Junior Six at about 11"
    Leg 7 James Wilkinson took Leeds back into the lead in 24.27 with the next four in probably the hardest leg overall to run competitively, in some ways. 2nd was Tom Wade (Aldershot) 25:18; 3 Neilson Hall, who had a brilliant cross country season in the UK last year was Bedford's man in next place (25:25); Richard Morrell (Morpeth) 26:24; and Ben Noad (Highgate) 25:48.were next
"It was on the way back, when the long leg goes forward and the short leg turns, on the way back. Just when we go down the hill James Wilkinson overtook me." said TOM WADE.
   JAMES WILKINSON "It had been alternating at the front. It was half to three quarters of the way back at the top. I had Highgate and Aldershot initially, caught them after about half way or perhaps a little bit more."
    A good season:- "I have not had too much of a good season. I came fifth in the 'National' which was alright. I had a bad achilles from September so I did not race all the time. It kept flaring up; It was not too severe. I kept it under control."
   "I am going away training on Monday to Flagstaff in America, 3½ weeks there then racing at the end of it, doing a steeplechase in San Francisco (Stamford). Nice trip, get my head down and get the training in. It will be an indicator."
He did 8:28 last year in Ostrava "I want to get a lot faster. When I did that I had a few bad barriers. I thought it was going to be a stepping stone event. Then I went to the World Championships but did not run very well there. I had this achilles injury all year, it got quite bad after that. Probably just a bit too much and I ran OK at the World's about 8:35 I ran there but not great. 'Getting there'
In the relay "I got Ben really early and then I got Morpeth along the top then coming back down I got Aldershot. He was going quite well."
Stage 8 Daniel Davis of Leeds (12:41) stayed ahead with Jack Wylie (13:38) of Aldershot coming in next, with Mathew Bergin of Bedford 3rd (12:46) and Adrian Whitwam (13:23) of Morpeth still fighting for medals in 4th.
DANIEL DAVIS (21) "It was a bit windy out there but it was ok.'
    "I had been trying to get ready for the National Cross and doing the Surrey league as I was based down in London (1st & 3rd). In the latter I hit a rock with my foot. I am quite unfortunate with injuries. Last year I raced at Amargh in my first road race and I hurt my foot hitting something and I had the whole Summer out with it. I have been back running three weeks or so"
   Other Performances "Last year was my breakthrough and in my first Senior Northern I came ninth, from that I went to the BUCS cross country Championships and was 2nd there and then I went to do my first road race in Ireland and ran 14:29 but I hurt my foot with a lap to go and so that was the whole of the Summer gone then I struggled to get back into the swing of things since September."
"I'm quite fortunate I had Phil Townsend and then Mick Woods took me under his wing and now for six months or so have had the guidance of Lillian Partridge's Dad Richard Partridge. He has been 'Great' keeping me injury free"
   "In the Summer I would like to do the 1500/5000"
    Stage 9 Carl Smith (25:09) of Leeds stayed in the lead, 2nd was Ian Bailey (25:03) of Aldershot, 3rd and then one of the famous Hudspith brothers, Ian Hudspith (25:20) came in for Morpeth.
   CARL SMITH It was hard mentally on your own with just the bike. As a team Leeds won the Northern cross and third in the National cross. With the North East in the Inter-Counties as well.
   Results for him "I had quite a good Winter. I felt I had a good run in the Inter-Counties coming 19th. I have done 14.18 for 5000 which was a PB last year Have a go at a sub-14 this year. I want to put in some track work."
The team:- "We had trouble last night, but every team does, but stuck together and got a good team out and got our tactics right.
IAN BAILEY "It is my first year as a senior."
He was outstanding when he won the Southern Junior last year
"It is a big step up. I am pretty happy of what I have done this season. The Southern was one of my best races of the season last year. It's the mud I love. To-day it was really hard."
Stage 10
Thomas Edwards (14:00) kept Leeds ahead with Neil Phillips (13:40) still keeping Aldershot in 2nd place and Morpeth's Mathew Nicholson (13:08) in third spot.
THOMAS EDWARDS on the last year "It has been a bit beset with injuries. It has only been in the last couple of weeks I have been able to string to-gethether some descent sessions, just to get the speed up. I am  really pleased with our run to-day.
  Regarding Leeds "We knew our team would be strong. We even had to do a Park Run Race last weekend to fill the minor places (Something Highgate also did with the First 5 in the Mile End Park run). It is so competitive. We were really up for winning this year."
   Like Tipton over the years- What did he think made Leeds City such a good club "I definitely think it is the camaraderie between the runners. Most of us see each other nearly every day with easy runs and sessions. We really build up a desire. We egg each other on to do better. I think it is possibly that and because the group that we have when we can all train together so regularly brings us all on. It really is a credit to all the other girls and guys that we train with. We really support each other and bring each other on, that is the way to do it and it is a bit of Yorkshire 'Grit' I think. All really stubborn to win.
  "I was at a black tie Law Society supper last night when I got the call to run, so except for the odd glass I had to forgo the wine to stick to the  orange juice as I was then conscious of the fact I was running to-day."      
  Stage 11 Leeds had Luke Cragg (25.18), Peter Newton (24.51) of Morpeth was then in 2nd place and Aldershot were then 3rd with Elliott Robinson (25:48). Up from 9 to 5 was Cantral AC with Andrew Butchart (Central) running the equal fastest long stage of 24.20. Certainly Central, the club from Stirling, Scotland, are wroth watching in the future.
 LUKE CRAGG "I was working but had a slight twinge in the hamstring, just coming back from the 'Stone' 'He added 'I was at Colorado University in America. 'He continued "I have had some injuries and illness and  re-adjusting to life as a normal person, rather than  a student Pro-athlete out there. A bit of over training but still plugging away. I was in the States for three years and did all my PB's there--13:40/29.10.-5/10k I am hoping to do the 10k Championships at Highgate. I know Ben Pochee is putting on a good show, incorporating some of the American stuff. Music and Crowd in Lane 4--It is great to be a part of that and hopefully that can be springboard
   'I work at Loughborough College as a lecturer and moved to Loughborough and have some training company.'
 Stage 12 Anchor man for the final leg was Nick Hooker of Leeds (13:37); Ross Floyd of Morpeth (13.29) took his team up to the silver medal position with Aldershot' Jamie Ashton (13:30) bringing his team home for the bronze. Central were next in. First Six Teams overall were 1 Leeds City Athletic Club 3:50:41; 2 Morpeth Harriers & AC 3:51:38; 3 Aldershot Farnham & District 3:51:57; 4 Central AC 3:53:37; 5 Notts AC 3:54:00; 6 Tipton Harriers 3:54.16. Behind that in the first 10 were 7 Bedford & County; 8 Sale Harriers Manchester, 9 Highgate Harriers and 10 Kent AC.
   Recently NICK HOOKER "I ran 14.47 at the Armagh 5k but I am more of a track runner doing the 1500- 3:46 for 1500 and a double Yorkshire Champion. Out dipped for the Northern title"
   Started running "5 Years ago. I took it up about 15. I have done 3:46 for 1500 at Solihull last year."
   Central, situated in Stirling, had their best result of fourth.
TOM WATSON in Central's team said "We were aiming at medals. I have been with the club since I was at Primary School. It is on the up with the endurance events more and more people coming through."
  They had the equal fastest long stage by Andrew Buchart
ANDREW BUCHART (22) favourite event "The 1500 - I have only run 3:44 at Manchester year at the BMC. I should run faster this year. I am going to give the 1500 a bash this year and see what happens"
 "I have been running a few years but I have never really taken it seriously till last year"

Alastair Aitken

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