Midland Counties Autumn Road Relays Report

SWINDON Harriers are celebrating arguably their best ever set of results at the autumn Midland Counties Road Relay Championships.

The senior men secured their selection for the National Championships next weekend at the same course with their highest position of eighth overall from 102 teams with Simon Byrne catching the eye with a scorching time of 17mins 38secs that was the fourth fastest of the day.

It was a performance that underlined their improvement having placed 24th three years ago. But it is not only at the sharp end that the senior men are making an impression as the club displayed their increasing strength in depth by finishing three teams with the B team fifth in their category and the C team third in theirs.

The club can rightfully be very proud of that achievement and it looks like another batch of good young runners are already in the pipeline as the under 17 men achieved a stunning victory in their age group.

The trio of Josh Burns, Theo Cinnamond and Fletcher Hart produced a terrific display to beat Wreake & Soar Valley by just 14 seconds after a a thrilling race.

Burns gave Swindon a solid start placing fifth on the opening stage and Cinnamond then clawed back two places to move into third.

That set up Hart nicely but he still had aplenty of work to do with Wreake and the Rugby & Northampton runners still both ahead of him.

Hart, who is coached by John Dill, rose to the challenge perfectly and clocking the second fastest individual time of the day brought the Harriers home in top place.

For good measure the B team of Jack Choules, Harry Edwards and Alex Williams finished 14th overall and first in their category as well.

And that wasn't the only medal success for the club's young athletes as the under 15 girls squad of Ella Spencer, Bella Ryder, both of who are also in Dill's training group and Eloise Foster (coach Bryan Clinton) also made the podium in third place.

Like the U17 men it was a fiercely contested race that saw the Harriers only get into the medals on the final stage. Spencer gave the team a great start finishing second on the opening stage and while that put Ryder right in the firing line she showed tremendous character to keep her form and hand over to Foster in fourth place behind Banbury.

That was just the incentive Foster needed and she soon swept ahead of the Banbury girl to clinch those coveted bronze medals.

To complete a good showing by the U15s the second string of Carley Lainton, Lola Costajafrat and Faith Herring finished 11th and second B team.

Two further teams from the club made the top ten, making it an impressive five in total on the day across the various age groups from seniors to under 13s.

The U13 boys' trio of Reuben Linscott (coach Kevin Buttle), Oakley Hogan and Harry Burdekin, who ran the 10th fastest individual time overall placed a very creditable seventh.

Then in the under 15 boys' age group the squad of Anubis Molina–Zekri, who clocked the seventh fastest time overall to bring the Harriers home in third on stage one, Joshua Steward and Arthur Widdows finished 10th .

Finally, back to those senior men. As another measure of how the team and the runners have improved since 2019 it is worth looking at the individual times of Simon and Luke Byrne, who are the only two who have been ever present since then.

In 2019 Simon, who is coached by Neil England, clocked 20:06 for the stage and then last year 18:26 as the Harriers finished ninth (the event was cancelled in 2020 due to Covid); in the same period Luke recorded 20:49 and 19:10.

Last week Simon made a significant stride forward with that scintillating 17:38 while Luke posted 18:56. Obviously conditions, with wind obviously the major factor, can influence times but nonetheless those stats underline the direction in which the senior men are travelling.

And with the likes of Courtenay Chessell and Omer Homer impressing for the B team the make–up of the A squad is far from clear–cut when the action returns to Sutton Park on Saturday October 8th.

Check out the full race results.