Athletes young and young at heart gathered for the Birchfield AGA relay challenge on Saturday 7 July. The event was a club celebration which highlighted the twenty year relationship between AGA and the club.
Saturday afternoon’s proceedings featured more than thirty athletes collectively running 35 miles on the road and track.
Four teams of road runner from Birchfield who began their relay from Worcester, Leamington, Much Wenlock and Tamworth made a huge contribution to the challenge. The teams started in different locations and each team member completed six miles of the 35 mile challenge with everyone joining in for the final finish at the Alexander Stadium.
Chair of the Road Runners Peter Lawton said: “Although we had mixed weather conditions the relay was a great social event featuring a mix of abilities with a bit of competition over the five legs”.
Mapped by Pete Dimbleby the 4 courses were run across road and path terrain and Stags, at 3 of the first legs were joined by AGA staff who raised more than £2000 towards funding of the club’s junior academy programme.
Team Leaders Simon MacNamee, Val Carter and both Peter’s (L and D) prepped their teams at 0830 for a start time of 1000hrs and each team carried the Club and Sponsor logos – with every runner being “In total control”. Both Peter L and Club Chair Andy Paul see this as a great step forward in bringing club members together for a challenging but very social event.
More than twenty athletes competed in the challenge on the track which were split into four groups and featured a veteran team, who came prepared with a full list of excuses before the race began! They were joined by three young academy teams of ranging ability and experience.
The veteran team consisted of Bob Lowe, Richard King, Tracey Dunn, Gary Smith, Jenny Spencer and Julia Jones. Cries of “you’re not Usain Bolt” and “you can do better Mum” came from young athletes watching on as the more experienced middle distance team contributed to the 140 lap challenge. But when it was time to perform the veterans did produce a great effort. Tracey Dunn proved that endurance runs in the family as she produced the fastest leg of any female in the veteran’s team with a time of 7.25. Bolt like Bob Lowe also produced the fastest leg of any male in the team with a time of 6.21.
Many young athletes produced impressive performances with the fastest time of the day coming from 13 year old Katie Ryder in a time of 5.44. Other notable performances came from U11s Michael Gayle, Ajontae Smith and Luke Harrison who all ran 6.03 for their mile long runs. Even an outburst of rain couldn’t affect the enthusiasm of everyone involved.
Appearances from Olympic bound Mark Lewis Francis and World Indoor Paralympic record holder Andrew Kaar added a special touch to the day’s proceedings. Lewis Francis said: “This kind of event is very important to youngsters and it’s nice to be able to inspire the next generation and try to encourage them to continue in the sport”.
CEO of AGA Rangemaster William McGrath said:” Much Wenlock is a significant place as our group were the original sponsors of the Much Wenlock games”. He added: “It’s good to see a lot of people getting involved in road running and hopefully the region will really get behind Birchfield’s athletes”.
Athletes were awarded with certificates followed by a buffet to conclude the celebrations.