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AAA National Young Athletes Road Relays

Report by: Bryan Murray

29th October 2000 - Sutton Park, Birmingham

The junior U13s girls team - on a sunny, blustery afternoon - had their first major test of the winter calendar at Sutton Park.

The course is a fast, undulating network where all the top junior athletes were competing for a host of trophies up for grabs. Due to illness, the team relied on Jaydene Wright, Zoe Smeaton and Anita Fitzmaurice.

On the first leg of three stages Wright came home in 27th position in a time of 9.58 mins - a super run. Fitzmaurice and Smeaton held on in their own relay legs, with Fitzmaurice down in 35th place on 11:04 mins, while Smeaton, in the last leg, ran a time of 10: 48 mins to place Wakefield in 34th place - a great outing for the young trio.

Fielding an A and B team in the U15 girls relay, the squad of Gowland, Hall and Wright put in a tremendous performance.

Zoe Gowland, who led off the first leg, really came back to form and only faded in the last uphill section in a time of 9:00 mins. On leg two, Lisa Hall showed her ability in progressing through the field at the half-way stage. Hall increased he race to record a time of 9: 25 mins, before handing over to Carly Wright in 14th place.

With 30 seconds separating 14th place up to the top seventh spot, a real race had developed into the last leg, with Wright fighting gamely to the finish in 13th place, with her time of 9:25 mins producing a good result for all the three athletes.

Not to be outshone by their team mates in the A squad, Jasmine Kerry, Emma Hardcastle and Jan Faulkner competed well in their respective stages.

Kerry, a slow starter this season, could be a contender for top honours in the winter programme, as she produced a time of 9:20 mins to position the team in 25th place before handing over to Hardcastle. In the road stage, she just managed to lose one place, in a leg of 9:58 mins. In the anchor leg, Faulkner just slipped down the finishing places in 30th place in 10:08 mins, with the B team finishing fifth overall in the race.

Weather conditions were becoming unsettled for the 33 teams which started in the U17 ladies event over the 4400m course, which took the athletes to the fullest point in Sutton Park.

Aine Hoban, still suffering from a cold, gave her team a good start by returning in 17th position following a leg of 15:38 mins. She handed over to Samantha Colley on the middle stage leg, and she produced a solid run of 15:53 mins to finish in 16th position. Fay Grant, on the last stage - like Colley and Hoban -put in a gutsy run to finish in 18th place in a time of 16:50 mins.

Wakefield Harriers also fielded a team in the U15 boys race.

Sam Handforth, in the opening leg, did well in a very competitive race to come home in 29th place after a leg of 14:07 mins. Chris Hall, on the second stage, brought back three places on his circuit of the park, he handed over to Ian Wainwright, who closed down on two athletes in the final stage to bring the Wakefield club home in 24th place after a stage leg of 14:18 mins.

Only one Yorkshire club were placed higher than Wakefield, with county honours for all the three U15 athletes certainly in their reach at the forthcoming cross-country championships.

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