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Mens North of England 12 Stage Relays

Report by: Martin Cunnane

28th March 1999 - Haigh Hall Country Park, Wigan

Wakefield's senior men suffered at Wigan where they could only manage 28th place overall in the North of England 12-Stage Relays, recording their lowest finish in a number of years and failing for the second year in succession to reach the national finals.

Wakefield's team was without the inspirational talent of international class athlete Darren Spawforth and super vet Dave Gratton, with both men saying they have retired from serious competition.

The rest on duty, compromising of four or five recognised middle distance and road performers topped up with veterans were never going to put in a serious challenge to the north's top teams.

The writing was on the wall for Wakefield after the first stage when first long leg runner Steve Lowe trailed in over three minutes behind first stage leader lan Mitchell of Longwood, who completed in 26 mins 43 secs compared to Lowe's 31st placed hand over time of 29 mins 55 secs.

Craig Heppenstall clocked Wakefield's fastest short leg time of 19 mins 11 secs on the second stage moving up three places in the process, and Colin Newlands also moved up three places on the third stage recording 20 mins 8secs.

The best of the rest were Andy Johnson's 29 min 50 sec run on the tenth stage and O/40 Yet Clive Grace who ran a commendable 20 mins 06 secs on the anchor to leave Wakefield 28th out of 42 teams overall.

Other leg runners, placings and times were: 4) Nick Mannion, 29, in 31 mins 32 secs; 5) Joe Schofield, 29, 19.45; 6) Pete Gooding, 30, 20.56; 7) Dave Needham, 29, 30.32; 8) Tony White, 31, 21.12; 9) Dave Brailsford, 31, 21.05: 11) Richard West, 29,21.14.

Bingley successfully regained their title held for the past two years by Salford. The winning time was 4 hrs 11 mins 06 secs, with Salford next in 4 hrs 15 mins 31 secs and Sale Harriers third in 4 hrs 18 mins 07 secs. Wakefield's combined time was 4 hrs 45 mins and 25 secs.