Beagles are crowned relay kings as they hang on to their title once more
PUBLISHED: 09:00 30 March 2012
Newham & Essex Beagles won their third consecutive Saucony South of England 12-stage Relay crown by a 32-second margin at Milton Keynes on Saturday.
Racing alternate short and long legs, manager Bob Smith’s 12-strong team clocked a combined 4:03.41 hours to take first place.
National cross-country champion Keith Gerrard ran the fastest short leg of the day, crossing the line in 14.37 to propel the team from eighth to fourth going into the last third of the race.
Before solid runs from final pair James Ellis and Stuart Major secured the title.
Dave Mitchinson got the ball rolling as he completed the first leg in 23.59 to place the team fifth.
Wayne Bell took on the first of the short legs and finished in 17.20, with Beagles slipping down to 18th.
Samatar Farah then clocked 24.41, before Bryn Reynolds ran 17.02 to leave the team 14th and their chances of retaining the title in doubt.
John Pike was next to go and finished in 24.53, before Stephen Hepples brilliant run of 15.34 on leg six shot the team up to seventh at halfway.
Olly Laws ran 25.28 on the next leg, before Gerrard took to the roads and rocketed the team into title contention.
Kairn Stone’s time of 24.42 moved Beagles into the medal places and Frank Baddick’s 15.02 had the team lying second with two to run.
Ellis’ super effort of 24.12 gave the east Londoners the lead for the first time and Major’s 16.11 run on the anchor leg was good enough to secure top spot.
Highgate Harriers A (4:04.13) took second place and Kent AC (4:04.25) were third.
Beagles were unable to field a full B team, though Peter Grime (27.05), Andre Duque (17.14), David Kail (29.33), Jad El-Houssammi (18.48), Leigh Crispin (32.44) and George Choat (17.56) also completed the race.
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