The climax of the winter season is the National Senior 12 and 6 Stage relays at over the legendary demanding course at Sutton Park, Birmingham. Over 50 teams faced the starter for the Women’s six-stager with Debbie Campbell shouldering again the responsibility of lead-off. Demonstrating the courage she has displayed all season, she ground out 33.09 on the initial long stage finishing 27th and leaving the Liverpool Pembroke Sefton star, Tiffany Penfold, in touch with a clutch of runners to chase.
Class told and she glided past 12 clubs on the short leg to collect a super fast time of 17.41, the fourth fastest of the day. Vicky Gilbody took over and will be well pleased with her 20.35 contribution in 18th place. Tackling the longer stage with its additional long climb Hilary Honeyball conceded only one spot in 35.57. Laura Purdy was in a tough place on the fourth leg but ran 23.26 to finish 24th. Young Hannah Foley, who will surely improve as she gains experience, brought LPS home with 22.42 in 25th position. Missing some key personnel and still finishing that high against the best in the country bodes well for the club`s female athletes.
The Senior Men were even more decimated but morale was high. Run over alternate long and short laps Chris Maher led the club in the initial charge and his 28.21 placed the club a handy 38th. Ross Harrison`s sharp 16.48 followed but the field was still strong and he could only hang on to the same place. Daniel Jones slipped to 45th with 30.25 but Luke Edwards was on hand to lift that two places with 17.16. Tony O’Brien long-staged a respectable 30.19 slipping just one place followed by Kyle Nicholls(19.03) down to 46th but still in with some quality clubs.
Absences began to tell as a courageous John Halson began the second half with 36.14 but down to 53rd. Thereafter the club held together with Danny Gilbody(51) on 19.32, Mike Gall(51) with 32.36, Paul Milburn(51) enjoying an excellent time of 18.39, followed by Greg Callaghan(50) with 32.22 and Andrew Conway (52) completing on 21.46. This was the toughest of cauldrons but the evidence suggests that at full strength the men, like the women, can place among the top half of any field that contains, like this, the country`s finest. The weather contributed to a great day in the park and talk has already turned to opportunities that beckon next season.