Masters battle for road relay titles at Mallory Park – AW

    Bristol & West, Aldershot, Southport and Elswick are among the winners in Leicestershire on Saturday

    The British Masters Federation were pleased with a larger entry this year and are looking to further boost the event back to its glory days by already beginning to promote the 2025 event at the same Mallory Park venue. They have stated that it will be held on a big weekend of action that will include the Anglo-Celtic ultra running race.

    There were three clubs retaining their titles after victories here last year and it was Aldershot in the W35 class, Southport in the M55 group and Bristol & West in the W55s, who again delivered the goods.

    M35 and M45 start (Mark Easton)


    After their women had earlier taken the W55 title, the Bristol & West men made it a double by annexing the M35 six-man race. Their Matthew Battensby was just headed on the first stage by Salford’s Bruno Lima but after Jon Thewlis had taken them ahead soon after the start of the second stage, they remained in front for the rest of the race.

    His time of 14:56 held up as third quickest of the afternoon and they closed with Ben Robinson’s second best 14:37. The world Canicross champion had to seal the Bristol victory after Tonbridge’s long time servant Ben Cole had eaten into their lead on the penultimate stage.

    The Reading half-marathon winner and 2023 South of the Thames champion’s 14:25 was the day’s quickest effort, but Bristol went right away on that last leg.

    It had been a highly competitive first 5km stage as, after Lima led early on, Bristol’s Battensby and Wolves’ Jon Hart went ahead. Lima said: “They started charging down the hill,” and they then led, before top ranked 1500 runner Lima pounced in the final straight for a narrow 14:59 clocking.

    The M45 age group ran with their younger brothers but over four stages and in a close race with Leeds, it was Mansfield who came out on top as the two clubs shared the fastest leg times.

    It was Dan Nugent’s opening 15:30 for Mansfield that set the stage with what was eventually adjudged the fastest age group time. This was ahead of Leeds’ Jon Walton’s 15:48, before Mike Burrett took Leeds ahead mid-race. He said: “I was almost 25 seconds down but caught him on the hill.”

    Finally, it was Jan Bailey’s second best 15:42 that sealed the win for the Midlanders. He said: “I took the lead after two miles but thought ‘do I stick with, him of go past?’ but did down the hill.”

    The older age groups were the first away and Francois Rafferty, just as in 2023, gave Southport Waterloo’s M55s a commanding first leg lead by posting a 16:40 split that he hoped would again be the fastest lap. His comment: “It was windy the whole way,” summed up the Mallory Park circuit’s normal weather.

    This was over the 5km-long windy switchback lap and his team mates David Hamilton & Rob McGrath duly finished the job.

    Rivals Aldershot were well down after two laps but Mark Symes ran a storming final stage of 16:11 to cut the margin to less than a minute with the fastest split. However, the multiple British Masters, European and World age group champion and medallist, said: “The lead was too much.”

    The M65 race saw South London Lead from the start and, here, it was Dave Ogden who brought his club home first on the opener and his 18:17 was to stay as the quickest.

    There was more on the course from Ogden, who said: “It doesn’t look like much of a hill, but it is.”

    Cambuslang were well down after that first stage after long time servant and age group medallist in the race over the years, Frankie Barton was two minutes down. However they pulled back through Paul Thompson and  2023 International Masters winner Colin Feechan, but the southerners were home and dry.

    Bristol & West M35 team (Martin Duff)

    Men M35 (6x5km): 1 Bristol & West 91:13 (M Battensby 15:00, J Thewlis 14:56, D Awde 15:41, R Stewart 15:22, O Jones 15:34, B Robinson 14:37) ; 2 Tonbridge 93:22 (C Halsey 15:35, N Chapman 16:02, D Bradley 15:26, J Smith 15:31, B Cole 14:25, N Clement 16:20); 3 Salford 94:29 (B Lima 14:59, P Bannister 16:08, J Bailey 15:45, J Smith 15:31, K Darcy 15:06, D Rigby 16:14); 4 BRAT 94:46; 5 Tipton 97:332; 6 Aldershot F&D 97:28

    Fastest: Cole 14:25; Robinson 14:37; Thewlis 14:58

    Ben Cole (Martin Duff)

    M45 (4x5km): 1 Mansfield 65:07 (D Nugent 15:30, D Savage 17:16, D Cass 16:38, J Bailey 15:42); 2 Leeds 65:39 (J Walton 15:48, M Burrett 16:22, A Buckley 17:03, S Deakin 16:24); 3 Salford 66:12 (A Taylor 16:05, B McCartney 16:33, S Warburton 16:32, M Collier 17:00); 4 Peterboro & NV 67:02; 5 Axe Valley 67:03; 6 AFD 67:49

    Fastest: Nugent 15:30; Bailey 15:42; Walton 15:48

    M55/M65/M75 start (Mark Easton)

    M55 (3x5km): 1 Southport W 51:15 (F Rafferty 16:40, D Hamilton 16:43, R McGrath 17:52); 2 AFD 52:00 (K Myazaki 18:04, D Atkins 17:45, M Symes 16:11); 3 Bristol & W 53:06 (A Roper 18:44, M Robinson 17:31, P Parry 16:5); 4 Read RR 53:17; 5 Oxford C 53:36; 6 Hallamshire 54:37

    Fastest: Symes 16:11, Rafferty 16:40; Hamilton 16:43

    M65 (3x5km): 1 S London 57:20 (D Ogden 18:17, M Darville 19:14, J Foss 19:49); Cambuslang 58:07 (F Barton 20:26, P Thompson 18:53, C Feechan 18:48); 3 Warrington 60:13 (D Watson 19:49, S Ogden 19:56, D Gill 20;28); 4 Sheffield RC 60:54; 5 Oxford C 63:46; 6 Les Croupiers 63:52

    Fastest: D Ogden 18:17; Feechan 18:48; Thompson 18:53


    Aldershot’s women retained their W35 title by more than two minutes from Les Croupiers and the two clubs provided the quickest two times. After Hannah Pullen had posted 17:34 for Aldershot on the last leg, Louise Flynn topped it with the age group best of 17:21. The Welsh women had, however, already lost it mid-race.

    Earlier Catherine Holden had ‘won’ the first stage for Tipton with the third best W35 effort of 18:08 but her club then fell right away. Husband Tom, the son of Tipton legend Andy, who passed away ten years ago, later also ran a first leg for his club in the M35 group.

    Holden said: “I was with her (Rutland’s Emma Brown) for half of it, then I got away up the hill.”

    Flynn just about managed to remain the fastest woman on show, despite Justina Heslop anchoring winners Elswick Harriers to the W45 title with a front run 17:31.

    The north easterners led throughout, after Hazel Bough’s opening stage 18:45 was second best, before eventually winning by more than three minutes from Aldershot.

    For 45-year-old Heslop, it was another National title to go with three English Schools wins nearly thirty years earlier. Talking after her club’s victory, she said: “I enjoyed it but the team did all of the work.”

    The older women’s age groups saw fewer entries than in the inaugural Mallory Park outing last year, but full credit to Hastings Runners’ W75 trio, who have stayed together as they progressed up through the age groups. Here, they were the only over-75 outfit to make an appearance.

    Bristol & West were favourites for the W55 race and, after Clare Jolliffe came home first on their first leg well over a minute clear, it was all over.  She tracked Vale Royal’s Debbie Broad in the very early stage before going well away and later said: “we won last year.”

    Clare Jolliffe (Martin Duff)

    Jolliffe’s time of 19:29 was later adjudged second best as Maria Heslop had a storming 18:04 credited to her for second placed Tonbridge on the last leg.

    After west country rivals Westbury won the W65 class last year it was a new name on the winners podium this time.

    It was Yate & Sodbury were clear winners over their rivals and, in second stage runner Marian Grace had the quickest on show after a 22:25 split. This was after their first leg ‘winner’ Mary Derrick said: “It all went in a bit of a blur.”

    W35 (4x5km): 1 AFD 74:17 (L Faunch 19:25, R Wallace 8:48, L Wright 18:31, H Pullen 17:34); 2 Les Croupiers 76:58 (L Jones 18:51, L Stephens 19:58, M Taylor 20:46, L Flynn 17:21); 3 Rutland R&Tri 79:25 (E Brown 18:15, H Pape 19:04, E McAuley 21;25, S Sheriden 20:40); 4 Tipton 87:45; 5 Datchet 90:16

    Fastest: Flynn 17:21; Pullen 17:34; C Holden (Tip) 18:09 

    W45 (3x5km): 1 Elswick 56:05 (H Bough 18:45, F Smith 19:48, J Heslop 17:31); 2 AFD 61:21 (A Kerr 20:06, L Apsey 20;54, H O’Connor 20;19); 3 Macclesfield 63:05 (K Gill 19:36, S Stockdale 20;45, S Hales 22:43); 4 Mansfield 64;43; 5 Les Croupiers 66:26; 6 TVH 67:37

    Fastest: J Heslop 17:31; Bough 18:45; Gill 19:36

    W45 winners Elswick (Martin Duff)

    W55 (3x5km): 1 B&W 59:41 (C Jolliffe 19:29, S Everett 19:32, L Cronin 21:40); 2 Tonbridge 62:25 (T Horne 21;17, T White 23:04, M Heslop 18:04); 3 Vale R 65:52 (D Broad 19:56, C Buckley 25:10, H Smith 20:46); 4 Steel C 67:50; 5 Datchet 86:23

    Fastest: M Heslop 18:04; Jolliffe 19:29; Everett 19:32

    Maria Heslop (Martin Duff)

    W65 (3x5km): 1 Yate & Sodbury 69:41 (M Derrick 22:54, M Grace 22:25, C Lavis 24;22); 2 Westbury 73:58 (F Russell 23:55, E Noonan 26:41, A Dockery 23:22); 3 Datchet 74:39 (Y Olney 22:49, L Curbison 27:43, J Binns 24:07; 4 Steel C 76:09; 5 Yate & S B 82:016 Aldridge 84:58

    Fastest: Grace 22;25; Olney 22:49; Derrick 22:54

    W75 (3x5km): 1 Hastings R 88:35(C Sanderson 30:17, Y Richardson 30:12, S Marzaioli 28:06)

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