HOLMFIRTH Harriers’ ladies team had a best-ever finish in the National Road relays.
The improving line-up finished 17th of 44 finishers, with 14 clubs running incomplete teams.
Holmfirth were one of only four qualifying clubs from Yorkshire, the men finishing 41st in their section of an event won by Newham and Essex Beagles, who had Huddersfield athlete Mark Warmby in their team.
For the Holmfirth ladies, Katie Walshaw changed from her usual anchor-leg position to run the first, getting them off to an excellent start in 14th place out of 58 – she ran a personal best for the Sutton Park course of 17-36.Š
Claire Leaver ran a steady race, handing over in 21st place in a time of 19-01 then Kath Farquhar, who is also in good form, brought the team back up to 15th in 18-21.Š
Lucy Griffiths lost just three places on the fourth leg inŠ 20-01 before Lesley Ewart did well to maintain position in a time of 20-29.Š
LadiesŠCaptain, Helen Berry, ran the final leg and managed to gain one position (18-41) to bring the team home inŠ17th.
Matthew Pierson led the men off in sixth (26-14), recording the 12th fastest long leg of the day.
Richard Smith then took over, running a strong second leg against some experienced competitors to come back in 25th. Mark Buckingham, who is in fine form, then moved the team up to 10th in a time of 26-10, the ninth fastest long leg of the event.
Gary Graham took over but, unfortunately, suffered an ankle injury half way round the course and dropped down the rankings. He bravely completed the leg so the team could carry on, handing over to Dave Watson, who finished in 34th.
Matthew Dewhirst, who had been called into the team only at the last minute due to Alistair Langron being stuck in Portugal due to the ash cloud over the UK, ran a great sixth leg and then Dave Turnbull carried on his comeback from injury with a strong run on the seventh.
By this time the field was quite spread out, so it took a storming run from James Dewhirst to move the team up one position to 39th.
Matthew Johnson ran next with captain, John Ewart, on the 10th leg. Julian Rose ran the final long leg before handing over to Phillip Martin, who brought the team home in 41st in a finishing time of four hours 48min 16sec.