Gallery: Harriers retain their Ekiden relay title

IPSWICH Harriers, packed with youthful talent, retained their Ipswich JAFFA Ekiden Marathon Relay title, after a close struggle with Norwich Road Runners.

Staged at St Joseph’s College over the marathon distance of 26.2-miles (42.2K), with six legs of 7.2K, 5K, 10K, 5K, 10K and 5K, the Harriers eventually pulled clear of their closest rivals during the anchor leg, thanks to the efforts of Kieran Clements.

Norwich had held a healthy lead during the first three stages, only for teenager James Powley to run a blistering fourth leg to leave the two teams going neck-and-neck into the final two legs.

After Andrew Revell, Bradley Wattleworth and Chris Rooke had laid the early foundations, Powley’s big effort was consolidated by Elliot Palmer on the long 10K leg to give Clements a handy lead going into the final stage.

Clements blitzed his 5K in 15mins 42secs, easily the fastest time of the day, to secure the overall victory for the Harriers in 2hrs 21mins 59secs.

Last year, the Harriers had set a scorching 2.19.19 on their way to victory. Clements, Palmer and Rooke were in that team as well, together with Shaun Webb, Jack Garvin and Andrew Rooke.

Norwich Road Runners were second on Sunday in 2.24.35, with Harwich Runners claiming third position in 2.32.59.

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The Harwich sextet was made up of Sam Gooding-Matthews, Steve Cooper, Rob Reason, Ben Hammond, Brian Herrington and Graeme Knott (swift last leg of 17.01).

Despite the presence of international marathon star Helen Decker, hosts JAFFA had to be content with second place in the ladies’ race, behind winners City of Norwich AC.

The strong Norwich club registered 2.47.32, with JAFFA nearly five minutes adrift. Sudbury Joggers were third in 3.04.17

Natasha Belsom had led off JAFFA on the 7.2K leg, with Kate Wooldridge, Dawn Davies and Rebecca Staunton running the 5K sections, and Decker (35.40) and Gail Pryke covering the four 2.5K laps of the 10K distance.

The six-strong Sudbury squad comprised Sandy Thoroughgood, Jane Garland, Louise Hampshire, Dee St Ledger, Marie Shirley and Amanda Henry.

JAFFA finished third to Norwich Road Runners and City of Norwich in the male over-40 veteran, although the Ipswich club did triumph in the super-veteran (over-50) class.

Mick Gilbert, Ron McCulloch, Stephen Pugh, Duncan Chenery, Ker Macrosson and Chris Johns were the successul super-veterans team. Norfolk Gazelles were first in the female veteran category.

The event was sponsored by Robin Belsom and Sweatshop, with proceeds going to ABF The Soldiers Charity and RAF Benevolent Funds.

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