Exmouth Harriers relay team crowned national champions once again

PUBLISHED: 10:51 22 May 2014 | UPDATED: 10:51 22 May 2014

Exmouth Harriers at the Relay Nationals in Birmingham: John Reader, Les Turner, Roger Rowe the Over-65s team and Mick Allen, Ray Elston, John Perratt, the Over-75 team.

Exmouth Harriers at the Relay Nationals in Birmingham: John Reader, Les Turner, Roger Rowe the Over-65s team and Mick Allen, Ray Elston, John Perratt, the Over-75 team.

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Exmouth Harriers sent a team to the 27th National Masters Open Road Relay Championships held at Sutton Park, north of Birmingham, last Saturday and returned to Devon as the new champions, writes Les Turner.

On a beautiful day the only thing hotter than the blazing sun was the performance of Exmouth Harriers’ Super Vet Over-75 team. Once again the magnificent trio of Ray Elston, John Perratt and Mick Allen succeeded in repeating their gold medal-winning triumph of 2009 in the three-times-three-miles event.

Elston is back running after a cycle accident last year and Perratt has been coping with serious illness. Despite this, Elston established a massive first stage lead of 19:29 with his time of 23:40 and Perratt conceded just one minute and 25 seconds of this when he recorded 25:05.

Finally, Allen’s time of 25:37 allowed Bingley Harriers’ Fred Gibbs, the fastest man in this age group, to pull back just 3:01. This team total of only 74:22 meant that Exmouth Harriers had beaten runners up Bingley Harriers by over 15 minutes – a stunning performance!

Congratulations to all three on their overwhelming victory; the older they get, the tougher they get! Elston’s time was also good enough to earn a silver medal for the second equal best individual performance in this age category. So well done, again, Ray!

On to Exmouth’s lesser ‘young pretenders’, the Over-65 team of Les Turner, Roger Rowe and John Reader. With an average age of 70, they were conceding significantly more years to many of their younger rivals.

Despite this, however, they managed to finish 14th out of the 19 teams in their highly competitive group. Turner completed the first leg in 2:39; Rowe’s time of 23:38 was excellent for a man with serious knee problems and Reader’s anchor leg of 26:53 another runner returning from injury was a very encouraging debut for this ‘promising youngster’. The team total of 78:10 seconds, though inferior to that of their illustrious seniors, was not without some merit.

Many thanks go to former Exmouth Harrier Mandy Marvin for travelling all the way from Cambridge to support the teams. They also go to official photographer and cake provider, Mary Rowe, for her unfailing support.

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