Athletes take up the virtual relay baton
England Athletics Virtual Relay Competition hits the road running
As we head towards spring, with less of a spring in our step due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the governing body England Athletics has initiated an exciting Virtual Road Relay to help club teams test themselves on a national and international basis.
Following the stunning success of the England Athletics Virtual 5K Championships between 11-13 July, with just under 1,750 competitors running 5K between 13:43 and 59:39 in their local area last summer, nearly 2,500 runners took up the baton and leapt at the chance to pull on a club vest for the EA Virtual Road Relay qualifying round that has just concluded.
The Virtual Relay required teams of eight (four men; four women) to record verifiable times for 5 miles between Boxing Day and midnight on 13 January. Once scrutinised, the times were totalled for each team and the top 50 clubs will progress to the National Round next month (12-15 February). Finally, the winning England squad will be invited to don national vests for an International Round (19-22 March) against the best teams from Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales to be crowned Virtual Road Relay Competition 2020/21 champions!
The numbers have been crunched and the top three teams in the EA qualifying round were Windsor, Slough & Eton (3:41:47), Wirral AC (3:42:42) and Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers (3:45:17). The winning club averaged less than 27:00 for each 5-mile 'leg'.
The fastest individual times were set by Matthew Dickinson (Clapham Chasers, 23:57) and Rebecca Johnson (Highgate Harriers, 27:36). The leading age-graded performance was near perfection as 57-year-old Clare Elms (Dulwich Runners, 29:49) achieved 99.46%. The best male score was 91.55% by M40 Andy Norman (Altrincham, 24:18).
Spare a thought for the 51st club to finish. Huntingdonshire AC missed the chance to go into the National Round by 8 seconds, or 1 second per athlete! However, with 128 teams in action, they were certainly not alone.
runABC will be following the competition with interest and reporting on the action.
Full results are available at Open Track here