National road relay goes ahead – virtually
The England Road Running Association (ERRA) relays, scheduled for Sutton Park, Birmingham on Saturday (4 April), are the first national road running championships to be called off due to the Coronavirus pandemic. However, thanks to modern technology, there will be a record 'entry' this year for a virtual competition to discover the top club teams.
Each year up to 150 teams traditionally gather in Sutton Park and lock horns to decide the strongest men's (12 stage) and women's (6 stage) clubs. Last year, Leeds City achieved an historic first place in both genders – the first such double ever recorded by the same club.
In recent years, Leeds City have dominated the women's relay – 2019 was their third consecutive title. The men's race has been rather less predictable. Leeds took the men's trophy away from 2018 holders Tonbridge AC, while the 2017 champions were Swansea Harriers.
The national road relay is used by good club athletes for a late speed test prior to tapering for a spring marathon and the fastest individual lists are always scoured for details as soon as they are published.
This year's virtual road relay can be entered by any club athlete through the official England Athletics Opentrack system however there are a number of modifications to the normal rules:
- Clubs must ensure they can field at least 12 men and/or 6 women before entering.
- Individuals enter themselves via Open Track – no limits on numbers per club.
- Entries will close at 23:59 on Friday 3 April.
- Qualifying runs of 5K must be completed by 23:59 on Wednesday 8 April.
- Strava segments must be uploaded by 12:00pm on Thursday 9 April.
- One performance per athlete and no significant negative elevation permitted!
The results will be based on 12-to-score (men and women) with an additional women's six 'stage' result in line with the normal relay format. Organisers have emphasised that social distancing rules must be observed, participants must run solo, avoid busy locations (such as your usual parkrun route) and must not drive to a favoured location for their run.
It will be interesting to see who comes out top 'on paper' and runABC looks forward to reporting the results when they are published.
Images from 2019 courtesy England Athletics