Wind was on the cards and wind didn't disappoint - but despite the strong gusts, the Road Relays Championships in Llandow saw some good running.
The first race of the day was for Under 13 girls, Under 13 boys and Under 15 girls. Teams of 4 completed the 2km course. Menai, the only club to travel from the North, made the trip worthwhile by winning in the Under 13 girls from Cardiff, although the capital city club’s Megan Tatnell was the fastest athlete of the day.
Cardiff A and B teams beat Swansea in the Under 13 boys race, with John Cove running 7:10. Unfortunately, Carmarthen’s Christian Lovatt injured himself warming up leaving their closest challengers with an incomplete team. In the Under 15 girls race, Bridgend AC put in an outstanding performance, helped by Megan Osborne’s fastest leg of the day. The petite athlete battled into the wind to record 6:56, 25 seconds faster than Jordan Smart of Swansea who had to settle for second.
The second race of the day was for Under 15 boys, Under 17 men and Under 17 women. This race was 3 legs of 3km. The Under 15 boys race was easily won by Cardiff, with Swansea B team coming 2nd, beating the A team into 4th place. Elliott Slade was a surprise fastest leg of the day.
The Under 17 women saw Cardiff dominate, although Swansea, Cardiff B and Menai all finished within 25 seconds of each other. Sarah Livett of Menai ran a superb race to run the fastest leg of the day.
As expected, nobody was able to come close to Newport in the Under 17 mens race, as the East Wales team won by 2 mins from Cardiff. Welsh internationals Elliott Hardee and Dan Chesworth, both of Newport, ran the same time of 9:21, so Newport had the 2 fastest times of the day.
The final race of the day incorporated the Senior men, Senior women and the Masters.
The Senior womens race, 4 legs of 5.2k, saw Swansea beating Cardiff by 2 minutes. Swansea had a strong team, only missing Non Stanford who is away for warm weather training with the GB triathlon team. Cardiff, though, had the fastest leg of the day from Victoria Barcello, the Cardiff athlete having a rare run on the road.
The Mens race was eagerly anticipated and all those who braved the wind to attend wanted to see the battle between Swansea and Cardiff, just 6 days ahead of the National 12 stage relays.
Leg one started off with Chris Discombe of Les Croupiers having a surprise lead over Ieuan Thomas of Cardiff, who was 16 seconds ahead of Swansea athlete Guy Smith. However, Craig Hopkins had an absolutely storming run to pass Adam Bitchell on the second leg and bring Swansea home 14 seconds ahead on leg 2. An unfit Lewys Hobbs had James Thie chasing him on leg 3, but the Cardiff athlete could only close down to 5 seconds as Swansea started the final leg with a slender lead. Marc Hobbs, finally getting back to fitness after a couple of years struggling with illness, had Tom Marshall breathing down his neck. Tom quickly caught up with Marc and sat on him, hoping that his track speed would take him past towards the finish. The contest quickly became a cat and mouse battle, but Marc, with his racing head well on, knew he had to reach the sharp turn first and sprinted away from Tom just 100m before the line. Tom could not get through and eased up to cross the line in the silver medal position.
The rivalry between the two teams is to be renewed next week, when both teams compete over 12 legs in the National 12 Stage.
The 2010 Welsh Road Relays will be staged for the first time at Llandow race circuit.
The senior mens race will again be a battle between Swansea and Cardiff - both competing in the National 12 stage road relays in Sutton Coldfield next Saturday. While both teams will be looking to win the Welsh Championships, next week's involvement means they will be resting a few athletes before the National.
Cardiff has recently signed up some good youngsters in Ieuan Thomas, Tom Marshall and Adam Bitchell, so will be able to afford to rest athletes training for the London Marathon. Swansea, on the other hand, have Marc Hobbs (who is returning to form), Craig Hopkins and Richie Nicholls competing.The fastest athlete of the day is also expected to come from one of these teams.
The senior womens race will also be a close race between Swansea and Cardiff: Swansea’s Andrea Whitcombe and Amanda Jones will be taking on a strong Cardiff team of Victoria Barcello, Leah Dixon, Bethan Strange and Paris Williams. With a combined race for under 13 boys, under 13 girls and under 15 girls, Carmarthen’s Christian Lovatt, after his clear win in the Welsh Cross country championships, will be hoping to lead home the Carmarthen boys team while Swansea, Newport and Cardiff will also be in contention.
Olivia Gwynn will head the Swansea team, although Carmarthen is also out in force hoping to win over the 4 leg race of 2000m each, while in the under 15 girls race Bridgend are clear favourites, due to their showing of a full-strength squad on the occasion.
The second race of the day is for under 15 boys, under 17 men and under 17 women: the under 15 boys will see Mike Ward hoping to give Cardiff a good start against a strong Carmarthen side, although Newport, Cwmbran and Swansea are also well supported.
While there will be only 3 teams in the under 17 womens race, all 3 teams being strong, making yhe battle between Cardiff, Swansea and Menai a good one to watch - Cardiff predicted to come out on top.
Newport has their strongest team out for the under 17 mens race: Elliott Hardee, Dan Chesworth, Chris Carpanini and Emrys Penny should have no problem taking the title from Cardiff and Swansea, but who will get the fastest athlete of the day? Swansea has Liam Lloyd in their team while Cardiff has Alex Coomber.
With the weather expected to be warm and sunny this weekend, the constant wind on the Llandow circuit could catch some runners out.