Twelve months on from guiding the Poly Gents to victory in the annual Gordon Smith Relays Captain Hemy returned to Segedunam with his dancing shoes ready for a repeat performance of his ‘shuffle of joy’. It was another fine night with perfect running conditions for one of the most popular local events on the calendar. Captains Hemy and Robinson had the usual pre race stress of ensuring all the Poly masses were accounted for and once again did a sterling job. It is clear that the process is a lot calmer for the ladies with Hemy setting up an exclusion zone around him as he processed his entries. John Baty was banished to South Shields just for asking if he was 2nd or 3rd leg.
Hemy managed to field a strong side to defend the title with young and in love Scotty Ellis leading out the trio and supported by world silver medallist ‘Ice Man’ and then recent Blyth 10k champion Graeme Cook taking the anchor leg. Scotty led out a very strong first leg and was happy to take it on as the super athletes headed up the long drag. As the runners surfaced from the first loop it looked as if Scotty may have over cooked it with young Goulding from Birtley opening up a small gap. It seems that Scotty has picked up a lot of experience over the last 18 months of success and again attacked the hill. The young Birtley star had nothing in response as Ellis produced a superb performance to leave the Poly leading after the first leg. Guy ‘The Ice Man’ Bracken took to the tarmac on the comeback trail with this his most notable race since being struck by injury in the last few months. Guy officially blames jet lag on the flight back Brazil but a certain Barry Young has other theories while Mr Rees denies any link to his vigorous training plans. You would not know Guy had been away getting very close to his time from last year. Guy was up against tough opposition from Birtley with Mr Openshaw posting the fastest vet time of the night. Although passed very early no real lead was established and if this were over a longer distance the spindly whippet would have been on his shoulder. Guy handed over to the ‘Cookmiester’ in second place and the inform Ross Floyd taking over for Morpeth in 3rd. As the 3 runners approached the final loop it was clear we were going to witness the tightest Smiths relay in history as Cook closed down on Bailes of Birtley and Floyd was like a man possessed leaving everything out on the course to get his team in contention. The three athletes turned the bottom bend with Floyd passing Cook and setting off after Bailes as they approached the bridge. The crowds were 5 deep with marshals having to usher people away as they scrambled for a glimpse of the spectacle. The Cookmiester was determined the others would not have their own way as he took a tow from Floyd. It was anyone’s race within the last 200 metres but Floyd managed to pip Birtley and it was agonising to watch as Cook tried to do the same and simply ran out of tarmac. The Poly can not be ashamed with PB’s for two athletes and a course record needed to pass them. The race was an advert for local athletics and something the teams involved will discuss for years to come.
The joy of Wallsend Relays is not all about the front end with many athletes claiming this to be the most enjoyable night of racing on the summer calendar. For the other males their were significant performance from the rapidly improving Father and Son Robson due. Will making his senior relay debut dipped under 11 minutes and showed that he will soon by pestering the Hemster for A team slots. Robson Senior also ran a course PB and taking many veteran scalps along the way. All this training for the Chevy is doing his short speed no harm as he finished like a train up the hill. Poly lab technicians may soon be calling at the Robson household to investigate the secret ingredient’s being added to their daily diet. I doubt they will reveal the secret for sure but an exciting summer lies ahead for the due.
The poly ladies are never easy to keep down and despite a depleted team also did the club very proud. The trio of Burns, Johnson and Dixon took on a very competitive female field with some noticeable club changes in amongst that. The ladies race was won by Tyne Bridge Harriers and the Poly ladies were very unlucky as they finished 4th. The other clubs will be jumping with joy as it takes great performances to keep the Poly out of the medals. Burnsy led them off on the comeback trail herself and will be very happy with the progress made as she no doubt has a plan ahead for the summer. Helen Johnson will be over the moon with a course PB and fastest poly time of the night as she then passed on to Alison Dixon. Dixon is never one to give up and was closing on Gateshead all the time in 3rd but as with Mr Cook simply ran out of tarmac.
Full results can be seen here:
A huge thank you and well done to Wallsend for again organising another great night of racing. The Poly captains deserved a medal of their own organising the 51 poly athletes on the night. A great night of racing and something I advise all runners keep an eye out for next year.