Smith: Beagles are the best of British

NEWHAM & ESSEX BEAGLES team manager Bob Smith claims his side are the best in the country after another consistent performance saw them finish second at the National Relays on Saturday, WRITES MATT DINER. An under-strength Beagles group travelled to Sutto

NEWHAM & ESSEX BEAGLES team manager Bob Smith claims his side are the best in the country after another consistent performance saw them finish second at the National Relays on Saturday, WRITES MATT DINER.

An under-strength Beagles group travelled to Sutton Park in Birmingham and did tremendously well to finish in four hours, nine minutes and 54 seconds, behind a very strong Belgrave Harriers (4:04.43) twelve, but in front of third-placed Tiptree Harriers (4:11.48).

"I was really satisfied with the performances out there," said Smith, about a Beagles outfit, who had also won the National Cross Country Championships, came second in the English Cross Country Championships and third in the National Road Relays.

"We weren't at full strength, so to produce our fastest time round Sutton Park is impressive.


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"We now have four sets of medals and I think we can claim to be the best in the country, it would have been nice to have won, but we were in good shape and there were no disasters."

Veteran Ian Grime ran the first leg in 26.51 for ninth, while Chris Mackay ran the third fastest short leg of the day, running a superb 14.06 to hand over in first.

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Steve Hepples, who ran so well in the regional qualifying event ran a solid 26.49, but Mark Miles of Belgrave ran a speedy 25.49 to reclaim first for the south London side.

Rob Cole ran a solid 15.28, before the ever-consistent Keith Gerrard ran the sixth fastest long leg of the day in 25.58.

"I didn't do too badly and it sets me up pretty well for the track season," Gerrard said.

"I made a big effort early on to catch up with the Belgrave athlete and should have done more when I had momentum.

"Overall though I have been very happy with my cross country season and have achieved most of what I set out to do.

"I did a job as Bob Smith said, and to run the sixth fastest of the day is not too bad and it kept us in the hunt a little bit longer."

Gerrard handed over to Olly Laws who performed solidly in 15.04, as did Kairn Stone (27.07) and Sam Farah (15.02).

The pressure was on Moumin Geele to make in-roads, but sadly Belgrave were again too strong as his speedy time of 26.02, made little impact on their lead.

Stuart Major (15.07) and Kevin Skinner (26.57) consolidated second-place before Dave Mitchinson (15.23) brought the side home in second.

"To be honest with you I had been ill the day before, with what I think was food poisoning so I was happy to just get round," smiled Mitchinson.

"It was nice to run a short leg and there was no chance I was going to close that gap and my job was to basically bring the team home in second.

"To finish second was a great team result and it was the quickest we have run for a while."

"I set ourselves a time of four hours and 10 minutes and that kind of time will put you in the medals and is often quick enough to win the thing," Smith said. "Sometimes you just have to hold your hands up and say Belgrave were the better team on the day.

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