Woodford’s Gunby leads way to a perfect 10th and a bronze
PUBLISHED: 17:00 18 April 2013
Woodford Green stormed to an excellent 10th place in the Men’s National 12-stage relay championships in Birmingham on Saturday.
And that terrific performance was illustrated perfectly by the fact that the club also claimed a brilliant bronze medal in the South of England Championships which was incorporated into the event.
For the first time in their history, Woodford also fielded a B team in the event who battled to 61st place, while the outstanding individual on the day was Matt Gunby, who established a new club record for the long stage.
Gunby ran the third leg for Woodford, starting with the team in 22nd place and guiding them through the field to hand over in seventh, thanks to a time of 26 minutes and 31 seconds which was the 11th fastest of any athlete on the day.
Team manager Terry McCarthy felt his team would not be as strong as the one he had assembled for the cancelled Southern Championships three weeks ago, but he was to be in for a pleasant surprise.
England under-20 athlete Edward Shepherd got things started on a day punctuated by wind and rain with a 27.36 which had Woodford in 27th place after leg one, while the excellent Daniel Bruynooghe improved that to 22nd on the first short leg as he clocked 15.23, the second fastest Woodford short time of the day.
Gunby then hauled them into the top 10, before 17-year-old James Stockings kept them in it with a 15.51 for 10th place and then Matt Shone (27.52) and Angus Holford (16.00) kept things ticking over in ninth position.
McCarthy began to believe this might be Woodford’s day after leg seven, despite Tom Beedell dropping to 12th with his 28.12.
The pre-race favourites went by him, but he was inspired to run 30 seconds faster than last year to keep the team in contention.
Jordan Donnelly ran the eighth fastest time of the stage – 15.24 - to haul them back up to 10th, before Harold Wyber saw some of the big names stretch their legs like Olympic marathon man Scott Overall and GB World Junior runner Michael Callegari.
Wyber’s time of 29.17 meant the team dropped to 13th, but the final three runners hauled them back up again.
Bertie Powell was only called into the team on Thursday but he came up trumps with the fastest short leg of the day, clocking 15.22 which was also the fifth fastest on the stage.
Back up to 11th that was improved one place by Martyn Cryer who ran the fourth-fastest on his stage to clock 27.32, before postman Gavin Lewis brought the team home.
Lewis has only been a postie for a month and he did his round in Epping that morning, leaving himself ‘knackered’ even before starting.
Woodford needn’t have worried as Lewis delivered a strong run to clock 15.27, to keep the team in 10th spot and confirm that bronze medal in the Southern Championships.
Manager McCarthy was delighted. “A lot of the guys ran really well out there,” he said.
“Conditions weren’t particularly favourable, but they ran quickly.
“It’s all the more pleasing because we weren’t expecting it.”
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