‘As Michael Johnston says ‘Don’t Drop the Baton!’

A new venue for the Good Friday Relays hosted by Elswick Harriers, also saw the introduction of a baton for a road relay. With the buzz around the start of who has ever raced a road relay holding a baton, only Stuey Bell, former Chester Le Street and Great Britain athlete, having done so at an international race in Bahrain. For us, the mere mortals in the race, this would be the first time racing with a baton, with some of us having raced road relays for at least 30 years, it was a novelty. Talk turned to who would drop the baton, how to hold it, Beth said she could put it down her sports bra and how to ensure a smooth change. Niran was worried about how firm Jake was putting the baton in his hand in a warm up!

The women’s race was off first with Beth deciding to hold the baton conventionally in her hands for the first leg. All eyes were on the first hand over and would it be smooth. No drops, barges or falls were seen in the handovers and everyone breathed a sign of relief and the racing took over. Beth predicted she would run around 17minustes and smashed that by 40secs with a great first leg. A fairly flat course round the old runway at the Barracks promised some fast running. Amy Barlow made her relays debut for the club and run a strong leg to handover to Sophie Blair who stormed round the 2.4mile loop. The women finished a credible 39th place out of 77 women’s teams. A great effort.

With the women showing how to not drop the baton, the men were off next. Jake stepped up to run the first leg for the A team and stormed round to the JJs fastest time of the day with a 13.16 clocking and handing over to Niran Patel with a little less force then in the warm up. Niran showing that he is putting behind his recent injury problems with a great 14:12 run, handed over to Calvin Marsland who has experience of runways in his day job. This time he didn’t come down with a bump but smoothly cruised round to the JJs second fastest time of the day with a 14:00 run. Angus Routledge brought home the team in 31st place. The B team were headed by Angus Miller, who handed over to Liam Blatch making his JJs relay debut. Simon Wells took over for the third leg before Geoff Blair brought the team home in 55th place out of 83 men’s teams.

A great new course for the popular relays, back for the first time since covid. With the JJs happy with their performances they headed to the Lonsdale for lunch, safe in the knowledge that they heeded the great Michael Johnston’s words.

Women’s Race
39th Jesmond Joggers (30th Snr Women) 51:11
Beth Deutsch 16:20 Amy Barlow 17:39 Sophie Blair 17:04

Men’s Race
31st Jesmond Joggers A (22nd Snr Men) 57:01
Jake Archer 13:16
Niran Patel 14:12
Calvin Marsland 14:00 Angus Routledge 15:24

55th Jesmond Joggers B (36th Snr Men) 1:01:33
Angus Miller 15:26
Liam Blatch 14:51
Simon Wells 14:56 Geoff Blair 16:09