Teamwork: Northern Athletics 6 & 12 Stage Relays 2024, Wythenshawe Park, Manchester

Race Date Saturday 23 March 2023


Did those who either ran Parkrun or stayed in bed on Saturday morning have a premonition about what was going to happen before the race had even started? With the Snake Pass closed for repairs and the M62 shut due to an accident, those who elected for Woodhead were faced with gridlocked traffic. Panic ensued when it was clear that the early leg runners including the men’s captain for the day would not make the start in time. So, like some bizarre management course, along with putting up and then dismantling the gazebo which was about to blow away, teams had to be quickly reorganised. Fortunately, declarations could be amended online up to 7.00pm that evening so all that was needed was for Caroline Brock to dole out the numbers and find a volunteer (read victim) to run the first long leg for the men. All good in the end but unnecessary pre-race anxiety.

The Whatsapp messages flying about give some idea of the perilous situation that the men’s team was in.

Women’s Six Stage Relay

Women’s team of six. Note the mud.

The women’s event has four short legs of about 4.5km with two long legs of about 7.6km in and around pancake flat Wythenshawe Park, Manchester. Emily Green sums up as follows “I’d say a great course really enjoyed it…just the headwind that made the back bit of the course painful! Especially having the pleasure of doing it twice on the long leg…highlight Olympian spotting at that start of the men’s race with Jonny Brownlee running for Bingley (who also spent three hours in the car and arrived only just in time for the start) and having two teams out representing Steel City across the day!” Yasmine echoed this commenting that Wythenshawe was far better than the windswept Redcar last year but bemoaning the state of her Alphfly’s – the start and finish on the track was great for spectating but the grass bank had turned to a quagmire by the end of proceedings.

Sale Harriers (01:57:12) narrowly beat Leeds City (01:57:23) with both leg six athletes on the finishing straight at the same time after nearly two hours of racing. Steel City’s women finished 23rd of the 43 complete teams with the team gaining places on their rivals on every stage of the competition. Fastest short and long legs were Sale’s last leg runner Lucy Armitage (15:10) and Holly Weedall, Vale Royal (26:51). Our fastest legs were Caroline Brock (16:50) and Emily Green (32:57).

Championship event so no age groups. Link to both women’s and men’s results: Northern Six and Twelve Stage Results 2024

Leg Name Cumulative Time Lap Time Posn
Leg 1 EMILY GREEN 00:32:57 00:32:57 36
Leg 2 BETHAN VARNEY 00:51:51 00:18:53 35
Leg 3 RACHEL HARDY 01:12:37 00:20:45 34
Leg 4 KATHRYN LIDDIARD 01:46:07 00:33:30 33
Leg 5 YASMINE CHAFFER 02:04:23 00:18:15 29
Leg 6 CAROLINE BROCK 02:21:13 00:16:50 23


Men’s Twelve Stage Relay

Ten of the twelve men in the team.

On the same course but setting off half an hour before the ladies, the men have four long legs and eight short legs to negotiate.

Of those present, Adrian Fisher was the quickest so straight into the front line with all the fast lads at 12:00 off next to no warm up. Considering that he was originally down to do the final, short, leg he gets man of the match for stepping up for his team. As team members arrived equilibrium was restored although the dog hurdling Naeem was now running in the mass start final leg which caught the timekeepers out as they didn’t seem to be expecting somebody that quick at that stage in proceedings.

Leeds City (03:24:26) got the gold medals from Salford (03:25:35). Steel City’s men finished 41st of the fifty complete teams. Fastest short and long legs were Harry Wakefield, Salford (13:16) and Jonathan Mellor, Liverpool Harriers (22:50). Our quickest men were Rob Byers (14:33) and Liam Brennan (27:54). Please note that Leg 8 was actually a short leg.


Leg Name Cumulative Time Lap Time Posn
Leg 1 ADRIAN FISHER 00:30:43 00:30:43 53
Leg 2 BEN BAXENDALE 00:48:03 00:17:19 49
Leg 3 STEVEN CAHILL 01:16:00 00:27:57 47
Leg 4 NEIL SCHOFIELD 01:33:17 00:17:17 47
Leg 5 LIAM BRENNAN 02:01:11 00:27:54 45
Leg 6 JOHN EGGINTON 02:18:03 00:16:52 46
Leg 7 LUKE MAIR 02:46:36 00:28:32 45
Leg 8 PETER BROWN 03:08:10 00:21:34 48
Leg 9 ROBERT BYERS 03:22:44 00:14:33 46
Leg 10 ALEX RICE 03:38:14 00:15:30 43
Leg 11 CHRIS IRELAND 03:55:39 00:17:24 43
Leg 12 NAEEM STEVENS 04:10:30 00:14:51 41



All in all, an epic day out with both teams rallying round to get things done and everyone present will tell you what a great event this is. Relays, the twelve stage especially, demonstrate how difficult it is to get all of your best athletes out at the same time but also how it’s important to fill all the gaps. Even so, it’s a shame that the men had to employ some grey hair to make sue that they fielded a complete team and perhaps this signals a change in the club’s attitude towards the event. However, although moaning constantly, he was actually secretly delighted to run at Wythenshawe having never run in the twelve stage before. Further kudos for Chris Ireland who was taking the now rather mucky gazebo back to Sheffield as it would be needed for the Yorkshire Vets XC the following day where he was also racing. It was suggested that he should be able to claim expenses for having his car valeted afterwards. A long day out with too much time on the feet on top of racing and travelling. It is therefore unsurprising that some of the team found training the following day difficult – a valid excuse to put in the logbook. The women get to go again at the National Road Relays at Sutton Park on 6th April 2024.

With a telephoto lens as big as a dustbin lid we were treated to some superb shots from Mick Hall Photography. Montage by Rob Byers. Not many waving at the camera here.

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