Birchfield Harriers has a fine record in the National 12-Stage Road Relays. Here are the clubs individual 'All-Time' lists for the 5.44Mile (long leg) & 3Miles (Short leg) respectively...

The National 12-Stage Road Relays have been held in Birmingham's leafy suburb of Sutton Coldfield, staged in Sutton Park since the early 'seventies' and have been witness to many fine displays from World class athletes over it's 40 year history. The course records of 24:27 recorded by Dave Moorcroft just weeks before he smashed the World 5000m record, and 13:23 acheieved  by the Sutton Park 'speed meister' Chris Davies are both marks of the highest quality. They would both take some beating by only perhaps the finest african athletes, or maybe our own Mo Farah in peak condition. Moorcroft's mark has now stood for 30 years and has only been approached once since, by non other than 1994 Commonwealth 5000m Champion Rob Denmark who recorded a blinding 24:30 in the year he lifted Commonwealth Gold. Incidentally, Denmark was the 'National' 12 stage record holder for the 3 Mile 'Short leg' at the time with a 13:33 mark, (although Paul Davies-Hale had a 13:30 Midland run to his name) which was eclipsed by in form Chris Davies of Telford by no less than 10 seconds in 2004 and who was a specialist around the undulating Sutton Park circuit. The Telford star also holds the current 6-Stage record of 16:25 for the near 3.7Mile lap which stands at 7 seconds quicker than the 2nd ranked athlete. You may have heard of No.2 on the lists...who is a certain World 5000m Champion, Mohamed Farah!

 

'Long Stage' Course record holder Dave Moorcroft (337) in action at the European Championships.

 

My Birmingham based club of Birchfield Harriers has lifted the coverted 12-Stage title on several occasions, with the last time being back in 1997 which I was lucky enough to be a part of! Over the years the club has been represented by many International standard athletes, with our club record in the National relays being held by non other than former European and Commonwealth 5000m Champion & World XC Champion, the great Ian Stewart who raced around Sutton Park in a scorching 24minutes & 53seconds! The clubs 'Short stage' record is another strong mark at 13:44 which was set by World XC runner Darrius Burrows, who was a prolific race winner for the club throughout the 'nineties'. As you will see below on our 'All-time' lists, the club has attracted an array of world class athletes who have all enjoyed a 'blast' around Sutton Park's famous 12-stage loops over the years.

The Birchfield Club 12-Stage best stands at 4Hrs 2Minutes & 52 Seconds for the overall distance covering the twelve stages which totals in excess of 50 Miles. This record stands up well against Bristol's outright record of 4Hrs & 37 seconds. Below are Birchfield's ten fastest 12 stage times along with the position the team achieved on the day....

1988  4Hrs :2 Minutes :52 Seconds (2nd)

1986  4Hrs :3 Minutes :38 Seconds (2nd)

1987  4Hrs :4 Minutes :28 Seconds (3rd)

1979  4Hrs :4 Minutes :44 Seconds (2nd)

1985  4Hrs :5 Minutes :09 Seconds (2nd)

1983  4Hrs :5 Minutes :16 Seconds (1st)

1982  4Hrs :5 Minutes :43 Seconds (4th)

1989  4Hrs :5 Minutes :46 Seconds (3rd)

1980  4Hrs :6 Minutes :26 Seconds (5th)

1998  4Hrs :7 Minutes :06 Seconds (1st)

As you can see above, the club has achieved two wins on the current course with many other top 3 performances to back these up. Below, we can see the star Birchfield performers who have been instrumental in Birchfield's success over the last 40 years at Sutton park....

 

Club 'Long Leg' (5.44Miles) 'All -Time' Lists-'Sub 27:00'.... (1974-2011)

Please note, times have been taken from 'National' 12 stage relays and do not include 'Midland' results, where certain athletes may have recorded superior marks set over the same loops.

1. Ian Stewart-24:53 

The Great Britain and Scottish International took top honours when taking victory in the 1969 European's along with the 1970 Commonwealth games 5000m titles, as well as taking 'Bronze' in the 1972 Olympic 5000m behind the great Lasse Viren. He is the last Britsh man to take the World X/Country title which he achieved just one week after taking the European Indoor 3000m title in the March of 1975. Birchfield Harriers greatest ever  distance man also set an 'unofficial' world best of 45:13 for 10 Miles on the roads showing why he was capable of fast times around Sutton Park. Stewart actually raced to a faster 24:38 whilst wearing the 'Green & White' hoops of Tipton Harrirers, and with track bests of 13:22 and 27:43 as well as a fast 3:57 mile, he was a formidable opponent throughout the late 'sixties' and 'seventies' on the world athletics stage. Making a 'comeback in the 'nineties' as a veteran, he raced to a UK over 40's record of 49:13 for 10 Miles showing there was still life left in the old dog!! It must also be noted that Stewart actually ran a 13:38 'Short' stage best, but this was also whilst representing Tipton Harriers.

Ian Stewart pictured above left taking the 1975 European Indoor 3000m title, and right the 1970 Commonwealth 5000m title beating fellow Scot Ian McCafferty running a fast World leading 13:22.

 

2. Jean Ndayisenga-25:21  The Burundian born athlete now residing in the UK scorched to number 2 amongst an illustrious list of Birchfield's top distance men, and has since backed this run up with other fast times of 25:33 and 25:39 around Sutton Park. It is no surprise that Ndayisenga was capable of such times having already achieved a best of 22nd in the World XC Championships in Dublin 2002 along with a fine 6th in the World Junior 10,000m final of 1999 whilst representing his native country of Burundi. Ndayisenga also ran to an excellent 26th place in the 2002 World Half Marathon Championships in 63:27 in hot conditions, & along with being a regular 28/29 minute 10k man, fast times around Sutton Park were always well within his compass.

Ndayisenga also figures highly on Birchfield's 6-stage 'all-time' list with a fast 17:04 time for the near 3.7 mile stage, ranking him 3rd behind Wilf Taragon's 17:01 club record.

Ndayisenga winning the Wilmslow 'Half' in 63 Minutes. One of many high profile victories he has taken since moving to the UK.

 

3. John Graham-25:23  Scotland's John Graham set a marathon mark that only six men had ever bettered at the time whilst winning the Rotterdam marathon in 1981. His superlative time of 2:09:28 still sits high on the UK 'all-time' lists showing why he sits at number 3 on the Birchfield 'All-Time' 12 stages lists. His fast 25:23 ripped up the Sutton Park roads showing why he took two 4th places in Commonwealth Marathons and set numerous fast times around the world in distances from 10k up to the marathon. He holds no less than 9 of the 20 fastest ever marathons run by Scottish athletes with a string of runs in the 2:09-2:13 range.

 

 

 

 

 

Left: Scotland's John Graham pictured winning the 1981 Rotterdam Marathon in 2:09:28, and right, powering around a soden Scottish track in the National Championships on his way to 10,000m victory. Graham had also been a successful steeplechaser early in his career with an 8:39 best.

 

4. Richard Partridge-25:27  1983 Midland XC Champion Richard Partridge ran to a fast 25:27 in the 1984 National 12 stage relays, backing up his fine 25:48 from the previous years race. Partridge then went on to enjoy a fine XC season which saw him place 11th in the 'National' over the fast Newark course and gain England selection for the World XC. Into the nineties, now representing AFD, Partridge could still be seen at the front end of National X fields by placing a fine 7th in the 1991 Championships at Luton battleing with the likes of Richard Nereurkar, Dave Lewis, Martin McCloughlin and Steve Tunstall. He also ran a best around the long leg of 25:24 for his Southern club. Partridge also ranks highly on Birchfield's 5000m lists with a 13:49 performance showing he possessed good speed as well as strength.

 

5. Ray Smedley-25:28  Hailing originally from Sutton Coldfield, Ray Smedley used his local knowledge of Sutton Park to full advantage to blast to a lifetime best of 25:28 around the park's 'long-stage' undulating route of nearly 5.5 miles. The Birchfield star had a superb range holding bests of 3:38 for 1500m through to 2:14 for the marathon. The 1972 Olympian's times In between of 7:49, 13:35 and 28:24 for 3, 5 & 10k distances, along with an astonishing record on the XC circuit where he placed 4th in the 1975 National and made several World XC teams show why the tall rangey Smedley produced such fast times around Sutton Park.

 

6. Alan Salter-25:33  Another athlete sporting a range of fast pb's was local man Alan Salter, who had come up through the Birchfield ranks as a youngster setting youth and junior records on the way of 3:54 & 3:45 for 1500m. Improving to 3:40 as a senior athlete, along with an impressive 3:56.99 Mile, Salter became UK Champion over 1500m in 1984 and also raced to a fast 1:49 800m and 13:52 5000m proving he also possessed great endurance. Salter demonstrated this regularly with high XC placings in the National and by running to a low 63 minute Half marathon time in the AAA's 'Half' at Reading in the 'eighties' when Birchfield took team honours. We can see why the short, powerful Salter ran to such good times as his 25:33, and also the club best in 'National' relays of 13:51 for the 'Short stage'.

 

Eq 7. Wilfred Taragon/ Brian McSloy-25:36   Kenyan athlete Wilf Taragon represented Birchfield well in the 2005 12-stage when running to a fast 25:36 time around the undulating near five and a half mile circuit in Sutton Park. With best track times of 13:15 and 27:33 for 5 & 10k respectively, the young Kenyan must have 'cruised' his long stage effort which catapulted him straight in at equal 7th along with Scottish International and former team mate of John Graham, Brian McSloy on the Birchfield 'All-Timers'. When you look at Taragon's performances on the road, boasting a super fast 27:30 10k best from Berlin, and a 5th position in the 2006 World Road Running Championships held over 20k in 57:22 (that's two 28:41-10K's back to back!!) you realise just what an awesome talent the young kenyan athlete is! Along with a half marathon best of 60:42 you can see how he ran to such a time at Sutton Park, and wonder what he might have achieved if pushed!

 

Kenyan born Wilfred Taragon (left) In XC action, where he is also a fierce competitor as well as on the roads and track.

 

 


Eq 9. Neil Appleby/ Ashworth Laukam-25:39   Completing Birchfield's 'top ten' all timers amongst long leg legends are the local pairing and regular training partners Neil Appleby and Ashworth Laukam. The two Birmingham based athletes regularly tussled in competition for the 'Stags', and both held fast p.b's which they set whilst winning many prestigious road races throughout their running careers. Appleby's finest hour was arguably when winning one of the Midlands top road races in the 'Tipton 10' where he trounced a top class field to take victory in a magnificent 47:45. Laukam set fastest times in the Midland 6-stage relays as well as setting fast times on the track including a 3:59.1 Mile and a 13:48 5000m along with many 29 minute region 10k road wins. Both Appleby and Laukam were prolific racers over the country, regularly seen at the sharp end of Birmingham League fields as well as both being top 20 performers in the National XC. Their fast sub 25:40 long leg times proving their class by sustaining 4:40 miles around the tough Sutton Park route. It must be noted that Laukam held a best of 25:34 for the Stags, but this was set in the Midland Champs in 1989.

Ashy Laukam pictured right competing in the 1988 National XC at Newark where he was first scorer in 19th place for the victorious Birchfield team.

 

 

11. Dave Lem (Snr.)-25:43   With a solid 14:00 5000m time to his name along with an 8:56 chase, Dave Lem demonstrated his class by running a strong long stage in the first running of the National 12 stage around the existing Sutton Park course in the 1974 Championships. Coming off a good XC season where Lem had run to 21st place in the National, the Leicestershire athlete had continued his good form for the club by racing to a fine time on leg 7 to take him up to 11th on the 'all time' list. Lem's son, also named Dave continued his Dad's success for Birchfield when he moved over from Leicester Coritanians in the nineties to join Birchfield Harriers, where he enjoyed XC and Road successes with the club, just as his Father had 20 odd years previously.

 

12. Eluid Kirui-25:47  Another top kenyan to grace the 12-stage team for Birchfield was Eluid Kiru who went on to place a magnificent 6th place in the 2004 World short course X/C Championships in Brussells, Belgium. Kiriu only represented Birchfield in the 2001/2002 seasons where he backed up regular steeplechase and 5000m wins in British athletic league premier meets (where he ran an 8:35 chase for Birchfield) by racing to a fast 25:47 which earned him second fastest split of the day in 2002, and 12th amongst Birchfield's most illustrious road athletes. Kirui also held a strong steeplechase career best of 8:17 which he set in 2004.

Eluid Kirui pictured left en route to a 13:40 5k at the U.S classic 'Carlsbad' Road Race, and below in XC action in the 2004 World XC in Brussels where he finished a fine 6th.

 

13. Matt Clarkson-25:51  Prolific Stage one winner, Matt Clarkson regularly got Birchfield off to a flying start with numerous first stage victories in both the 12 & 6-Stage road relay championships. His best time of 25:51 was backed up by several runs 'peppering' the 26 minute  mark. Clarkson was also a useful performer on tartan with best marks of 7:58, 13:51 and 29:21 for 3, 5 & 10K distances as well as showing good speed over the metric mile with a 3:46 time to his credit. The former 'Borough of Sandwell' athlete also collected AAA's medals over 3000m in his early days, once racing to the 'silver' behind non other than New Zealand's star 3:49 miler John Walker.

Clarkson is shown left powering up the final hill in the 1999 National 6-stage on his way to a first stage win & right, again giving Birchfield a winning start in the 2000 6-stage where the 'Stags' raced to a glorious National relay victory.

 

 

 

Eq 14. Darrius Burrows / Steve Emson-25:53 Sharing 14th spot amongst the 'all-timers' are the former Wolverhampton & Bilston athletes Darrius Burrows and Steve Emson. Junior 'protege' Burrows cleaned up on the domestic stage in the early 'nineties' where his front running tactics saw him race to a comfortable victory in the World XC Trial race held in Northumberland earning the tough Birchfield youngster, tipped to emulate coach Ian Stewart's achievements, a spot in the Great Britain team for the World XC. Burrows raced to a solid 27th position amongst the Worlds leading young distance runners, but perhaps more impressive was his 8:01 3000m time as an 18 year old to rank him alongside some of the Worlds very best juniors. Burrows continued improving as a first year senior making the World XC senior team, where he placed 59th on his senior debut, along with G.B vests in the European XC and track marks of 7:58 & 13:50 as well as achieving a magical 'sub 4 minute mile' albeit by the narrowest margin of 9/100th's of a second! He also raced to a fast 25:45 long leg which he set in the Midland relays, and backed this mark up well being only 8 seconds slower in the 'National'. Some of Burrows's best runs came at Sutton Park with his fine 13:44 'short stage' best and a very quick 6-stage time on the pre 2001 course being two of his running career highlights. Unfortunately his progress was stalled by illness, but the strong willed Burrows made a great comeback to record a solid 26:05 later in his career.

Steve Emson's best years had come 15-20 years prior to Burrows's arrival at Birchfield, and with track p.b's of 3:58 for the Mile, along with 7:52, 13:28 and 28:34 showed why the local School teacher represented Birchfield's team so well on numerous occassions setting many fine times around the Sutton Park loop. It must also be noted that Emson actually achieved a far superior time of 25:17 whilst representing rival midland club Tipton Harriers, and also ran for another eighties rival club Wolves & Bilston where he also acheived other noteable times.

Burrows pictured above right representing England in the 'European Trial' races at Margate 1997, and Emson pictured racing the AAA's 5000m in the 'eighties'.

 

16. Rob Birchall-25:56  Former Omega star, Rob Birchall joined the Birchfield ranks and immediately settled into the team with some top performances for the Birmingham club. Along with fellow Omega athlete Carl Udall, the pair boosted Birchfield's already strong distance squad, helping catapult them to the very forefront of National competition, where they took National 6, 12 and XC relay titles. Birchall was one of the lead protagonists in all of the successful teams with his consistent performances earning the quietly spoken, modest athlete many great national accolades throughout his career. One of the highlights must have been his individual 'Bronze' medal in the National 'Cross' behind fellow Midlands athlete & rival Glynn Tromans's victory in 2000, along with Birchall's four individual Midlands XC triumph's. Being a regular 26:00 minute, or just under performer he transferred this type of form into many high profile road race victories, boasting a best time of 29:17 for the 10k distance as well as a 64 minute 'Half'.

 

 

Robbie Birchall above (rear of shot) tracking 'All time' No.3 'long stage' man Rob Denmark before running away from the former Commonwealth 5000m Champion in the Inter-Counties XC. Right: Birchall's smooth effortless style is demonstrated in this great shot taken at Sutton Park while he was storming to one of his many quick times at the relays.

 

 

17. Julian Moorhouse-25:57  Former Scunthorpe athlete Julian Moorhouse was another top flight athlete to boost Birchfield's distance squad around the late nineties. The strong track and XC runner boasted p.b's of 7:53 & 13:42 as well as a 3:43 'metric mile', which he transferred into wins in the Midlands XC in 2003 over the undulations of 'Alton Towers' and ably backed up this result by taking a strong 6th in the National XC weeks later in a mud bath of a course at London's famous Parliament Hill course. Moorhouse's best 12 stage result came whilst winning the opening leg of the 1999 championships just nipping under the 26 minute barrier by 3 seconds, thus taking him comfortably inside the top 20 Stags all-time list.

Moorhouse (No.25) is pictured above floating over the mud at Alton Towers on his way to the 2003 Midland XC title. Alongside him is team mate Mark Dalkins (No.1), left of shot is Notts champion steeplechaser Nick Talbot and Right is Olympian & XC King, former National, Inter-counties and 'Trials' XC champion Spencer Duval of C&S. The Birchfield pair had further success in the 2003 XC season where they placed 6th & 8th in the National XC at Parliament Hill fields in London.

 

18. Darren Pemberton-25:59  Local athlete Darren Pemberton was another who had come up through the Birchfield junior ranks picking up many big wins in the process. His Junior days at Birchfield were 'glittering' to say the very least. The young Pemberton raced to victory in the 1981 Midland Jnr XC, a feat he would repeat 12 months later to retain his Jnr title, and then continued his fine form to place 4th in the Jnr National just beating team mate Neil Appleby into 5th in the process. Weeks later he achieved a magnificent 13:58 in the Midland relays demonstrating his potential. Two seasons on in 1984, he ran to a fine 2nd in the opening Birmingham League fixture held on home turf, only being beaten by World 5000m record holder, Dave Moorcroft!! Pemberton was a regular in Birchfield's most successful teams over the XC and roads, and with best road tome of 48 minutes for 10 miles, along with 63 minutes for the 'Half' distance, he backed up these strong performances with many good Sutton Park marks, his best standing at a fraction under the 26 minute barrier. Along with his rapid 13:58 'short leg' best set in the Midlands relays and many quick track performances, we can see how Pemberton easily makes it onto Birchfield's best 12 stagers lists.

 

Eq 19. Mike Openshaw/ Justin Pugsley-26:01  The final two 'top 20' spots on Birchfield's 'all-time' lists fittingly go to two outstanding athletes who both lifted the highest of accolades by becoming National XC Champion. Pugsley was the first to achieve this superlative by taking the 1999 National Crown at Newark, backing up his Midlands XC victory of earlier that season. Former Chester-le-Street athlete Mike Openshaw emulated his New Birchfield team mate by also lifting the National XC title in 2003 up near his homeland, taking the coverted title around the blowy fields of Durham. Boasting a 5000m best of 13:24, Openshaw fought off a tough challenge from the great, late Sam Haughian, outsprinting his Hounslow rival by a mere second to become Birchfield's second Senior Mens National XC Champion in 4 years, ending a 'drought' of National mens champions of over 70 years for the Birmingham club! The two Birchfield stars both achieved fast times of 26:01 with Openshaw taking victory on the opening stage of the 2003 National. It must be noted that Pugsley held an outright career best of 25:47 which he had achieved previously for his Southern based club of 1990's road racing giants 'Boxhill Racers'.

Pugsley is pictured far right of shot in the lead group at the 1998 National XC held at Roundhay Park, Leeds. The group from Left to Right consists of Barry Roydon, Ian Hudspith, Spencer Duval, eventual winner Dominic Bannister, Mark Hudspith and Justin Pugsley who eventually picked up the Bronze medal. Pugsley went on to win the following years National XC ending a drought of mens champions of over 70 years for Birchfield Harriers in the National XC senior mens championships.

 

Eq 21. Mike Bouldstridge / Edwin Kipkorir / Tewodros Shiferaw-26:03 

Three unlikely team mates share 21st spot on the Birchfield 'all-time' lists. Local athlete Mike Bouldstridge had hit form in the season of 2000 after making his England debut and posting a p.b of 26:17 a month earlier in the Midlands 12 stage, which he improved to just miss the 26:00 minute barrier recording another p.b in the 'National 12 stage' whilst advancing his club up into 2nd position on leg 7. Bouldstridge shares his best time with Kenyan athlete and prolific race winner Edwin Kipkorir who boasts best road times of 13:42, 28:28 and 63:11 along with several other extremely quick road wins to his name suggesting his capabilities around the 12-stage course are potentially very special indeed. He also holds track bests of 7:40, 13:20 and 28:38, with the later being run at high altitude in Nairobi, suggesting he has the potential to be a mid 27 minute 10,000m man. The third Birchfield athlete sharing 21st spot is another prolific race winner on the UK road running scene, Ethiopian born Tewodros Shiferaw, who in the 2012 National 12 man relays backed up his previous weeks win where he had raced to a 23:20 in the 'Victoria Park 5' with a fast 26:03 improving on his 26:20 of two weeks earlier for fastest leg in the Midland relays. The lithe Ethiopian boasts road p.b's of 13:54 when winning the AAA 5k, 28:29 over 10k and 62:09 for the Half marathon which he has run twice, firstly in Bath, and later in the 'Ras Al Khamimah' the following year of 2008. Shiferaw has also represented Ethiopia in the 2004 Olympic games in the Steeplechase and holds a best time of 8:22, and also demonstrated his pedigree over the country in 1998 where he ran to a fine 17th place in the World short course XC championships. The two African's have achieved many high class victories in their distinguised road racing career's so far and are both strong links in the Birchfield team nowadays.

 

 

Edwin Kipkorir is pictured (above right) outsprinting Birchfield team mate, Ethiopian born Tewodros Shiferaw to win the prestigious 5.7 mile 'Blaydon race'. Shiferaw is also pictured top left speeding along to another prestigious UK road race victory. The two African stars share 21st spot at 26:03 along with Mike Bouldstridge, who is pictured above nearing the finish of the 2000 Bradford AAA's 10K... (It's a privaledge sharing my 'all-time spot' with such great athletes as Edwin and Tewodros-Well, team mate Neil Appleby did always call me ''the White Kenyan!!'') and right, Kipkorir taking another high class field apart to win the Trafford 10K in 2011.

 

 

 

Eq 24. Rob Harrison/ Zach Kihara-26:05

Track champion Robbie Harrison showed considerable stamina for an 800/1500m expert when racing to a time just outside 26 minutes for the near 5.5 mile circuit. The 1:46/3:35 800/1500m man showed just what an achievement this was by sharing 23rd spot amongst the 'all-timers' with Kenyan athlete Zachary Kihara, who with bests of 29:30, 63:43 and 2:15 for 10k, 'Half' and full Marathon distances shows he is no slouch over such distances winning many high profile road races around Britain whilst setting these quick marks. This outlines just what a good performance Harrison's was, taking into account it was six times longer than his preferred distance of the 'metric mile'. With a 3:53 mile to his name too, as well as a fast 13:59 'short stage' effort, Harrison was one of Birchfield's all time great middle and long distance men.

Zach Kihara pictured left on his way to a 63 'Half' and Robbie Harrison (pictured right & below-far right of the shot in Black vest) taken in the final of the 1988 AAA Olympic Trials 1500m. Seb Coe can be seen hurdling over Steve Crabb after he 'hit the deck'. Others pictured L.toR. are Neil Horsefield(29), Steve Ovett(5), Tony Morrell(48), & Jack Buckner(7). Incidentally, Coe's name features on the next page on the 12-Stage 'all-time' lists where his 1984 Short stint time of 14:00 dead earns the double Olympic Champion a top 50 spot around Sutton Park, which was no mean achievement for an 800m/1500m specialist. His time was set just a few months before retaining his Olympic 1500m title in L.A.

 

26. Mickey Densley-26:10  1983 proved to be a good year for both Birchfield and Mick Densley who helped the team to a glorious Gold AAA medal in the National 12 stage of that season. Densley raced out a great 26:10 on the notorious 'Big Guns' leg of stage 7 to catapult Birchfield towards a strong 4:05:16 winning time.

Eq 27. Ross Copestake/ Simon Tonui-26:11  Another pairing who, with opposing up bringings share a spot on the all-time lists are local runner Ross Copestake and Kenyan athlete Simon Tonui. Both share the accolade of being champion athlete's with Ross boasting an indoor 3000m best of 7:57 as well as lifting the Midland XC title in 1984 and Tonui a fast 62:53 Half Marathon best achieved when taking victory in the 2005 Bath 'Half'. The two come together by sharing 26th spot having run 26:11 around the undulations of Sutton Park, probably around 25 years apart. Tonui will be an instrumental part of Birchfield's attempt at taking the 2012 title, where he will team up with several of his native Kenyan countrymen in the Birchfield team.

 

 

Simon Tonui en route to a sub 63 'Half' whilst taking victory in the Bath race. This is one of a string of high class performances he has achieved on the UK road race circuit over the last few seasons.

 

 Eq 29. Carl Udall/ J. Patton/ Mohammed Yacqub/ Andy Symonds-26:12

   No less than four high profle athletes share 29th spot on the 'long leg' lists, showing what depth the Birchfield team has had over the past 40 years of the championships being held around Sutton Park. 28:48 10k man Carl Udall, along with J.Patton, Sudanese and 13:27 5000m man Mohammed Yacqub and local star and 2:14 marathoner Andy Symonds all share a 'top 30' spot amongst the greatest 12 stagers Birchfield has produced. It must be noted that former Burton junior star and Omega athlete Carl Udall boasted a superior 12-stage time of 25:30 whilst representing the nineties 'super club' of Omega AC, but represented Birchfield superbly on many superb 'golden' occassions in the 'nineties' and beyond. Udall, the 'pocket rocket' also boasted a 'short stage' best of 13:49 which earned the Burton man fastest leg of the day in the 1992 Midland relays, again whilst representing his previous club of Omega.

Andy Symonds was another top local athlete who held bests of 29:29 for 10k, 48:08 for '10' and 64:03 for the 'Half' and later excelled at the marathon distance with several sub 2:18 performances, culminating with a great 2:14:36 run set in the Bruge marathon of 1993. His marathon exploits earned the Sutton Coldfield athlete a G.B vest for the European marathon but unfortunatey Symonds never made the start line being cruelly ruled out by a nasty Achilles injury which ultimately ended his great career.

Symonds is pictured above starring on the cover of 'Today's Runner' magazine of July 1994, which featured an interview with the Birchfield Marathon man.

 

33. Roy Tilling-26:14   Junior 'protoge' Roy Tilling had taken the 'scalp' of non other than future world 5000m record holder Dave Moorcroft when taking the National under 20 Indoor 1500m title in a fast 3:48. Roy was a regular in the 12 man line up for Birchfield setting a 'long leg' best of 26:14. This quiet, unasuming athlete went on to coach many of Birchfield's young athletes to great successes over the years before sadly passing away leaving the Birchfield team stunned and also a large hole in the Birchfield 'family'. Roy was one of those unselfish club stalwarts who would be greatly missed, and indeed put much more back into the sport than he took out. It is fitting that he made it comfortably onto Birchfield's 'all time' list as at his best he was certainly a formidable athlete.

 

34. Dave Black-26:25  Sitting at number 9 on the UK 10,000m 'all-time' list with a best of 27:36 and 'only' 33rd on the Birchfield 'long leg' list somehow doesn't quite add up. But when you consider that Dave Black's 26:25 achieved in the colours of Birchfield was not his best time run over the Sutton Park loop, and infact he achieved a time in the region of 90 seconds quicker while at his peak whilst representing Small Heath Harriers, then you will realise what a superb athlete Black was. His 26:25 mark, while not too shabby is not a true reflection of one of Britain's all time great distance men. His best of 25:00 on the sutton park course is much more in line with his 27minute odd 10k performance, along with bests of 7:46 and 13:23 for 3 and 5k on the track show just what a formidable athlete the Solihull based champion was, and with a National XC title to his name when he took the title in Sheffield 1974, you realise his class needs no more explanation!

 

35. Darren Daniels-26:26  Policeman Darren Daniels, being a regular 'sub 30' 10k performer ran a useful mid 26 minute time for Birchfield in the National 12 stage, which backed up his career best of 26:20 which he had set in the Midland Championships. A strong all rounder on the track and XC, with bests of 3:46 and 8:03 over 1500 & 3000m, along with a best of 5th in the Midlands XC and 24th in the 'National' the former Cannock and stafford athlete represented Birchfield well on many occasions, including being a member of Birchfield's victorious 12-stage team of 1997 when they took the National title.

Daniels is pictured on the cover of 'Athletics Weekly' (No.12) whilst racing over 3000m indoors against Rod Finch (No.16) and Paul Larkins (No.22). These two athletes were 3:37 & 3:35 1500m men repectively!

 

36. Ben Livesey-26:27   R.A.F. man Ben Livesey backed up a strong 26:28 1st leg 'runner up' spot from 2 weeks earlier in the 2012 Midland relays to go one second quicker in the 'Nationals' proving the Scottish International's recent run of good form was set to continue. Following a good XC season which has seen the 33 year old consistently in the top 5 of Birmingham League fields as well as a recent 4th place in the 'Home Countries International', the Birchfield man has achieved many best marks over the country in the past 12 months as well as a recent victory in the tough 'Fleet Half' clocking 66:21 over the undulating course. 2013 has proved to be an even more successful year for Birchfield's current top performer with a superb top 10 finish in the Inter-counties XC and a 3rd in the Home Countries International beating his 4th position from the previous year along with Birmingham League XC victories. Livesey has also improved his road times recording 30:03 and 64:38 where he took silver in the AAA's Half Marathon, and had his best track season reducing his 10,000m p.b significantly recording a fine 29:34 whilst finishing 5th in the AAA's final.

Livesey wearing the Black vest of Birchfield Harriers on his way to Half Marathon glory in 2011.

 

Eq 37. Paul Baker/ M. Phillips-26:28  Local athlete Paul Baker, who lived in Sutton Coldfield shared a sub 26:30 run with Mickey Phillips to sit equal 35th on the all time list. Better known as a marathon man, Baker held a quick 26.2mile best of 2:14, with his 26:28 run proving he was no slouch over a quicker blast.

39. Peter Stewart-26:30  Older Brother of Club record holder Ian, Peter Stewart better known as a miler showed his strength by running a 26 and a half performance around Sutton Park. The 1972 AAA 1500m Champion holds bests of 3:38 and 3:55 for 1500m and the Mile, along with an indoor 3000m time of 7:53 whilst taking the 1971 European Indoor title. Peter also showed considerable endurance for a 1500m specialist when placing a strong 31st in the National X/C over the tough undulations of Parliament Hill in London in the 1969 Championships, proving he could race against pretty much the best over every surface.

 

 

Peter Stewart just being nipped by brother Ian displaying their close rivalry on the track.


40. Paul O'Callaghan-26:31  Injury ravaged Paul O'Callaghan set his 26:31 time after years of painful achillies problems that required several surgical proceedures to finally correct. The Irish International had set stunning times of 7:53 and 13:29 in his early twenties, as well as a super fast 13:44 'Short stage' whilst representing Wolverhampton & Bilston A.C. Unfortunately, the short & stocky powerful Irishman succumbed to injury and never improved on those fantastic times. Upon his comeback, he raced to a magical Birmingham League victory at Coventry over a strong field, whilst punching the air in delight, proclaiming ''I'm back!!'' as he crossed the finish line. O'Callaghan, although getting back to a high level, never quite reached the heights he had left at before injury struck, but did get back to a level which saw him post a 23:49 5mile as well as several 65 minute 'Halves' and a 2:20 marathon. He was a regular member of Birchfield's winning teams throughout the nineties and into the new century finally making up for the many years lost through injury. We must note that O'Callaghan's best years came with the two midlands rival clubs of Wolves & Bilston A.C and Tipton Harriers where he achieved a fast 25:41 donning the 'green & white hoops' in the eighties.


O'Callaghan pictured left of shot (No.457) in his 'Comeback' race after surgery where he beat a quality Birmingham League field at Coventry in January 1992. Also in shot is W&B's 1994 Midland XC Champion Kevin Lamb (No.453), Stourport's 28:09 10k man Mark Dalloway (No.284) and far right, Telford's 61:49 Half marathon man Mark Flint.

 

41. Jon Jennings-26:36   Such was the standard of the first leg when Jennings set his best time of a little over 26 and a half minutes, that he finished well down the field, leaving all team mates watching at keepers pool believing Jon was 'having a bad one'. Upon seeing the times we realised Jon had indeed performed well, being a more accomplished 1500m man with a best time of 3:43 to his credit. His 26:36 long stage effort ranking him close to the top 40 'Birchfielders' of all time. This strength he demonstrated was also used to good effect over the X/C with Jennings racing to a career best of 12th in Division 1 Birmingham League competition, proving the near 4 minute miler possessed bundles of endurance along with his natural speed. The former Solihull & S.H athlete also held a best of 14:21 for the 'short stage' which he set in the Midlands relays in 1993 on leg 11 to help Birchfield lift one of their many Midlands titles.

Jennings, pictured left leading a 'loughborough match' 1500m, demonstatng his fine metric mile speed.

 

42. Paul Fox-26:38  Scottish International Paul Fox was Birchfield's 'third man' in the glorious winning team of 1988 who took national honours in the national XC Championships held at Newark showground. He backed up fine runs by team mates Ashy Laukam in 19th and Alan Salter in 21st with his fine 30th position, and was ably backed up by Appleby, Symonds and Pemberton to lift the highest XC accolade in becoming 'National XC Champions'. Fox continued his fine form into the road relay season when  running to a strong 26:38 on leg 5 of the National 12 stage, in the team that went on to finish 2nd in a club record time of 4:02:52.

 

43. Carl Warren-26:39 Former Cannock & Stafford expert 'steeplechaser', Carl Warren ran to a best whilst wearing the black vest of Birchfield of 26:39. His career best stands at a more respectable 25:55 which he set when winning leg 1 for his previous club. Warren also holds strong track bests of 3:47 for 1500m and 8:40 for the 'chase' and upon moving up in disatnce on the road acheived fast times of 23:15, 29:08 and 64 minutes for 5miles, 10k and Half marathon distances. He later went on to record a solid 2:18 marathon to complete his strong record.

 

 

Warren is pictured right wearing the England kit he earned for many international races over XC and road.

 

44. M. Pickering-26:40  Pickering ran to a solid 26:40 time in the 1979 AAA 12-stage handing over to club stalwart Jonny Potts who completed Birchfield's run to the Silver medals in a fast 4:04:44 just 1:19 down on Gateshead's winning time.

 

45. R. Weaver-26:43  Weaver's best time on the 12-stage course came on leg 1 of the 1978 championships where he handed on to Alan Salter. The club eventually wound up in 9th spot after a little over 4 hours and 11 minutes of running.

 

46. J. Peake-26:46  Peake's first leg run started Birchfield's 1974 relay campaign in solid fashion. The club eventually finished in 12th position in 4:11:48 behind Tipton's win over the new course which is still used today.

 

47. James Trollope-26:47  Young James Trollope ran to a respectable 26:47 time in the 2009 National 12 stage, when the Stags ran to a commendable 5th place overall. Trollope has since improved this mark considerably with times of 26:25 for fastest time in the 2011 Midlands relays, and then sliced a furter 4 seconds from that mark again in the Midlands of 2012. He is surely capable of setting a fast time, requiring such a performance in the 'National' to advance further still up the rankings.

 

Eq 48. C.Farquarson/ J. Lane-26:49  Sitting well up on the Birchfield 5000m 'all time' lists by racing to a 13:46 performance in 1973, Jack Lane backed up his strong track pedigree with a solid run around Sutton Park the following season to record a 12-stage time that still see's him in the top 50 Birchfield 'all-timers' sharing this accolade with clubmate C. Farquarson. It is well worth noting that a young Jack lane raced to a superb 28:24 on the track over 10,000m in Helsinki earlier in 1971. At only 20 years of age this represents a mighty performance, which he backed up the following season with a fast 13:38 over 5000m, but both performances were not achieved whilst being a member of Birchfield Harriers.

 

50. Colm McLoughlin-26:50  Irish athlete Colm McLoughlin made a couple of appearances for Birchfield in the 12 stage relays with a best of 26:50 which rounds off Birchfield's 'top 50' long stage athletes. McLoughlin also just makes the Stags 6-stage lists with a solid 17:48 time.

 

51. M. Bardsley-26:53  Bardsley handed over to Ray Smedley after running a solid first leg for the Stags. Smedley produced a good 14:06, but with no other outstanding performances the club eventually wound up in 10th spot.

 

52. Tom Payn-26:57  Holding impressive p.b's of 14:13 and 29:46 along with an 8:47 Steeplechase on the track, Payn upon moving up in distance has also achieved fast road times of 29:57, 49:49 and 64:55 for 10k, 10 Miles and 'Half' distances. His marathon time is also suitably impressive with a 2:17:29 run in Fukuoka, Japan in 2009. He also holds a best of 14:14 for the 'short leg' at Sutton Park which he ran for his new club of Winchester Harriers.

 

 

Tom Payn Pictured right on his way to a 14:14 'Short leg' in the 2009 Championships for new club Winchester harriers.

 

 

53. Dave Miles-26:58  Former Gateshead Harrier 'Big Dave' Miles (pictured left) joined Midland based Birchfield Harriers after moving south to take up a teaching post in Loughborough. The former junior track champion at 3 & 5000m also acheived a top ten in the Junior World XC in the eighties, underlining the potential he had. With many good performances as a senior athlete, notably a top ten in the Durham International XC against all of the countries leading XC exponents in the early nineties, Miles transferred this form into winning ways for the Birchfield team on many occasions. His sub 27 run was not a true reflection of his full potential over the course, with estimates of at least a minute taken off at his best.

 

 

 

 

54. Biniam Ande-26:59   African athlete Biniam Ande has enjoyed a good couple of seasons for Birchfield, where in particular he has raced to several impressive Birmingham League victories in the winter of 2010/2011 showing he is well capable of leap-frogging up the Birchfield 'all-time' list.

 

 

Pictured right is Biniam Ande who is the final 'sub 27:00' performer for Birchfield. He also figures well on the club's 6-stage all timers with his 'sub 17:30' run being worth significantly better than his 26:59 time, and more in the region of a 26:20 performance. Pic courtesy of Adrian Royle - www.flickr.com/photos/adiroyle/

 

 

 

Club 'Short Leg' (3Miles) 'All-Time' Lists-'Sub 14:30'....(1974-2011)

1. Darrius Burrows-13:44  Burrows's magnificent 'short leg' blast around Sutton Park earned the young Birchfield man equal fastest lap of the day sharing this accolade with non other than Bingley Bullet Jon Solly in the 1996 Championships. Equalling Solly's run on the day proved what an outstanding effort Burrows's was, with Solly being a former Commonwealth 10,000m champion and a 27:51 performer! Their time of 13:44 still stands equal 10th on the National 12-stage 'all time' list today, and sits Burrows comfortably at No.1 on Birchfield's hall of fame.

Burrows is pictured right on 'short stage ' duty for Birchfield in the 1998 National 12-stage where his fine 13:56 effort helped the team to an historic 2nd win over the countries best endurance teams.

 

2. Alan Salter-13:51  With track times ranging from 1:49 for 800m through to 13:52 for 5000m, 3:56 miler Alan Salter also held incredible endurance with a 63 minute 'Half' best. He raced to a 'National' club record of 13:51 for the 'Short' stint on leg 10 of the 1982 race.

 

3. Ray Smedley-13:54   1972 Olympic 1500m man Ray Smedley with a best of 3:38 for the distance proved his strength was never in doubt by racing to a 13:54 'short stage' in the 1978 National 12 stage. The former Gateshead Harrier held a terrific range of best times ranging from his 1500m time, through to a 13:35 and 28:24 5 & 10,000m performance and finishing his career by running a 2:14 marathon.


4. Rob Harrison-13:59   'Scouser' Robbie Harrison being a 1:46 800m and 3:35 1500m runner had no problems with running a fast 'short stage' and achieved a 'sub 14' performance on the last leg of the 1988 Championships. It was a thrilling finale to the race with Harrison starting the final leg in 3rd spot going out 1:18 behind race leader Cahill of Gateshead Harriers. Harrison's monumental last leg effort clawed back all of 1:17 of that lead, as Gateshead hung on by the skin of their teeth to win in 4:03:01 to Birchfield's 4:03:02!! Harrison had the consolation of going 'sub 14' and moving onto 3rd (at the time) on Birchfield's 'all time' list of 3 mile heroes.

 

Eq 5. Ian Gillespie/ Julian Moorhouse-14:01   Two class 5000m athletes share 5th spot on the Birchfield 'all time' list. Moorhouse with a 13:42 time being the 'slower' of the two as Gillespie hold's a fast 13:18.06 best which he set in a 'loaded' world Grand Prix race against many top African athletes in the Belgium city of Hechtel in 1997. His time which ranks him 16th on the UK all time list infront of many illustrious and legendary British endurance men, also sits at No.2 on the Scottish 'all time' list, a mere 16/100th's of a second off Nat Muir's top spot. The Bristolian also holds a superior 'short stage' career best of 13:41, but this was set in the Midland relays where he picked up fastest leg of the day.

 

Ian Gillespie pictured in the Bahrain heat competing in the 2001 'Marathon Relays' helping his team to victory.

 

7. Neil Appleby-14:05   A rare outing over the 'short stage' for Appleby saw him run to a good 14:05 time in the 1987 Championships. More accustomed to running straight past the 'Jamboree' stone en route to his usual long stage stint for the club, Appleby must have found the 3 Miles to be over and done with before he knew it! Boasting a 5000m best of 13:52 which he had set 5 years earlier just out of the Junior ranks at 20 years old, Appleby's speed was never in doubt which he again proved by narrowly missing the 14 minute barrier on this occasion.

8. John Hartigan-14:06   8:33 Steeplechaser John Hartigan bought the club home for a silver medal in the 1986 Championships with a strong final stint of 14:06. Birchfield's time of 4:03:38 being 40 seconds off Tipton's win, but nevertheless, Hartigan's anchor leg time was 20 seconds quicker than he had achieved the previous season. He backed it up with a 14:11 the following year along with a 14:01 5000m on the track. He also achieved career bests of 4:00 for the mile along with a 3:41 1500m, 7:51 3000m and 48:45 for 10miles showing a fair range of speed and endurance. Many of Hartigan's best marks were set whilst representing Tipton Harriers, where he also set a long stage best of 25:59 with the 'whippets'.

9. John Graham-14:07   2:09 Marathon man John Graham was another athlete much more accustomed to running the longer stage, and so this very rare outing over the short leg probably came after a period of injury as the tough Scotsman obviously preferred the longer distances. Even so, his 14:07 still makes Birchfield's all time top 10 short legs, a pace which he probably could have sustained for a few more laps!

10. M. Densley-14:09   Along with a best of 26:10 over the long leg, Mick Densley's fast 14:09 set on leg 10 of the 1979 Championships helped Birchfield to the Silver medals behind Gateshead. His two quick Sutton Park p.b's completed a fine record for the Birchfield man which saw him also collect 4 National medals in the relays between 1979 and 1986 including the Gold in '83'.

11. Ross Copestake-14:10   Ross Copestake anchored Birchfield to a memorable win in the 1983 12 stage road relays. By applying consistent pressure throughout the race's 50 miles, the team ran to victory in 4:05:16 with 5 of their long stages all run in 26:12 or under (with 3 sub 26's). Copestake continued his good form and took the 1984 Midland XC title along with earning Scottish vests in World XC competition.

12. Mike Openshaw-14:12   World Championship GB representative Mike Openshaw held a fast 5000m best of 13:24 and so his 14:12 Short stage must have been a stroll in the park to the Chester-le-Street athlete. Taking the National XC title in 2001 at Durham was another of the Birchfield's man's career highlights, along with a 3:57 mile and 7:54 3000m time.

13. Martin Sprayson-14:15   Running on leg  six of the 1986 Championships, Sprayson's quick 14:15 stint guided Birchfield safely through the first half of the race. Finally ending up with the Silver medals Sprayson was a regular member of many medal winning Birchfield teams throughout the 1980's. Sprayson also held a best Long Stage time of 26:28 which was set in the Midlands 12-stage in 1984.

14. James Trollope-14:16   After setting a best of 26:21 on a long stint just two weeks prior to the 2012 National 12 stage, Trollope opted for a short stint in an attempt to replicate his pb form from the Midland relays. Taking no less than 10 seconds from his 2011 time of 14:26, Trollope demonstrated good speed and lifted Birchfield into the top 3 at the 3/4 distance stage of the race.

 

 

 

Trollope pictured rounding the final bend in the 2011 National 6 Stage relays where he ran a fast 17:25 split for the 3.7 Mile circuit to help Birchfield to the Silver medals.

 

15. Ian White-14:22   Ian White's consistent form saw him run to times of 14:22, 14:27 and again 14:22 in the 86, 87 and 88 Championships where Birchfield gained Silver, Bronze and Silver medals. Tragically, Ian while hitting peak form was involved in a hit and run accident whilst out on a club training run. He sustained leg and foot injuries which left him unable to compete at a high level again, cutting the modest midlander's running career well short before reaching his full potential. It must be noted that White's outright best over the course was set in the Midland 12-stage of 1986 at 14:19.

Eq 16. Jon Jennings-14:23 Midlands silver medalist & Warwickshire 1500m Champion Jon Jennings used his track pedigree having achieved a 3:43 time to great effect in the 1992 National 12 Stage, to propel him to equal 16th on Birchfield's all-time short stage lists with a speedy 14:23 effort. The Solihull athlete backed this effort up the following road relay season with an even faster 14:21 time to hand over to Darren Pemberton on the final leg of the Midland's 12-Stage Road Relays. Pemberton duly added to Jenning's magnificent effort to match his time and bring the Birmingham club home for victory over rival club Coventry Godiva, to add to a growing tally of Midland's relay titles for the Harriers throughout this period. Jennings' enjoyed other career highlights such as winning the hotly contested 3.5 mile 'corporate challenge' road race in a swift 16:14, taking the noteable scalps of International athletes Chris Sweeney & Peter Tootell, both of whom boasted 28:30 10k best times. Another career highlight for Jennings was his Midlands silver medal over his preferred distance of the metric mile where he was only narrowly beaten by Sandwell's speed merchant Andy Myatt, but took the consolation of taking another major International athletes scalp in the shape of Cannock & Staffs Olympian and 3:56 miler / 2:11 Marathon man Paul Davies-Hale.

Eq 16. Dave Constable-14:23  Young Dave Constable blasted to a quick 14:23 leg on leg two of the 1980 Championship after Alan Salter had opened Birchfield's campaign with a solid 26:12 long stint. Ultimately Birchfield would wind up in 5th place in 4:06, but Constable's contribution had been a good one and backed up his 3:45 1500m pace.

18. Mike Shevyn-14:29   After blasting round the short leg in a fast 14:04 in the Midland relays, Mike Shevyn could not quite replicate his form from the previous month's Midland relays but still ran a solid time to rank him well within Birchfield's top 20 short stagers. Along with a best of 26:14 for the long leg, again set in the Midland Champs, 'Shevo' unfortunately didn't replicate such top form in 'National' 12 stage's and so misses out on higher rankings in both short and long disciplines.

19. Noel Liverton-14:30  Former Nene Valley Harrier Noel Liverton was a consistent 14:20-30 5000m performer and backed this form up with a 14:30 Short stage run around Sutton park. Although not quite 'sub 14:30', it was close enough and completes my Birchfield 'All-time' lists nicely! It must also be noted that Liverton ran a 14:23 best for his previous club of Nene Valley Harriers.

Mike Shevyn pictured on his way to a fine 26:14 'Long stage' time to go with his best of 14:04 for the 'Short stage'.