Harriers Secure National 4x400m Title!

The Harriers quartet of Ella Palmer, Claudia Nevett, Hannah Winstone and Francesca Ashworth secured a fantastic National title in becoming the English champions at the 4x400m relay at the National U17/ U20 Relay Championships held at the Bedford International Stadium.

This is a magnificent achievement for the quartet who received an invite to the event curtesy of their UK club ranking of 3rd over this distance with a time of 4:02.1 set when they smashed their own club record at a midland league meeting in July.

This was a big step up in class for most of the athletes, and the team which consisted of two regulars (Ella & Fran) and two squad members who has stepped in to replace athletes on holiday, who both stepped up to the mark and delivered a hugely strong performance for the team.

It was a slightly nervous team that lined up at the impressive stadium in near ideal conditions, and the traditional lead of Ella Palmer first to show in the race with an aggressive start from the blocks, she opened up a gap of about 20m over Aldershot Farnham & District with an tremendous 59.0 opening leg, safely handing over to Claudia Nevett who ran a remarkable leg to set a new PB over the distance with 65.2 and extended the Harriers lead slightly from the chasing AFD to 25m. Hannah Winstone also delivered a terrific performance in the third leg with a gutsy run while being run down by the fastest leg of the AFD squad to record a new PB of 63.1, holding her nerve and form to the line she handed to anchor Fran Ashworth who started the final leg with the teams neck and neck and a National title to race for. Fran set off at pace in the first 100m opening a 5m gap, and then kicked hard again at 200m to extend the lead and in the final straight she had opened up a 15m gap to stride home with a superb 59.3 (Combined squad time of 4:06.6) and punch the air in delight!

It was a fantastic team performance and an impressive defeat of the mighty AFD who dominate club middle distance running in the UK, particularly with a squad who are predominantly middle distance athletes, and this also shows the strength in depth in the squad and the ability of different athletes able to step up and deliver for the team.

The quartet excitedly received their medals and a commemorative Lionel cuddly Lion, and sporty matching sunglasses, and now switch their attention to an attempt at breaking the magical 4:00 barrier with a guest race set up next weekend for the squad to try and break their club record for the third time in 12 months and try to move to 2nd in the UK ranking for club teams.

Well done to the squad in securing their first National Title, and best of luck to their attempt to break the club record again!

English National 4x400m Champions Ella Palmer, Claudia Nevett, Hannah Winstone, & Fran Ashworth