By Owen Morgan
Cardiff Athletic Club women’s team finished first at the English National Combined Autumn Road Relays in Birmingham at the weekend.
Although teams from outside England were allowed to compete in this year’s event, they could not win championship medals, meaning the second placed Tonbridge AC team picked up gold.
However, Cardiff were the undisputed fastest team on the day as their powerful line-up of four Welsh internationals finished a shade under two minutes ahead of their closest rivals in a field of more than 60 clubs drawn from around the country.
The Welsh challenge was launched by Commonwealth Games athlete Jenny Nesbitt, who completed her leg of the Sutton Park course in 14:10 to put Cardiff in a strong position amongst the leaders.
Their bid for glory was enhanced by a blistering second leg from Wales and Great Britain international Charlotte Arter, who clocked the fastest female individual time of the day with 14:00 to put Cardiff into the lead.
Lucy Marland kept Cardiff at the head of the field with a third leg time of 14:57 before Clara Evans brought the capital city team home with a final leg of 14:19 to give them a winning time of 57:26.
Tonbridge AC were second in 59:24, while Aldershot Farnham and District finished third in 59.41.
Although Cardiff weren’t awarded the team medals, Arter did pick up a gold as the fastest finisher of the day.
Cardiff AC were also represented in the six stage men’s event by a strong team made up of James Heneghan, Michael Ward, Ieuan Thomas, Ciaran Lewis, Jake Smith and James Thie.
An excellent all round performance by the team, including a brilliant run of 17:04 by Smith, had put Cardiff into the lead going into the final leg, but they eventually finished in a highly creditable fourth position, registering a time of 1:45.52, less than a minute behind winners Leeds City AC.