Worksop Harriers pip Retford AC in thrilling relay challenge match

The Worksop Harriers' relay team that took part in the challenge match.
The Worksop Harriers' relay team that took part in the challenge match.

One of the most exciting editions of an annual relay challenge match left Worksop Harriers and Retford Athletics Club separated by only 15 seconds after 20 miles of racing.

But it was Harriers who were celebrating at the end to bring the scores level at 10-10 over the 20 years the match has been contested.

Each club fielded five pairs of runners who raced over nine stages along the Chesterfield Canal between the two towns and back again.

The Worksop club hosted this year’s event, which started and finished at Manton Athletic Club, with the turnaround point being the town lock in Retford.

At the end of the first leg, Harriers were more than two minutes behind. But by the end of stage four, they had turned the deficit into a handy lead of nearly two minutes.

Retford then unleashed some of their fastest runners and after the longest stage five, they had built a time gap of four minutes, 58 seconds.

That left Harriers with a lot to do on the final four stages, but they clawed back the time, leaving them only 50 seconds behind for the last three-mile leg.

Thomas Shaw and Paul Marriott performed heroics to close the gap and drew level with half a mile to go. As the final sprint down Retford Road developed, the pair sped home to the cheers of supporters.