Leeds City Men and Women Victorious in Leeds Country Way Relay

Sunday 4th September – Report from Ben Dyson and the runners themselves.

Leeds City AC Men and Women Triumph in the Leeds Country Way Relay

On Sunday 4th September Leeds City AC participated in the Leeds Country Way relay completing both a men and ladies team.   The race comprises of 6 pairs of runners in each team, running a leg (section) around the actual Leeds County Way route.  An approximate total of 64 miles are covered.

Both the men and the ladies team won in their category by some margin.   The men finishing in a total time of 6hrs 33mins and 12 seconds some 28 minutes clear of Valley Striders Men in 2nd place.  Equally impressive the women finished in a time of 8hrs22mins and 48 seconds some 34 minutes clear of Valleys Striders ladies in 2nd place.  The relay is in its 21st year and the ladies ran the 2nd fastest time of all time and the men ran the 3rd fastest time of all time a reflection of both the favourable conditions and the quality of the teams.


Leg 1: Garforth to Stanley (11.75 miles) Kirsteen Young and Jennie Guard

Simon Deakin and James Smith



Fastest ladies leg

Fastest mens leg

Leg 2: Stanley to Morley (11.15 miles) Sophie Lovell and Celia De Maria

Greg Hull and Chris Birchall



Fastest ladies leg

Fastest mens leg

Leg 3: Morley to Thornbury (9.8 miles) Ruth Wilcox and Rachael Dyson

Ben Dyson and Leon Foster



2nd fastest ladies leg

Fastest mens leg

Leg 4: Thornbury to Golden Acre Park (11.5miles) Emily Birchall and Jess Nixon

Adam Osbourne and Steve Body



Fastest ladies leg

Fastest mens leg

Leg 5: Golden Acre to Thorner (10.06 miles) Veronique Marot and Orla Rhodes

Martin Hilton and Martin Roscoe



3rd fastest ladies leg

Fastest mens leg

Leg 6: Thorner to Garforth (9.7 miles) Sarah Whitley and Julie Barley

Trev Wilks and Pete Branney



2nd fastest ladies leg

Fastest mens leg

Race details – including contributions from the athletes:

Leg 1: Garforth to Stanley (11.75 miles)

Kirsteen Young and Jennie Guard

Kirsteen Young and Jennie Guard were trusted with the first leg for the womens team. Wisely they stayed off the suicidal early pace from the Abbey Runners pairing choosing to reel them in gradually finally taking the lead in the second mile as the route climbs away from The Lines. From this point on there was only one winner as they relentlessly stretched their lead. Jennie recent altitude stint (not involving much training!) seems to have made a difference and after Kirsteen was reminded by the watching Phil Townsend that it might be worth slowing down just a little to allow Jennie to stay in range towards the end they finished in around 1:17 for a massive 11 minute lead. An excellent effort.

Kirsteen and I set off at the early yet warm time of 8am from Garforth sports centre eager to get going. We set off just behind the pair of runners from abbey runners. After about a mile, we pulled into the lead and started to pick off the mens pairs and kept our lead. The route wound through woods, across fields and along a few roads. It was really varied and very enjoyable!

Simon Deakin and James Smith

Deakin and Smith got the ball rolling with a virtuoso display of trail running at its finest. A well matched pair, Smithy’s marathon training was proven to be well on track as he stretched his legs to some considerable effect on the tarmac while Deakin’s bank holiday weekend spent on the fells set him up well to break the trail on the off-road sections. By the finish in Stanley, nearly a four-minute lead had been established as they finished in 64:40 for the 11.75miles.

Leg2: Stanley to Morley (11.15 miles)

Celia De Maria and Sophie Lovell

Sophie and Celia taking over in the lead from Kirsteen and Jennie maintained the pace on leg two enjoying running over several golf courses, multiple stiles, over the motorway and a dual carriageway crossing.

Greg Hull and Chris Birchall

There is unanimous agreement that leg 2 is the hardest LCW section so it was no surprise that wise-head Bendy turned to Chris Birchall who obviously needed some manning up.

Greg though was slightly bemused by his selection but stoically didn’t complain even though he’d never been allowed to do leg 4 or 5, both just a short tempo run from his Guiseley training camp.

Nursing weak Chris round was expected, what wasn’t, was his bizarre delirium which manifested itself in an increasingly irrational hatred towards stiles, kestrels and dog walkers.

On they ploughed, Greg on the fastrack, Chris in the ruts, until finally they saw the anxious pair of Captain Bendy and Legs Leonard waiting in their blocks for another seamless changeover.

In Summary: Dog walkers passed:6 ; Spectators: 3 (thanks Nayth, Mick & Ian) ; Kestrels seen:2 ; Stiles sworn at: 73

Leg 3: Morley to Thornbury (9.8 miles)

Rachael Dyson and Ruth Wilcox

With mobile phones locked in cars, Rachael and I have no idea how long we have to wait at the start of leg 3, but Celia and Sophie don’t keep us waiting – well done girls! And we’re off. Oh boy we’re off – slow down Rachael! I’m hanging on and we’re hardly out of sight of the start line. Through the woods, we remember just where to turn since the ‘rusty post’ described in the notes has disappeared. Up the path and it’s all going to plan. At the top we meet two men’s teams coming a more direct but less official way straight up – huh! They disappear ahead and a mixed team is now bearing down on us from behind. We get to the barbed wire fence. Rachel holds it open, just like we practised, whilst I jump through. Then I turn around to clarify to the other team that, yes, this is the official way and the farmer has in fact put a fence across the footpath. In doing this, I completely forget to hold the wire for Rachel – sorry!!! She is surely cursing being partnered with someone so inept.  The other team seem to have peaked too early though and they drop behind again. The next bit is a blurr of snarly dogs, endless gates, rutted paths and more dogs, but as we climb up to the road Rachel’s ankle takes a hit on a nasty cobble and she is clearly not 100%…since I can now keep up! She reccied the last bit a couple more times and I am glad of the confident directions she is shouting through gritted teeth as we make the last few climbs, out onto the roads again and, finally, to the end…we’ve made it!

Ben Dyson and Leon Foster

For the second year running the partnership of Leon and Bendy took on the mountainous leg 3, expecting the Leeds boys to come in the lead we weren’t disappointed by the early arrival of Chris and Greg.  Due to previous over zealousness from Bendy over the first few miles it was decided that Leon would take the pace.  Through the woods past the “metal post” up the hill down the road, over the stiles and more fields, leaping through barb wire fences, more woods, a golf course, many fields with stiles and finally up wind mill hill, down windmill hill, up the cobbled path, down over the railway and up the road to Thornbury.  A relentless pace set by Leon with Bendy hanging on arriving at Thornbury to set Oz and Steve on their way.

Leg 4: Thornbury to Golden Acre (11.5 miles)

Adam Osborne and Steve Body

Not knowing how much of a lead we had, Steve and I set off at a rapid pace, aided by the fact that the first 3 miles or so of this leg are downhill. The climb from the river up to the top of Hunger Hills is a tough one but I led us up at a decent pace. Steve then took over, setting a good pace across the fields and through the interminable stiles and gates between Trinity and All Saints and Scotland Farm. Fortunately, the cows near the airport were well out of the way, though we did have two incidents with horses (more the riders’ fault than the horses) before emerging from the woods into Golden Acre Park with an increased lead of 16:30. Job done!

Jess Nixon and Emily Birchall

Jess arrived at the start fresh from the hospital, sleep deprived but ready to go with an inspiring determination not to let her husband’s dodgy appendix undo the women’s chances  of finishing a full team.  After a fleeting warm up and much anxiety as to where the previous leg’s runners were, they set off just a few minutes behind schedule at a conservative pace. Failing to get rid of a lone male runner who seemed intent on “tagging along,” Emily managed to fall spectacularly on a gravel rich corner, expertly landing squarely on an already damaged knee. Undeterred they ran on and soon found the pace dramatically slowing on the almighty mountain that lies between the river and the top of Hunger Hills. Then to a negotiation of many stiles (though fortunately few cows) before a flat and smooth section saw Jess pulling Emily through to the finish.

Leg 5: Golden Acre to Thorner (10.06 miles)

Veronique Marot and Orla Rhodes

Sadly, I think that we, on leg 5, were the weakest link finishing 4th ladies team on our leg! Well, I am on the wrong side of 55 and Orla had just been to Turkey and been unable to run for 2 weeks due to the heat. We tried to lower Ben & Rachael’s expectations at the start by claiming dodgy stomachs (curry the night before in Orla’s case) but Ben showed no sympathy and reminded us of the Team honour and that we only had 12 minutes to spare. So we ran scared and jumped out of our skins every time we spied a rival team in the far distance. Fortunately they were all men’s teams and we were soon able to ascertain their gender (no undressing was involved) as they whizzed past us. Actually one would rush past us and then open the next gate and his teammate would kindly close the gate behind us. Such Gentlemen! On the run I tried to entertain Orla by pointing out some meaningful landmarks: where I had gone wrong 7 years earlier. We were rather upset not to be able to continue chatting in the closing 2 miles as we faced one hill after another. The penultimate one nearly killed me; fortunately it was just after Bardsey Church so my conscience was clear. The final half mile was stressful with Orla feeding skin and blood to a thirsty and thorny bush and I going over my ankle. As we were so close we hobbled on and finished hard up the hill only to discover the truth withheld by Ben, that we had in fact been 20 minutes ahead in Golden Acre Park so there had been no need to panic.

Martin Hilton and Martin Roscoe

We did not see another team, we did not over take or get over taken by anyone. No dog attacks, no herds of cows, just a few nettles and midges to disturb our progress. We knew we had a sizable lead when we set off, but we had to leave to return to work and relieve the babysitter before the next team finished so did not know how much of a lead we handed over. A target time of 60:00 mins was just missed, Doscoe started to struggle a bit in the last ten minutes.  Doscoe was unable to give Hilto an extra thrashing to add to the beating that he received from his two daughters whilst warming up. We both got through the leg without too many aches and pains. It was great to get back into successful and winning harrier action and now we both look forward to seeing more of our team mates, more mud and more success

Leg 6: Thorner to Garforth (9.7 miles)

Trev Wilks and Pete Branney

After a few mistakes on the recce, Trev Wilkes and Pete Branney’s navigation was flawless on the day.  A short shower helped temper the humidity and helped push the closely matched runners on and up to the motorway bridge, from which they pushed downwards into the final town with a little encouragement from the Dysons on the way.  After winding through Garforth, the final ascent looked easy as they approached the small group of supporters and clocked in, first team, some 27 minutes ahead of the next.

Sarah Whitley and Julie Barley

Last minute recruit Sarah Whitley joined Julie Barley on last leg.  Sarah setting the early pace from Thorner with Julie guiding the them all the way.  Through the woods over the A64 over fields through Scholes and finally into Garforth.  Finishing neck and neck with a mens team a superb victory.