A small band of Woodford athletes ventured out in the harsh cold of a locked-down January to record times for the qualifying round of the inaugural England Athletics Virtual Road Relay. Team scores comprise the cumulative times of the fastest four men and four women from each club over 5 miles each, with the top 50 clubs to qualify for the national round in February. As the window closed, provisional results put Woodford in 43rd place and through to the national round in February, with a time of 4:04:36 for the 40-mile race distance.
The mixed-team format shows the importance of strength in depth in both the men’s and women’s squads. While the 23 minute deficit to qualifying round leaders Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow is unbridgeable, the 9 minutes necessary to target the top 20 would be achievable through a combination of wider participation, competition for scoring team places, and marginal gains by the same individuals. This would give a shot at overhauling rivals such as Colchester Harriers, who we defeated in a 10k Mob Match before Christmas, and here were first Essex club in 18th.