CHIPPENHAM runner Eilidh Bell proved what a key addition she will be to Team Bath AC as she helped the senior women’s team achieve one of their best results in several years at the Midland Counties women’s Four-Stage Road Relay Championships, writes KEVIN FAHEY.

In her first relay event for the club since switching from Chippenham Harriers, the 27-year-old was handed the fourth and final leg around Sutton Park, Birmingham, on Saturday.

By that stage of the race the top places had already been decided but that didn’t prevent Bell from giving her all even though she had little idea of where Team Bath actually stood in the race.

“It was hard to see where we stood when I took over because of other teams being lapped,” explained Bell.

“I was at the handover section very early because I was nervous and when I started it did not feel like racing straightaway as you are on your own.

“I just kept an eye out for girls wearing the letter ‘D’ (indicating a fourth stage runner) went off hard and tried to hang on.”

A combination of relay experience plus the short, sharp 4.3k distance took Bell out of her comfort zone, in stark contrast to her previous race when she ran a personal best to finish third in the Chippenham Half Marathon a few weeks ago, but she gained a place for the club to lift them from eighth to seventh to secure their automatic qualification in the National Championships.

“I found the course hard going but it was a lot of fun running a shorter race and it should help me push myself harder and improve as a runner,” added Bell.

“I feel I need to do more of these races even though they are painful.”

In the Team Bath senior men’s team, twins John and Robert Howorth were making their debuts.

Following a summer of racing 800m and 1500m on the track the step up to 5.8k on a tough road circuit was a big one for the boys from Hilperton but they bagged a top 20 spot to also earn automatic qualification for the nationals next month.

John and Robert both ran inside 21 minutes for the course to leave Team Bath 23rd at the halfway stage while Themis Bower, from Marshfield, ran 21:09 on stage four before a strong finish lifted Team Bath to 18th place overall from 101 teams.