BOLTON United Harriers qualified for the National Relay Championships in three weeks’ time with a 19th-place finish in the North of England Six Stage Road Relay at Birchwood on Saturday.

Runners from the local club notched a combined time of one hour 58mins 15secs thanks largley to Ian Selby’s anchor leg in 21:28 after Tom Lancashire was ruled out through injury and Frazer Jardine and Shay Walker were delayed in heavy traffic.

Tom Carson (18:28) finished the first leg with the 14th fastest time. Mark Swannell (19:54) maintained a good position throughout the second stage despite tired legs from the Garstang half marathon, while Marc Tillotson’s return from foreign climes brought him the 15th position over stage three (19:10).

Team captain Andy Parker (20:26) carried the baton impressively over the fourth leg, having only just got over yet another injury, while Tony Valentine (18:49) powered to the seventh fastest time of stage five. The last minute changes to the A team meant the B team had only four runners.

However, the timings of Ben Scott (22.12), Daryl Bentley (22.58), Paul Turner (24.28) and Nathan Lee (24.21) indicate they were on course for a top-50 finish.

Bolton’s growing emergence was further underlined in the Swinton 10 Mile Road Race the following day.

As the penultimate round of the Central Lancashire Grand Prix, completion for vital team points was important.

On his own at the front from the first mile, Valentine (54:36) was evenutally taken by Horwich RMI’s James Kevan (54:02).

Walker was an excellent fourth (57:46) and first in the M40 category, with Ian Selby (63:45) third M40 and 18th overall.

Ben Scott’s impressive year was again in evidence (65:02) for 24th and is well placed to be one of Bolton’s most improved athletes of the year.

Meanwhile, Horwich Harrier Rob Jackson finished fifth and first M45 and club-mate Sean McMyler ran into 12th place in the same category to bag the first-team prize for RMI.