READING Athletic Club’s U17 men and U15 boys achieved fifth and sixth place finishes in the Southern Road Relay Championships held at Crystal Palace, with the U13 boys finishing 24th.

The club’s stand-out performance came from Mattie Raynor, who finished in first position on the opening stage and recorded the fourth fastest time overall in the U15 race.

On the first stage of the 4x2.7km U15 race, Raynor made a cautious start near the back of the field of 53 runners, but worked his way through to catch the leaders on the uphill section.

Then down the hill into the last 800m Raynor made his move, taking a lead which he held to the finish, showing great strength to hold off his pursuers with a time of 8m 39secs, to give Olly Moor a narrow advantage at the start of stage two.

He was unable to match the pace of the other leading runners on the fast downhill stretch, but nevertheless ran a very creditable 9:34 for seventh place at the handover.

Tom Rickards improved the team’s position, and by the finish he had taken Reading up to fourth with a fine time of 9:07.

However on the final stage, Leon Bradshaw (9:20) could not quite match the speed of the other leading teams and Reading ended sixth.

The B team also had a good race with Laurie Baker (9:53), Ben McCabe (9:49), Fraser Hills (9:43) and Dominic Parsons (10:27) running well, while Aryan Gupta clocked 10:26 for the incomplete C team.

Fastest for the U17 team in their 4x3.6km race was team captain Nick Wiltshire, who ran an excellent 11:39 for fourth position on the first stage and ninth fastest overall.

Eddie Steveni briefly took Reading into third on stage two before dropping back to fourth with a time of 12:05, and then Joseph Mott showed great strength on the third stage, again taking Reading into the medal positions before finishing a close fourth with a time of 11:57.

Ben Rollings, still short of full fitness, was unable to avoid dropping back to fifth on the last leg, finishing with a time of 12:36.

For Reading’s young U13 team, Fraser Bradshaw, Charlie Rickards (10:09) and Aidan Marshall (10:18) starred, before Elliot McCarthy (12:08) suffered an unfortunate leg injury on the anchor leg.