READING Athletic Club Senior and Junior Men returned after a 10-year absence in the National 12 stage road relay at Sutton Par, albeit one runner short of a full team.

The race – which alternates between a long leg and a short one – is the top club fixture of the winter season and Mark Booth got the team off to a fine start by handing over in 41st in a time of 28m 32secs.

Alex Reeve (20.16) lost ground as Reading slipped back to 60th, but Isaac Farnworth (28.56) ran well to haul the club back up to 55th at the end of the third leg.

Chey Blatchford Kemp ran the club's fastest short leg (17.03) and gained six more places to help Reading to 49th.

The ever-reliable Ed Stockdale (29.23) picked up two more places on the fifth leg, before James Fox, having his first run for Reading, improved the team to 45th with a fine run of 17.52.

Luc Jolly kept the momentum going with a good run on the seventh leg as he finished in 29.20 to lift Reading to 41st.

Youngster Tom Nike (17.25) also put in an excellent shift on the eighth leg as he preserved the club's position and closed up on the teams in front of him.

Rob Tan (30.51) dropped one place, but still had a good run on the ninth leg to hand over to club captain David Lewis.

Despite only just getting over a bout of flu, he moved the team back up to 41st on the 10th leg with a time of 17.19.

Alec Vessey – who completed his leg in 32.16 – maintained Reading's 41st position, albeit he had no-one to hand over to in order for the club to finish the race.