Bradford-Airedale and Saltaire Striders get best of both worlds in partnership

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Saltaire Striders' captain Will Kerr (third right) says the partnership with Bradford-Airedale is like a 'buy-one-get-one free' offer Saltaire Striders' captain Will Kerr (third right) says the partnership with Bradford-Airedale is like a 'buy-one-get-one free' offer

Bradford-Airedale and Saltaire Striders have struck an innovative partnership to deliver a top distance-running team in Bradford city.

Bradford-Airedale, founded in 1880 and one of the oldest clubs in the country, were - under their previous guise of Airedale & Spen Valley AC - national cross-country champions in the late 1960s and a powerful force into the 1970s.

Saltaire Striders, since renaming themselves from St Bede's AC, have grown rapidly recently to become the largest club in Bradford city.

The two clubs founded the Airedale Athletics Association in 2006 and have built a high level of trust and co-operation since then. The arrangement, ratified last week by both club committees, envisages co-operation in three ways.

First, it recognises the current strength of the Saltaire club at endurance running.

As a result, the top distance runners from Bradford-Airedale will transfer to Saltaire so they can become a competitive outfit at cross-country and road relays in Yorkshire, the north of England and in national championships.

Team captain Matt Nowell and rising star, Pete Hopson (who ran a huge personal best at the Brass Monkey Half-Marathon at York two Sundays ago in 75min 2sec) are transferring. They are joined by newcomer Girma Ayana, of Ethiopian origin.

Secondly, the middle-distance runners from Saltaire will compete for Bradford-Airedale in track-and-field competitions.

Saltaire captain Will Kerr told his club members: "We can now offer every member the chance to compete in track events.

"It's a bit like a 'buy-one-get-one-free offer'. You join Saltaire, you also join Bradford-Airedale for track events for free."

Lastly, Bradford-Airedale are offering a junior and student-age section for Saltaire, who are simply aimed at adult runners.

Club chairman Chris Hainsworth explained: "We have an excellent junior section for lads and girls from ten years upwards, and a special section for 14-25 year olds at school, college, or in or out of work.

"The coaches are top-grade, so we'd really welcome youngsters from the Saltaire Striders community."

Meanwhile, both clubs envisage continuing to form composite teams in off-road relays alongside the other four clubs in the Airedale Athletics partnership.

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