In 1928, Mr S.H.B. Livingston, a Director of a Leicester firm of shoe machinery merchants, presented a cup for an annual road race for Midland Clubs. This cup is a fine piece of silverware, and is still the main trophy in the current competition.
The original course was from the Leicestershire County Cricket Ground, at that time in Aylestone Rd, and went through the Blaby and Whetstone areas. Early winners included the big names in Midlands athletics – Tipton, Birchfield, Coventry and Derby.
In 1940 the course was changed to a lap of just over 3 miles from Avenue Road Extension in Clarendon Park, with teams of 5 runners. The record for this course is held by Coventry Godiva.
In 1976, traffic congestion caused the event to be moved out of the city and was sited at Holwell Works at Asfordby Hill where a lap of 3.75 mls was established. Apart from a brief period at Gartree Prison, the event continued to be held at Asfordby until the mid 90’s. It became established as the premier road relay event in the Midlands, and even hosted the National Championships.
It was not until 1949 that a local team won the race, when Leicester Harriers recorded their only victory and it was some 17 years later when another local success was achieved, this time by Leicester Colleges of Art & Technology. 1989 saw the first win by Leicester Coritanians and there followed a period of success for this local club.
During the early 1990’s interest in the event waned to the extent that it no longer became viable and the race was last run at this venue in 1994. Most wins over the years were recorded by Derby & County (20), Coventry Godiva (15) and Tipton (14).
During 2002, when Ramon Howe was Chairman of LRRL, Ted Toft told him he had the magnificent Livingston trophy under his bed and it was time the race was resurrected! As a result, John Skevington, Paul Gregory and Ramon sat down and devised a new venue and a 3mile route at Loughboro University, and resolved to put on the race each Easter Sunday. New categories for Women and Vets were introduced to widen the appeal and the Relays were duly held again in 2003, with 44 teams taking part. It has been held each year since and we have over 100 teams now involved. For 2007 we introduced U20 Men and Women categories to further broaden the appeal. The event is becoming well established, and we are gradually interesting more and more teams from out of Leicestershire, which has always been our aim.
In 2008, the profile of the event was increased when England Athletics asked us to incorporate the East Midlands Relay Championships in the races. In 2009, 65 teams ran and the course record for Vets was broken by Leicester Coritanians. Holders of the course record for Men are Owls AC and the Ladies record is held by Charnwood AC.
In 2011 the organisers were denied access to Loughborough University on account of the forthcoming Olympics and a new course was devised in Braunstone Park, maintaining the classic 3 mile lap distance. Owls AC found the course to their liking and established fast times to win the Men’s and Men’s U20 titles. The following year Leicester Coritanians achieved a clean sweep of men’s titles adding the Men’s and Men’s U20 to the Vets title they have held for the past 7 years. Charnwood ladies regained their trophy after missing out in the previous year.
We have now introduced U15 categories to further encourage competitive running for youngsters. A decision was taken to move away from the Easter date and Mattioli Woods came on board as principal sponsor. In 2014 we had an amazing entry of 104 teams for the Relays. The main trophy was won by Heanor RC, who have long supported the event. It is the first time in recent history that the trophy has gone outside of Leicestershire. Heanor again won the main event in 2015 after a close and exciting race and Charnwood eclipsed Leicester Coritanians dominance on the Mens Vets category. Charnwood also won the Ladies title. 2016 saw Heanor’s domination increased as they took the Ladies title as well as the Mens, which they have now won for the last 3 years. Coritanians regained the Mens Vets title they lost last year and Poplar took the newly introduced Ladies Vets trophy.
The event has become more popular and, as a result, a limit of 150 teams has been introduced. By 2019, Heanor’s dominance of the main event was broken as they were not able to field their strongest team and Leicester Coritanians carried off the Men’s title. Wreake & Soar Valley won the Ladies title for the first time.