(Malcolm Bowyer and Phil Howell)
Warm weather, huge crowds and a relaxed atmosphere helped Stratford AC athletes achieve great things in the 2014 edition of the London Marathon.
First to finish for Stratford AC was Chris Bacon (2:45.21). Chris was incredibly disciplined with his training in the build-up to this race and he was rewarded with a spectacular result. He finished 374th and took one minute 47 seconds off his PB (set in the Leicester Marathon in 2012).
Chris started the race with a tight feeling in his left thigh, which unfortunately got steadily worse. He was aiming for 6 minutes per mile in the first half, with a view to dropping off a little in the second half. Frustratingly he had to stop and stretch out his leg at mile 9, 14 and 17 which meant he lost considerable time.
The last few miles proved to be really painful, but knowing how close he was to his 2:45 target kept him going. Chris now has seven sub-3 hour marathons to his name, which is a remarkable achievement.
His next planned event is a 44 mile ultra-marathon in Cornwall, from Lizard Point to Lands End. He is also hoping to have another crack at running inside 2:45 in the Leicester Marathon later this year.
Rich Welburn (3:00.17) has only been a member of the club for a short time but he has already made a big impression with his performances.
This was Rich's fifth marathon and his first experience in London. He started with a target time of 2 hours 59 minutes, planning to go through halfway in 1:28.30 allowing for a small fade towards the end. Rich was 2 seconds off target at the half way point and feeling quite hot in the spring sun.
He took his third and final gel at 18 miles as he noticed his mile times starting to slow. For the last five miles Rich had tunnel vision of the road ahead and was oblivious to the crowds. Only later did he realise that he had run past the London Eye and Buckingham Palace!
By 24 miles hopes of a sub-3 time were slipping away and as he approached the line he saw the clock tick over into 3 hours. Rich was delighted with a seven minute improvement from his most recent race marathon.
Malcolm Bowyer (3:05.13) completed his 19th London Marathon in great style. Malcolm started with Phil Howell and Wayne Vickers and the group ran the first three miles together. Wayne and Phil were clear by the eight mile stage.
Malcolm continued to run at his preferred pace and after working hard in the middle third of the race he started to push on.
At mile 23 he caught Wayne and one mile later he reached, and passed, Phil. Malcolm reported that it was ‘all in all, a good day at the office’ despite feeling for the first time ever that he might not finish.
There have been many memorable battles between Malcolm and Phil Howell (3:05.35) and this proved to be another one for the scrapbook. Phil has been running well recently and he stood on the start line confident of another solid performance.
He settled into a rhythm early on and he showed excellent determination and strength to stick to a fast pace. Phil was justifiably happy to finish one minute 21 seconds inside his 2013 time.
Wayne Vickers (3:07.34) had suffered from a chest infection in the week building up to this race and he deserves a lot of credit for taking part and for recording such a fast time. Wayne managed to stick to his target of between 6.40 and 6.50 per mile until about 17 miles when ‘the wheels came off and they are still sat dumped by the side of the road in Canary Wharf’.
Wayne reported that for the final nine miles he found it really hard going. In fact he struggled so much that he described the last four miles as ‘a crawl’. However, on reflection, Wayne was pleased with how he was running until he was forced to slow his pace.
Rob Ford (3:21.00) only stepped in to run this race with one week’s notice, taking the place of a friend who was unable to make it. Running so well with such short notice shows just how good Rob’s fitness is at the moment. The aim was to work on his pacing ahead of the Worcester Marathon and it proved to be a worthwhile exercise, as Rob has now decided he isn’t suited by anything further than 20 miles.
A fantastic run in the Barcelona Marathon, where she ran 3:02.43, gave clear evidence of Kate Wright’s ability over this distance. Kate’s legs were still feeling the effects of that race during her run in this event and by the 10km point (42.01) she knew that she wouldn’t be in line for another PB time.
Despite having to slow considerably in the second half of the race she still revelled in the atmosphere, along with the rest of the Stratford AC representatives. Kate’s finishing time was 3:31.40.
It was a case of third time lucky for Phil Groom (3:38.01) as he had entered the race in 2012 and 2013 but was forced to withdraw due to injury and illness.
Phil experienced a difficult winter of training so didn’t feel fully prepared or in the shape to run a satisfactory time. However, as he set off Phil decided to be optimistic and he aimed for a time of 3:45.
When he looked at his watch as he crossed the finish line he was really surprised and pleased with his time. As it turned out he only missed a PB by 20 seconds.
Emily Adams (3:44.37) ran another excellent and consistently-paced race to knock more than 18 minutes off her personal best. Emily had a great run until the 14 mile mark where she was unfortunate to suffer a fall. She was able to compose herself and refocus and held her pace well before she had to dig deep with four remaining.
Emily was delighted with her performance and she can now look forward to the Berlin Marathon in September with her confidence sky-high.
Mark Newman (3:51.06) thoroughly enjoyed the weekend and the excitement that accompanied the race itself. Mark’s run was a little down on his PB, but he knew he had given everything he could and was happy with his performance.
Mark’s early mile splits put him on target for a time of three and a half hours, but he sensibly took his foot off the mid-way through the race to ensure he could cover the final 10km a fair pace. Having struggled with a variety of injuries over the winter
Mark feels he probably didn't have enough miles in the bank to achieve a PB. He summed the race up by saying ‘marathons are hard’.
Andy Turner (4:14.31) beat last year’s time by more than three minutes. His build-up this time around was assisted by a solid prep-race in the Ashby 20 four weeks previously and his stamina was never in doubt. Andy is a very versatile runner, equally at home over any distance from 5km through to 26 miles 385 yards.
After a training schedule that was peppered with injury niggles, Maria Haslam (4:21.29) can be very proud of herself for producing a fabulous run on her marathon debut. She appreciated the support she received from her family just before heading over Tower Bridge and ran consistently well throughout the race.
Despite saying she underestimated how tough the final 6 miles would be, Maria showed her commitment and fitness by actually increasing her pace in the closing stages. The relief she felt at seeing the ‘800m to go’ marker quickly ebbed away when the run to the finish line ‘seemed to go on for an eternity!’
Maria admitted she is considering giving this marathon another go, but probably not for a few years.