Stratford upon Avon Athletic and Triathlon Club - Press Reports
5th March 2016 - Pozzi at the UK Indoor Champs, Williams in Indoor T&F success, Cross Country Champs, Road running madness and Peopleton Duathlon . . .
2016 Indoor British Athletics Championships
After a terrific run by Stratford ACs Andrew Pozzi in the final of the men’s 60m hurdles at the 2016 Indoor British Championships in Sheffield he was crowned champion. After battling injuries over the last few years he has been working even harder to get back to his brilliant best and in clocking a season’s best 7.61 and winning gold he proved just that; back to his brilliant best.
Pozzi approached the championships with a low key, under the radar build up and with just one race and a good warm weather training trip to Tenerife behind him he was looking to “see how it goes”. His heat had his supporter’s hearts in their mouths as a “twitch” at the start of his race bought a warning but then as the race unfolded he powered his way to a comfortable victory in 7.76 secs easing up. The final was pure power from the blocks to the finish and his victory over fellow Olympian Lawrence Clarke who finished second with 7.65 and David Omoregie who secured bronze in 7.71 was earned with a three way dip for the line.
Afterwards Pozzi said “that one was really hard for me, just in terms of my limited preparation, so it’s nice to be back after injury and it makes you appreciate it so much more. I am absolutely delighted to win because I knew that the other hurdlers had been running very well and were going to be really strong, so this means a lot to me”. Winning the championship meant automatic qualification for the World Championships in Portland Oregon in March but with the Olympics the main target for 2016 Pozzi will think about whether he goes or not. He said “I love running for GB but things are going well and as I am focussing my attention on the Olympics and with all the injury setbacks I’ve had I don’t want to disrupt my training and preparation”.
After winning the UK under 20 High Jump championships 2 weeks ago, Rory Dwyer stepped up to the big boys event and came away “disappointed”. The event was won by Chris Baker with Olympic bronze medallist Robbie Grabarz in the silver position. Dwyer said “I felt good in the warm up and relatively comfortable at my opening height of 2.02 and then 2.07 but then at the next height of 2.12 it wasn’t good technically and I think I was just trying too hard which messed my rhythm up”. He added “I’ve enjoyed the indoor season and winning my 4th indoor title and the experience of competing with the seniors and learnt a lot stepping up but now it’s back to the winter training and I’m looking forward to the outdoor season”. Andrew Pozzi and Rory Dwyer are supported by FPS Distribution Ltd.
English Inter-Area Championships - Paula leads the way for the Midlands.
Competing for the Midlands team in the English Inter-Area Championships at Lee Valley on Sunday 28th February, Stratford Athletics Club's Paula Williams led the way with two gold medals and a bronze. Competing in her first ever indoor competition, against some of the best Masters athletes in the country, Paula started nervously. In the 60m, a slow start and a fast finish were only good enough to secure third place in a fast field. Then, in the 200m, her winter training programme showed its results as she won her age group with a new personal best time of 28.02, nearly a second better than her previous best. In a busy day, she then ran the first leg of the 4x200m relay before sprinting over to compete in the triple jump which, despite this less than ideal preparation, she managed to win, rounding off a very successful day.
Meanwhile, in the longer distances, Stratford's Phil Brennan was also busy competing for the Midlands team. In a hard fought 800m, he held on to secure second place. Then, despite tired legs, he came within two seconds of his indoor personal best in the 1500m to win the bronze medal.
Paula and Phil are two members of a growing and increasingly successful masters Track and Field section within Stratford Athletics Club, including some athletes who have returned to competitive running, jumping or throwing after a gap of 30+ years. If you used to enjoy competitive athletics at some stage of your life, you might want to let us help you rediscover that enjoyment and boost your fitness. Report by Peter Coote.
Tough challenge at the National XC Championships. Donington Park - 27th Feb 2016.
Report by Brian Gravelsons and Paul Hawkins.
The National Cross Country Championships took place at Donington Park, the first time this venue has been used for the championships, with a number of Stratford AC athletes testing themselves against the best cross country runners in England. On first inspection, the conditions appeared to be good: cool and overcast weather, the wind not too strong, a long, fast, downhill starting straight and a relatively mud free course. Further consideration revealed some tough undulations, areas with significant pace-sapping mud and a tiring long uphill finish. The latter outweighed the former and it was therefore no surprise that the times were significantly slower compared to last year for almost all age categories.
Overall it was a good proper cross country course to test the country’s best. With no U17 women from Stratford AC able to attend on the day, the honor of being first out for the club went to Archie Musk (318th, 21.10) and Adam Pomeroy (347th, 22.20) in the U15 boys’ race over 4.5km. The course consisted of two laps that included the delight of a challenging climb. Archie commented after the race that he was happy after the first climb as the downhill came as a relief, until he realized he had to do all over again! Both Archie and Adam should be proud of their performance that completes a good consistent season.
Only three U13 girls competed – one short of the number required for an overall team placing. Georgie Campbell (38th, 14.54) made the best of the tough conditions, starting fast – in the first 100m almost leading the field of some 450 athletes – to ensure a good position and then settling down to her usual high tempo in the top forty. Grit and determination ensured that Georgie maintained this position throughout to finish 38th, 151 places higher than last year. This is a true measure of Georgie’s improved running over the year and is a just reward for all the effort that she has put in. Ellen Taylor (160th, 15.54) ran delightfully well and should be inspired by Georgie as to what could be achieved next year as Ellen will remain in this age category. Charlotte Gravelsons (432nd, 19.00) found the course a real challenge, and although she didn’t relatively improve compared to last year, she knows that she will have gained an immense amount of experience by competing in every cross country race this season.
Only two U17 men took on the 6km that included the two strength-sapping climbs. Oscar Barbour (109th, 22.35) maintained good form throughout to a well-deserved and impressive finish, improving by 54 places compared to last year, in this highly competitive race. Fergus Allison (190th, 24.02) started a little too quick and faded on the second lap but has had a fantastic cross country season and a top 200 National ranking is a real achievement and just reward.
Five athletes made up the U15 Girls team that finished 30th overall. The race was over 4km and didn’t include the tough climb, but was equally demanding through treacle-tough terrain. Abbie Wooton (185th, 19.38) started steadily and increased her tempo throughout the race, finishing strongly and picking up a number of places in the finishing straight. Imogen Sheppard (204th, 19.51) started well and perhaps struggled a little to maintain her usual tempo in the latter stages. Olivia Hall (264th, 20.37) picked a fast pace to start and held on to a good finish, followed by Daisy Musk (271th, 20.50) who took the opposite approach: starting steadily and the improving her position throughout. All four have put down good markers to improve upon next year. The team was completed by Edie Hutchinson (331st, 22.28) who fought hard against the tough conditions, and although perhaps not at her best following illness, she should be pleased with another good National finish.
Seven U13 boys took on the two small laps that totaled 3km. This was almost enough for two teams, demonstrating the commitment that has been welcomed all season in the U11-13 age category. It was a joy to see Louis Kendrick (144th, 14.38) relaxed and happy before the race and for this to naturally translate to a wonderful overall performance. This experience will prove valuable as Louis draws upon it over the next two seasons in this age group. Cameron Collins (311th, 15.55) looked cool and determined as he executed an impressive race, with an equally strong finish. Ned Campbell (374th, 16.52) ran well, saving a little for the long finishing straight where he picked up a few places. Caleb Spriggs (393rd, 17.27) enjoyed his first National, and has put down a good marker to improve upon in future years. Harry Gravelsons (410th, 18.48) was delighted with his performance and Jack Hemming (413th, 19.12) was determination personified. Jack started with a potential race-influencing ankle injury, and after one lap it was clearly not holding up, but, not wanting to pull-out, Jack courageously carried on and completed the race in resolute fashion. Fin Hutchinson (414th, 19.15) enjoyed the challenge and completed the team that finished 41st overall.
After a great cross country season for the senior women, it was extremely disappointing that Stratford AC did not have any representation in the Senior Women’s race. On the other hand, six Stratford AC senior men competed over the 12k course which some felt was longer, the minimum amount for a full team, and finished 118th overall. The competition was fierce with 1,730 senior men taking part led by Johny Hay and Adam Hickey. By the time seniors raced the course was even tougher with softer ground, which was clearly demonstrated by the fact that the winning and median times were some 3 to 4 minutes slower than last year. Tim Hutchinson (670th, 56.02) led the team home as he did in the Midland Champs and similarly Kieran Tursner (791st, 57.27) was chasing him all the way. David Battersby (1,226th, 1.03.38) made a welcome return from injury and should be pleased with his run. Next was Mike Sheppard (1,320th, 1.05.22) in what he claimed was his longest run for many years! James Deacon (1,541st ,1.11.45) was unlucky to turn his ankle on the first lap but bravely carried on to ensure Stratford had a full team. We all hope James has not caused too much damage to his ankle. Finally Neil Musk (1,652nd, 1.18.19) found the going tough in only his second cross country race since joining the club but will have gained a lot from the experience.
A busy weekend for Stratford upon Avon AC
Stratford upon Avon AC saw action on the roads and across the fields, but for all who were aware, the main event was in Kingston.
28th February Kingston Half Marathon and 10k – Triumph for the Manns When club member Laura Mann ran the Half Marathon and sister Joey the 10k, the fact that they both finished in decent times is far less important than their purpose in running. They overcame personal tragedy to raise double their estimate for the charity “Mind” and earn the respect of all who know them.
27th February The Belvoir Challenge – A Grand Day Out……… Picturesque but muddy North Leicestershire hosts a series of runs and walks of either 15 or 26 miles. The occasion is famed for its friendly atmosphere and breathtaking scenery, and is regarded as a challenge in itself rather than a time trial. SAC’s many entrants opted for the shorter, but still challenging distances. Conditions were too much for Lesley Kirk: despite being an endurance stalwart, after only a couple of miles a developing virus left her with just enough strength to get back to the start. Of the walkers, Wendy Bowyer and Jane and Mark Duncan finished in a crisp 4 hr 47 min, followed by jean Hill in 5hr 29min. Malcolm Bowyer and Larry Coltman were in the mix, but too shy to record times. Running were David Parkin (19th male, 2:04:30) followed by Lisa Dallisson,16th female, 02:28:26, Sarah Odell, 21/214, 02:35:01, and Philippa Bailey, 36/214, 02:44:04. Slightly further back a party atmosphere prevailed, with Penny Stainthorp (39/214) and Chris Whately (130/255) arriving together in 2:46:23, Kate and Martyn Sergent arriving in 3:53:14 “hand in hand with a smile on both our faces”, finally Andy, Karen and Rebecca Brown arriving in 5:32:30.
28th February Around the Roads In Coventry, Kate Wright produced a fast half marathon time and the honour of being 2nd lady home alongside a category win in just 82:04, with James Cusack (85:12), Anthony Howell (1:30:00) (all three picture below) and James Lawson (1:53:55) running PBs.
The Bourton 10k saw Emily Adams back to her best with 45:00 and Paul Jefferies pleased to be back on the road to recovery with 44:26.
Finally David Jones was displeased with his 1:41:41 in the Brighton Half Marathon but thought the 44 miles marathon training in the previous week had something to do with it. I think so, David….
Report by Phil Brennan
Stratford upon Avon Triathlon Club - Grand Prix race 1 at Peopleton Duathlon
This was the season opener on 28 February 2016 - 7km run, 29k bike, 3k run. Results Mark Atkinson – Total 1:25:52 - 10th overall, Phil Groome - Total 1:41:23 - 52nd overall, Fern Hordern – Total 1:43:35 - 57th overall.
Peopleton Duathlon was once again the first event in the Stratford upon Avon Triathlon Club 2016 Grand Prix series with just three members taking part in this early season event. It was nonetheless a bright and more importantly dry day for the 100 or so competitors. Mark Atkinson, first over the line for the club in 10th position overall was delighted with his finish in his first ever duathlon event. All went to plan until arriving in T2 with hands so cold it was almost impossible to undo his helmet, he managed to rack his bike and eventually remove his helmet and put in a speedy second run. Phil Groome running as part of Team KES just pipping Fern to the post. Fern was competing in just her second duathlon, saying after the race “I am still in the process of sorting out my bike and gears etc – but at least this time I wasn’t wearing a flappy blue anorak and a helmet which kept falling over my eyes (as I was in the first race in January) so that is a couple of steps forward!”
Were you one of the 53 SAC club members who ran in Stratford's 1st Parkrun?
Last Saturday was a busy old time in Stratford with the first town Parkrun taking place. A totally free 5k race, open to everybody to run or walk with dogs and children invited too, all races are timed so it makes for an interesting Saturday morning option to put into your training schedule, if you have nothing else to do! Now I know we at SAC all love racing and clearly we'll look forward to the rest of the town finding out just how joyous the experience is too. 450 people took to the recreation ground for the first event, I was marshaling at last weeks run and was delighted to see so many SAC members running - in fact I don't know of any other race where both juniors and seniors can race together - it was awesome to see young Alex Adams chasing down Waleed Agabani coming in just 1 second behind him. Also fantastic to see Hannah Spriggs enjoying a run with daughter Maisey-Joy, not to mention the incredible Georgie Campbell holding the female course record - pretty good for a junior, I'd say. We don't intend reporting on the Parkrun each week but we might mention some highlights from time to time, and on that note, senior club member Roger Wilson also holds the age graded course record. Huge thank you to the Observer for use of the photo above, we couldn't quite gather everyone together on the day but its a great pic regardless.
There's lots more racing taking place this weekend so Parkrun will be much quieter, I'm sure. Hopefully lots of you will be out taking part in the National Cross Country Championships tomorrow or alternatively I know some of you are doing Belvoir Challenge, Bourton 10k or even a half marathon, there's several going on this Sunday. This Sunday also sees the start of the Triathlon season with the first race in the Grand Prix calendar at Peopleton. Huge good luck to everyone racing this weekend and we'll look forward to hearing how you all get on, whatever you do. Enjoy the race reports below, kindly written by Tony Jackson, David Jones and Phil Brennan. Cheers Victoria
Dursley Dozen 2016 14 Feb 2016
Report - David Jones
The Dursley Dozen is established as one of the toughest off road races around. A multi -terrain race of twelve miles, over hills, roads, woodland, open country, mud, more mud, and solid rock. The course sets off steeply for 200 metres and then ascends a woodland track to the top of Stinchcombe Hill. After a short run around the golf course, the route re-enters the woods via a steep descent, before climbing steeply back to the golf course. A short run on the road and then it's onto a muddy track through the woods, an undulating path then leads to a steep descent, followed by a steep ascent back to the hilltop. Through the quarry, then three miles of track through the beech woods. For the final climb, or “ THE PRECIPICE “, ropes are provided!
On Valentines Day, 8 SAC members took on this gruelling challenge. Strange as it may seem, Sarah Bland, making a welcome return to racing after a 6 month lay-off, reported that it was good fun all round. I’m not convinced. As if to prove a point, Sarah ran a wonderful race, to finish 166th and 19th lady as well as 1st in her age group in a time of 1:54:09. The Stratford runners were led home by Rob Ford (1:36:23), who finished in a magnificent 27th place. Rob was followed by Ivan Sarti (1:39:58). Ivan is another Stratford runner who has not been fully fit for a number of months, so his 45th place finish was a credit to him. Ivan loved his debut in this race. First Stratford lady to finish and both 11th overall female and 6th in her age group, was Hannah Spriggs (1:49:53). She felt the race went well for her but found the combination of 4 steep climbs, off- road running and the mud really tough. Hannah had also run a challenging cross country race less than 24 hours earlier. Impressive stuff. Rob Minton decided to run round the course with Hannah, as he has been poorly recently. Tim Owrid (2:11:59) is ramping up the miles as he prepares for the Manchester marathon in April. He professed himself unhappy with his performance but bearing in mind he fell over twice, I think he’s being a bit hard on himself. They were certainly very useful training miles, if nothing else. Helen Taylor (2:23:42 - 362nd) had never run this distance before, so she can be mightily pleased with herself. She’s maybe thinking she could have found a less challenging 12 miles though. In view of the fact she had not attempted this type of run before, husband Patrick (2:23:43 - 364th) accompanied her around the course. The race was won by Garry Hughes, in a time of 1:22:34. The first female finisher was Annabel Grainger in a time of 1:30:20. Annabel finished 11th overall. 446 runners completed the race.
Pics below are all from Dursley -thank you Sarah Bland for acquiring them!
Senior Mens Cross Country 13th Feb 2016
Report by Tony Jackson
What to date had been a promising year for the Stratford upon Avon Athletic Club Mens Cross County Team took an unexpected twist when a huge list of unavailability and absenteeism left the club down to the bare minimum for the final fixture on 13 February. Failing to complete a team would mean automatic relegation and with 6 to count and only 7 scheduled to make the trip to Gloucester there was a real threat of disaster in the air and some anxious moments waiting for everybody to safely arrive. Even then a single DNF could have spelt disaster so the pre race team brief focussed on ‘make sure you finish!’
Rich Shepherd 7th (35.29) once again led the team home and no praise is too high for his consistency and excellence over the course of the season. Behind him Tim Hutchinson 51st (38.54) and Kieran Tursner 95th (40.34) have also been regulars in the scoring six and they once again performed to their high standards. Behind them came three seasoned stalwarts who, with respect, would normally not expect to be anywhere near the scoring six. As such the pressure was on, not only to get round safely but also knowing that every place would impact the overall team score. Mike Sheppard 151st (44.31) led home the threesome followed by James Deacon 168th (47.03) and David Jones 179th (49.54). The club owes these 3 runners a huge debt of gratitude for their commitment to the cause in ensuring that the club successfully completed a team and thereby avoided the threat of relegation.
The team finished 16th on the day meaning that we slipped from 9th to 12th in the final league table and whilst this meant we missed out on our targeted top 10 ambition we do at least maintain our status for next season. On a final note a special mention for the 7th team member Martyn Sergent 190th (66.32) who has stoically completed all four races over the winter. Always near the back, his dedication and cheery disposition has always shone through and his presence at the final fixture provided a welcome comfort blanket should disaster have struck any of his team mates.
Lytchett 10 Mile road race 14th Feb 2016
By Phil Brennan reporting on his own race.
The Lytchett 10 mile road race, in Dorset, always receives very high ratings for organisation and support. This year it was hosting the British Masters 10 mile championships, and I was there to contest the M70 category for SAC. There was a bit of a Valentine’s atmosphere about the race on Sunday, with each of the 300+ competitors receiving a pink heart-shaped finisher’s medal and a single red rose. Unfortunately, there is nothing pink and fluffy about the course, which is hilly and brutally undulating, reaching a peak at about 6 miles. I spent the last three miles slugging it out with a fellow competitor for second place, desperately trying to get free of him before inevitably, I was out-sprinted by 15 seconds, and had to be content with bronze, in 1:21:43. Still, the cake at the end made up for it – a bit.
Swiss Cross Cup at the Cross de Farvagny in Fribourg - Agnes wins again!
Report : David Jones
Agnes McTighe, recent winner of the Junior Sportsperson of the year at the Stratford District Council’s Sports Award and Young Achiever of the Year, at the pride of Stratford awards, returned to racing on Sunday, in the third round of the Swiss Cross Cup at the Cross de Farvagny in Fribourg. On a warm but windy day, the under 16 girls race was over 3200m on an undulating course. Several of the other leading girls were absent, so Agnes took the lead early on and then went away from the field, keeping up a strong pace, winning in a time of 11 minutes 30 seconds, a full 82 seconds clear of the second place runner.
Agnes has now won all three races in the series and goes into the final, which is also the Swiss Championships, in two weeks time, full of confidence.
Tempo Winter Series 2015/6 Race 5 Sunday 21st Feb 2016 - Oscar claims the awards on a windy morning in Ilmington!
Report : David Jones
A bright, sunny but very windy morning greeted the competitors in the finale of this seasons Winter Series. This series of races goes go from strength to strength, growing in popularity year on year. It must now be one of the premier race series in the UK, popular not only for it’s efficient organisation and extremely challenging course but also for the overwhelmingly friendly atmosphere of the event. Time and time again, competitors, when asked for for their comments on the race, emphasised these qualities. Comments from this latest race included, “so many people enjoy this series, maybe we need a summer series too" “I fully enjoyed the race as always, support, marshals, cake, coffee and bacon sarnies from Emily and Victoria“ “sausages and great banter amongst like minded friends. A great day indeed“ “The goodwill and spirit was as evident today as it always is“.
The popularity of these races was further emphasised by the extra frisson of excitement at the start of this week’s race, when official starter Rob Minton teased the competitors regarding the colour of this year’s hoodie. For those who don’t know, anyone completing all 5 races in this series are justly rewarded with a Winter Series hoodie. Rest assured, anyone who is able to complete all 5 races, fully deserves any goodies or hoodies coming their way. This was the anti-clockwise version of the race, which after a short stretch, leads straight into the very steep Larkstoke hill. From the start line to the top of the hill it is 2 miles exactly and your correspondent can personally vouch for the fact that it is a tough, tough climb on the best of days but the windy conditions for this race made it doubly difficult. Why is it that the wind never seems to be behind you, when you are running? Strange that.
A contingent of 29 Stratford Athletic Club Members lined up to start this race, proudly donning their club vests and giving the start line a distinctive yellow and black hue. First home for Stratford and 3rd overall was Oscar Barbour (39.29). Oscar also finished 2nd for the whole series. A truly magnificent performance. Oscar’s running in these races has been a revelation and he fully deserves his success. Commenting on his performance, he said he felt it was one of the hardest races of the series and that he really struggled up the hill, more so than usual, mainly because of the wind. At the top of the hill he felt he was down on where he knew he should have been but he then really worked hard on the down hill section and when he got back into the village, he was 3rd and knew he just had to keep his focus and grind it out until the end. Which indeed he did. Second home for Stratford and 5th overall was Neil Wicks (39.55). This was a fabulous performance to break the 40 minutes barrier in a race of this difficulty. Neil’s comments on the race were as follows: “Clearly, race organisers Sarah, Rob and Paddy wanted to make the final hilly 10k in their Winter Series a tougher affair than usual and so placed a well-hidden wind machine at the top of the Larkstoke climb. After a very fast opening kilometre, where I tried to keep contact with the leaders, the struggle up the hill was simply about keeping your head down and finding whatever wind break was available. By the top I was in 4th place and as the stride lengthened on the downhill stretch I began to close on the runner in front. However, as the gradient hit its steepest, a blur of yellow came flying past me in the form of Oscar Barbour, who moved swiftly past us both into 3rd. Encouraged by a number of Stratford runners coming in the opposite direction, I moved to within a few strides of the 4th placed runner but I was unable to catch him as the metres ran out, finishing just 10 seconds behind him. Another cracking race and the tasty sausages helped the recovery". Neil was followed by Tim Tandy (43.25) finishing 15th on the day and 9th overall for the series. Tim commented that the Tempo Winter Series had certainly kept him on his feet over the winter months and as much as his body didn't like it, he'll miss the hill and miss seeing so many of his new SAC friends. Jamie Chorley (44.12 - 20th) was next home for Stratford. Jamie really is back on top form. He stated that “the anti clockwise route is the harder of the two versions with the brutal Larkstoke coming early on in the race, without giving you much of a chance to get into your stride. It was made particularly hard this time due to the strong wind blowing almost directly into the runners, in fact it was a struggle to keep on your feet at the top. The wind was behind us coming down the hill into the village but the killer was coming back into the village, against the wind again, for the last mile. It's at that point that I nearly ground to a walk but the risk of being over taken by James Cusack made me dig in!“ He certainly did need to dig in, as James Cusack (44.23) was just one place and a mere 11 seconds behind him. James thoroughly enjoyed the race and also mentioned that Larkstoke, with the wind, was a real challenge. It's the first time he'd run the course in this series and although he was 21st, his highest placing for this race, in race 5 of the last series, he ran a minute quicker but was placed 31st. I think the wind had a lot to do with the times for this race James! Waleed Agabani (45.00) was the 6th SAC runner to finish, finishing in 27th place, giving Stratford a superb 6 runners in the first 30 finishers.
First lady home for Stratford was Hannah Spriggs (47.16). Hannah was 7th lady to finish on the day and a magnificent 4th female for the series, finishing a mere 4 points off 2nd place for the series. She commented on the tough conditions and felt she really struggled with the first 2 miles, due to the strong wind. However, knowing she was 4th in the series made her determined to push on in the second half and at the end of the race she felt she had given it all she could. It’s the first year Hannah has done this series and she said it had been a great challenge. Sam Nicholson (48.51) continued his fine run of form, finishing 58th on the day and an impressive 14th in the series as a whole. James Deacon (49.27 - 66th) has been doing a lot of racing recently and his current form reflects the hard work he has been putting in. This performance is further evidence of this fine form. David Jones (51.01) finished in 84th place and was 2nd M65. David was initially disappointed to record his slowest time for this event but having seen other runners suffering in the windy conditions, he felt that on reflection, maybe it wasn't too bad a performance after all. Luke Watkins (51.39 - 95th) never fails to put in anything other than a hard working, solid performance and this he did again, despite the arduous conditions, finishing in 30th place overall for the series as a whole. Phil Brennan (52.37) finished in 110th position overall and was 3rd in the M65 age group. Phil lamented the fact that he couldn't find a big bloke to hide behind on the hill, to shelter him from Storm Tempo, but he was pleased that he managed to finish the fifth race in a reasonable time and more importantly, in decent shape. Anna Watson ( 53.38 ) was the 2nd Stratford lady to finish in 120th place and 9th overall for the series. Anna is a far better runner than she gives herself credit for, as her performances in this series of races clearly illustrates. Dave Maundrell (54.20) is another Stratford runner enjoying a fine vein of form. Dave finished 130th and should be justifiably proud of his run. Lesley Kirk (54.28) led home a trio of Stratford ladies in 132nd place, she was also 2nd in the F55 category. Lesley is returning from a long period of injury and it is a joy to see her back and running so well. Just 13 seconds behind Lesley, in 135th place, was Sarah Odell (54.41). Sarah said that she found the race really hard work in extremely tough conditions! She added that she felt like a rag doll being blown about up Larkstoke. Sarah was one of several runners who had also competed in the previous days inaugural Stratford parkrun and her top tip is, don't do a park run the day before this race, because you'll run out of gas!! Maureen Birch (55.06) was 139th finisher and yet again claimed the prize for 1st F65 finisher. Maureen commented that the race completed another great series, which has seen an eclectic bunch of runners displaying that "certain something” that gets them up that hill! She also added that she couldn't have wished for better weather in February, albeit a bit windy! Just over a minute separated the next 4 Stratford runners to finish, Daniel Whittington (55.35 - 148th) Rebecca Pridham (56.15 - 161st) Alan Wright , fresh from his half marathon in Barcelona the week before, recorded the same time as Rebecca, finishing in 162nd place. The last of this quartet was Charlotte Potgeiter (56.51 - 173rd). The ubiquitous Allan Coldicott (57.58 - 187th) finished in fine style. Lisa Whittington was 223rd in a time of 1:00.56. Lisa will probably have been disappointed to finish just over the hour mark but she really has no need to, considering the conditions. Closely followed over the finishing line by Beverly Bridgen (1:04.21 - 261st) Oliver Spicer (1:04.39 - 262nd) and Neil Robertson (1:05.02 - 268th). The omnipresent John Butler (1:14.12 – 332nd) arrived at the start line with lots of time to spare, removing the pressure from the organisers, who would have had to decide if the race could be allowed to go ahead without JB’s presence. Natasha Watkins (1:18.14 - 342nd) found the race hugely challenging but enjoyable. She felt it was really tough going up the hill, fighting against the wind and she made the delightful comment that she thought, on occasions, she would take off Mary Poppins style, never to be seen again. Tash was very happy to hit the down hill section, back towards the village and was pleasantly surprised at how well she did considering her knee injury! She was also very happy with her nice stylish hoodie, she loves the colour, it suits her really well and she feels she will be the envy of all her friends! You have certainly earned it Tash!
354 runners finished the race, just over 150 of who had completed all 5 races in the series and as such, were able to claim their hoodie. The denouement of this wonderful festival of running became slightly surreal at the end, as those 150 committed runners, who had competed in all five races, collected and donned their truly well-earned and much prized purple hoodies. The area around the finish line began to resemble some bizarre Teletubbies convention, where only the purple clad Tinky Winky’s had bothered to turn up, or a group of Prince fans, gathering for a video shoot following the rerecording of his famous Purple Rain song, possibly entitled Purple Sun in view of the bright conditions, or more likely, Purple Wind, in view of the conditions. It was a truly magnificent sight. You really had to be there. By the way, did I mention it was windy? The race was won by Michael Aldridge in a time of 36.32 and the first lady finisher was Carolyn Wilkinson in a time of 44.40. Bring on the 2016/7 series!