ENDURANCE running experts Kate Wright and Tim Hutchinson ran fabulous races for Stratford Athletic Club in the Naunton Nearly 19.
Kate Wright (7th, 2:21.16) gained another impressive victory, finishing over 24 minutes ahead of her nearest rival. She continues to reap the rewards of her quiet dedication to disciplined training. Kate was also the first woman to finish in this race in 2014.
The terrific current form of Tim Hutchinson (10th, 2:22.26) was clearly evident as he negotiated the tricky route with consummate ease. Tim looks set to become a valuable member of the club across a wide range of race distances and types.
The event, held in scenic Gloucestershire, takes in 1,450ft of ascent with some steep descents divided among three small hills and two longer climbs.
STRATFORD AC’s men’s team visited a blustery Burbage Common in Hinckley for the third Birmingham Cross Country League fixture of the season.
The course, which measured approximately 10.5km, was flat but still presented a stern challenge due to the long sections of thick, wet and cold mud and the strong wind.
The team finished 13th on the day and are now 11th overall with one race remaining.
As has been the case in each race this winter, Rich Shephard (25th, 38.33) was the first Stratford athlete to finish. Rich has been a popular addition to the team this season and he has proved to be a model of consistency.
Josh Newman (56th, 40.22) admits he is not a fan of muddy courses, much preferring to run on the road or track. Despite a few encounters with the brambles in the wooded parts of the course, Josh worked hard for the entire three laps and he just held off team-mate Rob Ford (57th, 40.24).
Rob thrived in the heavy conditions, utilising his strength, stamina and bold style of running. He rapidly overtook his rivals when he decided that a straight line through the wet sections was more effective than searching for better ground.
The A team was completed by a one-paced Danny Tolhurst (74th, 41.13), gutsy Wayne Vickers (139th, 44.36) and fast-finishing Malcolm Bowyer (144th, 45.03).
Finishing positions: Rich Shephard (25th, 38.33); Josh Newman (56th, 40.22); Rob Ford (57th, 40.24); Danny Tolhurst (74th, 41.13); Wayne Vickers (139th, 44.36); Malcolm Bowyer (144th, 45.03); David Smyth (165th, 46.23); Mike Sheppard (170th. 46.46); Graham Black (181st, 47.19); Luke Watkins (219th, 51.26); Brian Gravelsons (222nd, 52.54); Larry Coltman (231st, 57.39).
THE THIRD Midland Women’s Cross Country League race took place at Droitwich where the squad of eight Stratford AC athletes did the club proud.
The A team are now eighth out of 12 in the league. The Masters team are in second place with one race remaining.
First of the Stratford AC finishers was Emma Slevin (35th, 28.06). Emma’s renowned determination helped her to a creditable position. She dug in really well in the second half of the race and coped well with the twisty nature of the course.
Sarah Wheeler (38th, 28.17) is getting better all the time and her results reflect her inspiring commitment to training and racing. Her remarkable sequence of top class performances continued with this polished and intelligently-paced run.
Rachel Pearce (65th, 29.50) is thoroughly enjoying her first season of cross-country races and she has already become a major contributor to the team’s success.
The next three Stratford finishers were covered by just 41 seconds. Exciting performances from Alison Bagnall (117th, 32.10), Fern Hordern (122nd, 32.16) and Emma Vickers (132nd, 32.51) pleased team manager Paul Hawkins.
Cadie Hibberd (191st, 35.55) ran possibly her best race for the club. She is coming on in leaps and bounds and is running with great assurance.
The line-up was completed by Debbie Edkins (235th, 38.47) who, in common with her team-mates, is in top form and running with supreme confidence.
Finishing positions (approximately 6km): Emma Slevin (35th, 28.06); Sarah Wheeler (38th, 28.17); Rachel Pearce (65th, 29.50); Alison Bagnall (117th, 32.10); Fern Hordern (122nd, 32.16); Emma Vickers (132nd, 32.51); Cadie Hibberd (191st, 35.55); Debbie Edkins (235th, 38.47).
BIRMINGHAM’S High Performance Centre played host to the Midland Counties Open meeting where Stratford AC’s Rory Dwyer and Jack Sumners commenced their indoor seasons.
Competing in the under 20 age group for the first time, Rory showed his class with a time of 8.16 seconds in the 60m hurdles.
Rory followed up with 2.12m in the high jump, 7cm higher than his result in the same meeting last year.
In the under 15 age group, Jack ran a superb personal best of 8.81 seconds in the 60m hurdles. In the 60m sprint he recorded a time of 8.06.