THE THIRD Sunday in May invariably brings forth Stratford Athletic Club’s Annual Hilly 100 race – a 100-mile relay race starting at the iconic American Fountain in Stratford before heading in a circuitous route down into the Cotswolds and heading back in a loop to finish at Stratford Sports Club.
Almost 40 teams took part in the event and, with each runner taking roughly a ten-mile section each, it is both a challenging and logistically interesting race featuring some testing hills.
Stratford AC fielded just two teams this year, with great competition amongst the runners to decide which is the toughest leg.
The general concensus is that two and four are the hardest, with five coming a close third. That said, when you consider all the legs are hilly, it really is all relative.
Unquestionably leg one is the flattest, but that also makes it the fastest, so dawdle at your peril!
With more than 400 runners on the course throughout the day, along with associated supporters all following athletes to ensure they do not take a wrong turn, it really is an event for the whole family to get involved in.
Some of the changeover points can get a bit chaotic and at leg four there is a particularly muddy section in an area of woodland which is noted as those who do not park carefully enough are liable to get stuck in the mud and need to be towed out. However, the Stratford team are wise to this and managed to keep out of danger.
Graham Black managed to run two legs on the day. Training for ultra running means a ten-mile run is just not enough on the day!
The highlight of the day was surely seeing Stratford’s leg ten runners coming to the finish line. Graham Black had actually run over 32 miles across the whole of the day and Graham Taylor, who found his running mojo again somewhere around Alderminster, wore a wide grin as he was escorted run to the finishing straight by friend Tim Hutchinson and half a dozen amazing children who had been supporting all the club’s runners.
The Stratford AC team times were as follows: Men’s team – leg 1 Tim Hutchinson 61 mins; leg 2 Malcolm Bowyer 71 mins; leg 3 Richard Shephard 62 mins; leg 4 David Smyth 72 mins; leg 5 Paddy Taylor 70 mins; leg 6 Dan Lynch 68 mins; leg 7 Phil Howell 63 mins; leg 8 Waleed Agabani 68 mins; leg 9 Sam Nicholson 70 mins; leg 10 Graham Black 73 mins.
Mixed team – leg 1 Graham Black 69 mins; leg 2 Lesley Kirk 88 mins; leg 3 Simon Penson 85 mins; leg 4 Phil Marshall 83 mins; leg 5 Penny Stainthorp 74 mins; leg 6 James Fidoe 91 mins; leg 7 Lynne Hinson 80 mins; leg 8 Yvonne Caswell 84 mins; leg 9 Tara Lambert 86 mins; leg 10 Graham Taylor 75 mins.
Report compiled by Victoria Jeffs.