RICH SHEPHARD and Zoe Chandler led a superb day for Stratford Athletic Club runners by winning the Shakespeare Half Marathon.
Shephard followed his Warwick Half Marathon success last month by leading the Stratford men’s race on Sunday for almost the entire 13.1 miles to win by 70 seconds.
It was a day to remember, too, for Chandler who won the women’s event from club-mate Kate Wright, while Stratford took both the men’s and women’s team prizes.
In almost perfect conditions, Shephard was able to run another fast time, clocking one hour, 13 minutes, 53 seconds, but he still felt he could have shaved off a few seconds.
Since joining the club last autumn, Shephard’s performances and attitude have had a massively productive effect on other Stratford athletes.
Chandler, the winner of the women’s race for the second time, was chuffed with her run. This was a very assured performance, even more so as it was only her third half marathon.
After starting quickly she was soon in her rhythm, just ahead of Wright. The pair were closely matched for much of the race and it was only in the closing stages that Chandler edged ahead to win in 1:21:21.
Wright showed once again how adept she is at half marathon distance despite not being a definite participant in the build-up to the race due to injury.
Other impressive performances came from Richard Dobedoe, who was 16th in his first road race for two years, while David Smyth achieved a PB by 1:42 by going under one hour, 28 minutes.
There were also age group prizes for the ever-improving Penny Stainthorp (W55) and the irrepressible David Jones (M65).
Stainthorp had set her sights on the 1:40 mark and due to her intelligent training plan and determination she achieved this goal with ease.
Jones won the M65 age group and was “hugely satisfied” to add a sub-1:40 half marathon to the sub-3:45 time he ran in the Manchester Marathon just eight days previously. His finishing time was five minutes faster than his previous best on the course.
For Dave Clarkson, his day was nothing short of “awesome” as he managed an eight-minute PB, despite cramping up in the final 800 metres.
In the Shakespeare Marathon, Graham Black smashed his PB by 50 minutes. He started the race hoping to run three hours, 15 minutes but found he felt so good that he maintained his fast pace to clock 3:09:18.
Vitali Puskin intended to make his marathon debut later this year but he decided he could not wait to challenge himself over the 26.2-mile distance and ran a splendid race.
Hannah Spriggs finished sixth in the women’s race having done everything right in the quest for a fast time.
STRATFORD AC results: Shakespeare Half Marathon (gun times/chip times) – Rich Shephard 1st, 1:13.54 / 1:13.53; Zoe Chandler 12th, 1:21.23 (1st lady) / 1:21.21; Richard Dobedoe 16th, 1:22.28 / 1:22.26; Kate Wright 18th, 1:23.31 (2nd lady) / 1:23.27; David Smyth 1:28.16 / 1:28.12; Waleed Agabani 1:30.14 / 1:30.11; Anthony Howell 1:33.33 / 1:33.17; Sheila Barbour 1:33.40 / 1:33.21; Penny Stainthorp 1:37.22 / 1:37.11; Andy Smith 1:37.56 / 1:37.27; David Jones 1:38.57 / 1:38.41 ;Robert Chambers 1:40.49 / 1:39.13; Emma Vickers 1:41.56 / 1:41.40; Rob Minton 1:42.51 / 1:42.34; Anna Watson 1:42.51 / 1:42.35; Phil Brennan 1:42.53 / 1:42.48; Matt Lyness 1:45.32 / 1:45.15; Tim Owrid 1:49.10 / 1:48.52; Chris Whateley 1:50.13 / 1:49.46; Maureen Birch 1:50.17 / 1:49.50; David Clarkson 1:52.21 / 1:51.52; Samantha Hill 1:53.05 / 1:51.30; Ashley Habel 1:55.12 / 1:52.14; Brian Gravelsons 1:55.24 / 1:53.43; Kate Cullimore 1:58.16 / 1:56.06; Allan Coldicott 2:00.04 / 1:59.38; Danny Nussbaum 2:00.23 / 1:59.56; Debbie Edkins 2:07.54 / 2:04.44; Michael Oliver 2:09.23 / 2:08.29; Emil Gudfinsson 2:10.28 / 2:17.13; Christine Pastrak 2:15.31 / 2:12.33; John Butler 2:22.12 / 2:18.59; Aimee Spicer 2:30.17 / 2:28.26; Sheryl Buckland 2:33.51 / 2:29.57; Karen Brown 3:27.26 / 3:23.50.
Shakespeare Marathon – Graham Black 3:09.22 / 3:09.18; Vitali Puskin 3:26.25 / 3:24.53; Hannah Spriggs 3:26.31 / 3:26.10; Laura Mann 4:14 / 4:11.49.