SEVERAL Stratford Athletic Club members were in action at the Worcester Marathon and half-marathon event and have recounted their experiences of the day here, writes Danny Tolhurst.
Worcester Marathon: Waleed Agabani (10th, 3:07.51, chip time – 3:07.45): “It was a great race – I loved it! I was treating it as a training run for the Shakespeare Marathon as I think I didn’t do enough long runs beforehand. I just wanted my ‘good for age’ qualifying time for London which is 3:15.
“My PB was 3:18 from the Shakespeare Marathon last year, so I never thought I’d get it at Worcester (Leicester was 3.27 in October and Berlin 3.20 in September).
“The course was hilly and the wind was relentless, especially in the second half. I paced myself for the first half, staying between 6 minutes, 50 seconds and 7 minutes per mile for as long as I could.
“I felt comfortable until mile 17 where I started struggling but I kept going. There were not many other runners around, I’m not sure if that helped.
“Miles 22 to 25 were my worst, as they were mainly uphill and windy so I just kept my head down and the final mile was a breeze – I was just thinking of the finish line. I can’t believe I ran 3:07 and finished in 10th place.
“Seeing Sarah Bland (race organiser and Stratford AC coach) at mile 19 and 21 helped as she was cheering me on. I guess all the club training really helped, including the support and competition from other runners and competition.
“I will see what I can do in Stratford on April 26. I also have the Welsh 1,000m Peaks race in June, Snowdonia Marathon and Istanbul Marathon towards the end of the year.
Worcester Half-Marathon: James Cusack (70th, 1:34.36, chip – 1:34.31): “I really enjoyed the course. I had tired legs from a 75km bike ride the day before but that’s what happens with triathlon training – running times suffer. Running is my first love to be fair.
“As in every race, I was hoping to beat my PB, set at the recent Warwick Half (1:32:24), but I am happy with my Worcester result, I felt good during the race but tired legs and massive winds meant no PB.
“My next big event is the London Marathon. I’m really looking forward to it. I also have the Two Castles on June 14 – a race I really enjoyed in 2014.
“I am trying to mix up the training evenly between swimming, cycling and running at the moment as I also have Ironman Nice coming up on June 28.”
Sheila Barbour (86th, 1:37.38 – chip 1:37.28) ran an excellent race on her Stratford AC debut. She was the sixth lady to finish.
“I felt happy for most of the race. I was combining it as part of a long run to see if I was in shape for the London Marathon.
“I ran five miles before the race and then the aim was to run my marathon pace of 7.20 minutes per mile, which I managed pretty much bang on, despite the brutal headwind in the second half.
“My London training has never really got into gear though, so I’m not sure how long I would have kept the pace up. I have also entered Stratford Half as a plan B.”
Andrew Turner (284th, 1:53.31 – chip 1:52.25) worked hard and ran a solid race. He admits he is not a huge fan of undulations but on this occasion he dug in and produced a consistently-paced effort, of which he can justifiably be proud. Andrew was delighted to feel strong enough for a sprint over the last 200m.
Andrew was looking for a time of around 1:50 and, as he is not yet fully race fit, he was pleased with his performance. He has the Evesham 10K to look forward to as well as the Tewkesbury Half.
Jason Fretter (389th, 2:02.14, chip – 2:00.58): “I couldn’t be too disappointed with my performance, all things considered.
“I had hoped to stay below two hours but just missed it. I felt strong until ten miles but then a lack of training really exacerbated the wind and hills and made the run for home tough.
“Overall it was very enjoyable, it really is a great and well organised race. I’ve been short of races for the last 12 months but this reminded me why I love it and has prompted me to go and find my next challenge.”
Debbie Edkins (499th, 2:11.48, chip – 2:10.32): “I’ve been plucking up the courage to do a half-marathon for a while, so I’m feeling great at the moment having done my first.
“I had reached 12 miles with my training and thought I might as well enter as a training run. I was very pleased with time as I was hoping for 2:15.
“The course wasn’t the flattest, which was OK as I quite like hills. I surprised myself at how easy I was running, especially at the 12-mile mark where I managed to speed up until the finish line.
“My next race is the Shakespeare Half.”
LUKE Watkins (46th, 38.45), John Butler (84th, 49.01) and Natasha Watkins (85th, 49.33) ran in the Centurion Grand Prix – the latest race in this five-mile series which takes place in Kingshurst.
Natasha Watkins said: “It was a sunny, but very windy and a chilly day. My Mum and Dad came to watch and they were frozen. Dad (Graham) was quite envious as he wants to start back running again.
“Luke was the first of the Stratford AC trio back with a time of 38.45, followed by John who is really getting fast again. I brought up the rear as the third Stratford runner. I was very pleased with my time but it wasn’t a personal best.
“Overall we all enjoyed the race, which was really well organised and everyone was very friendly. There were good showers in the clubhouse, nice and hot, which is always appreciated after a hard run. Plus I won a nice box of chocolates in the raffle and Mum and Dad ate them!
AT THE Belvoir Half-Marathon Kate Wright clocked 1:25.37 (chip – 1:25.35) to finish 26th and first woman.
This was the sixth time in seven years Kate has run in this race and she said: “I love this course normally with its quiet country lanes and only two hills.
“However, I hated it this time. The first four miles and the last mile were great but the other eight were into an amazingly strong headwind that stopped me dead twice.
“I couldn’t find any tall men to hide behind! I was disappointed with my time even though I was first lady.”
RUGBY Spring Open results:
75m – (U11) Taylor Holton 11.5, Riley Williams 14.0; (U13) Jasmine Williams 12.0.
100m – (U13) Cole Williams 15.1, Harry Gravelsons 18.6; (U15) Dani Horton 13.9, Tazmin Chape 14.3; (U17) Jessica Sheppard 14.7; (W35) Paula Williams 14.8.
300m – (U17) Jessica Sheppard 43.7.
800m – (U13) Charlotte Gravelsons 2:54.2, Harry Gravelsons 3:08.4; (U15) Imogen Sheppard 2:32.8.
1,500m – (U15) Owain Jones 5:29.0.
70m Hurdles- (U13) Jasmine Williams 14.3.
75m Hurdles – (U15) Tazmin Chape 13.3.
80m Hurdles – (U15) Jack Sumners 11.7.
High Jump – (U15) Imogen Sheppard 1.25m.
Long Jump – (U11) Taylor Holton 3.45m, Riley Williams 3.17m; (U13) Cole Williams 3.76m, Harry Gravelsons 3.29m, Jasmine Williams 3.28m, Charlotte Gravelsons 3.18m; (U15) Jack Sumners 5.57m; (U17) Jessica Sheppard 4.26m.
Shot – (U13) Charlotte Gravelsons 4.54m.
Javelin – (U15) Tazmin Chape 28.70m.
Jessica Sheppard in the 300m event at the Rugby Spring Open. Picture by Mike Sheppard. (s)
Tazmin Chape and Dani Horton (yellow) in action in the 100m at the Rugby Spring Open. Picture by Mike Sheppard. (s)
Paula Williams (yellow) in the 100m at the Rugby Spring Open. Picture by Mike Sheppard. (s)
Harry Gravelsons in the 100m at the Rugby Spring Open. Picture by Mike Sheppard. (s)