STRATFORD AC athlete Fern Hordern won bronze at the Europe Triathlon Multisport Championships in Bilbao, Spain to secure automatic qualification for next year’s European Championships.
Hordern’s overall time of 2 hours 30 minutes 40 seconds was just 71 seconds behind Maria Elena
Miguens Otero in second place and two and half minutes short of fellow GB athlete Nicola Audhlam-Gardiner who took gold.
And after the pre-race favourite was forced to withdraw, Hordern made the most of her chance to secure a podium finish over the standard duathlon distance – 10km run, 40km bike, 5km run.
Hordern ran past the iconic Guggenheim Museum on route to the finish and placed fifth in her age group (50 to 54 years) after the first run.
She moved up into third during the bike leg and rode the second fastest time in her section despite the extremely hilly course.
And Hordern managed to hold onto third place during the second run as she came home just under three minutes ahead of Spain’s Ana Maria Fuster Mestre who placed fourth.
Closer to home, three Stratford Masters’ athletes proudly pulled on England vests to represent their county in the Bristol 10k.
The trio qualified for an England Athletics Masters place at this year’s Great Bristol Run as Ben Kruze finished fourth in 31 mins 39 secs, missing out on a podium finish by just four seconds.
His superb performance was despite the fact that he has recently struggled with an inflamed tendon at the top of his hamstring which has prevented him from racing frequently.
However, his sensible approach to rehabilitating together with his speed and overall fitness enabled him to overcome this setback.
Matt Burdus-Cook finished in 24th place with a time of 33 mins 30 secs having enjoyed a fine year of racing.
Burdus-Cook said: “I set out with a PB plan and was ultimately pleased to only miss it by eight seconds.
“The course had quite a few tight turns that didn’t suit me plus some slightly tougher climbs towards the end. I left everything on the route! It was a fantastic event.”
Burdus-Cook is now looking forward to his winter training with the aim of getting his PB down to 33 minutes.
And Kate Wright finished first in her age category by almost two minutes, a huge margin, with a time of 37 mins 37 secs.
Wright said: “It was a lovely sunny day with a great buzzing atmosphere. I went with a plan of starting easy and getting faster.
“It worked at the Kenilworth Half so why not try it again? My aim was 38mins. The gun went off and I felt like I was standing still. Everyone just shot off!
“I kept telling myself not to panic and stick to plan. It worked. Gradually I started to pass the younger ladies (we all had our ages on our back).
“I felt great all the way round and was elated to achieve a time of 37.37 and first in my age group.”
The race was won by Tom Merson of Exmouth Harriers in a time of 30 mins 51 secs and the first lady finisher was Helen Gaunt of Tonbridge AC in 35 mins 41 secs.
Lastly, two of Stratford’s junior athletes took part in the TCS Mini London Marathon – a race open to all children and young people from reception to year 12.
The race was held the day before the full marathon and was run over a 2.6k route.
Stratford duo Maisie-Joy Spriggs and Maddie Linfoot qualified to represent the West Midlands as part of a five-strong team.
And Maisie-Joy finished in 54th place with a time of 9 mins 16 secs with Linfoot just 26 seconds behind to cross the line in 9 mins 42 secs and finish in 69th place.