FOLLOWING his success as the club’s first finisher at the recent Two Castles Run, Matt Burdus-Cook replicated that honour at Offa’s Dyke 15 where he was the first of 12 Stratford Athletic Club runners.
This was the fifth year of this 15-mile event since its rebirth in 2015 and the 29th running in total of this classic race which was held every year from 1977-2001. For those 25 years it was THE off-road race to do, with runners coming from all over the country and abroad to complete this beautiful but challenging event.
While it broadly follows the Offa’s Dyke Path on the English/Welsh border, one of the quirks of this unique race is that, to reduce the number of stiles runners must navigate, the organisers gained the permission of every farmer and land owner to have the race go through their land and open their gates.
Burdus-Cook placed ninth overall in 1:53:28, finishing third in his age category. Drew Sambridge (15th, 1:59:31) was the next to finish followed by Ivan Sarti (31st, 2:08:01), who was second in his age category, less than a minute behind the category winner.
Kieran Tursner (41st, 2:11:36) was making a welcome return after a lengthy period of injury and should be well pleased with his performance. David Smyth (52nd, 2:17:25) was a couple of minutes ahead of Mark Hatelely (56th, 2:19:23) who was followed by three runners who had competed in the Two Castles Run – Peter Sugden (70th, 2:24:00), Adam Evans (84th, 2:27:55) and Karl Harris (92nd, 2:28:53).
Liuba Pasa was the first of the three SAC women to finish. She completed the event in 2:43:54 to finish fifth in her age category. She was followed by an in-form Rebecca Pridham, whose time of 2:52:41 was some eight minutes quicker than her time last year. Louise Stewart completed the race in 3:24:28.
The race was won by Connor Carson in a time of 1:44:15 and first woman was Ann Nixon with a time of 1:59:48 as 228 runners completed the course.
Brennan takes silver in Horwich
SAC’s Phil Brennan added another medal to his vast collection by taking silver in the M75 category at the British Masters 5k Road Championships.
Held as part of the Horwich Festival of Running in Lancashire, the three-and-a-bit-lap course is described as “challenging” with a character-building climb and descent on each lap.
Brennan completed the race in 23:13, exactly the same time as his run here two years ago. He finished second to the legendary Martin Ford, on his way back from long-term injury, and ahead of John Horton, another good track and road runner.
The race results are also used as part of the selection process for the autumn international cross country teams, so Brennan did not do his chances of selection any harm with this performance.
THREE weeks after a strong run at Ryton 5, Ollie Senior notched another top-25 finish to lead the SAC contingent at Arden 9.
The nine-mile race follows a pleasant rural loop, starting from the tennis club in Hampton in Arden, via Catherine-de-Barnes to Barston, then back through the centre of Hampton and finishing back at the tennis club.
Senior, contesting the race for the first time, finished 24th in 54:26. He was followed by Luke Watkins (1:09:29) who was just 21 seconds slower than when he last competed in this race five years ago.
SAC’s top two women were separated by just 38 seconds as Annie Cox (1:10:20) was followed home by Emma Donnelly (1:10:58) who was a couple of minutes quicker than last year.
Next was Arden 9 regular Dave Maundrell (1:18:32), just 49 seconds slower than last year, but quicker than he was in 2017. Maggie Macleod (1:18:50) was the next SAC member to finish, followed by husband Stuart Macleod (1:29:04).
Pippa Abrams (1:28.57) finished between the Macleods and John Butler finished in a time of 1:50:46.
The race was won by Toby Spencer in 49:13, while Polly Keen was the first woman in 54:42 as 380 runners completed the course.
Reports by David Jones.