STRATFORD Athletic Club members were out in force at the 41st running of the Manchester Marathon, with no less than ten of them lining up at the start.
Organisers state this race is your best chance to get a PB due to the flat nature of the super-fast course, with outstanding crowd support and a glorious finish at Emirates Old Trafford, the home of Lancashire County Cricket Club.
It may well be a flat course, but it is still 26.2 miles long and, as the experience of a couple of the Stratford runners prove, things can still go wrong on the day. Indeed, Daniel Carthy had to pull out at 16 miles having been ill the previous week.
The first runner home for Stratford was Neil Wicks in the simply stunning time of 2:43.14. Neil was 62nd to finish out of 8,686 runners who completed the course and he was 12th in the very competitive MV40 age category.
He was less than three minutes away from beating the club marathon record and his time was just over six minutes quicker than his previous best at the Abingdon Marathon in 2014.
His comment after the race was: “Boom, finally broke the 2:45, despite not having the best preparation.”
Next to finish for the club was Drew Sambridge. This was Drew’s second marathon, having competed in last year’s Chester Marathon, completing it in a time of 3:26.
His goal for Manchester was to improve on this and also beat a friend’s time of 3:15.
He ran a superb race in 3:07.15 to smash his PB by 19 minutes. He felt he went off a bit too quick and he also hit ‘the wall’ at 22 miles, but was overjoyed with his performance.
Next to finish for the club was the irrepressible Emma Bexson (3:22.10). This was another PB and in doing so she was 92nd lady to finish and 26th in the very competitive VF40 age category.
Emma is currently training for the Copenhagen Ironman (Ironwoman?) in August and as part of this training she cycled up to Manchester the day before the marathon!
The next lady to finish for the club was Emily Adams (3:34.50). Emily was another runner who achieved a PB – a big improvement of almost ten minutes on her previous best time at London in 2014.
She went into the race with two goals in mind – to clock a PB and to run sub-2.40, which would mean she had achieved the qualifying time for the prestigious Boston Marathon. She achieved both.
Emily paid tribute to Emma Bexson who had coached her for this race. She ran her first 15 miles in sub-eight-minute miles, before the latter miles took their inevitable toll.
For the next Stratford runner to finish, Anthony Howell (3:44), it was a disappointing day. This was his first marathon and his target time was in the region of 3:15 and all was going according to plan until mile 15 or 16 when, out of the blue, his quad went, something he was unable to recover from.
However, sheer bloody-mindedness ensured he struggled with the last ten miles and he remained philosophical, saying: “These things happen. I’m hoping to bounce back and I plan to take the positives of the first half to London.”
The final four Stratford runners were a couple of husbands and wives! For Ash Habel (3:48.38) and his wife Christine Pastrak (4:40.42) the marathon was the culmination of a winter of hard training following a fairly fallow 2016 when, partly due to their marriage, running had to take a back seat to life.
Ash said he was aiming to beat four hours and, as such, had intended to set off at nine-minute pace but he was feeling comfortable at an average of 8:50.
Then, after 18 miles, he was feeling so good he decided to up the pace when he realised he could potentially beat 3:50.
For the last few miles he felt really strong and he was very happy with the race. Christine was also overjoyed with her time, as she had to start walking from mile 21 due to a painful knee.
Next to finish was Kate Sergent (4:45.28) followed by husband Martyn (5:28.40). Kate was the best performing of all the Stratford runners when it came to age category performance, managing to finish a superb third in her category.
For Martyn, his run showed a massive 25-minute improvement on his only other marathon – almost a minute a mile – which is no mean feat.
The race was won by Patrick Martin in a time of 2:22.37 and the first lady to finish was Georgie Bruinvels in 2:37.03 in 28th place.
PERFECT weather greeted athletes for the 12th running of the Wright Hassall Regency 10k which featured 25 Stratford runners.
Many of the club’s runners were looking to earn valuable points in the club’s Grand Prix competition and the Stratford runners delivered several very impressive age category performances.
First to finish for the club was Robin Kindersley (65th – 40.09). In doing so, Robin comfortably won his age group category by almost four minutes and, while being slightly disappointed not to dip under 40 minutes, this was greatly tempered by being able to overtake fellow club member James Cusack in the finishing straight.
James (69th – 40.17), having decided against running the Manchester Marathon, opting to compete in the Stratford Marathon instead, had a fabulous race.
He lost out out to Robin by just eight seconds. However, he remains firmly on track for the Copenhagen Ironman in August.
Evergreen Malcolm Bowyer (89th – 41.01) is shortly due to compete in his 22nd London Marathon and was able to run a good race despite having completed a 20-mile training run just 24 hours earlier.
Sam Nicholson (149th – 43.02) continued his impressive 2017 form, finishing fourth for the club.
Next to finish were a trio of the club’s more senior members. First of these was David Jones (262nd – 45.50) who was delighted to just get the better of his two club-mates, but it was a close-run thing, only managing to overtake Roger Wilson (280th – 46.15) in the final kilometre.
Roger finished first in his age group and finishing second in that age group was Phil Brennan (326th – 47.10).
The first lady to finish for the club was Lynne Hinson (371st – 47.36) who also managed to finish sixth in her age group.
Next to finish was young Annie Cox, whose very impressive time of just 49.10 ensured she was fourth to finish in the female junior category. Annie finished just 13 seconds ahead of Luke Watkins (426th – 49.23).
For Dave Maundrell (499th – 50.37) the Regency 10k is a race he looks forward to every year and, while being slightly disappointed to just miss out on a sub-50-minute run, he used his experience of the course to deliver another cracking run.
The next two ladies to finish for the club performed very well in their respective age groups. Angela Cox (550th – 51.50) finished seventh in her age group, managing to beat fellow club member Ruth Calderbank (551st – 51.56) by just six seconds.
Ruth’s disappointment at losing out to Angela was alleviated somewhat by winning her age group by a hugely impressive nine minutes.
Alan Wright (618th – 52.21) has recently had to pull out of the forthcoming Brighton Marathon as niggling injuries have meant he has not been able to put in the long runs necessary but, as this run shows, there is nothing wrong with his 10k runs.
Report compiled by David Jones.
Other Stratford runners to complete the race were: Charlotte Potgieter (650th – 52.51); Wendy Bowyer (704th – 53.15); Jan McLure (724th – 54.15); Bev Brigden (881st – 56.22); Gemma Smith (1,025th – 58.51); Jon Kelleher (1,184th – 1:01.19); Tash Watkins (1,334th – 1:02.47); Hannah Thatcher (1,372nd – 1:04.02); Christine Cooper (1,444th – 1:06.25); Jane Fradgley (1,522nd – 1:07.37); Sheryl Buckland (1,659th – 1:13.21).
Some 1,737 runners finished the race, which was won by Paddy Roddy in a time of 32.31. First lady finisher was Kelsey Wiberley in 56th place in 39.38.