7th May, 2021

Hawkins celebrates first open race victory

Liam Moakes 15th Oct, 2019 Updated: 15th Oct, 2019

INTERNATIONAL masters race walker Paul Hawkins triumphed on the undulating cycle track at Stourport in the first event in the Midland Winter Racewalk League.

This eight-lap 10km open race featured slow conditions, but clever pacing allowed Stratford Athletic Club’s Hawkins to take the lead at 7km and end in first place in 63:10.

Although a serial age-group winner, he had not won an open race before and was understandably delighted.

A DATE clash with the Alcester 10k meant only four Stratford Athletic Club runners started the Rugby 10-Mile – the final contest in the Warwickshire Road Race League – over the uncommon ten-mile distance.

The annual event, a single lap around the Northamptonshire lanes near Barby, is a trap for the unwary, as the first half is relatively fast and undulating, while the second involves a long steep climb.

This year, a stiff wind also influenced the latter stages.

Luke Watkins and Peter Sugden stayed close all the way, with Watkins ahead in the closing stages. As they approached the finish, Sugden, although suffering the effects of a recurrent hamstring problem, “threw caution to the noticeable wind” and edged ahead to finish 129th in 1:16:14.

Although slightly slower than last year, it was a fine effort which showed why he is a worthy winner of the club’s Grand Prix series.

Watkins was only three places and less than 30 seconds behind with his best time over the distance since 2015.

A steady run in difficult conditions saw Dave Maundrell finish 248th in 1:32:27, with Pippa Abrams the last of the SAC quartet in 1:43:33.

SAC’s Louise Stewart has built her strength and fitness this season to become one of the club’s hardiest trail runners and she took on her greatest challenge to date in the shape of the Maverick Inov8 Oxfordshire Half Marathon.

The course took runners through the depths of the Chilterns woods and hills, with deep and sticky mud slides a memorable feature to match the spectacular views.

Despite feeling the effects of a virus, she finished in a very creditable 2:33:38, but will never feel the same about mud again.

ATROCIOUS weather including the heavens opening in the latter stages did not prevent SAC’s Ade Mason and Tom Horbury having a great day at the Oxford Half Marathon.

Still on the comeback from injury, Mason was delighted with a time of 1:29:37, fractionally outside a personal best, while Horbury improved his best by a massive eight minutes to finish in 2:08 despite the torrential rain and cold.

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