THE OPENING race of the popular annual Winter Series took place on a course of 10.13km (6.3 miles) and featured a large contingent of 22 Stratford Athletic Club runners.
The course is the same for each of the series’ five road races but is run counter-clockwise then clockwise in alternate races. Organisers Tempo Events say this is perfect winter training territory as it involves the particularly steep Larkstoke hill.
Dan Lynch was the first SAC runner to finish on a glorious Sunday morning, placing eighth overall in 41:17 – a mere eight seconds and two places ahead of the next Stratford runner Matt Burdus-Cook (10th – 41:25).
Just 29 seconds behind Burdus-Cook was Ivan Sarti (12th – 41:54) who was also second in his age category, just 36 seconds off being able to claim first place.
The next Stratford runner to finish and third in the same age category as Sarti was Owen Goschen (14th – 42:48), followed by Chris Cond (20th – 43:46) who was just four seconds ahead of Andrew Cox (21st – 43:50).
The last of the seven SAC runners to finish in the top 30 was consistent Malcolm Bowyer (30th – 45:20), followed by David Smyth and Damian Wheeler who clocked 46:37 and 46:59 respectively.
Ben Phyall (57th – 47:51), Pete Sugden (60th – 48:03) and Alan Dwyer (63rd – 48:53) were followed by the first SAC woman to finish, the indefatigable Sarah Boundy (83rd – 51:35).
Then came two more Stratford women in the shape of Becks Pridham (53:41) and Suzi Graham (54:13).
Phil Brennan (54:34) was first in his age category and he was followed by newcomer Simon Curran (58:26). The remaining SAC runners were Louise Stewart (1:06:50), Alice Baxendale (1:09:58), Gemma Smith (1:14:48) and Becky Gray 1:18:52).
Some 245 runners completed the race which was won by Paul Andrew in 37:22. Natasha White was the first woman to finish, placing 15th overall in 42:50.
STRATFORD AC’s Danny Tolhurst made an impressive return to racing at the Windsor Autumn Half Marathon on Saturday – producing his fastest time for three years despite a significantly reduced training load.
Held around scenic Dorney Lake, the flat course comprises four-and-a-half loops of the rowing lake. Near-perfect conditions made the race even more appealing and Tolhurst was one of two Stratford AC members to take advantage of the opportunity.
After a conservative start, he soon got into his stride and worked his way through the field to finish 13th in 1:27:15, placing fifth in the M40 category.
“The half marathon distance is double my current weekly mileage, so I was aware that even finishing would be cause for celebration,” he said. “I set myself a target of completing it in sub-1:37.
“When I overtook the 1:30 pacer after two miles and threw my race strategy into the nearby lake, I cursed my inability to run sensibly. My left calf was tight after just a few miles but I did my best to stay focused.
“I didn’t check my watch at any stage and I had no idea of my time, so I was delighted to be told I’d beaten my target time by almost ten minutes,” added Tolhurst, whose time was within six minutes of his lifetime best.
“Conditions were ideal and it was a good day to make my first appearance in a Stratford AC vest for eight months.”
The other SAC runner in action in Windsor had an equally successful race. Jon Mulkeen finished 25th in 93:13, taking almost seven minutes off the PB he set last year.
The race was won by David Meacock in 1:13:16. Katherine Hudson was the first woman across the line, placing 17th overall in 1:28:06.
IT WAS a gloriously sunny day for the 37th running of the Stroud Half Marathon in which two of the 1,702 runners to complete the race were SAC members – each having not run a half marathon for a long time.
Graham Black (265th – 96:25) ran a superb race in a time that was six seconds quicker than his last half marathon in Stratford some two-and-a-half years ago.
Yvonne Caswell (589th – 1:46:50) last ran this race four years ago. That was her last half marathon and she was remarkably just 98 seconds slower this year.
The race was won by Andrew Davies in 1:08:02, while Rachel Felton was the first woman to finish, placing 16th overall in 1:17:11.