IT MAY not have been his fastest race over 26.2 miles, but Tim Hutchinson’s 3:11:18 run at Saturday’s Snowdonia Marathon was possibly his most satisfying in what was his fourth appearance at the challenging event.
Held around the perimeter of Snowdon – the highest peak in Wales – the spectacular route features almost 800m of elevation with three notable steep inclines in particular.
Runners would not usually enter a marathon when underprepared but, despite battling an ankle injury for most of the year, Stratford Athletic Club’s Hutchinson always looks forward to this race and refused to miss out.
“I’m really pleased with this year,” said Hutchinson, who finished in 48th place overall in 3:11:18 – his second-fastest run in Snowdonia and just ten minutes shy of his performance there last year. It was also good enough to place ninth in the M45 category.
“Obviously it’s disappointing not to be in the same shape as last year but, with four months of decent training in the seven months since my last ankle injury, I was pleased just to be there.
“I wanted to beat or match last year’s time to Pen-y-Pass and I was 19 seconds quicker, so I was happy with that. The second half of the race is much harder, though. The climb from Beddgelert seems to go on and on and then when I got to the top there was a cold headwind along with some hail, which took all the heat from my legs.”
The third and final climb occurs at 22 miles – a particularly challenging point of any marathon, even when hills are not involved. Hutchinson resorted to walking for a couple of brief spells but was back up and running just before the 24-mile mark where the course goes off-road.
“I was pleased that I managed to crank it up a little towards the finish,” added Hutchinson, who has a marathon best of 2:53:10. “More than anything, though, I was happy to have been fit enough to be there. Next year I hope to be back to sort out the 79 seconds to achieve a sub-three-hour run there.”
Unfortunately for Hutchinson, less than 24 hours after racing in Snowdonia, he rolled his ankle while jogging around the Welcombe Hills, aggravating the injury he had spent months recovering from. He hopes to return to racing before the end of the year.
Club-mate and prolific marathon-racer Tara Lambert made her Snowdonia Marathon debut and was the 306th woman to finish, clocking 4:48:05.
“What a race,” said Lanbert, whose marathon PB of 4:20:25 was set last year on the considerably flatter Long Marston airfield.
“Stunning views and well organised. I ran faster than I thought I would, so I’m pretty happy with that. I also have to give my energy gel some of the credit as I felt a real pick-up at mile 15 with that.”
Russell Bentley won the race in 2:38:21, while Anna Bracegirdle was the top woman, clocking 3:05:33.
Third time’s a charm for Cusack
JAMES CUSACK headed across the Irish Sea to contest the Dublin Marathon on Sunday for the third time in as many years. His finishing time of 3:25:03 was an improvement of five minutes on his season’s best and was 18 minutes quicker than his run in the Irish capital last year.
“The conditions were perfect,” said Stratford AC’s Cusack, who ran 3:19:04 in Dublin in 2016 and a lifetime best of 3:10:04 in Manchester earlier that year. “I wish I’d have trained more as the last six miles were a challenge, but I’m very pleased with result.”
Ethiopian duo Asefa Bekele and Mesera Dubiso took top honours in Dublin. Bekele won the men’s race in Dublin in 2:13:23, while Dubiso took the women’s title in 2:33:48.
Ene leads Stratford quartet in Gloucester
THERE were PBs all-round for the four members of Stratford AC who took part in the Gloucester 10k on Sunday.
The course is slightly undulating but is generally a fast one, as shown by the number of fast times achieved across the board. Triathlon specialist Bogdan Ene, focusing on just one discipline on this occasion, trimmed two minutes from his lifetime best to finish 124th in 42:17.
Having contested numerous 10km races in recent weeks, Tomos Horbury was rewarded with a six-minute PB of 57:07 in what was his last race of the year.
“A hard lesson was learned,” said Horbury, who placed 493rd overall. “If a race claims to have a ‘flat course’, it probably isn’t and, if it says it is ‘traffic free’, again – it probably isn’t.”
Annie Threadgill took more than a minute off her PB to finish as the 302nd woman, clocking 66:17. Karen Harris, meanwhile, took more than two minutes off her best ever time, running 80:14 to finish as the 391st woman.
Peter Le Grice won the race in 29:43, while Sian Edwards was the first woman across the finish line, clocking 34:50.
Sergent conquers Shepton Mallet
STRATFORD AC’s Kate Sergent finished fourth in the W60 category at the Shepton Mallet 10km on Sunday.
The challenging course is hilly and scenic in equal measure, so Sergent knew it was not an occasion to chase personal bests. Nevertheless, she recorded a solid 60:09 to finish fourth among the over 60 women and 158th overall.
Kieran Young won the race in 36:58, while Francesca Rawlins was the leading woman in 42:44.