THE EXTREMELY popular Kenilworth Half Marathon had a decent Stratford Athletic Club presence as it was run for a 19th year, featuring a new start and finish in the town centre.
The slightly undulating route, upon leaving the town centre, took competitors along country lanes and had the benefit of rolling road closures. This year also saw the runners pass through the grounds of the iconic Kenilworth Castle.
The highest number of entries in its 19-year history saw 1,252 runners complete the course. Eleven of those runners were sporting the yellow and black vest of Stratford AC.
The first of these to finish was Tim Hutchinson in 49th place and a chip time of 1:25:08. Hutchinson, who was competing in his first race for six months due to an ankle injury, was delighted to be on the start line alongside familiar faces.
He had told himself this was just part of his training for his annual run in the Snowdonia Marathon next month. As such, he felt anything within 1:30 would be a bonus.
With a lack of familiarity of the new course, he turned what he thought was the final corner and the finish line, only to find he had to run the length of the high street and back again.
Despite that, it is still one of his favourite courses and he was delighted to be almost five minutes inside his target time.
The next SAC runner to finish was relatively new member Adam Evans in 158th place in 1:35:43. He was followed by David Smyth (203rd – 1:38:08), who was competing barely 20 hours after representing the club in the Veterans Track and Field Cup Final in Solihull.
“I started the race with low hopes after the previous day’s exertions,” he said. “I tried to keep a steady pace after the usual first two-mile dash but by mile seven I was considering a taxi back to Kenilworth!
“However, I managed to grind through the next couple of miles and got back into a rhythm. The last mile was tough, though, with a tricky uphill section about half a mile from the end but luckily the town centre finish did help to keep me going and I even managed a sprint finish.
“It wasn’t my finest half marathon but certainly not my worst. I’m pretty happy after a tough track and field session on Saturday and a significant lack of proper training miles in my legs.”
Following Smyth and the first woman to finish for the club was the indefatigable Sarah Boundy. Her finishing time of 1:43:33 was more than four minutes quicker than last year.
Lynne Hinson was next to finish for the club. Her time of 1:43:55 was just under a couple of minutes slower than last year, but she enjoyed the new route and felt good throughout, despite the warm weather.
Ash Habel (348th – 1:46.34) was competing in this race for the first time and found it a hard but scenic route. He had only entered the race five days before, so definitely was not ready for the distance.
Like a lot of runners, he set out a bit fast but levelled off and felt good at an eight-minute-mile pace. However, the closer he got to the end, the lack of training started to show with his muscles hurting and his energy levels depleted. He felt it was good to know he can run a half marathon in a semi-decent time with lack of training.
Kenilworth half regular Luke Watkins (408th – 1:49.00) was just under four minutes slower than last year and he was followed by Jan McLure (581st – 1:57.39).
She was really pleased with her time – the third year in a row she had competed – and she finally managed to crack the two-hour mark, knocking almost four minutes off her time last year.
Considering she has been battling with plantar fasciitis for eight months, she had every reason to be delighted.
McLure was followed by Kenilworth veteran Allan Coldicott (777th – 2:11.48), Sue Mothershaw (937th – 2:17.26) and Tash Watkins (971st – 2:37.23).
The race was won by Andrew Slavery in 1:12.51. Polly Keen was the first woman, placing 37th overall in 1:23:46.
Report compiled by David Jones.