THERE was a large Stratford Athletic Club turnout at the first Midland Women’s Cross Country League Division One fixture at Coundon Park, Coventry.
A record number of 426 runners in the two divisions of this league, who always compete in one race, made for a bit of a bottleneck at the first woodland entrance, but the runners soon spread out with the winners coming home in 24 minutes, some 30 minutes ahead of those at the back of the field.
Stratford have been in Division One since the outset and this is at its most competitive at the start of the season with the Loughborough, Birmingham and Warwick University teams full of enthusiastic young and fast runners.
First home for Stratford, in her first season as a senior and usually more comfortable on the track, was Jess Sheppard in 70th place (29.58), holding off the strong contingent of Stratford masters runners.
These featured Fern Hordern (30.09), Sheila Lammas (30.15) Maria Haslam (31.22), Emily Adams (31.25) and Emma Vickers (31.55).
Hannah Osborne followed next in 32.43, with Sarah Odell and Suzi Graham clocking 35.29 and 35.50 respectively.
There were two new recruits to the team. Karen Cookes smiled her way around in 36.04 and Sarah Vernon clocked 41.16. It is great to have them on board.
Regular and stalwart members Becks Pridham, Jo Young, Jan McClure, Kate Sergent, Nicola Reynolds and Pip Abrams made up the 17-strong team. The overall team position was 14th in Division One and eighth in the masters competition.