A TRIO of Stratford Athletic Club members had the daunting experience of turning left at the end of The Greenway to complete another 13.1-mile lap of the course while the half marathon competitors carried on to the finishing line of their event at the Rotary Shakespeare Marathon.
First of the marathon runners to finish was Tara Lambert who just last month completed the 107-mile Dublin 2 Belfast Ultra, so a mere 26.2 miles was akin to a stroll in the park.
She had hoped to go under four hours and this she did comfortably, finishing in 3:53:43. It was a massive 37-minute PB and 42 minutes quicker than her time in this race last year.
Lambert was followed by Rachel Green, a recent graduate of the club’s successful Couch to 5k initiative, who completed the race in 4:12:09. The final member of the club to finish was Rebekha Loftus in 5:13:10.
The race was won by Orlando Corea in a time of 2:36:55 and first woman to finish was Rachel Davies in 3:15:39 as 580 competitors completed the race.
NO FEWER than 31 SAC members were among the 1,808 finishers in this year’s Rotary Shakespeare Half Marathon for which conditions were close to perfect as runners set off on the challenging course.
First home for the club was 19-year-old Seb Hopper who professed himself delighted with his 13th-placed finish in the magnificent time of 1:20:01, which was an almost nine-minute improvement on his previous best, although he was somewhat irritated by the ‘01’. He was eighth in his age category.
Rich Shephard was apparently using this race as something of a training run but he still managed a top 20 position with a time of 1:21:12. He was able to encourage the next SAC finisher Matt Burdus-Cook to overtake a few runners on the finishing straight. Burdus-Cook was 19th in 1:21:52 and finished fourth in the M35 category.
Less than 90 seconds separated the next three Stratford runners to finish. Wayne Vickers (31st, 1:24:45 – sixth M45) was followed by an in-form Richard Dobedoe (39th, 1:26:06 – seventh M45), with Chris Cond (41st, 1:26:12) just six seconds behind.
Wheeler is first Stratford woman home
Having recently joined the club, Andrew Holbrook did his new yellow and black vest proud by finishing 65th in a time of 1:29:33. He was followed by the first Stratford woman to finish – Sarah Wheeler – whose time of 1:31:34 ensured she not only finished 87th but was second in the F45 category.
Waleed Agabani was next in a time of 1:32:57 and he was followed by David Smyth who had hoped to run the race in 1:35 and he did this with 16 seconds to spare, finishing in 1:34:44.
Pete Sugden was delighted with his PB of 1:35:19, taking four minutes off his previous best time, achieved at this race 12 months ago.
Just one second separated the next two SAC finishers, with Ryan Bakewell finishing in a PB of 1:41:32. He was followed by the second Stratford woman to finish, Lynne Hinson.
Competing just a couple of weeks after her marathon debut in Brighton, Hinson’s time of 1:41:33 was just 40 seconds off her PB and a couple of minutes quicker than her time at the Warwick Half Marathon in March.
Another PB was recorded by Gavin Lambert (1:44:22) whose time was a five-minute improvement on his performance in this race last year. He was followed by Ted Burch in a time of 1:44:50 who was followed by the next two Stratford women to finish – Liuba Pasa who was second in the F55 category with 1:46:11 and followed by Cara Reynolds in 1:46:46.
Following his recent return from the World Masters Indoor Championships in Poland, Phil Brennan, the club’s international masters athlete, recorded the second-fastest time in the UK this year in his age category as he completed the race in 1:49:10.
It was then the turn of 18-year-old half marathon debutant Edie Hutchinson who exceeded her expectations in recording a time of 1:49:36. She even had enough energy at the end for an impressive sprint finish, which suggests there is more to come from this talented athlete.
Other SAC runners to complete the race were: James Deacon 1:49:58; Clive Swain 1:51:41; Christian Williams 1:52:24; Andrew Madden 1:54:09; Bev Brigden 1:55:41 (sixth in F55 category); Ian Hill 1:56:57; Tony Tomecek 1:57:10; Maggie McLeod 1:59:06 (ninth in F55 category); Louise Stewart 1:59:31; Allan Coldicott 2:02:19; Sheryl Buckland 2:45:03; John Butler 2:52:12.
The race was won by Matthew Battley in a time of 1:12:52 and first woman to finish was Chloe Richardson in 1:17:46. Reports by David Jones.