THE FIRST of the Midland Women’s Cross Country League races at Coundon Hall Park in Coventry featured a team of 12 from Stratford Athletic Club.
A record number of 460 runners in the two divisions of this league – who were competing together in one race – made for an impressive sight at the start of the race, but the runners soon spread out over the mostly flat parkland course.
Stratford have been in the top division since the league was split 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, along with the leading clubs from across the Midlands.
Sheila Lammas led the Stratford team from the start and finished in 68th place (25:17), looking much stronger than in the corresponding race last year. Next for the club and also showing a big improvement was Emily Adams (92nd, 26:32).
Lynne Hinson was making her cross country debut and her good road running form carried over to the cross country as she came 95th in 26:40.
Next back for the club and running her first cross country race for seven years was Yvonne Caswell (98th, 26:49) who picked up ten places in the last 500m and looked to be very comfortable in the race.
Another athlete making her cross country debut was Sarah Boundy (112th, 27:26) who enjoyed the race on the back of her marathon training. Next back was team regular Suzi Graham (144th, 28:47), closely followed by a hardworking Rebecca Pridham (151st, 29:14).
A year ago, this was Sarah Vernon’s first cross country race but she has improved massively since then and was an amazing 12 minutes quicker this year, coming 169th in 30:51.
Kate Sergent (186th, 33:39), Pip Abrams (187th, 33:47), Nicola Reynolds (198th, 35:51) and Olwen Kelly (200th, 38:34) were Stratford AC’s other finishers.
The overall team position was 15th in Division One and seventh in the masters competition.
Report compiled by Paul Hawkins.