STRATFORD Athletic Club runners produced some outstanding performances at this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon.
First home for the club in a stunning time of 2:53.10 was Tim Hutchinson. Tim’s time meant he finished in the top three per cent of the 39,349 finishers in 1,059th place overall and 90th in his age group.
This time beat his previous PB by almost two minutes, achieved at London in 2015, and was more than five minutes quicker than last year.
Tim, who ran the first half with ex-Stratford member Rob Ford, said all was going well up to mile 20 when it started to get pretty warm, making it much harder work.
His feet hurt pretty much for the whole of the second half, which did not help. He was thrilled with his two-minute PB and is already looking forward to next year, when he will maybe attempt a sub-2:50.
Next to finish for the club was Sarah Wheeler, who had an equally sensational race. Her time of 3:10.41 meant she finished in 3,120th place overall but, more remarkably, was just outside the top one per cent of female finishers, finishing 189th out of 17,959 ladies.
Sarah, who was 30th in her age category, said: “London continues to be the most amazing event. I wish the last three miles had been less painful so I could have enjoyed it more. Great support from the crowds and all the other club members who all did brilliantly.”
A mere 13 seconds separated the next couple of Stratford finishers, both finishing comfortably within the top ten per cent.
First of these was Wayne Vickers in a time of 3:13.16. Wayne had commented before the race he would have liked to finish in 3:05/3:10 but he thought he was 3-4 weeks away from that time.
Still, finishing just outside the top eight per cent was a fabulous performance – a phrase which perfectly describes Graham Black’s race.
Graham was competing barely a week after finishing the Marathon Des Sables, described as the toughest foot race on earth which consists of the equivalent of six marathons in five days in the Sahara Desert.
There is no way Graham should have competed in the London Marathon, let alone run a time of 3:13.29, finishing in 3,260th place.
The Tuesday before the race he had said he felt great and would maybe target 3:05. After a run on the Welcombe Hills the following day, he said his legs felt like lead and that 4:05 was a more realistic time!
The fact he ran a time just four minutes outside his PB was a heck of an achievement.
Andy Cox has improved considerably over his three London appearances. In 2015, he ran a time of 4:00.35, last year it was down to 3:31 and his time this year was 3:16.5, finishing inside the top ten per cent in a position of 3,745th.
He has shown a huge 43-minute improvement over that period of time.
Next was Mr Consistency himself – Malcolm Bowyer – competing in his 22nd London Marathon. His time of 3:18.03 was a mere 19 minutes slower than when he ran the race 14 years ago.
He felt he was on for a time of 3:12 until the last couple of miles when he ran out of puff! Malcolm was 123rd in his age category.
Waleed Agabani’s time of 3:22.47 was nine minutes quicker than his time last year. Anthony Howell, like Graham, really should not have been lining up to start this race, having run his first marathon in Manchester just three weeks previously.
In Manchester, he ran a time of 3:44 and was able to knock a huge 15 minutes off this time, completing the course in 3:29.45.
Henry Morrison (3:32.23 – 5,751st) has not been running as much as he used to in the last few years, life having got in the way of running. However, he should me very pleased indeed with his time.
Emily Adams (3:38.23 – 7,885th) was the third of the Stratford contingent attempting the race shortly after completing another marathon.
Emily, like Anthony, had competed in the Manchester Marathon and certainly had no right to be finishing within the top 20 per cent, within the top eight per cent of lady finishers and a hugely impressive 263rd in her age category.
Her time was less than four minutes slower than her Manchester time, which itself was a ten-minute PB. She said that even after 16 miles she was really struggling but the thought of seeing family members at mile 20 drove her on and after that it was a case of mental strength as much as physical strength that spurred her on.
Phil Groom (4:03.08 – 14,055th) will have been slightly disappointed to have missed out on a sub-four-hour time but, in such warm conditions, he should be pleased with his race.
The race was won by Daniel Wanjiru in a time of 2:05.48. The first lady to finish, in 20th place, was Mary Keitany in 2:17.01.
Her time was the second fastest ever by a woman, beaten only by Paula Radcliffe’s world record time of 2:15.25 set at London in 2003.
JUST to compete in the Boston Marathon is a feat in itself as you have to achieve a qualifying time to be allowed to enter.
SAC was represented at this race by Pete Evans, whose training had been severely disrupted by illness, whilst the fact he had spent the previous day sightseeing with his family was not the ideal preparation for such a gruelling challenge.
This being the case, he decided to just enjoy the race and the fabulous atmosphere as opposed to going flat out. However, his time of 3:39.21 was one most people could only dream of achieving.
THE OFFA’S ‘ORROR is a 20k multi-terrain race in the Wye Valley.
This challenging race, run mainly on footpaths and forest trails, starts from Mackenzie Hall in Brockweir and almost immediately runners face a steady climb, going along forest tracks that lead to Offa’s Dyke.
After four miles, runners then head uphill to the old oak woods of the Hudnalls Common, before a well earned descent down towards the River Wye at Bigsweir.
From there the race is flat, following the river towards Tintern via Brockweir and the old railway bridge before finishing at the Anchor Inn.
It is no surprise two of Stratford’s toughest runners competed. Rob Minton’s magnificent time of 1:32.38 ensured he finished in a superb fourth place, just 28 seconds off third place. He also finished second in his age group.
Sarah Bland finished in a hugely impressive time of 2:01.43 in 108th place and third in her age group, a mere 17 seconds off second place.
Some 208 runners finished the race, which was won by Henry Kingston, in a time of 1:25.29. First lady finisher, in 14th place, was Faye Johnson 1:37.42.