8th Dec, 2016

It's a marathon (and half) effort as runners head far and wide

Stratford Editorial 27th Sep, 2016 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

STRATFORD Athletic Club members were out in force at the weekend as they competed in marathons and half marathons from Cheltenham to Berlin.

Graham Black, Stratford’s very own Forrest Gump, was competing in the Robin Hood Marathon with the aim of achieving a time that would give him a ‘good for age’ place in the London Marathon.

This he did with a time of 3:11.53 which, although just under three minutes off his personal best, was comfortably inside the London qualifying time of 3:15. Graham finished a magnificent 49th out of 1,192 finishers.

Also racing for Stratford was Lisa Whittington who just missed her target time and finished in 5.03.50. The race was won by Adam Holland, in a time of 2:37.25.

James Cusack competed in the Berlin Marathon, which was won in the second fastest time in history. Kenenisa Bekele triumphed in 2:03.03, a mere six seconds off the fastest time ever recorded.

James managed a superb time of 3:16. Although six minutes off his PB at Manchester earlier in the year, he was rightly extremely proud of his time.

He commented the roads were very wide and, as such, it is easy to run further than the 26.2 miles.

He also found the last few miles more challenging than he expected. James loved the race and would like to compete in it again. He said the city of Berlin really does seem to embrace the marathon and the music and support en route was brilliant.

He added the organisation was excellent and the people extremely friendly. Next up for James is the Dublin Marathon at the end of October.

For Martyn and Kate Sergent, competing in the Loch Ness Marathon was always about Marytn competing in his first marathon and the pair of them being able to run a marathon together.

The magnificent location of the Loch Ness Marathon was what drew them to the Scottish Highlands. There are many great marathons around the world, many of them particularly marked by their settings, and the Loch Ness ranks right alongside them.

The route begins in the beautiful scenic location of the loch and continues through more breathtaking scenery along the south-eastern shores of Loch Ness, across the River Ness and into the centre of Inverness.

The race did not quite go according to plan for Martyn and Kate. They ran together for 20 miles, before Martyn started to struggle with stomach cramps, delaying them both.

Kate carried on alone to finish in a time of 5:25.51, with Martyn summoning up the strength to finish the race in a time of 5:53.46.

The race was won by Mohammad Abu-Rezeq in 2:20.52 and the first lady finisher was Jennifer Wetton in tenth place in a time of 2:47.02.

Closer to home, six SAC members competed in the Cheltenham Half Marathon. First home for Stratford, in 91st place, was James Coy in a personal best time of 1:29.11 despite having competed in the Belfast Half Marathon just seven days earlier.

James was four minutes quicker than in Belfast and ran the half 42 seconds quicker than his previous best time.

Next for Stratford was Alan Wright (1,488th) in a time of 2:01.13. Another runner competing the Belfast/Cheltenham double in seven days was Richard Hartwell (2:08).

Next to finish for Stratford in her first half marathon was Nicola Reynolds in a time of 2:15.08. Phil Groom (2:22.53) was just 77 seconds ahead of the next Stratford runner Paul Nash (2:24.10).

The race was won by Toby Spencer in 1:07.13 and the first lady to finish, in 21st place, was Annabel Granger in 1:20.51 as 3,491 runners completed the race.

Report compiled by David Jones.