STRATFORD Athletic Club hosted the major senior cross country events as the Welcombe Hills staged the Birmingham League and Midland Women’s League races.
The women’s first division was in action, as was the men’s second division. The heavy rain leading up to event ensured it was heavy going for the runners, with one part of the course having to be rerouted to avoid the worst of the mud.
However, it was perfect cross country weather on the day – dry and relatively mild.
The women’s race was first with nearly 200 of the leading Midland runners heading up the first hill from the start including 17 Stratford runners.
The home club were fielding a young team with four of last season’s successful under 17 team racing. After a steady start, Sophie Dobedoe worked her way through the field with excellent pace judgement to finish 41st in 30.24 and, as with the first league race, was first Stratford runner home.
Emily Field in her first senior season does not enjoy a hilly course but still ran well to be next back (63rd, 31.07) and was followed by the first of Stratford’s masters – Emma Bexson (73rd, 32.07) – in her best race for a couple of seasons.
Just behind and closing fast was junior Daisy Musk (74th, 32.09) to close the team of four. This was her first senior race and she was delighted with the race. Only another ten seconds behind was Annie Cox (79th, 32.19).
Imogen Sheppard is more at home racing 400m on the track so this race was out of her comfort zone, but she made a strong start and held her form well to finish 89th (33.14). She will now turn her attention to the indoor season in the new year.
Suzanne Ross (95th, 33.45) is in her first season with the club and ran strongly on the tough course. The second finisher in the Stratford masters team was Emma Parkin (102nd, 34.38), followed by newcomer Vicky Sharp (107th, 35.01) and junior debutant Abbie Wootton (108th, 35.20).
The final counter in the masters team was Clare Weatherhead (123th, 36.28), closely followed by Liuba Pasa (124th, 36.31).
The remaining team members were Rebecca Pridham (138th), Julie Gilson (143rd), Hannah Finch (145th), Kate Sergent (155th) and Pip Abrams (160th).
The Stratford team came 14th on the day and 11th in the masters competition.
Next off was the men’s race in which Stratford had 23 runners taking part. Rich Shephard came third, Josh Newman ninth and the ever-improving Matt Burdus-Cook 31st.
Ollie Senior was 39th, Tim Hutchinson 57th and Drew Sambridge 80th and they were the six runners who made up the A team.
The next six runners to finish were the B team of Adam Evans 93rd, Richard Liggatt 97th and James Cusack, whose late arrival spurred him on to overtake many runners in the race and finish 100th.
John Raby was 106th, Simon Hanagarth 108th and finally for the B team was team manager Malcolm Bowyer in 122nd.
The Stratford A team came eighth to maintain seventh place in the league and the B team were fifth to remain sixth overall.
Report compiled by Paul Hawkins and Malcolm Bowyer.