INTERNATIONAL triathlete Richard Shephard was the first member of Stratford Athletic Club past the finish line at the Wright Hassall Regency 10k in Leamington on Sunday.
The route is predominantly on the roads around Leamington town centre but also takes in Newbold Comyn golf course. The near-perfect conditions were reflected in the results as the top three men finished inside 33 minutes.
In a high-quality race with almost 2,000 runners, Shephard placed fifth in 34:02 – just 11 seconds shy of his best performance on this course – set when finishing second in 2015.
He was one of seven Stratford athletes to finish within 40 minutes. Despite suffering from a cold for a week leading into the event, Matt Burdus-Cook finished 24th overall and fourth M40 in 37:16 – his fastest ever clocking for a 10km race of any nature and almost a minute quicker than his time from last year.
Chris Cond also performed better than he did 12 months ago, clocking 38:51 to finish 44th overall and eighth in the M40 category.
He was followed by a flurry of four sub-40 finishers as triathlete Bogdan Ene (39:27), newcomer Richard Liggatt (39:34), Adam Evans (39:45) and Seth Turner (39:50) all cracked the 40-minute mark for the first time.
Malcolm Bowyer, who is preparing for the London Marathon later this month, was the fourth finisher in the M50 category, placing 80th overall in 40:21. David Smyth (42:29) and Peter Sugden (43:26) finished 20th and 25th respectively in the same category, while Graham Black ran 42:28 to finish 32nd in the M40 age group.
Suzi Graham was Stratford AC’s first woman past the finish line and 125th woman overall. She recorded 51:02 to achieve a top 30 finish in the W45 category. Rachael Green, the 34th W45 finisher, was close behind in 52:11, while Sarah Boundy was timed at 53:19.
Stratford AC’s other finishers were Ben Twyman (48:19), Tomos Horbury (57:04), Clare Eynon (1:00:02), Chris Bloomfield (1:01:23), Jane Fradgley (1:01:27), Natasha Watkins (1:09:58), Gemma Smith (1:10:46) and Jennifer Wharton (1:20:04).
Adam Peacock of Bromsgrove & Redditch secured overall victory in 32:20, while Leamington’s Natalie Bhangal was the first woman to finish, clocking 38:51.
Elsewhere on the roads last weekend, Cadie Hibberd smashed her marathon PB by exactly 24 minutes. Competing at the Greater Manchester Marathon, the 21-year-old clocked 3:29:16 to finish as the 202nd woman out of a field of 13,650 runners.
Closer to home, Kate Sergent ran the Solihull Half Marathon and used it as an opportunity to hone her pacing plan for the Brighton Marathon later this month.
“It worked a treat,” said Sergent, who clocked 2:16:54 to finish second in the W65 category.
“I did a steady 10:35 per mile pace and felt great at the finish. I’m feeling a little more confident for Brighton now.”
Report by Jon Mulkeen.