THE HIGHEST number of starters for two years graced the fourth of five Tempo Ilmington Race Series events.
Conditions were extremely cold and, although reluctant to leave the warmth of the clubhouse, a big Stratford Athletic Club contingent of 24 set out for the clockwise route, commonly thought to be harder and certainly a little longer.
After an early battle with eventual winner Paul Andrew, Richard Shephard was the first Stratford AC finisher, placing second in a time of 37:08. Andrew built up an advantage on the hills before going on to secure his fourth win from as many races in the series.
Matt Burdus-Cook ran a great race to finish fifth overall in 39:30 and his first time inside 40 minutes in this direction gave him the V35 category win.
Dan Lynch, suffering from the end of a chest infection, was 11th in 40:33 but is still in strong contention for the series age group prize.
Making his first appearance here this season, Alex Hill ran a great race to finish just 13 seconds behind Lynch in 12th, clocking 40:46.
Ivan Sarti took his third V55 age category win of the season (16th, 41:33) and was pleased to knock some time off his previous run in this direction, so he still maintains the lead for the series. He got the better of Chris Cond who was 25th in 42:37.
Owen Goschen ran well under the admission of not being able to train as he would like to finish 32nd (44:00, 3rd V45) as, did David Smyth (46:00). Adam Evans finished 58th in 46:30, while Joe Lee is “back on it” and in training, beating his time from November (46:39) to finish 25 seconds ahead of Damian Wheeler (47:05).
Two V45s battled it out after that – Peter Sugden, 71st in 47:05 and Alan Dwyer, 86th in 48:31. Simon Curran ran a good time of 56:14, while Stuart Macleod clocked 1:04:02, more than a minute quicker than his time from December’s race.
Bringing up the tail of the Stratford men but not the tail of the race was John Butler in 1:19:14 who looks on course for the V75 series prize.
In a strong field, Emma Parkin was Stratford AC’s first woman to finish, placing 16th among the women in 49:40.
The ever-smiling and consistent Rebecca Pridham was 26th woman in 53:43. Just eight seconds separate her times from all four races in the series so far.
Despite a bad cold, Suzi Graham made it round in 57:38, while Maggie Macleod ran strongly again to finish inside an hour (59:29).
Making her first appearance here, Pip Abrams completed the race in 1:02:53. Alice Baxendale ran more than six minutes quicker than her time in November’s race, finishing in 1:06:38, and Clare Eynon also continues to improve, finishing in 1:08:04.
Returning from injury, Louise Stewart was happy to finish in 1:12:27, while Gemma Smith ran 1:22:46. Fell runner Mel Price was the first woman overall, finishing in 41:46.
Report compiled by Sarah Bland.