RICHARD SHEPHARD became the first Stratford Athletic Club member to win the Compton Verney Half Marathon.
Like the past two years, this year’s race – the eighth edition – was blessed with glorious weather and no fewer than 27 SAC members lined up at the start of the race. Three of the top five places were taken by Stratford AC runners.
The half marathon sets off from the front of Compton Verney and winds through the villages of Kineton, Little Kineton and Radway before returning up the challenging Pittern Hill and back to finish on the lawns of Compton Verney by the lake.
Shephard won in 1:16:55 – the second-fastest time ever at this event and just 44 seconds shy of the course record. He finished more than four minutes ahead of the second-placed runner.
Matt Burdus-Cook finished third in 1:21:16, just 16 seconds behind the runner-up. Although it is not known for being a particularly fast course, Burdus-Cook’s time was a 36-second improvement on his personal best. He was also delighted to achieve his first ever podium finish.
Burdus-Cook was followed by Neil Wicks, who placed fifth overall in 1:22:25. James Coy also finished inside 90 minutes to place 20th in 1:29:24 – his fastest half marathon for three years.
Four other SAC athletes finished inside the top 30. Richard Liggatt placed 22nd in 1:30:54, closely followed by James Cusack (24th, 1:31:13), John Raby (25th, 1:31:53) and Mark Hateley (29th, 1:32:20).
Adam Evans (38th, 1:34:35) was followed by Joe Lee (50th, 1:38:08) and Pete Sugden’s time of 1:38:52 was a full ten minutes quicker than last year. He was followed a few minutes later by Graham Hill (74th, 1:41:55).
Emma Parkin was the 16th woman overall – and SAC’s first – to finish, clocking 1:45:26. Cara Reynolds was less than a minute behind in a PB of 1:46:21 and she was followed just 23 seconds later by Sam Wignell (1:47:44) and then Yvonne Gajny (1:50:52), who finished fourth in the W45 category.
Tony Tomecek and Sarah Vernon recorded identical times of 1:57:17 – a PB for Vernon – with Tara Lambert close behind in 1:57:30.
Maggie MacLeod and Bev Brigden finished third and fifth in the W55 category, clocking 1:59:29 and 2:01:42 respectively.
The other SAC finishers were Louise Stewart (2:04:18), Kimberley Lee (2:06:30), Stuart MacLeod (2:21:42), Kate Sergent (2:27:57) and Pippa Abrams (2:28:08). Sergent was first in her age category – a full ten minutes ahead of the next placed runner.
Joanne McCandless was the first woman to finish, clocking 1:21:28 as 328 runners completed the course.
Hawkins wins bronze at British Masters 10k Race Walk Championships
SAC’s international masters race walker Paul Hawkins earned the bronze medal in the M60 category at the British Masters 10k Race Walking Championships in Leicester’s Abbey Park.
The race, which was incorporated into the Jim Sharlott 10K event, was held over an oval lap on footpaths.
Hawkins started off at a strong pace but felt he made a few errors early on and so slowed down in the middle of the race.
He finished strongly and his final mile was his quickest of the race, clocking 64:28.
Little more than a minute separated the top three places and Hawkins was just 17 seconds behind the silver medallist.
Hawkins will be competing in the British Masters Athletic Federation 20k later this month.