Stratford runners in action far and wide - The Stratford Observer

Stratford runners in action far and wide

Stratford Editorial 21st Mar, 2017 Updated: 21st Mar, 2017   0

STRATFORD Athletic Club member and current England international Roger Wilson competed in the British Masters Cross Country Championships in Liverpool and secured a magnificent gold medal by comfortably winning his age group.

His time of 29.49 was almost two minutes quicker than his nearest rival.

The Bath Half Marathon saw Stratford Athletic Club’s Alan Wright go agonisingly close to breaking the magic two-hour mark for the first time since his performance in the Birmingham half in 2015.

Having recorded at time of 2:01.13 at Cheltenham last year, he improved slightly on that to finish in 2:00.45.

In the Barcelona Marathon, Graham Black’s magnificent time of 3:09.17 beat his previous PB in 2015’s Stratford marathon by the margin of one second!

Graham was using this race as part of his preparation for one of the world’s toughest endurance races, the Marathon des Sables in the Sahara Desert in southern Morocco. This is a six-day, 155-mile ultra-marathon, approximately the distance of six regular marathons.

The Gloucester 20 is a race organised by Gloucester Athletic Club. In this year’s running of the event, 435 runners completed the course.

The race was won by Edward Banks in 1:54.56 but the first lady home was, almost inevitably, Stratford’s very own Kate Wright.

Kate finished in 33rd place in a scarcely believable time of 2:16.33, which is an average pace of just six minutes, 48 seconds a mile for 20 miles. Kate beat her nearest female rival by more than three minutes.

The Larmer Tree Half is something of a misnomer, in that the race is advertised as 13.1 milesish!

The race starts and finishes at Larmer Tree Gardens and takes place in one of Britain’s most beautiful landscapes.

Larmer Tree is also home to a muster of peacocks and a pair of free-flying Macaws that add to the magical atmosphere of the race.

Rob Minton and Hannah Osborne were SAC’s participants in this year’s race and were joined by ex-Stratford runner Rob Ford.

They both ran their own race and, as the 13.1 miles came and went, they knew the end was not quite in sight as they had still got a tricky uphill climb to go before reaching the finishing line.

With 14.5 miles in the tank there was a superb fifth place for Rob (1:42.23) who ran a consistent and strong race, also finishing second in his age group.

Hannah finished in 2:09.30 in 44th place. She was also fifth lady finisher and first in her age group.

THE ANNUAL Teddy Hall Relays are hosted by St Edmund Hall college in Oxford and provide a great opportunity to visit the historic Iffley Road track where Roger Bannister ran the first four-minute mile.

Each of the 3.6-mile laps starts and finishes on the track and the course takes the runners on both sides of the river, Christchurch Meadow and High Street in the centre of Oxford, to the bemusement of townies and tourists.

Despite taking place in midweek during the day, it has always proved popular with SAC for its relaxed atmosphere and the opportunity to cheer on fellow team members. This year, three teams ran – a men’s team running over four legs and two three-lap ladies’ teams.

Malcolm Bowyer led out for the men, finishing well up the field in a sparkling 22:58 minutes, Phil Brennan was next and, while losing places, was close to his best time for the event at 26:45.

Evergreens Phil Marshall (27:45) and Paul Hawkins (28:37) brought the team home in 55th position, by some quirk of fate ahead of the RAF first team which is a result to remember.

The ladies’ A team was led off by Sarah Bland, in between organising the event timing, and she recorded an impressive 25:42.

Sarah Odell, stepping down considerably from her usual racing distance, was next at 28:25, before handing over to Emily Adams who brought the team to an excellent 14th place with a fine 26:30.

The ladies’ B team took a more sedate route, with Kate Sergent (32:03), Wendy Bowyer (31:16) and reliable Cindy Brittan (45:19) keeping their cool to finish in 24th place.

Everyone enjoyed the day and it is hoped the event stays on SAC’s calendar. Thanks to Phil Marshall and David Smyth for organising and David Jones in the unenviable role of reserve.

THE ANNUAL Banbury 15-mile road race is one of the toughest road racing challenges in the area.

The hilly course through North Oxfordshire villages was this year made more difficult by a cool and blustery wind on the exposed hills, alternating with warm sunshine and humid conditions in the valleys.

Just two Stratford AC members took on this difficult challenge, both of them on the lookout for precious points in the club’s annual Grand Prix competition.

Phil Brennan (213rd, 2:17:05) was on track for a PB at the halfway stage, when the turn into the headwinds almost brought him to a standstill.

He jogged the rest of the distance, reflecting that training for 1,500m did not work for 15-mile races.

By contrast, Jan Mclure (248, 2:29:06) ran a typically brave race over a distance which was new to her and further than she had raced before.

Some 282 runners completed the race, which was won by OIlie Garrod in 1:24.35. The first lady to finish was Hayley Munn in 12th place in 1:36.06.

Reports compiled with the help of David Jones and Phil Brennan.


Receive a weekly update to your inbox by signing up to our weekly newsletter.


We can provide all of your printing needs at competitive rates.


Find a career you'll love with our free career finder website.


Advertise with the Stratford Observer to reach your audience