SUNDAY was a big day for more than 40 Stratford Athletic Club members who put months of hard work and training into practice when they competed in the London Marathon and Rotary Shakespeare Marathon and Half Marathon, writes David Jones.
The event in the capital was a bittersweet moment for James Lawson for whom running in the London Marathon has been a long-held ambition and was made possible by way of a club ballot place.
His training and build-up had all gone to plan and he completed two sub-two-hour half marathons this year but, as he said himself, could not really explain his time of 5:21.42.
James revealed it was easily the hardest thing he had ever done and he had left nothing out on the course in earning the one medal he has always wanted.
First home for Stratford was Phil Howell (2:56.42) in his second successive sub-three-hour London Marathon. This was a truly epic performance and Phil was also 64th in a highly competitive age category.
Next to finish was Tim Hutchinson (2:58.16) whose final weeks of training have been hampered by a niggling calf injury, so to have been able to join Phil with a second successive sub-three-hour run really did take a special effort.
Phil and Tim were nip and tuck all the way round, with each recording identical half marathon split times of 1:25.29 before Phil was able to pull away and end up just ahead of Tim.
Pete Evans recorded a splendid PB of 3:06.26, which was more than eight minutes quicker than his previous best.
It really is doubtful they could run the London Marathon without Malcolm Bowyer taking part. He has competed in it year after year for many, many years and it is a measure of both his talent and ability that he is consistency personified.
It is remarkable to note this year’s time of 3:11.05 is just 12 minutes slower than his time in 2003 which, at less than a minute a year slower, means Malcolm is on course to be running sub-four-hour marathons when he is a centenarian!
Charlie Burn recorded a time of 3:26.55 and Waleed Agabani (3:31.41) was 11 minutes slower than his Istanbul Marathon time earlier this year.
Emily Adams (3:44.38) was just 11 seconds slower than her 2014 time despite problems in the lead-up to this race which would have put most people off from competing.
Her 5km split times were almost metronomic in their consistency, with only a 63-second difference between the quickest and slowest – a truly wonderful achievement. Emily now turns her thoughts to the Chicago Marathon in October.
Carl James (4:02.27), Claire Campbell (4:16.43) and Kate Hawkesford (4:31.07) will have probably been slightly disappointed to miss out on 4hrs, 15mins and 4hrs, 30mins respectively but they really should not be, as they all ran superbly.
For Emil Gudfinnsson (5:11.38), this was his first marathon, and for Julian Johnson (5:44.25), who did not get anywhere near as much training in as he had wanted to, they should both be feeling immensely proud of themselves for having run 26.2 miles in one of the world’s greatest races.
The race was won by Eliud Kipchoge (2:03.05). First lady to finish was Jemima Sumgong (2:22.58).
Closer to home
AS THE whole world seemed to descend on Stratford to celebrate its most famous son, there was another event to keep more than 30 Stratford AC members busy in the shape of the Rotary Shakespeare Marathon and Half Marathon.
The weather was perfect as the runners amassed on the start line for an initial run around the town, before setting out towards Luddington and then Welford. The atmosphere along the route is a wonder to behold, especially for those runners wearing the yellow and black vests of Stratford AC.
This is by no means the easiest of courses, with the challenge of Rumer Hill and the final, daunting three miles to the finish along The Greenway. It is a course that tests the very best of runners.
In the full marathon Neil Wicks was a superb sixth out of 704 finishers in a magnificent time of 2:54.13. Becky Loftus in 411th place ran a PB of 4:09.10, followed by Tara Lambert (482nd – 4:23.21) and Pete Law (679th – 5:32.17).
The race was won by Adam Holland in 2:34.51 and the first lady to finish was Josie Hinton 3:14.39.
In the half marathon Rich Shephard, despite a magnificent run (4th – 1:14.37), was unable to repeat his victory of last year, being a mere 44 seconds slower.
First lady to finish was Kate Wright (17th – 1:23.40), It is so easy to take Kate for granted, as she follows one fabulous performance with another and is first lady home time after time but we really should not. This was yet another superb run, with her finishing more than four minutes ahead of the next lady to finish.
There was a superb age category win for Emma Vickers in the W35 category, (204th in a PB time of 1:40). Having missed out on her target time of 1:40 last year by 100 seconds, Emma succeeded in achieving her goal this time around.
Penny Stainthorp repeated last year’s achievement as first finisher in the W55 category (279th – 1:42.14) and the hat-trick of age category winners was realised by David Jones in the M65 category (243rd – 1:41.36).
Five other runners were able to achieve elusive PBs. These were Dave Knight (62nd – 1:30.39), Rebecca Pridham (652nd – 1:54.55) who was a massive 22 minutes better than last year, Sheila Smith (992nd – 2:03.23) a full eight minutes quicker than her Birmingham Half Marathon time of six months ago, Clive Shepherd (1373rd – 2:16.22) who has certainly benefitted from his weekly parkruns and Aimee Spicer (1536th – 2:23.00) who showed utter delight with her result.
A notable battle between club members was evident as Richard Dobedoe (144th 1:36:32) and Graham Black (145th 1:36:32) covered the distance together and it must be said chatted away merrily on the journey, until an exciting sprint finish at the end saw them jostle for position and Richard nose ahead in what would have been a photo finish!
Other Stratford runners to complete the half marathon were: James Coy 63rd – 1:30.16; Sam Nicholson 115th – 1:34.50; Pete Wharton 345th – 1:42.10; Phil Brennan 351st – 1:45.35 (2nd in M65 category); Mike Barrie 515th – 1:50.38; Charlotte Potgieter 528th – 1:51.07; Chris Whateley 562nd – 1:52.52; Ian Hill 750th – 1:54.16; David Smyth 792nd – 1:55.55; Rachel Spence 1,257th – 2:10.05; Michael Oliver 1,324th – 2:14.49; Oliver Spicer 1,404th – 2:16.09; Paul Nash 1,431st – 2:19.41; Shauni Warner 1,546th – 2:24.05; Andy Smith 1,566th – 2:24.51; John Butler 1,609th – 2:25.12.