THE VILLAGE of Ilmington plays host to the annual Tempo Winter Series of 10km races throughout autumn and winter and the first of these monthly events proved successful.
Numbers are restricted to respect the village environment, but the 300 entries are highly sought after and the opening race took place in calm autumn weather, but even so the course was challenging.
The steep climb up Lark Stoke Hill – the highest point in Warwickshire – comes within two kilometres of the start and in the latter stages the steep descent into Ilmington can play havoc with tired legs and backs.
However, no less than 36 runners from Stratford Athletic Club were up for the challenge, with several more team-mates marshalling and cheering them on.
Matt Burdus-Cook showed exactly why he was voted SAC’s Athlete Of The Year with a storming second overall place in 37:48.
The next 16 finishers for Stratford were all under the 50-minute mark. Ivan Sarti (41:25) saw off a close challenge from Richard Liggett (41:29) and John Raby (41:43) as the trio took tenth, 11th and 12th places.
Having beaten more than 30 of his younger club-mates, Sarti was a certainty for the M55 category prize.
Ade Mason (43:09, 19th) continued his busy racing programme, followed by Seth Turner (43:18, 21st), Malcolm Bowyer (44:21, 27th) and second M55, Chris Cond (44:42), James Coy (44:49), Max Ross (45:08), Mark Hateley (45:13) and Graham Hill (46:07).
International triathlon star Emma Bexson (46:18) was the first Stratford lady finisher, 53rd overall and sixth female.
John Bettles (47:39), Amy Hinton (49:12) and Carl James and Clare Weatherhead (49:20) beat the 50-minute barrier, with Luke Watkins (50:22) unlucky to miss out.
Phil Brennan (53:14, 1st M75) was unaware of Daniel Hodgkin (53:16) just behind him, but keen to see off the challenge of Tony Tomecek (54:19) and Rebecca Pridham (55:07), herself under pressure from Simon Curran (55:14).
Kimberley Lee (55:20), Louise Stewart (56:04) and Richard Hartwell (59:05) came in under the hour, with Stewart still managing to look cheerful at the finish.
The remaining SAC stalwarts to meet the challenge were Neil Robertson (1:02:51), Gabriella Porter (1:04:53), Clare Eynon (1:05:00), Tom Horbury (1:05:31), Stuart Macleod (1:05:33), Alice Baxendale (1:09:29), Paul Nash (1:13:05), Gemma Smith (1:13:35) and John Butler (1:20:42).
The Stratford team posed for one of the biggest group photos of the year, confident at having overcome one of the sternest challenges in the local running calendar.
Yorkshire Marathon/Masters International
ALMOST every week, someone from SAC runs a marathon somewhere in this country or abroad.
It happens so often that it is sometimes easy to overlook the sheer effort and dedication, together with a certain amount of luck, which it takes to finish the distance.
On this occasion, it was Kate Sergent’s turn. As one of the best in the country in her age group, she was representing England Masters for the second time in a match against the other home nations.
Her preparation had been effected by lack of training partners on the necessary long runs, but despite this she finished the scenic race around York in 4:55:05, ninth in category – another major achievement.