A BITTERLY cold January Sunday morning greeted runners for the fourth and penultimate race in this season’s prestigious Tempo Winter Series.
Once again Stratford Athletic Club members were out in force on the start line with 27 yellow and black vests – more than 12 per cent of the 220 runners who finished the race – ready to pit their wits against Warwickshire’s steepest hill.
In a repeat of December’s race, Stratford’s Rich Shephard was first to finish, ahead of series leader Richard Simpkiss, in a superb time of 36 minutes dead, 35 seconds quicker than the same race in January 2016.
Next to finish for Stratford was Robin Kindersley, the recipient of the club’s most improved athlete of the year for 2016.
Robin justified that award by finishing in a magnificent eighth place in a time of 41.03 and at the same time comfortably won the M55 age group prize by more than four minutes from team-mate Malcolm Bowyer.
Robin managed to see off the challenge of 18-year-old Sam Weaving (9th – 41.31) in a reversal of the last race when Sam just pipped Robin by three seconds.
Sam has been consistency personified in this series of races. This was his fourth successive top ten finish and he currently stands seventh in the overall series to date which is a fabulous achievement for this talented teenager.
David Smyth should be justifiably proud of his 16th placed finish in a time of 44.13. There then followed three Stratford runners who were separated by just 21 seconds.
The aforementioned and consistent Malcolm Bowyer (20th – 45.07) not only managed to finish second in his age group but also just managed to edge out team-mate Wayne Vickers (21st – 45.25).
Wayne himself finished just three seconds ahead of Emma Bexson (22nd – 45.28) – exactly the same margin as in the previous race.
Emma is having an absolutely fabulous series of races. She was first lady to finish in this race and more significantly she did not originally target the race series but, after early success, changed her focus and is currently first lady in the series as a whole with just one race to go.
Pete Evans (28th – 46.24) just managed to get the better of Sam Nicholson (31st – 46.40) who beat him in the previous race.
Third lady to finish and first in her age category was Ceri Shephard (33rd – 47.27). Ceri was more than 30 seconds quicker and 18 places higher than in the last race.
James Cusack (48.57 – 49th) had another great race as he prepares for a couple of upcoming marathons.
Hannah Osborne (50th – 49.12) is another lady runner who is having a wonderfully consistent series of races. She was seventh lady to finish and is currently in fifth place for the series.
Hannah was the first of six Stratford ladies who were next to finish for the club and was followed by Emma Vickers (50.02 – 59th), Lynne Hinson (51.41 – 70th), Emma Parkin (54.00 – 88th), Rebecca Pridham (54.13 – 91st) and Suzi Graham (55.14 – 102nd) who was just seven seconds ahead of Alan Wright (55.21 – 105th).
Maureen Birch (58.34 – 124th) was once again first to finish in her age group – an award that should perhaps be renamed ‘The Maureen Birch Award’ such is the consistency with which she wins it.
Allan Coldicott (59.41 – 135th) will have been delighted to dip under the one-hour mark, whilst Eva Lowe (1:02.31 – 158th) just edged out Ollie Spicer (1:02.37 – 160th).
Kate Sergeant (1:03.01 – 163rd) felt she was affected by the extreme cold whilst the final four finishers for the club were Paul Nash (1:05.19 – 170th) – just two seconds ahead of Clive Shepherd (1:05.21 – 171st) – Nicola Reynolds (1:06.21 – 176th) and Martyn Sergent (1:07.04 – 183rd).
The final race in the series is on February 19 when competitors who have completed all five races in the series will be rewarded with the much sought after Winter Series hoody.
Report compiled by David Jones.