NINE Stratford AC endurance experts took the opportunity to test themselves in the Ashby 20.
The race which takes place in Ashby-de-la-Zouch is organised by Ivanhoe Runners and is a firm favourite on the distance running calendar, partly due to the date making it perfect preparation for the London Marathon.
Rob Minton (30th, 2.07.10), resplendent in bright green running shoes, was first home for the club.
One man who has been pounding the pavements more than most during the winter is workhorse Henry Morrison (54th, 2.12.42).
Winner of the second lady and 1st F45 prizes was Kate Wright (83rd, 2:16:02) who continues to make each race look very easy!
The fierce determination of Cat Clifford (210th, 2.32.24) has been gracing many testing road races of late, and this willpower combined with the speed of red and white shoes meant she covered the 20 miles over two minutes inside her time of the previous year.
Sarah Bland (277th, 2.37.57), wearing one of the biggest watches ever seen, managed to take another step towards full race fitness with a fine display.
For David Smyth (441st, 2.41.31) the only thing more challenging than the race was convincing his wife that he would be out for most of Mother’s Day and persuading her to look after the children!
Phil Brennan (528th, 2.57.48) looked comfortable bounding along the finishing straight. He was followed by David Jones (330th, 02:49:55 ) and Simon Whitehead (806th, 3.41.22).
The winner of the men’s race was Mark Powell of Wigston Phoenix in 1.52.53.
However, there was a controversial finish to the women’s race. The first runner home was disqualified for wearing headphones, which was against race rules. That handed the women’s prize to Claire Spencer of Kimberworth Striders in 2.15.47.
The Chedworth Roman Trail 10 is perfect for those runners who like nothing more than to get wet and cold during a race.
The course is mainly on tracks and footpaths, with roughly one mile on road, a river crossing, challenging hills and some tricky mud thanks to overnight rain.
A healthy field of 265 took part, including Stratford AC quartet Sarah Wheeler, Pete Hill, Lisa Dallisson and Allan Coldicott.
Wheeler (47th, 1.14.26),was the third woman across the line, finishing 2.32 clear of the fourth woman to complete the course.
She picked up a sackful of prizes for her run which included a hat and gloves, a coaster, wine and a trophy. What she really wanted was a travel iron to go with the travel kettle she won at a recent 10k!
Lisa Dallisson (79th, 1.20.16) was the 8th woman to finish and 2nd in her age group after slicing ten seconds off her 2011 time.
Pete Hill (99th, 1.22.25) likes to get stuck into events that are long or difficult and often both at the same time, while the ubiquitous Allan Coldicott (148th, 1.28.25) would not say it was a first class performance but he will still have enjoyed the trip to the West Country. The race winner was Steve Millward of Gloucester AC in 58.42 and the fastest woman was Nicola Denning of Cirencester AC (41st, 1.13.24).
The advertising blurb for the Banbury 15 race said ‘seriously rural’ with picturesque undulations.
It is doubtful many of the 303 runners who took part found the views too much of a consolation on a hard course over a difficult distance to pace.
None of the four Stratford AC runners took the option of participating in the two mile fun run that preceded the main race, not even the usually mile-hungry Paul Hawkins.
Triathlon regular Phil Howell (34th, 1.41.02) knocked spots off his 2011 time of 1.43.45.
This performance was no surprise as he has been in great form in training and recently put in an excellent 12km run at the National Cross Country Championships.
Paul Hawkins (121st, 1.57.09) down on 1.55.34 in 2011 was disappointed and complained of tight hamstrings. Having set himself a target of around 1.50, he was left to look ahead to the endurance tests that lie ahead, including the London Marathon.
This was the first ever 15 mile race for Paul Jennings (142nd, 1.59.48) whose aim was to duck under two hours, but also to keep in mind he was using it as a training race for the Stratford Marathon.
Luke Watkins (230th, 2.13.16) ran at pace comfortably inside nine minutes per mile and as he has little experience beyond 10 miles he can take great confidence from the race.
The race winner was Sullivan Smith of host club Banbury Harriers in 1.24.13, which was 90 seconds quicker than the winning time in 2011.
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