STRATFORD AC athletes endured a busy week with events in Redditch, Birmingham and Belfast.
On a bitterly cold night at Abbey Stadium in Redditch Stratford AC’s Vets Track and Field team got the new season underway.
This was the club’s first fixture under the new management team of Hannah Osborne and David Wilson and numerous club records were broken.
Stratford made a flying start in the 100m sprints and were extremely strong in all age groups, garnering over 25% of their points on the night from this distance.
Dave Battersby equalled his own club record in recording a time of 13.2 seconds and Dave Wilson stormed to victory in his M50 age category.
There was a notable victory for Paul Hawkins in the 2k racewalk, beating the second placed finisher by just 4/10ths of a second whilst David Jones achieved a new club record in the high jump.
And the ladies were not to be outdone as nine club records fell.
On the track, Elaine Ledden and Paula Williams sprinted, Gemma Smith and Kate Sergeant racewalked and Clare Goodwin ran a mile, all to new track records.
In the field, Christine Coote set a new age group hammer record and Williams broke three records in high jump, javelin and shot put respectively.
In the ladies sprints, Paula Williams achieved a 1st place finish despite racing in a younger age group and Elaine Ledden stormed to victory in the 400m, winning by a comfortable margin of four seconds.
Notably, Clare Goodwin on her first track and field appearance, took almost 1 min 30 seconds off the club’s W50 mile record.
The ladies team finished In second place – 13 points behind Worcester and the men’s team, with just one point fewer than the ladies, finished third behind Worcester and Bromsgrove and Redditch.
The final standings meant that Stratford finished a strong second on the night behind Worcester and they are looking forward to the next meet in June.
Elsewhere, more than 13,000 runners completed the Belfast City Marathon as it returned to its traditional date of the May Day bank holiday weekend for the first time in three years.
Irish Olympic athlete Paul Pollock won the men’s race in 2:16.13 seconds whilst North Belfast’s Gladys Ganiel won the women’s race in 2:43.47.
The route took in the 4 areas of Belfast; North, South, East and West, starting at Stormont Estate and finishing in Ormeau Park.
One of those competing was Stratford-upon-Avon Athletic Club’s international marathon runner Kate Sergent.
Sergent was a member of the club’s vets Track and Field team on Wednesday night in Redidtch, where she competed in the 100m, 2k walk and shot put, before flying out to Belfast on Thursday to take part in the marathon.
Her time of 4:52.21 puts her at number five in the current UK rankings in her age group subject to all of the weekend’s results being listed.
She comfortably won her age category, being over an hour ahead of the next placed runner in her age group.
Sergent said: “When my husband Martyn bought me a City break in Belfast for my birthday he threw in a Marathon entry saying there was no pressure if I didn’t feel up to doing it.
“I found it hard to resist as I like a bit of a marathon and thought it an excellent way of seeing this amazing city.
“I hadn’t followed a marathon plan but knew I had the miles in my legs from The Grizzly in Devon six weeks ago, when I ran 20 miles of my toughest ever off-road challenge.
“Martyn saw me at mile nine at City Hall and again at mile 22, he then made a short cut to Ormeau Park, where we had both done Parkrun the day before, to see me finish!
“A marathon is never easy and I was very emotional at the end but really pleased with my time of 4.54.21.
I have to say there times during the run when I wondered if he was just trying to cash in on the Life Insurance!”
Lastly, the club had representatives competing in the half marathon, 10k and junior run in Birmingham with the events marking the first time in two years that the streets of Birmingham had welcomed athletes.
In the half marathon, Pip Bell crossed the finish line in a time of 1:58:17 and was presented with a beautiful medal and a finishers t-shirt in a goody bag.
In the shorter 10k distance the club were represented by Adam Linforth with his son Callum competing in the Junior race.
All was going well for Adam until around a mile out from the finish where a lack of marshals, and a very poorly marked course saw him and a dozen other runners find themselves significantly off route.
The athletes navigated themselves back to the course having completed nearly half a mile extra with Adam’s chip time showeing 39.34 and a position of 49th place and an age group place of seventh.
However, Adam completed the 10k distance in 37.05 to achieve a new PB by around four minutes.
His son Callum then appeared in his first street race and ran a fabulous 1.5 mile run to come home in a fantastic 11.21 in ninth place.