MATT Burdus-Cook and Ivan Sarti led a strong showing from Stratford Athletic Club runners at the fifth and final race in the Tempo Winter Series in Ilmington on Sunday.
The ever-improving Burdus-Cook was the first Stratford athlete to finish, placing fifth in 39:18 – more than two minutes quicker than his first race in the anti-clockwise direction in October.
He ended the series in third place overall, having improved his times in each of the five races. To underline his massively increased form and athletic maturity, his cumulative time for the 2018/19 series was some 18 minutes quicker than his total from last year.
Sarti finished ninth on Sunday in 41:08, shaving 45 seconds off his best time for the course. It was his fourth M55 race win and he comfortably secured the overall series title in his category with a cumulative time a full five minutes quicker than last year. In fact, he would have easily taken the M45 category win too.
Chris Cond was the tenth man to finish, crossing the line just behind Sarti in 41:25. The top three men in the M35 category filled the overall podium places in the series, but Cond was the next best and so took the M35 series prize, having worked his way back to fitness after a serious bike crash last year.
Owen Goschen was the 16th man home. Despite his self-doubt, Goschen produced a consistent series and finished second in the M45 category.
The irrepressible Malcolm Bowyer had stated beforehand he would simply jog around but in fact clocked 45:25 to finish as the 20th man on the day and second in the M55 category. Robin Kindersley is coming back into the game and laid down a good run in 46:44 to finish sixth in the M55 group.
David Smyth was 35th in 47:03 and consistent Damian Wheeler was two places behind in 47:22. Alan Dwyer, Joe Lee and Adam Evans came 55th, 56th and 60th respectively, with Dwyer clocking exactly the same time he did in the first race (48:53). Lee and Evans registered 49:15 and 50:00 respectively.
Simon Curran (96th, 55:56) has shown steady improvement throughout the whole series, as has Stuart McLeod (1:02:05) who took three-and-a-half minutes off his December time, which was his first race. John Butler brought up the rear of the Stratford contingent as he came home in 1:17:05.
Suzy Graham was the 24th woman on the day and sixth in her age group with a time of 55:53. She was closely followed by Maggie MacLeod who threw in a fantastic run of 57:47 to finish as the 33rd woman and fifth in her category. Sarah Boundy came in just three seconds later (57:51).
Louise Stewart was rightly pleased to run a huge four-minute PB on the course (53rd, 1:02:04). Alice Baxendale did all five races and pulled out all the stops to set a good PB in the final race (65th 1:04:18), as did Clare Eynon (76th, 1:07:09).
Anna Threadgill and Kimberly Lee both made their acquaintance with the hill for the first time and came back smiling – Threadgill in 1:09:50 and Lee in 1:11:34 – and Gemma Smith (1:16:45) looks like she is now finding the form she had in October.
The race and series was won convincingly by Leamington’s Paul Andrew (37:03) who secured all five race wins for the first time in the ten-year history of the event. The women’s winner on the day was Bourton Roadrunner Victoria Briggs (40:25) who was eighth overall and the series victor was Natasha White from Northbrook.