THE STRATFORD Summer Six road race organised by Stratford Athletic Club attracted a record field of 327 to negotiate its attractive course around the undulating environs of Wilmcote.
Tim Hutchinson, one of the club’s most in-form athletes, was the first SAC runner to finish and also won the M45 age group prize by 11 seconds.
He said: “Thankfully, although it was a warm evening, it had cooled down from earlier in the day. The course was great, just the right mix of flat and undulating. I particularly enjoyed the last hill where I worked really hard and overtook my main rival for my age group prize.
“The race has given me the confidence to believe that my target of a sub-36 minute 10k should be achievable this year.”
Graham Taylor ran another excellent race. He continues to have a fabulous year of training and competition.
After running an impressive race in the Two Castles 10k two weeks previously, Sam Weaving gave further evidence of his current shape with a tenacious effort.
Another man to run well in the Two Castles was Anthony Howell, although his performance in this event was arguably even more promising.
After a busy period of races, David Jones somehow found the energy for another personal best.
David was delighted with how his evening panned out: “There are few things more special than being lucky enough to be allowed to run in a race organised by Stratford AC. The support and encouragement you get while competing is second to none.
“The cheers as I approached the finishing line were truly humbling. My aim for the race was to better my time of 2012, the only other time I have run this race.
“I had a mental note of my mile splits from 2012, so it was just a case of taking one mile at a time and trying to better my times from three years ago. I just managed to do this for all six miles, giving me a time 41 seconds quicker than 2012. The weather was perfect, as was the organisation. The hill at mile five doesn’t get any less steep though!”
Laura Mann was pleased with her run and her time. She reported that she did not pay attention to her watch and just went for it from the start, hoping to find a comfortably hard pace. She quickly settled into a rhythm and her determination was worthy of considerable credit.
Laura thinks she has fully recovered from her Shakespeare Marathon exertions, so all of her efforts are going into six miles and 10km races in a bid to improve her times. Her disciplined approach appears to be paying off handsomely.
Allan Coldicott completed the club’s line-up in great style, pacing himself to perfection.
The race was won by Adam Peacock of Bromsgrove & Redditch AC in a time of 32.12. The first woman was Danielle Bryan of Kenilworth Runners in 38.04.
Stratford AC results: Tim Hutchinson – 10th, 35.14 (1st M45); Graham Taylor – 14th, 35.57; Sam Weaving – 46th, 39.03; Anthony Howell – 81st, 41.26; David Jones – 126th, 43.46; Laura Mann – 149th, 45.15; Allan Coldicott – 231st, 51.56.
THE KNOWLE & Dorridge RC ‘Arden 9’ race played host to a small but speedy band of Stratford AC runners. The course started and finished at Hampton-in-Arden Sports Club and made its way through Catherine-de-Barnes, over the M42, through Barston and finally Hampton-in-Arden itself.
Graham Taylor rates this as one of his favourite races and he produced another swift run to earn a pleasing 14th place. Graham’s solid progression is evident from his improvement in this event over the years – 58.09 in 2013, 56.24 in 2014 and now 54.33.
He unluckily managed to get a stitch at about the seven-mile mark and had to stop to stretch out. Despite this break, Graham was able to regain his pace and he was happy with his overall performance.
After finishing third woman in 2014 with a terrific run, Sarah Wheeler was aiming to take for at least one step up the podium this time around. Sarah is in the form of her life and she produced another spectacular display of distance running. She was overjoyed to be first woman, beating Sue Harrison of Leamington C&AC by 17 seconds.
James Deacon and David Jones never seem to run poor races and both men can be very satisfied with their runs.
John Butler improved on his 2014 time by a massive five minutes and 40 seconds, another in a long line of performances to please his loyal followers.
John crossed the finish line just ahead of Natasha Watkins who ran another fine race.
The race was won by Toby Spencer (Coventry Godiva Harriers) in 45.30.
Stratford AC results: Graham Taylor – 14th, 54.33; Sarah Wheeler – 27th, 56.21; James Deacon – 112th, 1:04.03; David Jones – 161st, 1:07.42; John Butler – 305th, 1:27.32; Natasha Watkins – 322nd, 1:33.01.
ROB Minton enjoyed the challenging Giants Head Marathon off-road event which included more than 6,000ft of ascent across the 26.2 miles. The race started and finished in Sydling St Nicholas in Dorset, with the course taking in the world-famous Cerne Giant.
“I finished tenth after being in second place at one stage. I was about five minutes ahead of the third placed runner but I missed a crucial left turn arrow that had fallen off,” said Minton.
“I ended up doing an extra mile-and-a-half. When I got back on course I was in about 15th, then worked hard to make my way up into tenth.
“My time was 3 hours, 56 minutes. It was a brutal but beautiful route through the Dorset countryside.”