THE FIFTH and final race of the successful and well organised Tempo Events Winter Series took place on a chilly Sunday morning, starting and finishing at Ilmington Sports Club.
This extremely challenging 10km race involved an ascent of Larkstoke – the highest peak in Warwickshire – which is a severe 2km hill from bottom to top, involving a 150m climb with an 8 per cent gradient in places.
It is a very, very tough climb and, with this being the case, it seems remarkable that of the 231 finishers more than 140 of them had completed all five races, qualifying them for the extremely prestigious and well earned hoody.
Stratford Athletic Club are always very well represented in these races and this one was no exception, with 24 – just more than ten per cent of the total field – being club members.
This series of races has seen an intense battle for superiority between Sam Weaving and Robin Kindersley, despite them being at either end of the age spectrum.
This time, on his 19th birthday, it was Sam (8th – 40.31) who just edged out Robin (10th – 40.52) but both of them have had a superb series.
Sam finished 7th for the series as a whole, a truly wonderful performance, and Robin once again won the M55 age group category.
The evergreen Malcolm Bowyer (18th – 43.18) was next to finish for the club, despite not getting to bed until 3am and having been feasting at Nando’s in the early hours! Malcolm is currently training for his 22nd consecutive London Marathon.
Just 50 seconds separated the next five Stratford runners to finish. First of these was Sam Nicholson (21st – 44.02) who put in another really strong performance.
He was closely followed by James Cusack (22nd – 44.24) who is currently training for both the Manchester and Chicago marathons, with the small matter of an Ironman in Copenhagen sandwiched in between.
Just 25 seconds behind James was David Smyth (23rd – 44.59) who is enjoying an injury-free period of running and this was a great performance.
Emma Bexson (24th – 44.52) professed herself to be both surprised and delighted to have run a PB for this race, despite an intense period of training. Emma rounded off a stunning series by not only being first lady to finish in this race but by winning the overall ladies’ competition.
Fern Hordern (33rd – 46.10) goes from strength to strength. She was first to finish in her age group and is another athlete who is training extremely hard at the moment.
In the summer, she will be competing in a European duathlon and is hoping to qualify for the World Championships in Canada in the autumn.
Three more Stratford ladies then followed in quick succession. First of these was Sheila Lammas (40th – 47.07) who was second to finish in her age group.
Just 11 seconds behind her was Ceri Shephard (43rd – 47.18) who is another runner who has had a fabulous series. She has competed in all five and in this final race was more than four minutes quicker than the first race.
Hannah Osborne (53rd – 48.17) knocked half a minute off her time when she last ran this route and has had a really consistent series, finishing third lady in the series as a whole.
Pete Evans (60th – 48.49) was recovering from a cold and freely admitted he was competing on the day to get his hoody, as opposed to achieving a PB. He also mentioned that his two boys wanted the three sausages that every runner gets upon completing the race!
Next to finish was David Jones (69th – 49.44) who is always pleased if he can break the 50-minute barrier for this race. He was also pleased when he was belatedly told he was first to finish in his age group after it was discovered the winner announced on the day had not actually competed.
David also enjoyed his battle with the next two Stratford finishers – Ben Twyman (76th – 50.17) and Lynne Hinson (78th – 50.32).
Rebecca Pridham (103rd – 53.52) finished just ahead of Suzi Graham (109th – 54.38) and Maureen Birch (110th – 54.52) was next. Maureen was once again first to finish in her age group, something she has achieved in every one of the five races – a remarkable achievement.
The final six SAC members to finish were Alan Wright (119th – 55.38), Clive Shepherd (159th – 1:00.12), Olly Spicer (165th – 1:01.03), Gemma Smith (185th – 1:04.38), Nicola Reynolds (186th – 1:05.27) and John Butler (220th – 1:13.36) who proved what an indomitable competitor he is, competing just six days after the funeral of his much-loved mother.
The race was won by Richard Simpkiss in a time of 36.04. Richard also won the overall series.
Report compiled by David Jones.