STRATFORD Athletic Club finished just outside the medals in the men’s race at the Cotswold Hilly 100, producing their best time for a good few years at the prestigious event.
The 100-mile relay is contested by teams of ten, each running a ten-mile leg. It is organised by SAC for charity and has been going for more than 25 years. Its unique nature always attracts a strong entry and this year 40 teams took part, including four from SAC.
The race starts and finishes in Stratford and extends as far south as Chedworth. The earliest runners leave Stratford at about 5am and the latest arrive back at about 6pm. This places a heavy emphasis on teamwork and self-reliance to ensure each team member is in place at the right time and stays safe, healthy and heading in the right direction throughout the day.
Matt Burdus-Cook led off the men’s A team with a sub-60-minute effort on the opening – and flattest – leg before passing on to Chris Cond. Ivan Sarti, Alex Hill and Drew Sambridge all produced solid efforts to keep Stratford in contention.
On leg six, Ben Rothery clocked the team’s fastest stage, covering 10.1 miles in 58:29 before handing over to Joshua Newman, who recorded 65:14 for his stage. Jamie Chorley and John Raby then took up the running before anchor leg runner and race organiser Rob Minton brought the team home with a 64:59 leg.
The team finished in 10:54:18, some 45 minutes quicker than last year and just 13 minutes shy of a medal. Leamington won in 10:16:43 with Kenilworth second (10:20:35) and Spa Striders third (10:40:29).
The men’s B team finished comfortably inside 12 hours as runners-up, clocking 11:58:44. Kenilworth won the B team race in 11:10:57.
Helped by a sterling 78-minute effort from Lynne Hinson, Stratford AC’s women’s team finished sixth in 14:25:00. Leamington won the women’s race in 11:33:23, smashing the course record by 11 minutes. The podium places were the same as in the men’s A race with Kenilworth taking second place (12:11:31) and Spa Striders third (12:30:27).
“It was cold but it was good fun,” said Emily Adams, who was up at 4:30am to race the first leg for Stratford’s women’s team. “It was hilly, but it was such a beautiful morning.”
Stratford AC clocked 14:09:40 to finish ninth in the mixed team race, but were some way off making the podium as Northbrook won in 11:25:54 – another course record. Leamington finished second and Spa Striders third.
All Stratford AC athletes, along with organisers and supporters Hannah Osborne, Gavin and Tara Lambert, Adam Evans and Sarah Boundy, finished the day with a real sense of achievement and reinforcement of the club’s indomitable team spirit.