A TRIO of Stratford Athletic Club runners returned with six medals to their name as they enjoyed individual and team success at the Midland Masters Cross Country Championships at Aldersley Leisure Village in Wolverhampton.
Freezing conditions and a damp, misty morning greeted competitors, among whom were veteran Stratford members Roger Wilson, Phil Brennan and David Jones, ably assisted by team manager John Turner.
These three runners, with a combined age of 216, had reasonably high expectations, but even they were surprised at the level of success they achieved.
The Aldersley course is challenging to say the least but thankfully, by the start of the race, the top surface had defrosted to the extent it would take running spikes.
The race started with a testing incline and, having been run on the previous day, the wooded sections of this challenging and undulating course were extremely muddy.
David was first of the three Stratford runners to finish this four-mile race. He was delighted with his run, finishing in a time of 30.02 and just managing to secure the bronze medal in his age group.
He was engaged in a battle for third place in the M65 age group with a Coventry Godiva runner for pretty much the entire race. They ran neck and neck for the first two of this three-lap race but then the Coventry runner was able to open up a five to six-metre lead.
David was able to catch him on the final hill, deciding to sit on his shoulder until the final downhill section, when he was fortunate enough to be able get in front of him and secure the bronze medal.
Next to finish for Stratford was England international Roger who found the race tough going and commented after the finish that some races you enjoy but, with others, it is just a case of grin and bear it and get the job done.
Get the job done was exactly what he did, finishing just over half a minute behind David in 30.35 and in doing so winning his age group by a massive 13 minutes to secure a much deserved gold medal.
Rounding off a fabulous day for the Stratford trio was Team GB runner Phil who, despite competing in the highly competitive M70 age group, was able to win the silver medal in a time of 31.46 – a full two-and-a-half minutes ahead of the third placed runner.
Their achievements were further rewarded when their combined efforts won them the team gold medal for their club. Hence, they drove back to Stratford with six medals between them.
The trio now plan to compete in the British Masters Athletic Federation National Cross Country Championships in Liverpool on March 18, hoping to defend the title they won last year.
Report compiled by David Jones.