Tempo Winter Series – Race 1.
Report – Phil Brennan.
The village of Ilmington plays host to this annual series of 10k road races every month through the autumn and winter.
Numbers are restricted to respect the village environment but the 300 entries are highly sought after.
The first in the series took place in calm autumn weather but even so the course was challenging. The steep climb up Lark Stoke Hill, the highest point in Warwickshire, comes within 2 kilometres of the start and in the later stages the steep descent into Ilmington can play havoc with tired legs and backs.
No less than 37 runners from Stratford AC were up for the challenge, with several more team mates marshalling and cheering them on.
Matt Burdus-Cook showed exactly why he was voted the club’s Athlete Of The Year with a storming 2nd overall place in 37:48.
The next 16 finishers for Stratford were all under the 50 minute mark.
Ivan Sarti (41:25) saw off a close challenge from Richard Liggett (41:29) and John Raby (41:43), the three of them taking 10th, 11th and 12th places.
Having beaten over thirty of his younger club mates, Sarti was a shoo-in for the M55 category prize.
Ade Mason, 43:09, 19th, continued his busy racing programme, followed by Dan Lynch, 43.11, 21st, Seth Turner, 43:18, 22nd, Malcolm Bowyer, 44:21, 27th and second M55, Chris Cond, 44:42, James Coy, 44:49, Max Ross, 45:08, Mark Hateley, 45:13 and Graham Hill, 46:07.
International triathlon star Emma Bexson, 46:18, was first Stratford lady finisher, 53rd overall and 6th female, she finished alongside David Smythe who record the same time.
John Bettles, 47:39, Carl James, Clare Weatherhead, 49:20 and Amy Hinton, 49:12, beat the 50 minute barrier, with Luke Watkins, 50:22, unlucky to just miss out.
Phil Brennan, 53:14, 1st M75, was unaware of Daniel Hodgkin, 53:16, just behind him but keen to see off the challenge of Tony Tomecek, 54:19, and Rebecca Pridham, 55:07, herself under pressure from Simon Curran, 55:14.
Kimberley Lee, 55:20, Louise Stewart, 56:04, and Richard Hartwell, 59:05, came in under the hour, with Louise still managing to look cheerful at the finish.
The remaining SAC stalwarts to meet the challenge were Neil Robertson, 1:02:51, Gabriella Porter, 1:04:53, Clare Eynon, 1:05:00, Tom Horbury, 1:05:31, Stuart Macleod, 1:05:33, Alice Baxendale, 1:09:29, Paul Nash, 1:13:05, Gemma Smith, 1:13:35, and John Butler, 1:20:42,
The Stratford team posed for one of the biggest group photos of the year, confident at having overcome one of the sternest challenges in the local running calendar.