Tempo Winter Series Race 4.
Report – Phil Brennan.
With most of the 300 plus competitors still on course to complete all five races in the series and win the coveted series prizes, there was an air of expectation at the start of this challenging road race in hilly Ilmington.
For the fourth month, the weather appeared kinder than it could be, with bright sun at the start and finish. With the temperature close to zero however and fog and frost on the roads plus icy patches on the slopes, most runners to opted for caution rather than flat-out racing.
As ever, there was a strong contingent of over thirty from Stratford AC throughout the field, led home by Rich Shephard in overall first place, hotly pursued by Matt Burdus-Cook in second. Their times of 37:57 and 38:03 were exceptional given the conditions.
There were top-ten finishes for Richard Liggatt (7, 41:06) and John Raby (10, 41:38).
The front of the race continued to be dominated by SAC finishers, with Seth Turner (17, 43:26), Owen Goschen (20, 43:40), and Max Ross (21, 43:48) having a particularly close fight.
David Smyth (24, 44:35), Joe Lee (28, 46:25), Ade Mason (30, 46:34), Mark Hateley (36, 47:28) and John Bettles (49:11) were affected by the hazards but still comfortably inside 50 minutes.
Graham Hill, 72, 50:22, was just ahead of SAC’s first female finisher, Fern Hordern, who also won her age category (76, 50:32). Second and third females from the club were Clare Weatherhead (107, 54:04) and Cara Reynolds (109, 54:04) although they had chatted rather than raced their way round. A late surge by Carl James saw him move up the order in 115th, 54:10, overtaking Liuba Pasa (120, 55:05) and Phil Brennan (128, 55:33, 1st M75).
Daniel Hodgkin (133, 55:48) and Simon Curran (152, 58:28) came in under the hour barrier. Stuart McLeod (185, 1:01:31) and Neil Robertson (187, 1:02:07) paced each other round, while Rebecca Pridham (209, 1:04:08) was carrying an injury and well below her best but a spirited finisher.
SAC’s remains finishers were all intent on surviving the conditions rather than racing: Tom Horbury (1:08:00), Clare Eynon (1:11:45), Gemma Smith (1:15:36), Alice Baxendale (1:25:24) and Paul Nash (1:25:51) were shephered in by John Butler (1:33:26).
With one last challenge left in this series, the weather forecast in mid-February will be of considerable interest.