RICHARD Shephard became the first member of Stratford Athletic Club to win the Compton Verney Half Marathon, reports David Jones.
Like the past two years, this year’s race – the eighth edition – was blessed with glorious weather and no fewer than 27 members of Stratford AC lined up at the start of the race.
Three of the top five places were taken by club athletes.
The half marathon sets off from the front of Compton Verney and winds through the villages of Kineton, Little Kineton and Radway before returning up the challenging Pittern Hill and back to finish on the lawns of Compton Verney by the lake.
Shephard won in 1:16:55, the second-fastest time ever at this event and just 44 seconds shy of the course record.
He finished more than four minutes ahead of the second-placed runner.
Matt Burdus-Cook finished third in 1:21:16, just 16 seconds behind the runner-up.
Although it’s not known for being a particularly fast course, Burdus-Cook’s time was a 36-second improvement on his PB.
He was also delighted to achieve his first ever podium finish.
Burdus-Cook was followed by Neil Wicks, who placed fifth overall in 1:22:25.
James Coy also finished inside 90 minutes to place 20th in 1:29:24, his fastest half marathon for three years.
Four other Stratford AC athletes finished inside the top 30.
Richard Liggatt placed 22nd in 1:30:54, closely followed by James Cusack (24th, 1:31:13), John Raby (25th, 1:31:53) and Mark Hateley (29th, 1:32:20).
Adam Evans (38th, 1:34:35) was followed by Joe Lee (50th, 1:38:08).
Pete Sugden’s time of 1:38:52 was a full ten minutes quicker than last year.
He was followed by Graham Hill (74th, 1:41:55).
Emma Parkin was the 16th woman overall – and Stratford AC’s first – to finish, clocking 1:45:26.
Cara Reynolds was less than a minute behind in a PB of 1:46:21 and she was followed just 23 seconds later by Sam Wignell (1:47:44) and then Yvonne Gajny (1:50:52), who finished fourth in the W45 category.
Tony Tomecek and Sarah Vernon recorded identical times of 1:57:17, a PB for Vernon, with Tara Lambert close behind in 1:57:30.
Maggie MacLeod and Bev Brigden finished third and fifth in the W55 category, clocking 1:59:29 and 2:01:42 respectively.
The other Stratford AC finishers were Louise Stewart (2:04:18), Kimberley Lee (2:06:30), Stuart MacLeod (2:21:42), Kate Sergent (2:27:57) and Pippa Abrams (2:28:08).
Sergent was first in her age category, a full 10 minutes ahead of the next placed runner.
Joanne McCandless was the first woman to finish, clocking 1:21:28.