THOUSANDS of runners lined up to take on the Rotary Club Shakespeare Marathon and Half Marathon on Saturday, putting many hours of hard training to the test.
The weather was perfect as runners amassed on the start line for an initial run around the town before setting out towards Luddington and then Welford.
More than 30 Stratford-upon-Avon Athletic Club runners competed in the two races, with an almost equivalent number of members out on the course cheering on their club-mates. This is by no means the easiest of courses, with the challenge of Rumer Hill and the final, daunting three miles to the finish, along the Greenway.
It is a course that tests the very best of runners. In the full marathon, Stratford AC’s Neil Wicks was a superb sixth place out of 704 finishers, in a magnificent time of 2.54.13. Becky Loftus in 411th place, ran a personal best of 4.09.10, followed by Tara Lambert (482nd, 4.23.21) and Pete Law (679th, 5.32.17).
The race was won by Adam Holland in 2.34.51 and the first lady to finish was Josie Hinton 3.14.39. In the half marathon, Rich Shephard, despite a magnificent run (4th, 1.14.37) was unable to repeat his victory of last year, being a mere 44 seconds slower.
First lady to finish was Kate Wright (17th, 1.23.40). Wright produced another superb run, finishing more than four minutes ahead of the next lady home.
There were superb age category wins for Emma Vickers in the W35 category, (204th in a PB of 1.40) Having missed out on her target time of 1.40 last year by 100 seconds, Vickers succeeded in achieving her goal this time around.
Penny Stainthorp repeated last year’s achievement as first finisher in the W55 category (279th, 1.42.14) and the hat-trick of age category winners was realised by David Jones, in the M65 category (243rd, 1.41.36).
Five other Stratford AC runners were able to achieve elusive PBs.
These were Dave Knight (62nd, 1.30.39), Rebecca Pridham (652nd, 1.54.55), this was a massive 22 minutes better than last year. Sheila Smith (992nd, 2.03.23) was a full eight minutes quicker than her Birmingham Half Marathon time of six months ago.
Clive Shepherd (1373rd — 2.16.22). has certainly benefitted from his weekly parkruns, while Aimee Spicer (1,536th, 2.23.00) was delighted with her result.
A notable battle between Stratford AC members was evident with Richard Dobedoe (144th 1.36.32) and Graham Black (145th 1.36.32) covering the distance together, until an exciting sprint finish at the end saw them jostle for position and Dobedoe nose ahead in what would have been a photo finish!
Other Stratford AC half marathon times: James Coy 63rd 1.30.16, Sam Nicholson 115th 1.34.50, Pete Wharton 345th 1.42.10, Phil Brennan 351st 1.45.35 (2nd in M65 category), Mike Barrie 515th 1.50.38, Charlotte Potgieter 528th 1.51.07, Chris Whateley 562nd 1.52.52, Ian Hill 750th 1.54.16, David Smyth 792nd 1.55.55, Rachel Spence 1,257th 2.10.05, Michael Oliver 1,324th 2.14.49, Oliver Spicer 1,404th 2.16.09, Paul Nash 1,431st 2.19.41, Shauni Warner 1,546th 2.24.05, Andy Smith 1,566th 2.24.51, John Butler 1,609th 2.25.12