STRATFORD AC’s ladies’ and men’s teams held their own in the Midlands 12 and 6 Road Relay Championships at Birmingham’s Sutton Park.
The relay race consists of a combination of long and short legs, of approximately three and 5.4 miles respectively.
The ladies’ race consisted of two long and four short legs and the men’s of four long and eight short legs.
Although only a short race, the opening mile consists of a steep hill and the remainder of the course includes challenging inclines with a nasty little hill right at the finish.
First off for Stratford ladies, running a long leg, was Emma Bexson, who set a blistering pace.
She finished in the superb time of 36.55, to place the club 22nd out of 64 teams competing.
Bexson really is in superb form at the moment and despite finding it quite warm was still able to run well.
She handed over to Seanin Gilmore, who’s time for the shorter leg was a fabulous 21.31.
This enabled Stratford to maintain 22nd place. Next to run, on the final long leg, was Sarah Odell.
Odell was well outside of her comfort zone, usually preferring much longer distances.
Despite this, she was able to run a time of 43.07, at just under eight-minute-a-mile pace.
Nic Reynolds was up and despite having competed in the extremely challenging Banbury 15 mile race the previous Sunday, she managed to run the shorter leg in a time of 29.44.
At this time, the club were in 39th place, a position they were able to maintain for the final three legs.
Following Reynolds was 19-year-old Caroline Furey, whose time of 26 minutes ensured that nobody overtook her.
Furey then handed over to Wendy Bowyer, who also managed to ensure she wasn’t overtaken and her time of 26.41 gave the club an overall time of 3.03.58 and a very respectable 39th place out of 64 teams competing.
First off for Stratford’s men’s team was one of the club’s rising stars, 18-year-old Oscar Barbour. Despite his age, Barbour is an experienced runner and, as such, it was no surprise that he was able to run the first long leg in the extremely quick time of just 31.58, at an average pace of just under six minutes a mile.
This ensured that Tim Hutchinson, the next to run for the club, started off in 37th place.
Hutchinson was able to improve on this position by three places due to an exhilarating run of 31.22 and a pace of close to 5.50.
He handed over to Fergus Alison, who, like Barbour, is just 18.
Alison was the third consecutive Stratford runner to complete the challenging long leg in a sub six-minute mile average pace in just 32.03.
The performance of both Barbour and Alison ensures that the future of the club’s endurance running is in safe hands.
For the final long leg, it was down to Robin Kindersley to maintain the club’s flying start and this he was able to do.
Kindersley has had a pretty severe chest infection since he performed so well in the Bourton 10k, at the end of February and despite being over 40 years the senior of both Oscar and Fergus, he was still able to run at 6.20 pace, finishing in a time of 34.04 with the club still in the 37th place.
At the end of the four longer legs, the club were amazingly averaging just under six-minute mile pace.
The first of the shorter legs was run by captain for the day, David Smyth, who played a captain’s innings, running the three miles in 20.47, to hand over to the ever-consistent Malcolm Bowyer, who ran the quickest short leg for the club, in a time of 20.32, showing that he is in superb form as he gets close to yet another London Marathon.
Kieran Tursner, was complaining of sleep deprivation before the start, having become a father for the first time just six weeks ago.
However, you would have never known this from his wonderful run of 21.02. The club were now over 30 miles into the race and still averaging just over six minute a mile pace and holding on to 36th position.
Next to run for the club was Phil Brennan, who would be the first to admit that he is somewhat at the other end of the age spectrum to Barbour and Alison.
Despite this, and despite the fact that he had run the tough Banbury 15 mile race less than a week before, Brennan dropped just five places and completed his leg in 23.56.
Next up was another runner who ran a tough race less than a week ago, David Jones. He competed in the Ashby 20 and, as such, was relatively pleased with his time of 23.00, dropping just one place.
He was particularly pleased with the final mile run at 7.04 pace.
Phil Marshall ran the tenth leg for the club, dropping just two places, to record a time of 24.31, before handing over to Ben Twyman, who ran a fabulous time of 23.02.
The final leg was run by Christopher Wilson, who was running in his first road relay for the club.
Wilson has been a member of the club for just a year and in that time, has become an accomplished runner, a point that was reinforced by both an electric finishing sprint and superb time of 24.01.
He managed to gain a couple of places, ensuring that the club completed the race in 5.10.08 and finished 42nd out of 76 clubs competing.