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Welcombe Hills course tests runners from across the Midlands

The Stratford AC women’s team.
The Stratford AC women’s team.


HUNDREDS of runners from across the Midlands recently descended on the Welcombe Hills, as Stratford AC hosted Division One of the Midland Women’s Cross Country League and Division Two of the Birmingham & District Cross Country League.

The heavy rain leading up to the event ensured there was heavy going for the runners, with one part of the course having to be re-routed to avoid the worst of the mud.

Up first was the women’s race, with a 17-strong Stratford AC contingent part of the field of nearly 200 runners taking part.

The home club were fielding a young team with four of last season’s successful U17 team racing.

After a steady start, Sophie Dobedoe worked her way through the field to finish 41st in 30.24 and was first Stratford runner home.

Emily Field, in her first senior season, ran well to be next back (63rd, 31:07) and was followed by the first of Stratford’s masters, Emma Bexson (73rd, 32:07).

Just behind and closing fast was junior Daisy Musk (74th, 32:09) to close the team of four. Only another ten seconds behind was Annie Cox (79th, 32:19).

Imogen Sheppard is more at home racing 400m on the track so this race was out of her comfort zone, but she made a strong start and held her form well to finish 89th (33:14).

Suzanne Ross (95th, 33:45) is in her first season with the club and ran strongly on the tough course.

The second finisher in the Stratford masters’ team was Emma Parkin (102nd, 34:38) followed by newcomer Vicky Sharp (107th, 35:01) and junior debutant Abbie Wootton (108th, 35:20).

The final counter in the masters’ team was Clare Weatherhead (123rd, 36:28) who was closely followed by Liuba Pasa (124th, 36:31).

The remaining team members were Rebecca Pridham (138th), Julie Gilson (143rd), Hannah Finch (145th), Kate Sergent (155th) and Pippa Abrams (160th).

The Stratford team came 14th on the day and 11th in the masters’ competition.

The Stratford AC men’s team.
The Stratford AC men’s team.

Next off was the men’s race where Stratford had 23 runners taking part. Richard Shepherd came third and Joshua Newman was ninth.

The ever-improving Matt Burdus-Cook was 31st, Ollie Senior was 39th, Tim Hutchinson was 57th and Drew Sambridge was 80th and were the final six runners who made up the A team.

The next six runners to finish were from the B team, with Adam Evans coming home in 93rd and closely followed by Richard Liggatt in 97th, James Cusack, whose late arrival spurred him on to overtake many runners in the race, finished 100th.

John Raby was 106th, Simon Hanagarth 108th and finally for the B team was team manager Malcolm Bowyer in 122nd.

The remaining Stratford runners to finish were Adrian Mason, Martin Forster (154th), Guy Roberts (157th), Mark Hateley (169th), Ryan Bakewell (174th), Max Ross (190th), Mike Sheppard (203th), Damien Wheeler (204th), Ben Twyman (216th), Simon Curran (230th) and David Maundrell (233rd).

The A team came eighth to maintain seventh spot in the league while the B team came fifth and remain sixth overall.

Report compiled by Paul Hawkins and Malcolm Bowyer.

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