With most of the mud behind us it was on to the tarmac in March with a group travelling to Wales to take part in the Rhayader 20, a classic pre marathon prep race around the Elan Valley Reservoirs. Simon Hughes was first back for the club in 2.21.11 to take 25th place, Darran Bishop chased him home in 41st place in 2.24.12, Mark Homer finished in 72nd place in 2.35.02 to take 4th in his age group, Graham Wildgoose was 99th in 2.39.25, Kieran Pitt was 103rd in 2.41.04, Meg Dowen was 282nd in 3.28.11 and Sam Hemming was 291st in 3.32.18.
Twenty four hours later another club member travelled in the opposite direction to Milton Keynes for another 20 miler, Andy Morrison finishing in 3.01.51 to take 450th place. Going a little further over the 26.2 mile marathon distance in North Wales was the husband and wife team of Alison and Keith Whitehouse who took part in the Wrexham Marathon with Alison recording a time of 4.33.40 to finish in 119th place and Keith finishing in 5.14.56 to take 144th out of the 151 competitors.
Much closer to home and over a much shorter distance of six country miles a trio of blue hoops took part in Wolverhampton & Bilston’s March Hair Raiser Race. John Andrews claimed first back for the club in 70th place in 52.00, Lynn Sprague was 75th in 52.29 and John Glover finished in 58.15 to take 122nd place. Not satisfied with finishing the cross country season in February Ben Foster swapped his blue hooped vest for a green and white one becoming the first athlete from the club to claim county honours representing Staffordshire in the Inter Counties Cross Country Championships at Cofton Park, Birmingham. In a stellar field Foster achieved his tongue in cheek aim of not coming last finishing an impressive 194th in 45.22 over a muddy undulating 12k course.
Elsewhere it was a busy weekend for the blue hoops travelling all over the country looking for racing opportunities. Ingrid Cain took part in the Raceways Stratford Spring Marathon finishing in 38th place in 4.40.59, using the race as a training run for a more testing event later in the year, over the 10k distance at the same event Daren Thompson claimed 12th place in 40.54. Over the same distance at Lichfield in the Fradley 10k Catherine Quane finished in 276th place in 51.20 and Paula Pallant came 544th in 59.20. There were plenty of half marathons on offer, at Ironbridge Simon Hughes claimed 19th place and 3rd M35 in 1.25.25, Dave Norman, using the race as a tempo run and the middle miles in a 20 mile day, was 32nd in 1.29.07, Graham Wildgoose finished in 93rd in 1.38.35, Sergej Lyubovnikov was 117th in 1.40.33 and Sally McConville finished in 2.00.55 for 360th place. At Falmouth Mark Homer ran an excellent 1.36.19 over a tough course to claim 68th place and 3rd M55 and at Liverpool Russell Fox stopped the clock in 1.44.33 for 1179th position and Andy Weaver finished in 2034th in 1.53.42 while Bob Jones was 57th in the Liverpool 10 mile race in 1.24.18. In the Knighton 20 a trio of hoops put their marathon training to the test with Karen Doy finishing in 2.55.00 in 228th place, Kathryn Sneyd was only seconds and two places behind finishing in 2.55.35 and Lisa Newell was 372nd in 3.35.16.
As the weather started to warm up a little so did the action as the spring half marathon season continued for some and further marathon preparations were put in place. Simon Blizzard went looking for a fast time over a pancake flat course in the Heyford Park Half Marathon, the 13.1 miles run around the airbase which made for a flat but potentially windy route. Blizzard came away with a massive PB finishing in 1.24.13 to take 7th place. There was a sizable team pulling on the vest a little closer to home in the Stafford Half Marathon with the club managing to get 5 runners back in around 85 minutes and 8 home inside the club standard benchmark of around an hour and a half. Ben Foster was first home in 4th place in 1.15.12, Matt Biggs was not too far behind in 1.16.02, Kevin Duckworth was 36th in 1.21.28 claiming 3rd M50, Stuart Perkins was 42nd in a huge PB of 1.22.21, Dave Norman was 82nd in 1.25.08, Mark Homer produced his fastest finish for some time to claim 141st in 1.29.05 to take the 1st M55 prize, Daren Thompson ducked under 90 minutes for the first time in DK colours finishing in 1.29.51 to take 168th, Helen Tromans was 8th female and 2nd in her age group bagging a new PB in 1.30.04, Tracy Alderson claimed a 3rd age group prize in 299th in a PB of 2.35.06, Dave Hickman was 518th in 1.40.35, Steve Parr put injury behind him to finish in 1.42.24 in 596th place, John Sixsmith was 730th in 1.45.04, Tahir Yasin finished in 1.50.19 for 1031st, Sam Hemming was 2143rd in 2.14.13 and Charlotte Tonks finished in 2.24.38 for 2447th place.
Further South at Hampton Court a handful toed the line in the Palace Half marathon. Andy Morrison recording a PB despite running 5 miles before hand in preparation for the London Marathon finishing in 1.46.33, Jacqui Elson Whitaker finished in 1.53.01, Lisa Newell in 2.10.36, Vanessa Morrison in 2.16.29 and Aimee Pugh in 2.31.50. And going that little further in the traditional pre-marathon prep race, the Ashby 20, there were PBs a plenty with Mark Judge finishing in 2.25.22 for 169th place, Roger Beddard coming home in 585th in 2.52.22, Natalie Litchfield in 1001st in 3.26.25 and Gina Collins in 1078th in 3.35.22. And there was the possibility of seeing the blue hoops on the television on the start line with a Great Britain team featuring double Olympic champion Mo Farah in the Cardiff Half Marathon. With Farah taking 3rd place runners from DK were not far behind, albeit about half an hour behind, recording some quick times despite the strong winds and torrential rain. Darran Bishop the first to cross the line in 1.25.06 in 524th place, Mark Judge finished in 1072nd in 1.32.12, Richard Tonks finished in 1.33.22 in 1243rd place, Steve Wood was 1480th in 1.35.51, Roger Beddard finished in 1.41.55 in 2420th position, John Andrews was 3145th in 1.48.38 and Andy Fraser came home in 2.32.03 to take 10353rd place.