There were plenty of hoops on show as April kicked off with the Midland Counties Road Relays at Sutton Park. With the men running 12 stages and the ladies running 6 legs there was competition for places and with both entering A and B teams there were 36 places up for grabs.
In the men’s race Matt Biggs was off first for the A team running 30.40 for a 5.38 mile long leg to get the club off to a good start in 27th place, Ben Foster went off 2nd pulling the club up to 20th with a time of 30.08, Dave Norman ran 34.04 in 3rd, Darran Bishop ran the last long leg in 34.16, Mark Gallimore ran the first short leg of 3.1 miles in 20.16 with the club now placed in 31st, James Wright ran 19.10 for 6th, Simon Blizzard ran 19.06 for the 7th stage, Mark Homer ran the 8th leg in 20.23, Steve Wood went off 9th finishing his stage on 21.24, Mark Judge was 10th in 20.41, Daren Thompson ran the 11th leg in 20.44 and Rob Sannwald finished things off on leg 12 with a 19.00 stage to give the club a final finishing position of 31st of 48 teams in a total time of 4.49.54
Unfortunately late injuries meant the B team was a man short but still competed with Graham Wildgoose running 37.14, Sergej Lyubovnikov 37.34, Pete Hood 36.27 and John Sixsmith with 38.58 running the first four long legs and Andy Morrison with 24.36, Mick Quane 21.19, Andy Weaver 24.24, Pete Krivosic 25.19, Richard Jones 24.43, John Andrews 23.25 and Andy Lichfield 22.36 running the remaining short legs. They were given a total time of 5.16.45 but being an incomplete team were not given a finishing position.
The ladies race was over 6 stages with their long legs on the first and third stages. The A team finished in 39th place in a total time of 3.07.57 with Karen Doy on the first leg running 42.11, Kathryn Sneyd running 24.39, Carol Fisher 43.47, Liz Hettle 27.13, Julie Allen 25.01 and Lynn Sprague 25.06. The B team came home in 45th place of the 47 complete teams in 3.26.12 with Jacqui Elson-Whittaker running 42.44, Sally McConville 26.10, Sarah Cox 44.58, Leah Robbins 36.05, Lisa Newell 29.03 and Jane Campbell 27.12.
Twenty four hours later thoughts turned again to half marathons with Mark Gallimore doubling up after running a short relay leg to record a time of 1.32.02 to place 8th in his age group and 371st overall in the Wilmslow Half Marathon. Closer to home Helen Tromans was only seconds off a PB recording 1.28.40 to place 3rd in the tough, hilly Warwick Half Marathon and Liz Comley made her half marathon debut also at Warwick stopping the clock in 2.04.48 to place 942nd overall.
There was more marathon madness as the spring season kicked on a pace. With the options of Rome, Paris or Barcelona on offer the blue hoops chose something a little closer to home and travelled north to Manchester for the Asics sponsored Greater Manchester Marathon. Advertised as the flattest in the country, (and shortest) it promised fast times.Simon Blizzard made an impressive debut finishing in 3.02.07 to take 452nd place, Simon Hughes was not far behind, claiming a PB by more than twenty minutes, clocking 3.05.28 in 553rd place, Tracy Alderson laid the demons of a London Marathon DNF by recording a time of 3.31.38 in 1929th place overall and finishing 16th lady and Lisa Kendrick debuted with a 4.26.11 in 6140th. Then it was on to the south coast to take part in the Brighton Marathon, a race which is rapidly becoming more and more popular as an alternative to London. Gina Collins was first hoop home in 4.35.18 to take 1666th place and Natalie Litchfield bettered her PB by nearly 12 minutes to take 1811st place in 4.39.41.
A little closer to home and over a much shorter distance Matthew Hawker took part in the Fordhouses Flyer 5k finishing in 24.59 to take 80th place and earlier in the week a sizeable group travelled to Shropshire for the first race of Telford AC’s midweek Sexarathon Series, the Lilleshall 5. They were led home by Simon Blizzard in 46th place in 31.22 closely followed by Dave Norman in 48th in 31.31, Simon Hughes recorded 32.16 to take 58th, followed by Mark Judge in 60th in 32.22, Mark Homer in 62nd in 32.24, Helen Tromans in 65th in 32.29 but also claiming an age group prize, Gary Bonner was 74th in 33.20, Pete Hood finished 80th in 33.43, Richard Tonks was 82nd in 33.49, Sergej Lyubovnikov was 84th in 33.58, Roger Beddard also claimed an age group 3rd place in 122nd in 36.29, John Andrews finished in 38.40 to take 139th place, Rory Campbell was 80th in 39.50, Sarah Cox was 204th in 41.13, Jane Campbell was 244th in 43.40 and Meg Down was 266th in 45.41 with John Glover a place and 5 seconds adrift.
The marathon focus turned to London with two stand out performances for male and female representatives of the club with Matt Biggs claiming a massive PB and usurping Ben Foster as the club’s quickest marathon runner in recent years finishing in 427th in 2.42.55 and Helen Tromans claiming the club record for the fastest lady over the distance with a 10 minute PB coming home in 3.06.32 to place 16th in her age group. Kevin Duckworth slotted in between them despite an interrupted preparation due to injury finishing in 3.02.19, Darran Bishop came home in 3.08.57, Dave Norman kept him in sight all the way round in 3.09.57, Mark Judge finished in 3.12.47, Graham Wildgoose in 3.25.53, Kieran Pitt in 3.39.51, Roger Beddard in 3.52.44, Kathryn Sneyd in 3.55.08, Richard Tonks in 3.55.41, Sandra Brain in 3.58.01, Carol Fisher in 4.00.58, Marie Latreche 4.02.58, Andy Morrison despite suffering an injury came home in 4.29.04, Flora Bianco ran 4.35.37, Meg Down 4.36.08, Lisa Newell 4.49.54 and Sam Hemming finished in 4.53.56. Not satisfied with just travelling to London Ingrid Cain went further afield to California to run in the Big Sur Marathon along the Pacific coast finishing in 1613rd place in a time of 4.38.15. And a little closer to home a threesome travelled to Stratford on Avon to run in the Shakespeare Half Marathon on the 400th Anniversary of the Bard’s birthday. Dave Hickman was first to the finish in 288th place in 1.41.49, Jacqui Elson-Whittaker was 696th in 1.53.22 and Nick Murphy finished in 2.15.38 to tale 1416th place