Wednesday 31st August 2016 – Harper Scarper 5k
It’s been said before but it needs repeating, this is an endurance event. Not this race in isolation but the whole Sexarathon Series, six months worth of top class racing against some of the best the local scene has to offer, over different, sometimes difficult terrain, it takes speed to perform well but stamina to reach the finish. The cream of the crop in April may have curdled by August and tonight’s culmination of the series would be the final decider. Some will have fallen by the wayside already before we have even reached Harper Adams University in Newport, others may have been trying to hold things together only to fall apart just before the final hurdle, most of the races will seem like a sprint rather than a marathon but the event is a marathon rather than a sprint.
There were plenty of furtive and not so furtive glances, at the start as runners weighed up the opposition looking for age group competitors and considered what they would need to do to turn a 4th into a 3rd or prevent a 3rd becoming a 4th. Is so-and-so here? Has what’s his name made it? All a bit of added spice for the final race of the series and the earlier start at 7.00 also potentially having an impact as people juggled an early finish at work or a frantic drive to get to the venue on time. With Paul Ward and Stuart Hawkes separated by a single point at the top of the tree there was a lot at stake, Claire Martin could have stayed at home and still probably won.
The race started with a mad, slightly up hill, dash on tarmac before turning right and taking a road across farmland, a road that included a couple of roller coaster inclines, the first mile ticked off, before reaching a junction, turning right and then right again before reaching mile 2 and being directed through a wooded action, a few twists and turns, before coming out onto the tarmac again and running down towards the starting point. At this point many were blowing hard and hanging on, trying to protect their position in the field, trying to stop haemorrhaging places, the slight downhill at least providing some benefit before flattening out for the last charge across the grass to the finish.
At the front of the race there was little to choose between the 1st and 2nd place runners, Tipton’s Stuart Hawkes holding off Paul Ward of Telford AC to take the victory by 2 seconds, 15.43 to 15.45, a victory that levelled the points leaving both with a share of the series, Daniel Soltys was only a few strides behind, his time of 15.52 securing the Telford athlete 3rd place on the night. Claire Martin was far less troubled taking the ladies prize and the overall series title finishing in 25th position in 17.58, the host club’s, Michelle Clark chased her home in 18.32 and Shrewsbury’s Sara Willhoit claimed 3rd place in 19.48.
Of the blue hoops in attendance Stuart Perkins was first back for the club in 24th place in 17.40, Dave Norman was 35th in 18.22, Craig Brown was 48th in 18.59, Simon Hughes was 51st in 19.07, Gary Bonner was 57th in 19.36, Mark Homer finished in 19.50 to take 66th place and Helen Tromans claimed an overall prize on the night finishing in 67th place in 19.55. Peter Hood came home in 19.57, Mark Judge, Steve Parr and Sergey Lyubovnikov all finished together in 20.36. Roger Beddard finished in 23.05, Rory Campbell in 23.08, John Andrews in 23.29, Sarah Cox in 24.46, Jane Campbell in 25.51 and John Glover in 30.07. DK were amongst the series prizes with Sarah Cox taking 2nd in the L50s age group, Simon Hughes taking 3rd in the M35 category, Mark Judge 2nd M40, Dave Norman’s performance on the night got him a share of the 3rd M45 prize, Mark Homer was 2nd M55 and Roger Beddard was 2nd M60.