October kicked off with a bit of an epic as Andy Sprague travelled to the Lake District to take part in the 3 x 3000 ultra, a fell race over three Cumbrian peaks with summits topping 3000 feet, hence the name. The course covered 80k, 50 miles, of undulating terrain over Scafell Pile, Helvellyn and Skiddaw with a total ascent of 4000 metres. Despite the difficulty Sprague came home in a very respectable 19th place in 13.08.18. A little closer to home Samantha Hemming was also dipping her toe into the ultra waters by taking part in the JW Ultra, a 30 miler between Stratford upon Avon and Bournville finishing in 6.31.39. And over a much more sensible distance Dave Hickman finished the Stafford 10k in 45.13 to take 158th place.
Meanwhile the majority of the clubs racers were at Sutton Park to take part in the Midland Counties Road Relays rubbing shoulders against the best clubs in the area. The ladies fielded two teams of 4 runners each covering a distance of 4.33k and the men turned out almost three complete teams of 6 over their 5.88k legs. The ladies A team of Helen Tromans who recorded a time of 17.26, Sarah Cox 21.58, Jane Campbell 22.19 and Charlotte Tonks 24.27 finished in a total time of 1.26.10 to finish 62nd whilst the B team of Sarah Krivosic 25.38, Vanessa Morrison 28.20, Leah Robbins 28.03 and Lisa Perkins 28.00 came home in 1.50.01 finishing in 83rd position. The men’s A team posted a best ever performance finishing in 47th place, the team of Dave Norman 21.53, Darran Bishop 22.51, Stuart Perkins 21.32, Simon Blizzard 23.11, Simon Hughes 22.57 and Matt Biggs 20.42 finishing in a total time of 2.13.06. The B team of Mark Homer 23.54, Richard Tonks 24.49, Pete Hood 24.08, Graham Wildgoose 25.13, Mark Judge 24.34 and John Andrews 28.20 came home in 2.30.58 to finish 79th and the C team, with some making their debut in an event of this nature, finished but were a man down so although it was a good experience for Andy Morrison 27.50, Rory Campbell27.41, Chris Wood 34.10, Pete Krivosic 29.35 and Andrew Perkins 36.27 they were not given a finishing position.
There was more marathon action for Matt Biggs with another solid performance at Bournemouth Marathon with a highly impressive 20th place in a time of 2.52.17. While a larger group travelled to Chester for their marathon, Karen Doy was first home in 4.08.40 to take 1143rd place, Alison Whitehouse was 1318th in 4.18.18, Liz Hettle finished in 4.28.18 in 1449th and Gina Collins was 1752nd in 4.48.04. There was a shorter metric option covering 26k rather than 26 miles and this was the favoured choice for Kathryn Sneyd who came home in 2.18.33 in 222nd and Keith Whitehouse who finished in 2.48.51 for 645th place. A larger group travelled the short distance to Enville Hall for the Sheepwalks Shocker, a 10k mainly run on tarmac but with some impressive gradients taking the road up Sheepwalk Lane within the first couple of miles and then finishing with another climb halfway up the same hill before turning across the fields to the finish. Stuart Perkins was first of the hoops home in 6th place in 40.29, Rob Sannwald led home a trio in 12th place in 42.30, closely followed by Darran Bishop a place behind in 42.32 and Dave Norman another place further adrift in 14th in 43.26. Mark Homer came home in 17th in 44.09 claiming the 1st MV50 prize, Helen Tromans was 24th overall but bagged the 2nd lady award in 45.05, Steve Parr was 37th in 47.40, Graham Wildgoose was 39th in 48.08, John Sixsmith finished in 51.52 to take 79th place, Dave Hickman was 92nd in 53.13, John Andrews was 111st in 54.50, Lyn Sprague was 131st in 56.16, Carol Fisher 153rd in 58.09, Rebecca Warren was 207th in 1.04.10, Andy Morrison 215th in 1.04.40, Aimee Pugh 225th in 1.05.58, Kimberley Ball 227th in 1.06.17, Chris Wood 233rd in 1.07.24, Jan Burbie238th in 1.07.45 and Karen Flint was 244th in 1.09.49.
It was on to the Bells of Pattingham, a race over 6 country miles of farmer’s fields and paths. Rich Bate was first home in 16th place in 47.38, Simon Hughes was 25th in 49.44, Andy Sprague finished in 28th in 50.20, Pete Hood 29th in 50.30, Richard Jones was 98th in 57.00, Graham Wildgoose was 102nd in 57.30, Lyn Sprague was 182nd in 1.02.10, Stephen Marsh was 186th in 1.02.24, Narinda Hughes was 207th 1.04.10.
The blue hoops then went to Europe looking for competition. A small group flew over to the Netherlands to take part in the Amsterdam Marathon, Dave Norman came into the Olympic stadium first of the group to finish in 1017th in a time of 3.10.56, Mark Homer was 1239th in 3.14.49 to record his second fastest time over the distance, Mark Judge finished in 3.22.13 in 1667th place despite an interrupted preparation and Samantha Hemming overcame illness and health problems on the day to finish in 5.19.24 to take 11692nd position. Over the half marathon distance Andy Weaver recorded a time of 1.54.06 in 4583 and John Gould crossed the line in 13756th in 2.32.37. Further south saw some independent groups line up in Spain for the Palma de Mallorca Marathon with Dave Hickman finishing in 4.06.25 to take 487th place and in the half marathon Kathryn Sneyd finished in 1.59.33, Alison Whitehouse clocked 2.05.47, Helen Hickman 2.07.39, Liz Hettle 2.07.39, Karen Doy 2.07.41, Ingrid Cain 2.12.35, Wendy Martin 2.31.34.
Back in Britain Sarah Cox took part in the Manchester Half Marathon finishing in 1.589.28 while in Birmingham a large group of hoops took part in the Great Birmingham Run over the 13.1 half marathon distance. Kevin Duckworth was first back for the club in 137th in 1.24.32, Stuart Perkins was 176th in 1.26.05, Pete Hood was 335th in 1.29.31 and Helen Tromans picked up 2nd in her age category in 1.29.37. Darran Bishop finished in 397th in 1.30.36, Sergej Lyubovnikov was 1145th in 1.38.37, Tahir Yasin 1250th in 1.39.28 and Graham Wildgoose was 1702nd in 1.42.27. Richard Tonks finished in 1.43.21, Rory Campbell in 1.46.06, Russell Fox in 1.47.07, Nick Ma in 1.52.28, Lisa Kendrick in 1.53.45, John Andrews in 1.54.35, Paul Baker in 1.55.41, Lee Avery in 1.55.41, Dave Ede in 1.55.42, Roger Beddard in 1.56.09, Bob Jones in 2.00.22, Stuart King in 2.02.32, Brian Rowe in 2.03.28, Pete Krivosic in 2.04.43, Jane Campbell in 2.06.11, Hannah McGuire in 2.07.16, Meg Dowen in 2.08.54, Mark Knight in 2.11.07, Nick Murphy in 2.19.04, Jane Sommerville in 2.20.42, Tracey O’Donaghue in 2.20.43, Darren Judge in 2.21.02, Tracey Nicholls in 2.23.10, Julia Griffiths in 2.25.59, Sarah Krivosic in 2.27.04, Karen Flint in 2.35.01, Maxine Barker in 2.35.02 and Charlotte Tonks in 3.16.27.
A week on and DK had their had their first opportunity to run around a muddy field at the weekend with the first fixture of the cross country season, the Midlands Cross Country Relays at Wolverhampton. With clubs travelling from all over the Midlands area to compete, the blue hoops were rubbing shoulders with the local heavyweights of Coventry Godiva, Tipton Harriers, Notts AC, Rugby & Northants and the hosts, Wolverhampton & Bilston. With each club fielding teams of four runners with each runner completing a 6k leg of 2 x 3k laps around fields there were plenty of ups and downs and twists. But those looking for mud were disappointed as the course was bone dry. Stuart Perkins got the event underway on the first leg running 24.03 to place the hoops in 24th of the 69 clubs competing in the Senior Men’s race. Simon Hughes ran the second leg in 25.50 with the club dropping to 27th at the changeover, Rob Sannwald was off third and clocked 25.32 with the club losing a place in 28th and Dave Norman, fresh from a marathon 6 days earlier, moved the club up to a finishing position of 26th in 25.55. Darran Bishop got the Masters team on the board with a 25.32 first leg in 11th out of 24 over 40s teams, Andy Morrison ran 31.33 to place the club 17th, Richard Jones dropped a place to 18th with a 29.27 third leg and John Andrews moved the club up to a final finishing position of 15th with a 31.00 last leg. Simon Blizzard decided to avoid the mud with a trip to the seaside taking part in the Great South Run, a 10 miles race from Portsmouth, along the coast and back to a sea front finish. Although managing to avoid the Channel 5 cameras televising the event live, Blizzard clocked a time of 1.05.52 to place a very respectable 306th position, Lisa Perkins clocked 1.50.07 in 18364th and Andrew Perkins finished in 18365 in 1.51.13.
A small group flew the blue hooped flag at the Bridgnorth 10k, John Andrews was first home for the club finishing in 49.30 over the 6.2 mile course to take 99th place, Alison Whitehouse was 156th in 54.38 and the final trio must have gone round the course holding hands with Gina Collins in 211th, Tracy Jones in 212th and Keith Whitehouse in 213th all being given the same time of 1.00.44. Elsewhere Paul Silk did toe the start line at the Wolverhampton & Bilston organised Coven Canter 10k, but his injury woes continued. With the DK athlete having to bail out after 4 miles due to a calf problem, he was unable to finish, leaving the home club to claim the majority of the prizes.