It was on to Stratford upon Avon for round two of the cross country league with both the men’s and women’s races taking place at the same venue, Welcombe Hills, there was plenty of support and it was certainly needed over a taxing, undulating course with the location living up to it’s name, there were certainly hills but none of them were welcome. The ladies were off first over two laps, approximately 4 miles, with Helen Tromans leading the club home in 31.34 to take 53rd place despite having missed a significant amount of training due to illness, Lyn Sprague finished in 106th place in 34.21, Hannah McGuire was 124nd in 35.41 and Jane Campbell finished in 149th in 37.48. It was then a case of DK runners being like buses, you wait for long enough and four turn up at once, with Kimberley Ball making her club debut finishing in 192nd in 42.23, Cilla Harding a place and a second behind in 193rd in 42.24 and Ingrid Cain in 194th and Paula Pallant, another debutant, both finishing in 42.25 in 194th and 195th respectively. Sarah Jones stopped the clock in 52.00 to take 228th place. For the men the battle to stay in the Second Division of the Birmingham League continued with Telford AC, second from bottom and below DK, bringing their big guns out and with DK again missing some significant names of their own it would be another test. DK finished the day 14th of the 17 clubs in the division and came away with a better points tally than in the first fixture. Stuart Perkins made an impressive seasonal debut finishing in 54th place in 38.52, Darran Bishop was 88th in 40.24, Rob Sannwald was 98th in 40.45, Simon Hughes and Dave Norman produced a sprint finish with Hughes taking the honours by the thickness of his vest with both awarded the same time of 41.45 in 118th and 119th and Simon Blizzard completed the A team in 122nd place in 41.58. Steve Wood was next home in 149th in 43.39, Stephen Parr was 181st in 46.15, Mark Judge was 191st in 47.03, Andy Weaver was 196th in 47.28, Sergej Lyubovnikov was 202nd in 48.09, Richard Jones finished in 48.31 to take 204th place and Rory Campbell was 211th in 49.28.
Twenty four hours later Andy Sprague tackled some hills of his own in the Cardington Cracker, a 9.1 mile fell race climbing up the full 1236 feet of The Lawley and up Caer Caradoc, another 1506 feet, and following the Hope Bowdler ridge in Church Stretton before finishing in Cardington. The fine winter morning, frosty underfoot but under a clear blue sky, made the time of 1.40.14 a joy and a 84th place finish was impressive on a tough course.
There was a last chance for athletes from Dudley Kingswinford Running Club to post some fast times for the year at the weekend as one of the fastest races on the calendar took place at the Telford 10k. Darran Bishop was first home in a lightning quick time of 37.08 to take 220th place, Dave Norman recorded his fastest time for many years clocking 37.36 in 233rd, Mark Homer ducked under the sub 40 benchmark in 39.40 to take 287th and 2nd in his age group and Mark Judge finished in 41.49 in 338th place. In the mass race, for those likely to finish in over 40 minutes, Tahir Yasin came home in 44.28, Bob Jones finished in 47.40 in 519th place, Alison Whitehouse, despite wearing the yellow of Sweatshop rather than her DK colours, was 705th in 55.21, Tony Noke finished in 57.39 in 802nd, Keith Whitehouse continued his habit of running round in company finishing in 59.12 in 802nd, Gina Collins was 803rd in 59.13 and Cilla Harding 804th in 59.15. Preston Grundy finished in 851st in 1.01.55, Sally Clewes in 1.02.31 for 882nd, Lisa Perkins ran 1.02.53 for 904th, Helen Noke finished in 1.07.50 in 963rd and Nicola Wilkinson finished in 1.12.09 in 989th.
Elsewhere a group of hoops travelled towards the Welsh borders to Ludlow to take part in the Mortimer Forest race and there were perfect conditions for Richard Bate who finished in 23rd place in 71.04, Mick Quane finished in 45th in 76.09, Andy Weaver in 147th in 87.56, Andy Morrison in 22nd in 98.12, Carol Fisher in 267th in 104.53 and Sally McConville was the last of the hoops home in 276th in 106.17. And finally a sole runner took part in the Sneyd Christmas Pudding 10 where runners not only received a medal for finishing the 10 miles race but were also presented with the traditional festive dessert. Darren Judge was the first from the club to have the chance to tuck into his pudding finishing in 280th place in 1.42.22.
Any runners who had bagged their festive dessert at the Christmas Pudding race the week before could supplement their Christmas meal by taking part in Wolverhampton & Bilston AC’s annual Turkey Trot, a 5 mile race around the streets near their Aldersley Stadium home, where each finisher was rewarded with a turkey, well a turkey product. Only a couple of blue hoops took advantage of the poultry on offer. Simon Blizzard coming home in 29th in 31.50 and Jacqui Elson-Whittaker taking 109th place in 40.44. It was good to see a former DK athlete, Malcolm Pillar, now representing South West Veterans, taking an age group prize in the MV70 category placing 82nd in a time of 37.14.