There was a record turnout of 35 runners for the first race of the 2014 Handicap Series and this included 11 female competitors – this, in itself, outnumbered the total number running in the first event 103 races ago.
The first event of the series, as always, takes the form of a straight race prior to handicapping for the remainder of the series. This season it also incorporated the third race counting towards the 2014 club championships. With that in mind, Stacey is determined to regain the title which he relinquished last year due to injury and subsequent surgery. Mark L. set the early pace as the runners spread out along the leafy lanes of north Herefordshire, until Stacey tested him out at the two and a half mile stage and found that he soon opened up a gap which he proceeded to extend and finally won by almost a minute in the excellent time of 28.42. This was in spite of his old injury trouble starting to re-appear. Mark persevered to hold on to second place and was rewarded with a P.B. Simon , despite professing not to enjoy road running, managed to stay on course to complete the top 3. Toby produced a stunning performance in 4th place to set a new junior course record, only to be greeted by his Dad who was delighted to inform his son that his excellent time was still 20 seconds slower than his old man’s best time on the course. Competitive Dad or what ?
Sam M. was the first debutant across the finish line in 5th place with a promising run that bodes well for the future. He was closely followed by a flying Martin (Slim) Williams, who has obviously been strengthened by his marathon training and unfurled his customary sprint finish to set a big P.B.
Suzanne T. returned from her Thailand adventure looking tanned and rested and finally set a time worthy of her talents (32.22) to place her second on the all-time female list over this classic course. There were encouraging debuts from Greg and Paul G., who now have a target to beat next time out. Steph’s promising debut culminated in a finishing straight battle with a determined and competitive Jo who just prevailed. These two now feature at nos. 12 and 13 on the all-time list. Sue Powell was a revelation with the biggest P.B. improvement of the night sneaking into 18th on the all-time classifications, and Carol broke the 50 minute barrier on her debut.
It was good to welcome some unfamiliar faces back to the fold as the club continues to flourish. The next race (13th May) will see the handicap system kicking in and you will then be the hunter or the hunted. Just don’t all cross the finish line together and make my head explode.