LEINTHALL STARKES 5 – 20th June 2017 by Mike Blenkinsop
The 3rd and final race around the lanes of Leinthall Starkes before we head for Croft Woods next month attracted lower numbers than the previous events with runners possibly discouraged by the recent heatwave, though thankfully the daytime sizzling temperature had dropped slightly by start time. It was, therefore, all the more noteworthy that there were 5 personal bests recorded and appropriate that 5 of the first 6 home improved their times with Stacey, the one exception in the top 6, continuing to produce exceptional times as he attempted to celebrate his 44th birthday with a course age group record. A valiant effort in tough conditions, but he will now have to wait until next spring for the next assault. Had he been exactly a year older he would have beaten Peter Tyler’s long standing MV45 record ! Also worthy of mention and high commendation was the fact that 4 runners were competing just 2 days after suffering in the Great British Baked Offa that was this year’s Offa’s Dyke race in the blistering heat. Emma even managed to record a P.B. and sneaked into the all-time top 20 female listed times, showing remarkable powers of recovery after leading the Croft females, accompanied by Kelly and Robyn, to glorious team victory on the Dyke.
Flora was first across the finish line, having chased down 5 runners in front of her, with a remarkable improvement on her debut of last month. Lisa had led the field for a while until overtaken in the final 200 metres and, like Donna in 3rd place, registered a big P.B. There was a combative charge for the line for the next 4 places, with just 4 seconds separating all 4. Emma and Kelly could probably have done without this challenge with the strenuous Dyke run still in their legs, whilst Theresa hung on gamely to produce the evening’s final P.B. Stacey’s form has been as red hot as the recent scorching weather as he recorded his second successive 28 mins. time. He overtook 19 runners and has now finished 1st, 3rd and 5th in the 3 races to date.
Bryan elects to do his own thing these days and runs solo around the course and he knocked almost a minute off last month’s time as well as continuing his progression of being the oldest competitor to complete the race.
The evening’s booby prize was shared between the gruesome twosome of Scott and Will. Running in their first handicap race and having had the route described to them in minute detail, they proved that they were worthy graduates of the Simon Norwood Academy of Navigation and Spacial Awareness. Having gone AWOL with no explanation, they were eventually traced to the chippie in Leintwardine, some miles off the course. That sounds decidedly fishy to me – why were they carrying money with them ? Was it all planned in advance ? Volunteers are now needed to chaperone the pair around the Croft Woods course next month, possibly tied to a guide in the manner of blind runners.
The updated top 20 times, recorded over the 30 years of running this historic course, reveal that 5 female competitors have either entered the list or improved on their records this season whilst the only male runner to alter the records list was Gary Gunner, who improved the MV70 record. Half of the men’s top 20 times were set last century, whilst only 4 of the women’s best were similarly recorded. The club’s female runners are certainly setting the pace at present.
The next race in the 6 race series will now transfer to Croft Woods on Tuesday 18th July. All start times will be worked out as a percentage of times set at Leinthall Starkes.