You know that summer is just around the proverbial corner when the Croft Ambrey Handicap Series kicks off. This event, in its 30th year of staging this historic series, was held in memory of Mick Ligema arguably the best runner ever to wear the sky blue vest of Croft Ambrey R.C. Mick’s wife Jan and daughter Elle were in attendance to present the awards and congratulations to Stacey Morgan and Kelly Bowen for being the first names to be inscribed on the Mick Ligema trophies.
The first race in the 6 event series is always a straight race over the accurately measured 5 mile road course around the leafy lanes of north Herefordshire. Runners’ times set in this race will form the basis of a handicap system that will be set in place for the next event. It was rewarding to see so many first-timers, some with nervous trepidation written clearly across their faces on the start line, testing themselves and there were some excellent performances, with the apprehensive grimaces replaced by beaming smiles at the finish.
It was fitting that the first name on the trophy will be Stacey’s (he has consistently been the club’s best runner since Mick’s heyday) as he led every step of the way to record a clear victory, pushing hard as he approached the finish line to ensure that he broke the 30 minute barrier – only 15 runners have dipped under this magical barrier in the history of the event and Tom and Stacey were the only 2 of those running on this occasion. Stacey’s winning time of 29.54 was over 2 minutes shy of his best time, but it was proof that he is returning to fitness. He had a “good for age” place awaiting him at the London Marathon on Sunday, but injuries had prevented him from preparing properly to enable him to do himself justice in a marathon – the place will be held over for next year.
Greg was next across the finish line in a time that was, remarkably, just 5 seconds slower than his P.B. for the course as he had run the challenging 30 mile Mortimer Trail just 2 days previously. His aching legs were still able to hold off the challenge of Dave George who completed the top 3. Nigel, another who had survived the Mortimer Trail venture, defied any latent fatigue to finish 4th whilst Paul Davies was the first of the rookies home as he just held off the attentions of a tiring Patrick.
Ashley may have arrived hoping to set a new MV65 course record and he duly knocked over a minute off his previous best as he continued his excellent run of form. His finishing time was, however, still well over a minute behind Gary Gunner’s outstanding age-group record.
Kelly was the first female home in 10th place overall as she, too, continued her rich vein of form as she improves with every race. On this occasion she knocked almost 2 minutes off her previous best time set last year and she was delighted to be the winner of the Mick Ligema trophy. Kelly’s time of 36.16 takes her to 12th place on the all-time female rankings and the potential is there for her to climb higher. Robyn, on her debut, was next female to finish in a time that now features her at no. 15 in the rankings. Sue Powell completed the top 3 as she yet again set a P.B. and an impressive FV55 course record as she is placed at 16th in the listings. Sam, having experienced a bit of a dip in form recently, battled hard and rediscovered some of her sparkle to slice 4 seconds off her P.B., but still remains just outside of the top 20.
32 finishers was a good turnout and, hopefully, they will all be back to attempt to improve on these times at the next race on 16th May.
Lots of photos now featuring on our Facebook page – thanks to Scott Jones for wielding the camera.
|RACE 1||18th. April 2017|
|1||Stacey Morgan (MV40)||29.54|
|3||Dave George (MV45)||31.59|
|4||Nigel Taylor (MV50)||32.31|
|6||Patrick Pearson (MV45)||34.25|
|7||Stuart Austin (MV50)||35.00|
|8||Paul Colley-Davies (MV50)||35.22||Debut|
|9||Ashley Robinson (MV65)||36.12||P.B. by 1 min. 12 secs.|
|10||Kelly Bowen||36.16||P.B. by 1 min. 53 secs.|
|11||Neil Taylor (MV60)||36.42|
|12||Dave Ameghino (MV45)||36.59|
|14||Sue Powell (FV55)||37.24||P.B. by 8 secs. & FV55 course record|
|15||Daren Lincoln (MV50)||37.37|
|16||Jo Marriott (FV45)||37.57|
|17||Gary Gunner (MV70)||38.24||MV70 course record|
|18||Frank Luscott (MV60)||38.36|
|19||Eleanor Baker (FV40)||38.56||Debut|
|20||Martin Rouse (MV40)||39.09||Debut|
|21||Sam Harper (FV40)||39.23||P.B. by 4 secs.|
|22||Liza Austin (FV50)||39.39|
|23||Carol Powell (FV45)||40.11|
|24||Tom Davies (MV65)||41.42|
|25||Roger Brown (MV50)||49.33|
|29||Sue Field (FV45)||54.43||Debut|
|30||April Pearson (FV45)||54.45||Debut|
|31||Heather Powell (FV50)||54.47||Debut|
|32||Bryan Markham (MV75)||59.00|