This is the 25th year of running the accurately measured Leinthall Starkes 5 club road race. The event was celebrated with a record turnout as the runners lined up for the first of the 6 races that comprise the 2013 Handicap Series. The first race, as always, takes the form of a straight race with handicaps being decided thereafter on a race by race basis.
Mark L. set the pace from the start, despite having run well just 2 days previously to finish 5th in the Worcester Half Marathon, chased hard by Simon, who is building up to his international debut in the World Long Track Triathlon Champs. Simon made sure that Mark guided him through the final turn so that he did not repeat his previous explorations of northern Herefordshire and south Shropshire whilst daydreaming of international success. His thanks was to then overtake Mark in the final mile. Mark responded strongly but was just unable to deal with Simon’s strong surge. The leading pair pushed each other to the line with excellent performances as 2 runners broke the 30 minute barrier for the first time in many years, and this was with Stacey still on the injured list. Simon recorded his best time since 2008 and Mark demonstrated his striking improvement by knocking over a minute and a half off his previous best time to now feature at no 13 on the all-time list and also become just the 13th runner to go sub 30 mins in the 25 years of competing on this traditional course.
Completing the top 3 was Stuart who is returning to good form, also inspired by yet again being selected to represent GB, along with Simon. Stuart’s time was another P.B. illustrating that his injury woes are well behind him now. To complete a memorable evening for the Austin family, Toby became the youngest runner to contest the event and so, at the age of 15, he became the holder of the junior course record with an impressive 33.28.
First female home, in 23th place, was Gemma, again just 2 days after a superb run at the Worcester Half Marathon where she took third place. Irina and Jo completed the top 3 female finishers, both recording PBs.
There were some promising debut times and London bound Ben M. sliced a huge chunk from his previous best. Vice chairman, Dave A., decided to award his discretionary prize to Rob who ran a magnificent race, finishing 6th and knocking nearly 2 mins from last year’s best time.
The next race in the series will be handicapped and is scheduled for 21st May.
Not all photos came out; sorry!