Croft Handicap Series – Race 2 Leinthall Starkes May 24th.

Race Reports

Report by Mike B

The peace and tranquility of the tiny north Herefordshire settlement of Leinthall Starkes was again rudely interrupted by an invasion of a gang of unsavoury looking characters. A brief glance at the assembled throng would, however, have reassured the locals that it was merely a gathering of more applicants for the recently advertised vacancy for the post of village idiot. There were certainly plenty of suitable candidates on display, but the lunacy ceased once running heads were slotted into gear and there were some first-rate performances recorded and a phenomenal 14 PBs set. Handicap times, based on times recorded last month, were applied for this 2nd event in the 2022 series.and this created some competitive sprint finishes as the runners rounded the final bend to spy a series of target competitors within possible reach. This certainly provided lots of close finishes and severely tested the dexterity and concentration of the finish line officials.

There were 2 truly outstanding performances, both recognised by Sam as she handed out the choccie awards at the subsequent presentation ceremony. Charlotte Broadhurst, at the tender age of 17, is in such a red hot streak of form that she is in danger of incurring the wrath of Greta Thunberg for accelerating the advancement of global warming. Her impressive time of 31.41 was the fastest female time recorded over this historic course since 1991 and was just 27 seconds shy of Sue Connop’s course record. Charlotte also overtook 35 runners on her rapid way to 4th place. No records have been kept with regard to such an achievement, but this surely must feature as the most. Another female runner who is displying top form at present is Hannah Fletcher. She followed up her impressive victory at the recent Shobdon Wood Race with a superb run here, knocking a massive 3 mins 19 secs off her previous best ! Her new best time of 32.09 was, again, within 11 secs of Sue Connop’s FV35 course record set way back in 1997. Hannah also moves up to no. 6 in the all time female rankings.

First across the line on the night, by a huge margin of over 3 minutes, was Steph King, who admitted to having had a shocker last month and benefitted accordingly with a generous start time. She had also gained extra fitness by recently running alongside her successfully competitive dog Barry as he claimed victory. A royal double for the Kings. Next across the line, knocking an enormous 2.56 off her debut run last month, was Alison Apperley showing great determination as she ran solo almost all of the way Having set off first, she was only overtaken by Steph, and must have run every step of the latter stages awaiting the daunting sound of heavy footsteps and even heavier breathing approaching from the rear. They were all held at bay by a resolute run from Alison. Completing the top 3 was Suzanne Field. Having set off with Bryan, surely there is no more incentive required than to run as quickly as possible to escape from his inane chatter. Mission accomplished Sue!

The handicap system kicking in resulted in a number of highly competitive battles as the runners engaged in battle to beat each other across the finish line. Perhaps the most entertaining tussle was a family affair as the Woods sprinted for the line stride for stride. Rob had rounded the final bend and spotted Sue just ahead. This was just the stimulation he needed and he demonstrated his best impressionof Usain Bolt to just take the verdict, with both recording PBs.

The 2 quickest men on the night were Eric Apperley, despite stopping a few times to decorate the grass verge with whatever was irritating his stomach, and Gareth Leek, who consolidated his ranking as the 8th fastest ever around the course. Bryan Markham again set another record as the oldest runner to complete the run. Female runners outnumbered males by 25 to 18 on the night, and had it been a competition based on finishing positions they would have been easy victors.

This event was first run in April 1989 with 6 male and 2 female runners only. It is so rewarding to witness the development of the club over the ensuing years and to see that this competition is still so popular. 3 of the runners at that first event (Tom, Bryan and Mike), though not all active on this occasion, were also part of tonight’s proceedings.

Edit: Results can be found on the website by linking here

Photos by Kelly, more on the Facebook page.

Thanks to Mike B, Tori D, Guy, Tom D, Dave M, Stuart A. Ben Norwood, Emma J and Kelly for all their help to make the run possible.

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