LEINTHALL STARKES 5 – Race 1. 13th April 2023.

Race Reports

Report by Mike Blenkisop

The opening race in the 2023 CARC Handicap Series was delayed by 2 days due to a severe and potentially dangerous storm on the scheduled Tuesday evening.

Spring was in the air on this calm and peaceful Thursday evening as a host of golden Croft runners launched themselves into the 33rd year of this historic event with a hearty spring in their step. The turmoil on this occasion was created by the leading runners who stormed around the course at a hurricane pace.

The irrepressible Eric Apperley, who should have been at home wearing his Vaporfly slippers and with his feet up as he prepares for a serious marathon attempt in a couple of days, hurtled around the course to set the second fastest time ever recorded and win the prized Mick Ligema memorial trophy. Eric’s remarkable time of 26.40 also co-incidentally relegated Mick to no. 3 on the all-time fastest list. Eric seems to be setting PBs in almost every race he runs and the Leinthall Starkes course record of 26.18, which has stood since 1991 must surely be in danger.

Almost as impressive was the outstanding performance of the flying Mark Thomas who, at the age of 49, obliterated the MV45 and MV40 course records, which had stood since 1991 and 1989 respectively. Mark improved the MV45 record by 1.37 and the MV40 record by 52 secs. This also places Mark as the 4th quickest ever over the traditional course.

3rd across the line was the rapidly improving Sam Juson. Sam had sped all the way from the Hell Fire Caves at High Wycombe to compete in this event and he ran as if he were being chased by the Prince of Darkness himself to register the impressive time of 27.50 and knock a huge 3.42 off his previous best time and also place himself at no.10 on the all-time list. More to come from this young fella.

These 3 leading runners are all due to run a Marathon in the next couple of weeks and they are obviously thriving on the hard training. We wish them well for successful assaults on the famous distance.

The comfortable winner of the female version of the Mick Ligema memorial trophy was the speedy Kelly Bowen-Arrow who hit her target by displaying her best form again to win in a time of 35.39. Kelly was featured as the poster girl of the London Marathon as her beaming smile as she crossed the finish line was headlined as a promotional picture by the organisers. Kelly is another who is flourishing on Marathon training and will again be hitting the streets of London in 10 days. Good luck Kelly.

Completing the top 3 female runners were 2 long standing club runners, who are both maintaining a high standard of competition. Lisa Austin was second in 41.35 and Steph Main third in 43.21. Superb running by both.

There were some impressive debuts from new club members and they now have targets to try to beat as the series progresses.

Clare Preece sliced over a minute off her previous best time to illustrate that her star is still on the rise.

The award for the biggest improvement must go to Hayley Colebatch, who carved a colossal 3.51 off her former best time. I can remember Hayley standing by me at a cross country race last year stating that she just couldn’t run any quicker and asking me how to get faster. I think that my reply was something almost dismissive like ” no secret, just hard work”. I am certainly not claiming any credit, but it appears that Hayley is now reaping the rewards of dedicated training. Great to see.

A short blast of club history, which may be of interest to newer CARC members. The Leinthall Starkes 5 was first run almost exactly 34 years ago on Wednesday 12th April 1989. The course was plotted and accurately measured by our very own Bryan Markham and Tom Davies, who were fully qualified official course measurers at the time. I had the honour of competing in this inaugural race but I am not sure how seriously I initially regarded the event. My running diary for that year states that I ran the 7+ miles from Shobdon, ran the race then ran back home ! That sounds a bit like the daft sort of thing that a few present day club members might attempt. The race attracted only 8 runners and was billed as a CARC v Lucton School challenge, with 4 runners representing each team – the Lucton School contingent was composed of previous pupils or teachers. Croft won the event by 19 points to 17. The race was won by Keith Hiley, whose course record is in jeopardy, in a time of 27.04.Tom and Bryan also ran in that first race and both were there this evening. Bryan, at the ripe old age of 82, may feel that he is running through seasonal frogspawn these days but he is still proving that he is a spirited competitor and continues to set the record as the oldest runner to complete the course.

The 2nd event in the 6 race series will be held on Tuesday 16th May and handicap times will be based on the times recorded in this first race. More details will be announced nearer that date.

Lots of photos on the club facebook page.

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