Leinthall Starkes 5m

Race Reports

There were no rousing anthems or flags fluttering to greet the return of Croft Ambrey’s runners to the tiny north Herefordshire village for the, Tom informs me, 119th edition of the Leinthall Starkes 5, but there was an abundance of enthusiasm and eager anticipation. It is over 2 years since this historic race, first run as a club event way back in 1989 – before a handful of this evening’s runners were born. This long hiatus, due to Covid restrictions, was even extended by a further frustrating week due to the oppressive heat conditions forcing the cancellation of the original planned event. No such difficulties on this occasion with perfect running conditions for the 34 starters, with the females outnumbering the males by 19 to 15, and a pleasing 14 making their debuts to test themselves out on the old traditional course.

The Olympic slogan of ” faster, higher, stronger” had obviously inspired the runners and lots of fast times were recorded.Reigning titleholder Mark Lamonby, sporting his new bleach-blonde-bombshell go-faster Phil Foden hairstyle (a strange choice for a fanatical Man. Utd. fan), darted away from the start line knowing that he would be seriously challenged by the up and coming young starlet Eric Apperley. Mark soon built a commanding lead but he was never able to relax, with frequent concerned peeps over his shoulder as he sensed the threat of the persistent chasing contender. Eric, displaying a maturity way beyond his inexperience, contained his early effort in the hope of reeling in the leader in the later stages. His patient policy almost paid off as he was rapidly closing on the final slight gradient approaching the finish, with Mark desperately willing the finish line to come closer. The eventual winning margin was a mere 2 seconds, with both athletes having given their all, in an exciting race which would have brought an approving nod from Mick Ligema, in whose honour the race is named. Mark’s hard-earned winning time of 27.35 was one of the fastest ever run in the 30+ year history of the event and was just 4 seconds shy of his best ever. Eric’s outstanding debut time of 27.37 now places him 5th on the all-time rankings and there is huge potential for much more to come. Mark was presented with the Mick Ligema trophy for the 3rd successive time, but he knows that he will have to work hard to hang on to his title in future.

Meanwhile, another thrilling battle was developing for 3rd place as 2 evergreen old timers fought out their own private contest, with 51 year old Simon Norwood just holding off the determined 55 year old Nigel Taylor to prevail by the narrow margin of just 3 seconds. Nigel had the consolation of setting a MV55 course record of 32.11 – this bettered by just 2 seconds a record that had stood since 2005.

There was also a memorial trophy awaiting the winner of the women’s race and Mick would also have been pleased to see 2 more quality runners, both making their debuts on the old course, contesting the title. Katie Ayres demonstrated her intent from the start as she assertively sped away to open up an emphatic margin of supremacy as she led every step of the way to finish 5th overall in the impressive time of 32.36. This places her a glorious 4th in the all-time rankings of female runners. Alice Godding never gave up and chased hard in 2nd place as she fought her way to 6th overall in another promising time of 33.14, which places her in 6th overall in the fast female listings. Kelly Bowen, a previous holder of the trophy, was her usual consistent self as she finished in a strong 3rd place in 35.31.

There were lots of encouraging fast times set by runners participating here for the first time and they now have a target to aim for when they next compete over this accurately measured 5 mile challenge. It was also pleasing to witness a number of PBs being set as runners were rewarded for recent dedicated training with some big improvements.Gary Gunner etched his name into the record books as he set a new MV75 course record and the indistructible Bryan Markham set course records for the MV80 age group and as the oldest runner to complete the race – what a star!

Bryan and Tom Davies had both competed in the very first staging of the Leinthall Stakes 5 all those years ago and, although slightly slower these days, they are still going strong and long may that continue.This race would normally be run in April and form the basis of a handicap series to follow. The pesky pandemic has obstructed that this year, but we will hopefully be back into full swing in 2022. It felt good to be back to some semblance of normality with the resumption of this time honoured club tradition.

1Mark Lamonby (S.M.)27.35
2Eric Apperley (S.M.)27.37Debut
3Simon Norwood (MV50)32.08
4Nigel Taylor (MV55)32.11MV55 Course Record by 2 secs.
5Katie Ayres (S.F.)32.36Debut
6Alice Godding (S.F.)33.14Debut
7Greg Jones (MV50)34.34
8Kelly Bowen (FV35)35.31
9Roland Preece (MV50)36.41Debut
10Dave Millichap (MV50)36.56P.B. by 1 min. 37 secs.
11Emma Jones (FV45)37.45
12Dave Barrett (MV50)37.55Debut
13Neil Taylor (MV60)38.08
14Lee Monks (S.M.)38.23Debut
15Thea Preece (S.F.)38.38Debut
16Sam Juson (S.M.)39.36
17Leanne Cuthbertson (S.F.)41.36Debut
18Gary Gunner (MV75)42.14MV75 Course Record by 7 mins 11 secs.
19Huw Williams (MV60)43.28Debut
20Sam Harper (FV45)43.55
21Bronwen Preece (S.F.)44.34Debut
22Gemma Davies (FV40)45.12P.B. by 1 min.
23Louise Reeves (FV40)45.14P.B. by 1 min. 30 secs.
24Lisa Gray (FV50)45.48P.B. by 26 secs.
25Flora Gunner (FV55)45.39
26Sue Wood (FV65)46.13Debut
27Carol Powell (FV45)47.08
28Helene Loh (S.F.)47.25Debut
29Tori Dickinson (FV55)49.05
30Hayley Colebatch49.38Debut
31Theresa Jones (FV50)49.49P.B. by 1 min. 09 secs.
32Clare Preece (FV50)50.05Debut
33Tom Davies (MV70)56.11
34Bryan Markham (MV80)67.48MV80 Course Record

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