Leinthall Starkes – Club handicap Race 3

Race Reports

20 June 2023

Report by Mike B

A momentous red-letter day in the glorious history of Croft Ambrey Running Club as the fleet-footed Eric Apperley broke the long-standing Leinthall Starkes 5 course record in impressive style. The accurately measured 5 mile course was first run way back in April 1989 and the previous fastest time recorded was by Keith Hiley on 23rd April 1991, on a day when 5 club runners ran sub 29 minutes. Keith’s record has stood for over 32 years with hundreds of attempts made to better his exceptional time. Finally, on what I believe to be the 122nd running of this traditional race, a new GOAT can be celebrated in the Croft Ambrey Hall of Fame. The Swift Apperley Speedster, with his “Who Dares Wins” approach to racing, started way behind everyone else but attacked the race with real conviction and determination, catching and overtaking 21 runners en route, to beat his own PB by 24 seconds and the previous record by 14 seconds. The brand new course record now stands at 26.04 – how long will that last ? This was all achieved just 3 days after Eric, a prolific racer, had collapsed across the finish line at the arduous Offa’s Dyke 15 race. I would like to say that it gave me great pleasure, as I took time off from my day job of standing in the middle of a field scaring crows, to witness this sensational display from Eric but he sprinted for the finish line amidst a gaggle of 6 other runners and I was so busy scribbling down times that I missed it ! So, Eric, a repeat performance just for me please.

There was a slight delay in starting the race due to a torrential downpour at the scheduled start time and a wimpish reluctance from the organiser to get his hair wet. The conditions did not dampen the enthusiasm of the 38 runners who toed the line keenly and lots of excellent times were recorded on the night.

First across the line by a huge margin was Joe Lynch, who knocked an enormous 2.33 off his PB. Joe lived up to his role of one of the pre-race favourites as his start time was based on the previous month’s effort when he heroically completed the race after stopping to decorate the grass verge with the contents of his stomach. He misheard the name Lynch for Lunch and ate too close to the start of the race. Having learned that this is not a suitable policy for recording fast times, Joe will now be holding a course called Barfing for Beginners and How to Survive It. In a clear 2nd place was a hard-working Alison Davies, who had a tiger raging in her tank to knock a colossal 5.12 off her previous month’s time. Completing the podium places was Tim Wain-Hobson, with a big improvement of 1.33 off his best and providing proof that age is no barrier to betterment.

As we bade farewell to Leinthall Starkados for the season many of the runners were inspired as they realised that it was the final opportunity to set a course PB and a remarkable 11 spirited and rapid runners did so. Special mention must go to Sam Juson who has improved his time from 31.32 at the start of the season to a brisk 27.31, which now places him alongside Mark Lamonby in equal 6th position on the all-time listings. Sam’s improvement over this last year has been extraordinary, and all achieved with a beaming smile on his face.

The fastest female time on the night was recorded by patron saint of runners’ facial expressions Jo Marriott. Jo’s time of 37.26 was a tantalising 2 seconds shy of Sue Powell’s FV55 age-group record. Next year Jo ?

I believe that I continue to be contractually obliged to mention Miracle Man Markham in my reports. The Old Silver Fox had turned up at my house, on his bike, that very morning armed with delicious Welsh Cakes as a bribe.Just a couple of weeks short of his 83rd birthday, and having had his restrictive ankle tag removed, he again set the record as the oldest competitor to complete the course. It was also a delight to see Tom Davies, a man quarried out of pure granite, running again. Both these club legends ran in the very first Leinthall Starkes race and both competed in the race where Keith Hiley set the previous record. Now they have both competed in the event when the new illustrious record has been set. I managed 2 of those and to quote Mr Meatloaf “2 out of 3 ain’t bad”.

Many thanks to everyone who has helped with marshalling, recording and timekeeping for the 3 events so far, and a special thank you to Theresa Jones for co-ordinating the volunteers.

The remaining 3 races in the handicap series will be held on the hillier ground of Bircher Common, starting on Tuesday 18th July. Start times will be based on a percentage of the last time each runner recorded at Leinthall Starkes. Lots more PBs to be registered.

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