Leinthall Starkes Handicap

Race Reports
Report by Mike Blenkinsop.
I am not sure of the correct collective noun for runners’ PBs – perhaps a “pride” would be appropriate as there was much to be proud of as more than half the field either set PBs or broke age group course records on this momentous run as the club finally returned to its long-established handicap racing. This was even more remarkable as many runners had also raced in tough events just a couple of days previously, proving that hardy Croft runners thrive on hard work.
The venerable Bryan Markham set off first and ran a solo race to cross the finish line way ahead of the competition. In doing so he annihilated his own MV80 course record, slicing more than 10 minutes off his time set last month. Apparently, he was slowed down on that occasion as he lost concentration whilst contemplating the meaning of life and the role that running has played in his longevity and wellbeing. His deep thinking obviously didn’t take into account the policy of the famous Sergey Bubka, who was king of the world’s pole vaulters for many years. The celebrated Ukranian used to be paid extra prize money for breaking the world record,  so he did so on 35 separate occasions by increasing the height by a couple of centimetres each time. He became a very wealthy man ! Bryan may discover that knocking such a huge amount off his record in one swoop may not be the cleverest way of ensuring a prodigious supply of prize chocolate bars. To mix Monty Python references, he will have learned that the Meaning of Life is not that he is the messiah but “a very naughty boy”. He has also just delayed the publishing of this report by turning up at my doorstep on his bike and demanding a cup of Yorkshire tea.
Second to cross the finish line, with a colossal and impressive PB, was the ever-improving Bronwen Preece. Her outstanding performance was rewarded with the presentation of a beautiful large yellow dahlia by an admiring Leinthall village gardener. A prize to be cherished. Completing the top 3 was Tori Dickinson, who joyously declared “I hate that” as she crossed the line whilst rehearsing for her interview with the UKA’s promotions board.
Lots of superb fast times followed – some from runners who have been charging around the old course for many years. Louise Reeves and Kelly Bowen, both of whom had raced the challenging Shrewsbury 10K just a couple of days previously, both wore XL sized smiles as they continued their progress. Gary Gunner, more renowned for his fell running prowess, is enjoying a new lease of life and improved his own MV75 record. The evergreen Nigel Taylor equalled his own MV55 record despite having run a 17 mile strenuous fell race at the weekend – hard-core.
The fastest time of the night was recorded by the outstanding Eric Apperley, another who had raced at the weekend, as he slalomed his way through the field  and sprinted for the finish line as though avoiding a malicious sniper. Eric’s speedy time of 27.13 was the fastest run on the course for 20 years and takes him to the dizzy heights of 4th on the all-time list and the time was tantalizingly just one second shy of the top 3 – next year Eric. It will, hopefully, be good to get back to a full season of monthly handicap events next year. It certainly beats sitting on a park bench, swigging strong cider and swearing at pigeons, which would be my alternative pursuit.


Thanks to Wendy and Clare and Cora for the photos.(randomly selected for position in the gallery)

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