Cheltenham was the stage of the club’s first Championship race – the Linda Franks Five.
A warmly organised event based around the Up Hatherly area and run mainly on pavements, a pleasant change to the endless acres of mud which have surrounded Tewkesbury of late. As always, the event was sold-out in advance so it was a race itself to claim a place on the starting line.
For Tewkesbury, it not only featured the new racing kit but also some new faces; Simon Osborne appeared in the warm-up area much to the surprise of many – only starting running on Boxing Day, he had been building himself for the LF5. Alec and Elaine Vincent were also taking on the competition in the new Tewkesbury colours.
Generally speaking the ladies out-performance the men this time with a higher team placing and also taking two category wins against the men’s one.
Fran Osborne scooped the FV50 after a hard fought race – not just against her gender rivals but against a surprisingly competitive run by Simon. He kept Fran on his heels for most of the race and it wasn’t decided until the closing meters as Fran was shadowed tightly towards the finish line. Fran timed 34:45 minutes and Simon just a second later. This pairing has the potential to yield more in the coming months so watch this space!
Sharon Peters was the second Tewkesbury girl to finish and in a much improved 35:24. Sharon topped the FV45 category.
Less than a minute behind Sharon ran Natalie Jenks. Both of them are keen athletes and where Sharon was pleased with her effort, Nat was equally not with hers – watch this space as Natalie will sure to be turning the screw on her rivals – regardless of gender.
Snapping-up a late entry due to a withdrawal, Carly Merriman found her form in fine fettle and flew the course in just 38:40, a heavy slice off her previous best time for five miles.
Carly also managed to overhaul two of last year’s ever-present competitors Paul Booth and Karen Maber. Karen was pleased to cut under 40 minutes with 39:24 and Paul’s 39:09 is another improved number for his Powerof10 ranking.
Clare Marchant timed a creditable 40:17 as she continues to build her race portfolio. Elaine’s start to 2016 was impressive with her 42:54 finish though it’s sure to be a benchmark once she settles into regular training. Mr Vincent, Alec, finished in 35:48 which was half expected as he had been picked-up on the training radar as a strong runner.
Ever-popular Jude Rodrigues came in at the rear for the club with 45:27 – a fine time indeed for the regular Parkrunner.
At the sharper end of race there was much concern between the quicker lads who was going to get a beating off Sharon’s son Arron! As it ended, his tidy 34:35 was just shy of Steve Maber’s 34:03. Admittedly, Steve had been off-weather all week with a virus but at just 15 yrs old, could there be a fox about to enter the hen house?
Russell Steele was as slick as always with a sharp 32:30 but arguably the biggest story of the day was that Jon Mansfield was knocked off his perch at the top – John Gundy took aim at the club’s top spot for the umpteenth time and finally gunned Jon down with a mature performance and a gap of 3 seconds over the finish line. All credit to John for a well-executed race and little credit to Jon and his frivolous excuses.
17 MV40/03 29:49 John GUNDY
18 MV45/01 29:52 Jon MANSFIELD
38 SM/22 32:30 Russell STEELE
62 MV50/06 34:03 Steve MABER
71 LV50/01 34:45 FranOSBORNE
72 MV40/13 34:46 Simon OSBORNE
79 LV45/01 35:24 Sharon PETERS
82 MV45/12 35:48 Alec VINCENT
93 SL/07 36:31 Natalie JENKS
125 SL/11 38:40 Carly MERRIMAN
130 MV45/17 39:09 Paul BOOTH
135 LV45/03 39:24 Karen MABER
148 LV40/09 40:17 Clare MARCHANT
179 LV45/07 42:54 Elaine VINCENT
200 MV50/14 45:27 Jude RODRIGUES
Jay Russell pulled-up half way through when a lower limb niggle flared-up and lives to fight another day.