Tewkesbury runners packed themselves on the start line for the 2016 Croome Capability Canter. Always a popular event and so much so that this year’s race sold-out in less than 30 minutes of opening.
The course offers a route covering the far corners of the Croome estate and could almost be described as flat but for a testing climb at the start, a short incline at the finish and a couple of mild inclines over the fields.
There were some strong runners tussling for the top prizes this year and Tewkesbury’s newest V60 Gary Duxbury fancied his chances over a course he excelled on in 2015. Breaking 50 minutes, Gary out-ran his competition with minutes to spare to claim his first V60 title.
Carol Cowley was the principal FV65 runner. Her reliable performance made sure that the club was well represented at the prize presentations.
Surprisingly though, Tewkesbury only had one runner inside the top ten and that was Natalie Jenks in the female field. Also breaking 50 minutes – the first TRC girl to do so, Natalie carried-over her good form from her recent “A RACES” to lead the Tewkesbury girls up to the Church finish. Natalie was noted saying beforehand that she “wasn’t too bothered” about the race – clearly, her psychological tactics paid off.
Leading the charge from the start, John Gundy does what he does best by shooting off too quickly. He certainly impressed by reaching the start summit first. It took Jon Mansfield a mile to reel John in but even Jon was out-classed on the day – hoping to place top five, he had to settle for 11th place.
John Gundy kept Jon in his sights and although he didn’t challenge again, he did cross the finish just a mere 11 seconds after Jon. Totally unaware of the antics behind, Jon hadn’t even caught his breath before Mark Parker came thundering along the finish gantry.
Fearless Mark somehow managed to follow John’s tail – so that’s another incredible performance by Mark, especially considering John timed a sub30 five mile run earlier this month. And if further evidence is needed, Mark also put a two minute gap into Nigel Tillott!
Taking nothing away from Nigel, who did have a good race by taking a couple of minutes off his 2015 time.
The elusive Mike Bryce made an appearance over the National Trust grounds and impressed finishing less than 30 seconds after Nigel.
Smooth running Vlad Venglar enjoyed the experience of Capability Brown’s landscaping and had just a little left for a sprint finish.
Alec Vincent turned the table on Stuart Dudfield after last Sunday’s Broadway adventure. Both runners clocked impressive times and Stuart would know he had good legs by leading Gary Duxbury around after the tight contest the two had in 2015. However, it was Alec who got the better of both of them with a neat 47:40 effort.
Habitual slow starter Paul Mason took the starting climb lightly before applying consistent effort for the 6.5 mile ramble.
Gary Pavey returned to one of his favourite events. Fully recovered from his recent Manchester ½ marathon, Gary donned his road shoes and despite the heavy rain from the previous weekend, found the ground fairly firm although dam in places.
Club Captain Roy Northcott was pursued around Croome, one of Lancelot’s 170 most famous works behind Hampton, Blenheim and of course Downton Abbey, by Carol Cowley. Carol would be keen to finish ahead of Roy and Roy would take little pleasure in the thought of the last ascent with Carol for company. As it happened, he stretched out a one minute gap from Carol but, like most, the final 100 yards was painful.
In-form Elaine Vincent ran extremely well. Considering she had performed in the Newent Parkrun 24 hrs earlier, her Croome run was impressive indeed.
Cathy Dudfield found the distance a little short compared to what she has been racing at recently.
Nonetheless, Cath did put some time into a competitive trio of fine fillies; Carly Merriman, Caroline Mansfield and Keri Spry started off together amongst the 323 runners and after six miles they were all still shouting distance between each other.
The climb to the finish would be decisive as Carly pushed early to fend off any attacking sprints to the line.
Carly’s run was one of her best and she chopped six minutes from last year’s finish time.
Caroline was taking part in only her second event this year and evidently had only run a handful of times since Neva popped out. She found the last climb tough too however, once the finish line was in sight she was away.
Keri followed and to her credit did well to finish just seconds off Carly and Caroline. Keri’s running is coming together after missing the early season with injury.
Also enjoying some good form, Kevin Emmerson absorbed the scenic surroundings of the 18th century neo-Palladian mansion. Although the final finisher for Tewkesbury, he placed 214th in a noteworthy time just over the hour.
43.33 Jon Mansfield
43.44 John Gundy
43.48 Mark Parker
45.31 Nigel Tillott
46.00 Mike Bryce
46.59 Vlad Venglar
47.40 Alec Vincent
47.47 Stuart Dudfield
48.42 Gary Duxbury
49.49 Natalie Jenks
51.13 Paul Mason
52.57 Gary Pavey
53.22 Roy Northcott
54.25 Carol Cowley
56.10 Elaine Vincent
57.30 Cathy Dudfield
58.40 Carly Merriman
58.52 Caroline Mansfield
58.54 Kerri Spry
61.16 Kevin Emmerson