The Stroud Half Marathon returned as the final event in the club’s championship; with Coombe Capability becoming part of the Off –Road Series, October’s Stroud race played-out the 2017 season.
Earlier in the month, the Cheltenham Half saw some indifferent performances for Tewkesbury so there were some expectations on the Stroud course. The weather was much improved with an assisting breeze that was welcomed by the runners heading back towards the epicentre in Stroud.
One of the stories from Cheltenham was that of Chris Duckworth’s capitulation, Chris had a great second chance to break the 2 hour mark which he knocked on in May’s Tewkesbury Half. This time, he avoided taking on too much fluid and concentrated on running consistently. He crossed the line timed at 1:57:08, comfortably breaking his 2 hr target and impressively taking almost six minutes off his PB.
Just ahead of Chris, Jude Rodrigues was battling the effects of his marathon race the week before (for those who didn’t know, Jude raced in the Birmingham Marathon and finished in 4:40 hrs). It was a tough run for Jude so to finish in 1:55 is creditable.
One of the tightest ‘battles’ in the Cheltenham event was between two Tewkesbury girls, Elaine Vincent and Kerri Spry; their race was so close that it wasn’t until ‘chip’ times were inspected that Elaine was shown to take the honours by 5 seconds however, Kerri finished in 1,184th place while Elaine placed 1,238th! Surely Stroud would be definitive – not a chance, it appears that Kerri out-sprinted Elaine by 1 second but if the ‘chip’ time is considered then Elaine ran the distance 1 second quicker? Nevertheless, the pair improved on their Cheltenham times tremendously with Kerri setting a new PB over her Cardiff time from 2016 while Elaine managed to strip back her excellent time from May’s Tewkesbury Half. All eyes will be on their next spar.
Barry O’Driscoll continued his return to regular racing with a comfortable sub 1:50 and making his first race this half of the year, Steve Maber, worked hard for 1:40 hr.
On the back of her improved run at Cheltenham, where she found her best time in 4 years, Cathy Dudfield was odds-on to excel in the day’s favourable conditions; with Stuart Dudfield running as her carrot, Cathy produced a thoroughbred performance, a performance so good it was noted as her best time for over 10 years – certainly her first sub 1:50 for that period. Stuart was made to sweat too to keep ahead and cross the finish with a glorious 1:46 on the race clock.
Natalie Jenks made the most of her decent form with a faultless run and cut a few seconds off her own PB. No doubt she will be determined to cut seconds off all her best times on the back of her successful year.
Alec Vincent found himself up against in-form Mark Parker and Jon Mansfield. Finishing a couple of minutes down on his best, he has had a couple of demanding months so his new focus will soon be on the Guy Fawkes Five.
Likewise, Jon Mansfield was 5 minutes down and very much like his Cheltenham race, he was terrified during the last 6 miles by second-claim runner Shona Crombie-Hicks. Shona’s run was her best Half in nearly 5 years and won the Women’s bounty prize.
Mark Parker on the other hand, was magnificent and reached a new level with a low 1:28. In general, having the Cheltenham Half 3 weeks before the Stroud Half worked wonders for the majority.
Jon Mansfield 1.22.57
Mark Parker 1.28.15
Alec Vincent 1.34.20
Natalie Jenks 1.38.40
Steve Maber 1.40.23
Stu Dudfield 1.46.33
Cathy Dudfield 1.46.33
Barry O'Driscoll 1.49.16
Kerri Spry 1.52.07
Elaine Vincent 1.52.06
Jude Rodrigues 1.55.41
Chris Duckworth 1.57.08