Performances of Weeks 34 and 35 – 2nd to 16th May 2011

22 May
May I begin by congratulating our men’s and women’s teams for their impressive performance in the Bristol 10K, which incorporated the England Athletics road championship. Claire Hallissey took the women’s title and led our ladies to an overwhelming team victory, while the men won the silver medals behind top London club Belgrave, who had two African born runners in their line-up!  What’s more as a result of our runners’ efforts we now have six of both the men’s and women’s top ten times in the current South West rankings, with Claire top of the women’s and Phil second in the men’s. 
1 PHIL WYLIE  – Phil continued his recent fine form on the road with a barrier-breaking sub-30 minute time to finish 14th overall (29:59) in the Bristol 10K, which by my calculation gave him 6th place in the accompanying English championship – not too bad for a duathlete, albeit one of the best in the country, following his 7th place – second Brit – in the recent European championship.
2= STEVE FRANCIS, ANDY CHAMBERS, STEVE McGUIGAN and SIMON THORNTON – I was reluctant to separate these four as all of them rewrote their previous personal bests, Steve Francis (39th in 31:35)  leading the way ahead of Andy Chambers (45th in 31:53) and Steve McGuigan (48th in 31:55) who were also both breaking 32 minutes for the first time. Andy’s effort followed his commanding victory the previous week in the opening race of the Avon Towpath 10K series (32:55). Although at a lower level Simon’s performance in dipping under 34 minutes for the first time (84th in 33:54) was every bit as impressive as the others as he finished only 12 seconds behind budding Bitton star Rob Farley and just ahead of Dan Woolford, who still seems to be suffering the after-effects of the debilitating viral infection that wrecked the second part of his winter season that had started so promisingly.
3 TOM MERSON – Tom was disappointed not to have joined the others with a new PB in the Bristol 10K, but had he started a little more conservatively, he would have probably done so since he admitted afterwards to suffering in the last mile. Even so his time of 31:04 for 33rd place  – and our third counter  – left him only two seconds behind former Bristol international Ben Noad and within eight of South West champion Kairn Stone, while our second scorer Jon Wills, who admittedlly had not gone into the race with high expectations, was only just over ten seconds in front of him in 28th position. It is also possible that Tom, who is a glutton for self-imposed punishment, had not fully recovered from his brave but vain bid to match strides with British mountain running international Martin Cox in the previous weekend’s gruelling Black Death multi-terrain 10 mile slog over Exmoor.
1 LUKE GRENFELL-SHAW – Luke, who is still an under 17, followed up the progress he has made in the cross-country season by again underlining his natural stamina on his debut over 10K on the road with a notable time of 34:19 for 90th position overall and 5th U20 in the Bristol 10K.
2 MATT DEACON – Matt, who is one of Luke’s training partners and a model of consitency, was next U20 finisher just outside the top 100 in 35:33. This too was a new personal best and reward for the commitment he shows in training.
3 KIERAN YOUNG – Kieran, who is still under 17, was again well inside 17 minutes in the latest race in the Yeovilton 5K summer series, finishing second U20 runner in 16:37.
1 MICK O’DOHERTY – Mick again underlined his durability by not only taking the V50 prize in the Bristol 10K, but clocking the impressive time of 33:23 in 74th position, which was actually the second best vets time overall and all the more impressive as he mistook the start time and only arrived five minutes before the off.  .
2 MARK SCRUTTON – Mark took the V50 honours in the opening race of the Avon Towpath 10K summer series, finishing as high as 7th overall in a more than respectable 36:39.
3 STUART PRICE – Stuart has continued his relentless progress with a series of new personal bests, He followed up a first sub 40 minute clocking in the Avon Towpath 10K in 39:41 with 18:19 in the latest Bitton midweek 5K, and finally a further improvement to 39:19 in the Bristol 10K. Keep it up and you will be on call for the club’s Masters team next year!       . 
1 CLAIRE HALLISSEY – Claire went into the race with limited expectations following the injury problems that have dogged her since the New York marathon and severely restricted her training, but clearly her month’s preparation and treatment while at Font Romeu made all the difference and she produced what was arguably one of her best ever road running performances, carving nearly half a minute off her previous fastest time to fail by only 7 seconds to win the race outright as she nearly caught the long time leader from Kenya Edwina Kembai, who needed to set a new course record of 32:29 to hang on for victory.
2 LUCY MacALISTER – Lucy proved she has now recovered from her hard race in the recent Brighton marathon to finish 9th overall and 7th Brit in the Bristol 10K in 34:22, which is only a few seconds outside her lifetime best. With Amy Chalk just seven seconds ahead in 6th place, our trio were convincing winners of the England team title.
3 KATE GOODHEAD – It’s not often that Kate fails to make our scoring team, but with her training recently restricted by injury, she did well to get home in only just over 35mins and was still 8th English finisher in 11th place (35:08).
1 OLIVIA SADLER – Taking time out from her track preparations, our English Schools 1500m silver medallist proved  she is not neglecting her endurance work by breaking 40 mins quite comfortably in her first effort over the distance in the Bristol 10K. She was the first junior finisher and came in just two seconds behind experienced clubmate Vicky Tester, who herself was rewarded with a new personal best of 39:20.
1 AMY CHALK – Not many runners set personal bests when over 35, especially someone with such a long and distinguished career as Amy, but buoyed by some additional interval sessions back here in Bristol, she did just that with a spectacular time of 34:15 to finish an outstanding 6th overall and 4th Brit in the Bristol 10K. She was our second scorer in the team race and a clear winner of the vets prize.
2= NIKKI BROOKLAND and ANNABEL GRANGER – Like Amy, Nikki and Annabel too showed they are no respecters of age as they had fine runs in the Bristol 10K, finishing 16th (36:09) and 17th (36:33) overall and both clocking their best times for the distance since they made their recent return to serious competition after several years absence. Not only did they complete the top trio with Amy in the vets race, but it is worth pointing out that the three of them would have been good enough to win the England team title outright or at least take second place behind a team of Claire, Lucy and Kate, such is the strength of our women’s squad.
3 PENNY GARDINER – Like Nikki and Annabel Penny has been out of competition for some four years due to a chronic hip problem, but you would hardly have known it as she surprised herself, and no doubt the officials, by winning the opening race in the Avon Towpath 10K summer series in the very creditable time of 40:38, which is especially so when you consider she is now in the V45 category.
MIKE DOWN (22-05-11).     .