Clevedon Boxing Day 4 – A Down’s Eye View

This race has already been reported on in the Club Blog but the following piece was received from Mike Down – so here it is.

Richard Peters returns to resume his scholarship at Boston University on Friday looking forward to what he hopes will be a defining year in his burgeoning athletic career.

The 23 year old Bristol and West 1500m international celebrated the end of a another promising year on the track by regaining the prestigious Clevedon Boxing Day road race title that he had lost to Belgian star Jean Pierre Weerts last year.

The much anticipated head to head decider between the pair failed to materialize as Weerts was a frustrated spectator due to a chronic foot injury that he has been nursing since August.

Nevertheless with five previous winners  of the traditional 4 mile race – Ian Gillespie, Ben Noad, James Thie  Tom Merson and Peters himself – in the record 980 strong entry, hopes were still high of a fast race in the near perfect windless sunny conditions.

But as so often happens in such a star-studded line-up on a festive occasion like this, such hopes were soon thwarted as no one was prepared to push the early pace in the opening mile down through the town centre.

Like last year Peters found himself controlling the pace at the head of a six strong lead group that included all the previous winners plus talented Bath junior international Alex Carter, but once the course turned up Holly Bush Lane the two strongest distance runners in the field Noad and Merson took up the running on the gruelling climb.

Not surprisingly Gillespie, who is now 43, and Thie, who is more involved with coaching these days than his own running, were the first to give way, while Peters was content to sit in along with young Carter who had probably not expected to be sharing such exalted company. .    

The four of them were still locked together as they raced down past the pier, and it was only on the crest of the incline up past the bandstand that Peters started to assert his authority Cranking up the pace he quickly drew clear of his three rivals and with a blistering turn of foot over the final 500m run-in surged to victory by all of 40m, albeit in a rather pedestrian time of 19:20.

Carter was the last to surrender and produced a career best to hold off Noad and South West champion Merson, with Thie and Gillespie completing the top six ahead of North Somerset’s recently crowned Avon cross-country gold medalist James Rogers.

“I would have liked a faster pace, but I haven’t raced for nearly two months so needed this to just blow the cobwebs away,” said a jubilant Peters

“But I have really got to get my finger out now as I have several big indoor races lined up in the States next month, including a US 5000m record attempt by Olympic bronze medalist Galen Rupp, where I am hoping to clock a new personal best over the first 3000m.”

“My principal target though during the coming indoor season is to clock a really fast mile – (his best is 3:56) – to attract the attention of the Commonwealth Games selectors as apparently there are going to be no official trials.”

Former Bristol and West 5000m star Gillespie, who set the Clevedon course record of 18:28 sixteen years ago; like Peters was in Bristol for Christmas to visit his parents from his US base and had nurtured hopes of having a crack at Nick Rose’s vets record of 19:35 that was also set back in 1997, but in the end had to be satisfied with a convincing win of the vets prize

In fact his fellow Bristol and West club mate Mick O’Doherty was the only runner on the day to get close to any of the course record marks, failing by just ten seconds in taking the V50 award in 21:34.

Any hope Steph Barnes had of completing a winning double for Bristol and West in the women’s race was once again frustrated by Aldershot’s former European U23 cross-country champion Emma Pallant, who took the title for the third consecutive year just over a minute ahead of her, with Westbury’s Lucy Richens and Barnes’ new club mate Helen Newberry the only other Bristol runners in the top ten.

Most notable result in the women’s vet categories was that the three V50 prizewinners Bristol and West pair Viv McConnell and Tracy Allan and Emerson Green’s Yvonne Cox all finished ahead of their V40 counterparts!  

Clevedon Boxing Day 4M  (869 finished) – Men: 1 Rich Peters (Bristol &West) 19:20; 2 Alex Carter (Team Bath) 19:27; 3 Ben Noad (Highgate) 19:29; 4 Tom Merson (B&W) 19:33; 5 James Thie (Cardiff) 20:02; 6 Ian Gillespie (B&W) 20;22; 7 James Rogers (North Somerset) 20:31; Nick Saillard (Unattached) 21:12; 9 Jon James (Wells) 21:16; 10 Dave Coales (TB) 21:17.

Masters – V40 1 Gillespie; 2 James; 3 Coales. V50: 1 Mick O’Doherty (B&W) 21:34; 2 Nick Hides (Clevedon) 22:01; 3 Pete Mountain (B&W) 23:37. V60: 1 Tom Hutchison (TB) 24:52; 2 Will Burke (Thornbury) 25:28; 3 Geoff Davis (TB) 25:55. V70: 1 Adrian Keen 29:38.

Women: 1 Emma Pallant (Aldershot F&D) 21:40; 2 Steph Barnes (B&W) 22:42; 3 Laura Gent (AFD) 23:00; 4 Jo Meek (Tavistock) 23:35; 5 Suzie Richards (Leeds City) 24:10; 6 Lucy Richens (Westbury) 24:23; 7 Helen Newberry (B&W) 24:33; 8 Anna Lewis (Arena 80) 24:34; 9 Kate George (Clevedon) 25:43; 10 Katie Synge (Loughborough University) 26:23.

Masters – V40: 1 Lucy Woodhams (GWR) 28:23; 2 Helen Hoyle (BAD Tri) 28:48; 3 Teresa Goldstone (Unattached) 29:15. V50: 1 Viv McConnell (B&W) 26:35; 2 Tracy Allan (B&W) 27:23; 3 Yvonne Cox (Emerson Green) 28:00. V60: 1 Shirley Hume (Westbury) 29:06; 2 Judy Orme (Portishead) 29:10; 3 Alison Lucas (GWR) 32:48. V70: 1 Joan Manners (Clevedon) 39:56.