MIKE DOWN’S SOUTH WEST COUNTDOWN NO 3

23 Dec

IT’S A BTC CAKEWALK ON THE PROM!

The club’s progressive BTC training group could have chosen a more clement night for their Christmas social burnup, but with the rain fortunately relenting at just the right time, our runners defied the blustery conditions to take the race by their own storm and produce the fastest race for years in the Weston Prom 5M series.

Led by Notts’ former Midland champion and current UK marathon squad member JOHNNY THEWLIS, the group ended up with seven of the first eight to finish and four others in the top 20, while there were fine performances too from three other club members DAVE EAGON, ANDY COOKE and ALEX WHITTAKER who all made the top 20 of the huge field that snaked its way up and down the Prom in a veritable charge of the light brigade.

Johnny was having his first race since his sub 2:16 clocking in the Berlin marathon, but characteristically was in no mood to be sat on and took the pace on aggressively from the start, shadowed at first by HARRY ALLEN and KURT TAYLOR for the opening of the three out and back laps, with CALLUM JONES, ANDY WATT and ALEX CROSSLAND leading the chase.

Kurt perhaps wisely decided the pace being set at the front was beyond him on the second switchback, but Harry, undeterred and with the confidence of his recent altitude training stint behind him, hung on doggedly until the final lap when Johnny’s career-honed stamina took its toll. Yet he certainly knew he’d been in a race as his winning time of 24:39 testified – the fastest time recorded here for many years.

Behind him Harry never gave up the chase, finishing no more than 60m back and rewarded with a spectacular personal best of 24:50 for his pains. Kurt meanwhile was tracked all the way by the tenacious Andy Watt, who never fails to surprise these days, but he seemed to find another gear on the last switchback and pull right away from his clubmate to finish a clear third in a time only just short of his best of 25:12. Andy for his part may have tired in the closing stages, but still posted another significant personal best of 25:33 to add to the remarkable 10K time he clocked in the Leeds Abbey Dash.

Further back Alex kept plugging away to finish only just over 10 seconds behind Andy in a more encouraging time of 25:44, while Callum, who by his own admission is still only half fit due to his chronic groin strain, tired percepibly in the closing stages following his fast start but still had enough in the tank to sneak under 26mins in 25:59 and hold off the fast-finishing David Eagon (26:04) and Josh Moody (26:06) who has been suffering with a remarkably similar pelvic problem to Callum and finished well satisfied in his first race for months. As for Dave’s effort he merely emphasised that he is one of the most improved runners
in the club this autumn.

Much the same could be said about Andy Cooke, who is up to the V40 category now and looked well chuffed to have made the top 10 in yet another lifetime best of 26:20, while immediately behind him the club’s latest recruit young ALEX MALE also confirmed his undoubted promise with a more than useful time for a junior of 26:26. ADAM STOKES, who has been nursing a niggling achilles, had to settle for 14th position in 27:09 just ahead of PETE BAINS, who was another to post a big pb of 27:13. The two others to make the top 20 were ANDY DRAKE 17th in 27:32 and ALEX WHITTAKER 18th in 27:58.

Any assessment of the times recorded for the race must take into account both the windy conditions on the day and the five stop ‘n’ start turns demanded by the switchback course, so everyone can clearly go faster which just underlines the on-going progress of our current crop. Let’s keep it rolling!

NEXT CHAPTER – THE RACE OF THE YEAR!