Near-perfect running conditions greeted the hundreds of runners who turned out for Sunday’s BHF Warwick Half Marathon.
The demanding 13.1-mile course takes a route from Warwick Racecourse out of town along the Coventry Road to Leek Wootton and then along country roads through Beausale and back past Hatton Park.
With little of the course being flat the runners turned on to the main Birmingham Road before four more short, hard hills in the next one-and-a-half miles up through Hampton-on-the-Hill and a final fast downhill finish back at the racecourse.
Leicester Coritanian’s Ludovic Renou sped to the front from the gun and was never headed, eventually finishing two minutes clear of the field in 73min 53sec.
Eoin O’Flynn led the Leamington C&AC contingent home in a fine ninth place, crossing the line in 81:12.
Gareth Schule (84:05) was 17th, closely followed in 22nd by Jack Savage (85:07), with Craig Bower (85:54) producing a solid run to take 31st.
The first C&AC lady home was Natalie Bhangal who improved her personal best half-marathon time yet again to clock 87:05, finishing second lady and 38th overall.
Just behind was Steve Hundal, for whom this was his first race in two years.
He had stayed with Bhangal for most of the way and was delighted with his 41st place and time of 87:26.
Steadily coming back to form, Andrew Higgins and Angela Chahal ran 1:33:58 and 1:35:56, respectively, while Chris Hitchman and Paul Caruana had their own race within a with Hitchman finishing 143rd in 1:36:01 and Caruana two places and 12 seconds back.
Vassilis Andreoulakis was the first Kenilworth Runner home in 20th position in a time of 84:59, followed by David Leadley (30th in 85:47).
Gary Craine trimmed a massive 17 minutes off his PB to finish in 1:34:40.
Claire Murphy was the first Kenilworth lady, finishing 140th overall in 95:42.
Having worked tirelessly in winter marathon training, Rob Thompson (1:25:43) claimed a well-deserved PB to finish first Spa Strider and 29th overall.
Adam Notley (1:26:46) and Steve Taylor (1:26:55, PB) pushed each other hard, with Notley pipping Taylor to the line as they took 35th and 37th places, respectively.
Fellow Strider Michael Pugh (1:28:26) also broke the 90-minute barrier, while Dan Connolly clocked a PB of 1:58:47.
Striders’ ladies were led home by in-form Kate Gadsby (1:33:23), recording a five-minute PB and tenth-placed lady.
Susie Stannard (1:34:39) continued her strong marathon preparations, ahead of Charlotte Everard (1:37:14), newcomer Natalie Carrill (1:40:04), Bethan Gwynn (1:40:22) and Emma Kennedy (1:49:05), with Lorraine Parsons lowering her PB, set recently at Coventry, even further to 1:50:29.
There were 1,539 finishers.
Selected others (Kenilworth Runners unless stated): 20, Vassilis Andreoulakis (84:59); 30, David Leadley (85:47); 61, Alex Atkinson (88:55); 97, Andrew Cooknell (92:49); 103, Hartwig Busch (Spa Striders, 1:33:01); 116, Rich Sykes (Spa Striders, 1:34:17); 120, Gary Craine (94:40); 140, Claire Murphy (95:42); 142, Neil Smith (95:36); 183, Rob James (96:49); 184, Anthony Morgan (96:48); 185, Barry Elkington (98:09); 186, Anouk Molliex (Leamington C&AC, 98:12); 193, Gary Morgan (98:23); 198, Chris Lyons (98:20); 234, Tom Holbrook (Spa Striders, 1:40:09); 261, Ian Baynes (1:40:58); 275, Lorne Williams (1:41:26); 290, Laura Pettifer (1:42:09); 292, Esther Illman (1:42:34); 328, Greg Harris (Spa Striders, 1:43:50); 389, Andy Poole (Sps Striders, 1:45:39, PB); 414, Paul Edwards (Spa Striders, 1:46:02); 491, Jon Radley (1:49:04); 562, Rosie Scares (Spa Striders, 1:51:56); 564, Rupe Chahal (Leamington C&AC, 1:51:24); 577, Ros Brooks (1:52:52); 578, Richard Bicknell (Spa Striders, 1:51:20); 581, Lucy Tugwell (Spa Striders, 1:53:04); 671, Debbie Streets (1:54:35); 697, Jane Philips (1:56:52); 850, Catherine Shephard (Spa Striders, 2:00:22); 992, Kevin Pantling (Spa Striders, 2:06:39); 1,088, Kimberley Fryer (Spa Striders, 2:13:06); 1,234, Tanya Brittain (Spa Striders, 2:18:58); 1,235, Bina Paul (Spa Striders, 2:18:58).
n Kenilworth Runners and Kenilworth School are once again jointly hosting the Festival of Running on May 2 in Abbey Fields, with events starting at 10am.
The running events include a tough 10k around Abbey Fields, a 10k relay with three runners running 2.5k each, a family fun run over a mile and a Schools Challenge for years 5 and 6, also over a mile.