Kenilworth Runners’ Neil Sheward was as surprised as anyone that he won the Raceways Mad Dash 20k at Warwickshire College, Moreton Morrell, on Saturday.
The V45 runner was a reluctant leader in the early stages of the two-laps race which takes in the country lanes around the college.
He said: “As the race progressed no one seemed happy to go past me. At 2.5 miles the course takes a left turn where I was able to look back at the other runners. To my amazement I had opened up a lead of about 100 metres on the second-placed runner.”
Sheward, who was running without a watch, was worried he had gone off too hard, but by the half-way mark he had extended his advantage and he was able to enjoy the final stages, despite starting to tire.
“When I got to the final hill I took a look over my shoulder and for the first time I realised I wasn’t going to get caught.
“I relaxed a little and started to enjoy the experience which will probably never be repeated.
“On reflection I have to acknowledge that the result had more to do with the quality of the field than an exceptional run by me but nevertheless it was a pretty good feeling.”
Sheward, who crossed the line in 1hr 21min 30sec to finish 59 seconds clear of second-placed Ned Lammas (Evesham Vale RC), was denied a memorable double when his partner Louise Andrews was pipped to first place in the ladies’ race by Joanne Scott.
The Kenilworth Runner had to be content with second place and ninth overall in 1:27:53, 15 seconds behind Scott.
Five Kenilworth Runners took part in the 10k, with Clive Pearce second home in 39:56 and Jon Mettyear (40:23) fifth.
The race was won by Andrew Fairley of Wootton Road Runners in 36:22.
Meanwhile, nine Spa Striders made the journey to Berkshire to run the Bramley 20 (miles) on Sunday, a scenic, two-lap course hosted by Reading Roadrunners.
All were looking to achieve a solid race as part of their spring marathon preparations.
Paul Edwards (2:16:19) took the honour of first Strider home and was very closely followed by Chris McKeown (2:16:56).
Hartwig Busch (2:24:27) also put in a strong performance, along with Mike Cox (2:48:47) who completed the distance for the first time, Matt Leydon (2:52:19) and Dave Lindsay (2:55:12).
Clare Hinton (2:33:34) increased her pace to run the second lap seven minutes quicker than the first, with both Hinton and Fiona Edwards (2:42:41) following up fine cross-country efforts the day before.
Roz Cox clocked (3:26:59), while Kenilworth Runners’ Sam Moffatt ran a new PB of 2:59:47 for 516th position.
Leamington C&AC’s Paul Okey ran a sensible first lap of 72 minutes before picking up the pace to complete the second ten miles in just over 69 minutes, finishing 130th in 2:21:04 as he continues his Rotterdam Marathon build-up.
The race was won by Jonny Hay of Aldershot Farnham & District AC in 1:42:43. There were 758 finishers.