Spa Striders’ Soley produces a Cracker of a run at the Raceways 10k

The start of the Raceways Christmas Cracker 20k, with Sue Harrison (452) prominent. Picture: Mike Adams
The start of the Raceways Christmas Cracker 20k, with Sue Harrison (452) prominent. Picture: Mike Adams

Excellent running conditions resulted in some fine personal performances at the annual Christmas Cracker 10k and 20k road races at Moreton Morrell.

In the 10k race, Spa Striders’ Pete Soley clocked a very impressive personal best of 35min 51sec to finish second overall.

Fellow Strider Keith Wilson (39:25) knocked more than two minutes off his previous best to take eighth position, while clubmate Clare Bryan (48:55) was seventh lady.

C&AC’s Paul Caruana’s bid for a lifetime best was thwarted by the steep hill in the last mile, with his time of 40min 10sec just six seconds short of his PB, set four years ago.

His ninth place saw him finish two places in front of clubmate Jack Gammon who clocked 41:34.

Kenilworth Runners’ Laura Pettifer, who had to pull out of last week’s Telford 10k due to illness, bounced back in style to finish first lady in 42:08.

Pettifer was followed by clubmate Matt Griffiths, who despite being dressed in a turkey outfit, finished 17th overall in 43:40, his third-fastest 10k.

Gail Audhali, also in full fancy dress costume, was first F55 in 49:11.

The race was won by Oliver Matharu of Poplar in 35:01.

Selected others (Kenilworth Runners unless stated): 20, Peter Stockbridge (Leamington C&AC, 46:02); 30, Elisse Breugelmans (47:07); 47, Michael Crust (51:30); 52, Mandy Crust (52:24); 54, Lisa Sears (53:10).

In the 20k race, Leamington C&AC’s Paul Okey did his best to hang on to a strong-running Sue Harrison who opened up an early gap on her clubmate with a sub six-minute first mile.

Harrison continued to force the pace and despite slowing slightly on the second lap came home sixth overall and third in the ladies’ race in 81:32.

Okey chased hard throughout and finished just a place behind in a new best for the course of 82:36.

Kenilworth Runners’ Louise Andrews was 18th overall and fifth lady in 1:30:54, with Neil Sheward one place and two seconds back.

The race was won by Michael Hallas of Horwich Harriers in 1:14:22, while the first lady was Kelsey Wiberley in 1:18:55.

The second Christmas-themed race of the weekend was the Hook Norton Christmas Canter, a seven-mile mixed-terrain course.

Its inclusion in Spa Striders’ Winter Series encouraged a great turn-out of over 20 runners from the club and Paul Edwards (43:15) rounded off the year with yet another ‘first Strider home’ accolade, finishing third overall.

He was followed by Chris McKeown (45:07), Ste Taylor (45:31), Rich Sykes (46:27), Simon Parsons (47:39), James Jaycock (48:30) and Rob Mantell (49:53). The male runners were completed by Stuart Lee (55:00), Hartwig Busch (55:45), Doug Rattray (58:51) and Matt Leydon (59:07).

First lady overall, Charlotte Everard (48:18), demonstrated her off-road strength and outright speed by taking the win by more than a minute from Stratford’s Sarah Wheeler.

Mel Venables (49:40) was third lady, closely followed by Kate Gadsby (49:51) who took first V35 on the day, with Caroline Whitehouse (51:33) third V35.

Striders’ female representation was completed by Fiona Edwards (52:43), Dawn Clark (55:19), Lucy Tugwell (56:05), Lorraine Parsons (1:00:26), Ruth Tennant (1:01:42) and Kathleen McCann (1:16:34).

Kenilworth Runners’ Louise Andrews and Neil Sheward followed up their run at the Raceways Christmas Cracker with 63rd and 64th, respectively, both clocking 53:24.

Richard Broadbent, nursing an injury, was 67th in 54:07, with Tom Dable (MV60) 169th in 67:51 and wife Pauline (MV65) 187th in 71:12, both having run in the Gloucester League the previous day,