The first Arden 9 to be hosted by Knowle and Dorridge Running club looked to be something of a local affair this year with the usual protaganists up front. This was all turned on it’s head pre-race with the news that Martin Williams (Tipton) who competed at the commonwealth games and European championships over the Marathon was a late entry. This was something of a coup for the race with the Tipton man signalling his intention to attack Toby Spencer’s course record of 46:25.
Conditions were less than perfect with lots of standing water on the roads and the lake at mile 7 proving to be challenging. Added to this was a boggy finishing area creating some doubt that it was possible to break the course record. As the runners headed to the start line there was a large contingency from hosts K&D, Kenilworth, Centurion and Sphinx. After a few safety announcements deep breaths were taken as the tension built.
At the front on the starting line was Williams, Kenilworth Duo Richard Simkiss and Phillip Gould, Sphinx’s Ashley Miles and Simon Bentley from K&D who were all expected to feature. The gun went shortly after 10:30am and it was clear that Martin Williams was a man in a hurry as he sped through the first mile in 5 mins and through 2 miles in an eye popping 9:55. The Tipton man was showing the form that had taken him to 14th place in the 2010 commonwealth games marathon and selection for team GB at the European championships the same year.
Some way down the road the Kenilworth duo of Simkiss and Gould were slugging it out for club supremacy and Warwickshire Road Race league points. Having had an injury hit winter Simkiss was looking to be back to his old self as he went toe to toe with 2 Castles winner Gould. Half a minute back in 4th was Ashley Miles from Sphinx having a real battle with Daniel Robinson from BRAT, who was proving to be the suprise package of the day in 5th. In 6th and going strong was K and Ds own Simon Bentley followed by clubmate Tim Price in 7th. Completing the top 10 was Jim Sawle from Kenilworth, Ian Mansell and Justin Smith.
In the grounds of Hampton in Arden Tennis club news filtered in that the course record of 46:25 was under real threat as Williams pushed on through 3 miles in 14:50, 4 Miles in 20:08, and 5 miles in a blistering 25:04. He continued to rip into the final miles at a ferocious pace slowing slightly at the lake in mile 7 and the final challenging part of the course. He entered the grounds of Hampton in Arden tennis club to large cheers and naviagted the final boggy bends to come home in a brilliant 45:36, taking a whopping 49 seconds off the course record. Further back Simkiss had won the inter club battle and came home ahead of Gould in 48:44. Gould battled through for 49:35. In the struggle for 4th Ashley Miles won through in 50:13 although the fast finishing Robinson pushed him all the way in 50:18. An isolated Bentley was next in as the clock hit 51 mins. Tim Price held form for an impressive run in 52:30 in 7th, followed by Sawle in 52:50, Ian Mansell in 53:04 and 10th was Justin Smith in 53:08.
In the ladies Race Eleanor Fowler from Nuneaton had a stormer and went onto win in a fantastic 55:25. In 2nd place was sub 3 Hour Marathon performer Myshola Kirkam from Coventry in 56:46, followed by clubmate Ann-Marie Smith in 57:23. Completing the top 5 was Kate Wright from Stratford upon avon in 57:28 and Amanda O’leary of Knowle and Dorridge in 60:02.
A stunning course record was the highlight of the 4th race of the WRRL. We now move onto event 5 – The Stratford Summer 6 on 1st July.