Spartans are the champions - Squirrels also go up

Fairlands Valley Spartans have won the Midweek Road Race League title. And both the Spartans (shown) and North Herts Road Runners have won promotion for next year after occupying the top two spots in Division Two. Despite having at least five of their fas

Fairlands Valley Spartans have won the Midweek Road Race League title.

And both the Spartans (shown) and North Herts Road Runners have won promotion for next year after occupying the top two spots in Division Two.

Despite having at least five of their faster runners - Simon Jackson, Duncan Choosey, Kath Hardcastle, Stuart Hyams and Andrew Garrett - unavailable and two others being unable to finish, a massive turnout of 75 Spartans and exceptional efforts by many club members meant they kept their noses in front.

The winning margin of just 18 points (1,864 to 1,882) was the closest ever in the history of this long established league.


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Thirty of the 69 women from six clubs in the race were Spartans.

There were also some excellent individual performances on the undulating course from Ridlins to Fairlands Valley and back last Wednesday.

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First Spartan home was Simon Bell sixth position overall and first vet 40 despite having already raced 5k only a few hours earlier and having had to then travel down from Birmingham in time for the evening race!

Richard Bate was second Spartan to finish, eighth overall in a new personal best of 35:59, with David Bowker, Andrew Patterson and Todd Gray all also home in less than 40-minutes.

Chris King was the first Spartan in the ladies' race, fifth overall and first vet 45 in a new personal best of 43:16, with Amanda Brook seventh in a new pb of her own of 43:46.

Sara O'Callaghan was eighth and third vet 35 also in a pb of 44:30, Christine Feely third vet 45, Christine Hardman fourth vet 55 and Ron Cohen second vet 70 in a new Spartan pb of 57:30.

There were also other personal bests for David Clarke 45:42, Chris Smyth 47:08, Rob Evans 47:29, Ian King 47:51, Peter O'Reilly 54:25, Penny Armstrong 56:05 and Maria Thorne 62:15, as well as debutees Sean Thompson, Marie Colucci, Chris Cullough, Ben Collier and Eric Stewart - a total of 17 in all.

A total of 101 Spartans took part in at least one of the four races.

North Herts Road Runners secured their promotion with a tremendous performance at the final race in Stevenage.

The club were left just a tantalising 18 points short and finished in second place overall ahead of Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers.

In the ladies' event, North Herts took both the race and the overall title.

Astrid McKeown was in first place in a time of 38:36, Paula Adams was second in 40:45 and Natasha Pitman third in 41:03. Melissa Winters completed a commanding performance by the ladies finishing fourth in 43:14.

Emma Bradley had an excellent run coming home in 18th place and 46:54 with Jo Summers not far behind in 20th and 47:29. Lucy Sparkes (24th, 47:54) and Jo Harbon (48:53) were the next across the line. The ladies also scooped first place in the series veterans' event.

In the men's race, North Herts finished second behind Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers and cemented third place in both the seniors and veterans series. Neil Miller was first to finish for the Squirrels coming in second over the 10k course in 34:51.

Steve McKeown finished shortly behind in third place and an excellent time of 35:01. Next across the line was Gary Cook in 12th place and 36:51.

James Atkins finished 14th in 36:59 and Dave Frampton in 23rd and 38:59.

Peter Scrowther was home next in 24th and 38:59 with Mark Young following in 39:23.

Tim Street again ran well to finish 31st in 39:27, one place in front of Peter Northover who crossed the line in 39:38. Stewart Bryant was 45th in 40:50 and Adrian Sherwood finished one place back in 41:13.

Final team table (score and points): 1 Fairlands Valley Spartans 1864 49; 2 North Herts Road Runners 1882 49; 3 Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers 2672 32; 4 Harlow Running Club 2933 31; 5 Bishop's Stortford RC 3602 30; 6 Broxbourne Runners 4969 19; 7 Herts Phoenix 4915 14.

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