The Tightest of Tight Finishes

Going into the final Stag Trophy race of the season, there were a few things up for grabs. Firstly, there was a two way battle for the overall win with Stuart Dimmock as strong favourite, but perennial bridesmaid Warren Rose hoping that this would be his year to take home the rose bowl.

Meanwhile there was another skirmish going on for the third podium place, between Ruth Mitchell, Ian Grimshaw and possibly Matthew Brooks, given a very strong wind!

April is always interesting, because after six months of running in the dark and struggling to see up the murky alleyways of Leighton, you have light and the clothing gets lighter and there’s less of it, making for some much faster and more confident running over the 4K course. Usually around half the runners beat their handicap and half don’t, but I don’t think it gives too much away to say that ten out of fourteen did on Wednesday and a further three were within ten seconds.

It’s really an interesting race to watch, and as I ran around the course in reverse I found it incredibly difficult to predict any sort of result. Liz Miller had completed nearly half of the three laps before our last starter Ian Grimshaw was given the green flag, but then Ian is running nearly twice as fast. You then add in that the guys in the middle are all having little battles with each other and the different tactics employed, it was really quite exciting.

Anyway, for those that haven’t been keeping up to date, the challenge at the top of the table was that if Stuart finished in the first four he was uncatchable. Warren needed to finish in the first four as a minimum and hope Stuart was outside the top six to take victory. Obviously there were further combinations if Warren finished first, second or third, but you get the point. The problem was that none of us in the park could remember the exact situation.

As I ran past Liz Miller when she had half a lap to go on Grovebury Road I couldn’t see anyone behind, but knew they were all going to get close. First of the chasing pack was Julia Bell making her debut and then after a short gap the rest streamed through in fairly close proximity. Warren and Stuart went past with Warren around ten yards ahead, but crucially, only one person between him and Chris which was not enough, however, the fastest guys were all chasing hard.

My reverse route got me to the park ahead of the leaders and as I watched with Dave, Pete and Dad we didn’t recognise the first person entering the park, with good reason. It was Adam Haylock. Adam is pretty regular at races, but it was a very special occasion to have him out on Wednesday and he had managed to foil Dave’s handicap and held on up the hill as Sam tried very hard to catch his former work colleague.

As we watched on, we Warren straining every sinew to hold on to third place and then there were six more people in the next fifteen seconds all battling for PB’s and points. The questions were where did Stuart finish, was it enough. No-one really knew. Definitely not Warren himself as he thought he finished fourth or fifth!

So, the old boys went to do calculations in the pub and a fair few of us added on a couple of miles before joining them. And so to the round up:

There were three PB’s on the night. Will Eastman is new to the club, but is quickly showing some pedigree by getting under 15 minutes for the first time. Jo Sharples became only the second woman ever under 15 minutes out of 97 women who’ve run the race. Warren ran his last PB in February 2013 with 15:30, but knocked two seconds off that in his efforts for gold.

The final podium place was taken by Ian Grimshaw, who is back enjoying his running again after some pretty bad years with knee operations and his last five Stags have all been well under 14 minutes. He finished three points ahead of Ruth in fourth.

The big result though, is that Stuart’s valiant 8th place on the night meant he wasn’t able improve his overall total and the extra few points Warren gained by finishing 3rd meant that Warren took the title by a solitary point 113 to 112. Both the guys have been close to winning on lots of occasions so it’s a shame for Stu but congratulations to Warren. The very hard earned trophy will be presented at the dinner in a few weeks time.

You can all have a few months off from the Stag before we all reconvene in Parson’s Close in October, but don’t forget, there is one final trophy to be won for this season on Easter Monday and that really can be won by anyone! Meet at the Football club for a 9am start.