The Longest Stag Ever Finally Reaches a Dramatic Conclusion
As with most things in 2020 we had a big change in our own Stag Trophy. An event that usually runs monthly from October to April, had a lengthy hiatus after the March race and was finally concluded on a cool September evening this week.
When we left the series in March, there were still eight people potentially hunting the prestigious title, four women and four men. Clearly there were favourites with the points in the bag, but the Stag often lends itself to surprising results due to the nature of the handicap system and the fluctuations in form. With no racing for five months, the handicapping was extremely difficult to judge for Dave so those who had trained hard during lockdown were probably more likely to benefit than those who had struggled to get out over the summer.
There were 17 club members who made it to the socially distanced start line in Parson’s Close, including all of the potential winners. Some of them were claiming a lack of form, some complaining about injuries, but all knowing that they needed a big effort over the flat 4K course to stand a chance of getting on the podium.
As ever, the racers were set off one at a time around the 3 lap course with the ones at the front feeling like they’re being hunted, while the ones at the back feel like they were a LONG way behind right from the off. Trying to judge an eventual winner is unbelievably difficult for spectators with so many people changing places over the course. It genuinely isn’t until the runners enter the park at the end with 150m to go that you have any confidence of any finishing positions.
This time around it was Ruth Eastman who led everyone home. Ruth was one of the possible winners, but was an outsider as she had only run four races previously and she had to be in the top three on the night to stand any chance. However, she obliterated her PB by 45 seconds to come home as the fastest lady on the night in 16:30 and gave herself a chance of the title. This however, all depended on the other leading contenders and where they finished.
Next over the finish line was a storming Rob Elmore. Rob set the senior men’s course record of 12:23 in 2004 and that was probably the last time he ran the Stag. However, a rare Wednesday night off work gave him the chance to target the V35 record held by Andy Sowery and he flew round the three laps coming from 16th to 2nd and finishing in 12:41.
Rob obviously wasn’t one of the main challengers for the title, and Ruth would have been pleased to see that Stu Read was third home as he was also not in the running for the podium. This meant that points were being taken from the other potential winners. Then though, things changed quickly, with the other contenders all coming home in a stream: Matthew Brooks, Amy Inchley, Sam Dear, Ruth Mitchell & Ian Grimshaw all earning good points to add to their tallies. Matthew’s time was his fourth PB of the season, and suddenly it wasn’t clear who the victor was and it would need some checking on the maths – so the old boys retired to the pub for final calculations!
Historically, the winning scores have averaged around 110, but if you can get above 95 then there’s every chance of making the podium. This season has been so hard fought that the winning scores did not quite reach that high and the top eight all had 97 points or more!
So, once the scores had been checked and double checked, this was how they all came out in the wash:
- In joint 7th with 97 – Ruth Mitchell and Ian Grimshaw
- In 6th, in her first Stag season, with 98 – Julia Bell
- In 5th, close but no cigar as ever, with 99 – Sam Dear
- In 4th, our leader after the March race, with 104 – Neil Green
- In 3rd, two-time former winner, with 105 – Amy Inchley
(Drum roll please)
Keep it going………………..
- In 2nd………………………..
A little longer!
- In joint 1st, our winners………………
- RUTH EASTMAN and MATTHEW BROOKS with 107 points.
Congratulations to both of them on an excellent season of training and improvement. The trophy is very well deserved. You have a month to bask in your glory before the new Stag season starts in October, and hopefully we’ll make it straight through this year.
Thank you to all that made it an excellent race on Wednesday, most especially Dave, Richard and Pete who oversaw proceedings.
You can find the results from Wednesday’s race and the final standing on this page: Stag Results
See you next month.