Stag 2019-20

The Stag season runs from the first Wednesday in October to the first Wednesday in April. Usually the only reason for changing one is if New Year’s day happens to fall on a Wednesday.

Race one of the season had eighteen people show up for the three lap charge around central Leighton. In decent running conditions, ten people beat Dave’s predicted time for them with four claiming new PB’s. First home was Coralie Anderson who smashed her PB by around a minute. Striding home second, in his first ever Stag was Paul Griffiths who will now be in Dave’s sights for next month. Nick Clay showed his experience to come home third ahead of three further PB’ers in James Lowe, Ruth Mitchell and Jo Sharples.

Race two was run on a chilly but dry November evening with a good turn-out of 22 runners. As is often the way, it was the debutantes who were first home with the new Mrs Eastman claiming victory in her first ever stag, five seconds ahead of new member Paul Andrew. Both have now had their generous “first Stag bonus” and will have to work hard to keep earning such high points.

In addition to the newbies, there were at least four other PB’s. Neil Green came home in third and smashed his PB by around 40 seconds, then James Lowe, Paul Griffiths and Julia Bell also claimed best ever times. I think that maybe James Cusack did too with 14:49, but perhaps I’m wrong. Either way some excellent running going on.

Race three saw another solid turn-out of 22 runners embracing a cold and misty night in Leighton. It was fantastic to have Fred Watt out running again for the second month in a row and remarkably managed to get around the course substantially quicker than in November which meant he picked up the 25 points.

Fresh from a strong series in Lanzarote last week, Amy Inchley was next home in one of her fastest times, with Stuart Dimmock taking third on the night. There were three PB’s too, from the improving Neil Green and Julia Bell and Paul Andrew who are both in their first season of Stags.

Race four was run on a fairly miserable January night in the rain, but despite the unappealing weather there were 20 runners battling for points over the three laps. For the second month in a row Fred Watt took the honours at the front end of the field and was home a minute ahead of the pack. Fred will continue to be tricky for Dave to handicap so it will be interesting to see how it goes.

Neil Green has been improving his form all season and he was second home in a third consecutive PB and has three scores in the 20’s from his three races. Ruth Mitchell also earned a PB to chase Neil home in third place. The real battle of the night was between Mr & Mrs Eastman who both achieved new PB’s (I think) but with Will just sneaking ahead of Ruth at the last minute. Interesting tactics Will!!

Race Five offered up perfect conditions for a dash round the town, with a cool evening and almost no wind on the course. A slight reduction in numbers meant that there were plenty of points up for grabs and almost all the leading contenders were there to try and grab them.

The race was won by Julia Bell who continued her monthly improvements that she’s had throughout the season. She was six seconds ahead of Sam Dear who earned the second of seven PB’s on the night and ducked under 14 minutes for the first time. Will Eastman completed the top three with another PB in 14:22.

The four other PB’ers were Matthew Brooks, Neil (or Nigel!!) Green, Ruth Eastman and Paul Andrew. Finally, there was a new club record set by Liz Miller as she turned 75 in January, so Julia has a good target for 60 years time!

Race Six in March saw an inexplicably low turn-out for this crucial penultimate race. Most of the leading contenders were present, but not many others. This meant that everyone scored healthy points in the charge for the title.

First home on the night was Liz Peters who smashed her PB to come home in 16:47, a comfortable 11 seconds ahead of Matthew Brooks who also earned a PB on the night, but they were the only two. Seven of the remaining eight finishers then all came in within forty seconds, with just Neil Green limping home a few minutes back after injuring himself on Saturday.

The result of all this means that the standings have moved around a bit and few have been eliminated from the title race. However, there are still eight people (by my reckoning) that could win the title overall if things went their way. As it stands there are two points gaps between each of the first four with Neil (104), Matthew (102), Amy I (100) and Julia Bell (98) as the favourites.

Having only done four race so far Ruth Eastman also has a chance, while Ian Grimshaw, Stuart Dimmock and Sam Dear could all reach the current leading total if they win the final race. Ruth Mitchell, Liz Peters and Paul Andrew could also make the podium if they scored very well and the other results went their way.

All in all, I don’t think we’ve had a season in recent memory where so many people could still win going into the final run in April. The clocks will have gone forward so it’ll be light and it will be a balmy spring evening, so let’s have lots of people out gunning for PB’s and making a real race of it.

Current Standings for the 2019/20 season

Dates for the 2019/20 Season: