Stag Trophy – Latest Results – 2020/21

Race Six:

Was this the hottest Stag ever? Who knows or really cares? It usually finishes in April when twenty-three degrees is pretty unlikely so there’s got to be a fair chance!

With just one race to go for the season, this one was the one that ended up removing a lot of would-be winners from the list and even significantly reducing the podium options.

On the night, 19 runners headed off on the usual three laps from Parson’s Close and whilst you wouldn’t describe it as “windy” there was definitely something blowing against the runners on the long stretch down Grovebury Road, which might have affected a few times slightly.

As is often the way, we had a new member cross the finish line first, over a minute ahead of everyone else as Nassim Gribi finished in 16:54. Was he being modest or has practising how to blag the handicap, we shall see! As it was his first run with us, Nassim was down as a guest, so the top points for the night went to Scott Isaacs who smashed his PB by around 40 seconds to record 14:26. Scott has only run three Stags this year, but his results mean he could still make the podium if everything went his way in the final race!

Behind Scott was the only other person to record a PB on the night, Matt Styrka. Matt has been running with the club for a few months now and is clearly starting to pick up some speed as he beat Scott, in the sense that he beat his PB by a minute!

Back in the dim and distant past I remember one evening where we had two new members down on the same night, perhaps ten years ago (I’m guessing). All this time has past and they are now club stalwarts and both had excellent runs last night. Ian Grimshaw earned 23 points with a season’s best time and Warren Rose was only five seconds off his PB. Not bad for a couple of old boys! Those two were the bread in a Sharples sandwich as Jo got between them as she comes back from injury. A group of four people in four seconds was completed by Stuart Read who himself was only six seconds off a PB.

The result of all this means that there are now only ten people who can get on the Stag podium and only three that can win it!

Ruth Mitchell leads the league and is guaranteed a top-two finish with only Andy Inchley in position to beat her to the title. Andy is also guaranteed a podium finish. The only one who can get involved in this battle is Paul Griffiths who needs a win in the final race to stand a chance of equalling Ruth and must be second to beat Andy. Third position is currently occupied by Sam Dear, but there are six others who could overtake him in the final if he’s not careful.

You can find the results from July and the overall standings at the bottom of this page. The final race should be on Wednesday 4th August all being well so please come down and make it interesting!

Race Five:

The first ever Stag Trophy race held in June brought with it unsurprisingly warm and muggy weather. There’s a possibility that it was also a record for number of people on the floor at the end of the race. The fact it also fell within the first Half Term holidays with a possibilty of a break away also meant that a few people missed out on recording a time, which only adds to the excitement of who might win overall!

Two debutants turned out and four PBs were achieved, one of which was first over the line. Ruth Mitchell had a stormer of a run taking almost 30 seconds off her PB from April and making her the joint 4th fastest woman in Stag history!

The first four runners were slightly spread out with Fiona Towell finishing in second ahead of two more PBs and strong runs from Bob Dickinson and Will Eastman, despite Bob’s fashion show and Will not displaying much confidence at the start line.

Paddy Ashton continued his fine form having won last month’s race with the 4th and final PB of the night and another 20 points to add to his total.

The Stag is never easy and Chris Turner and Matt Styrka found this out first hand in a tough night for debutants, but will that play into their hands for next season?

All this all means is that it’s almost anybody’s to win still. Ruth’s fantastic win coupled with Andy being on holiday means that she is now joint top with Sam Dear, but having run one race fewer she has put herself in a very strong position! Andy himself has only run 4 races and lies in 3rd.

With two races left, pretty much anybody in the top 15 places has a chance of winning the trophy at the end of the season. The July race (yes, July!) is shaping up to be a very exciting one!

 

Race Four:

For only the second time in the history of the Stag, we had a race in May. With most people hoping for balmy conditions on a lovely spring evening, what we actually got was a temperature more associated to March, hovering around the six degree mark. Not sure if it was the temperature that put people off, but the numbers halved from last months thirty-one, down to sixteen for race four.

In actual fact, with minimal wind the conditions were ideal for fast times and twelve of the sixteen finished ahead of the handicap with four of those running new PB’s too.

First home, in just his second race was Paddy Ashton. Paddy has a chance to get in contention for the season, but with only three races to go, he can’t afford any slip-ups so has to score decent points in every race if he wants to challenge.

Fifteen seconds behind Paddy, Paul Griffiths and Ruth Eastman had a very close battle, with Paul’s long legs just keeping him ahead of Ruth they both smashed their PB’s too. Ruth has now joined a fairly exclusive club of nine sub-16 female Staggers, after running 15:58. The final PB on the night was run by Sam Dear in fourth place, who nudged his own mark down by a solitary second, but they all count!

Rob Elmore, having turned forty in December is taking the opportunity to gradually pick off all the club records for that age-group. Last night it was the turn of the Stag as he strolled round in 12:48 to expunge Simon’s record from 2017.

With most of the leading contenders missing the race last night, there was a bit of a shift round in the standings with Paul Griffiths, J Harrison, Rob Elmore, Matthew Brooks and Ruth Eastman all forming a large group around Ruth Mitchell. A few points clear of them is Sam Dear on 67, but out in front on 80 points, waiting to be shot down is Andy Inchley.

Thanks once again to Pete, Richard and Roger for overseeing us all and to Dave Adams, who has agreed to continue to do the handicapping for the rest of the season.

The next three races will all be unique in the forty-five year history of the Stag trophy. We have never held any races in June, July or August, so try your best to come along and battle it out for some summer points – there are still 75 up for grabs so technically there are still 35 people who could win!

Race Three:

Well. In the dim and distant past, it may be the case that we had over 30 runners doing the Stag on a Wednesday night, but if it’s happened before it’s only been once or twice. I hope most people agree that it makes for a great race when there’s so many people there. Through the middle part of the race we had 18 people finish in 44 seconds, which takes a bit of management, so thanks to Pete, Richard, Roger and James for making themselves available on the night and to Dave for still doing the handicaps from home.

Onto the race, and we had three new people in Sid Mead, Paddy Ashton and Bob Dickinson all making their debut, plus a number of others doing just their second race, plus Tim Inchley doing his first Stag since October 2010! This all meant it felt like we had lots of new people, which is fantastic.

Although it was a bit chilly with the mercury hovering around five degrees, there was minimal wind and so actually made for excellent conditions for fast times. Eighteen people ended up beating their handicap times and six people achieved PB’s in addition to the three making their debut. On top of all that, we had a new age-group record with Rob Elmore having turned forty since the last race in December and taking Pete Watkins’ 29 year-old record to reduce it down to 13:01.

Fresh from her win in the Langmay Trophy on Sunday, Sadie Towell cruised around the course to win on the night by a minute. Clearly she wasn’t pushed hard so must still have a fair bit in the the tank. Leading the main pack home was Scott Isaacs, who is returning to some good form after a plenty of niggly injuries in the last year. Completing the top three was the first of our debutants, in Sid Mead who has been running very regularly this year and now clearly has his sights set on his older brother, as he was only 15 seconds slower this month!

With four races still to complete, anyone who has done a race could still win the title, but the current standings, early in the series is that Ruth Mitchell (who also ran a new PB last night) leads the way by one point from Andy Inchley, with Alison Bell and Jordan in third and fourth respectively.

You can find the full results for this race, plus the overall standings at the bottom of the page. The table of PB’s has also been updated if you want to see where your own best time puts you.

Race Two:

Another great turn-out for the December Stag after the postponed November race. Twenty-three runners arrived in the park to make a very competitive race. Last month I made a big deal out of Jordan breaking a course record for the Stag that stretched back to 1994. I went into a bit of history and generally gave him lots of kudos.

It’s difficult to take that much further following last night’s race. He started last, finished first and obliterated his own stunning record by 26 seconds! Everyone who ran the race saw him cruise past and thought, “Is he actually trying?”. Anyway, I can’t think of any more to say about Jordan so congratulations. Is there more speed there?

To highlight what the event is all about, next home was Alison Bell, who was one of the first starters and held off everyone except Jordan to earn 24 points, and then third was Gary Stratford who started in the middle of the field. The point is that anyone can win the Stag, whatever your pace.

The only other PB on the night was achieved by young J Harrison who came home in a cluster of people to finish 7th. We also had two debutants in the shape of Rachel Fawcett and Ceana Mackenzie-Brodie. Ceana joins our increasing Scottish squad looking to take us down from the inside( 😉 ), while Rachel (who is used to 100K races 4K ones) moved into 7th place on the women’s all-time list.

After two races, Jordan leads the way with Andy, J Harrison and Ruth Mitchell all within striking distance, but at this stage of the season it’s all about building a base as anything can happen yet.

The next race will be Wednesday 6th January (all being well). At some point in the season we’ll have to squeeze in the missing November race, but we’ll keep you posted on that.

 

Race One:

Back in the mists of club history in the late eighties and early nineties, there was a young man who joined the club. He was extremely slim with long elastic legs (Not as long as Pete Mack’s, but still) that he was able to getting turning at a rate of knots. Throughout his junior years – when there wasn’t really a junior section – he trained mostly on his own, on a Wednesday with the adults and with a small group around Appenine Way on a Tuesday. He became a regular winner of the Chiltern League and was often high up the field in major championships. His name was Mike Shevyn.

Unfortunately, in his late teens, Mike had to leave Leighton for Birmingham and joined Birchfield Harriers. Whilst this was a loss to the club, Mike went on to record some fantastic results over the years, including getting an England vest once (I think) and we kept in touch to this day. He occasionally came back to Leighton in the early years and on one such occasion in April 1994 ran the Stag as a guest. He recorded a fantastic time of 12:14 for the 4K course, which has stood as the course record for 26 years, until now……

On an evening that was just about ideal for running with minimal wind and a mild night, we had a very strong turn-out of 25 for the first Stag of the new season. There were a few notes to make: We had three debutants; two people who ran a marathon on Sunday; a couple of extra volunteers lighting the alleyway and a good spread of predicted times across the field. Some of these factors are really helpful when you’re trying to run fast, particularly having a target to aim for and being able to see your feet!

Given the opportunity, I usually warn a debutant at the Stag that the handicapping is very difficult so there’s a strong possibility that you’ll either win or come last in your first race. It settles down after that, but it is regular occurrence so don’t be surprised either way. This race was no exception, with Rachel Wells, a new member and J Harrison, an upcoming junior both smashing their handicaps by a minute or more to come home first and second and pick up the valuable top scoring points. Congratulations to them and good luck next month.

It was also a great night if your name is Ruth, with both of ours recording new PB’s. Having taken 45 seconds off last month, Ruth Eastman took another 25 off this month, which is crazy in a race that is so short and sharp and her 16:05 puts her in joint 10th all-time for the club’s women. Ruth Mitchell meanwhile, fresh from a cold and wet marathon round Caldecotte Lake on Sunday thought she’d grab a new best time too with 16:18! Remarkable from both.

Now the idea of the Stag is that Dave tries to get us all to finish close together. By definition therefore, all things being equal, most of the overtaking should be done in the last few hundred metres. It therefore came as something of a surprise to most of us when Jordan Clay flew past some people on the second lap and in my case with a kilometre to go, looking like he was jogging!

Jordan then proceeded to sprint off into the distance and come home 3rd on the night in a stunning new course record of 12:13 for the 4K/2.48mi course which is 3:05mpk/4:55mpm if you want to know the pace. Even Mike Shevyn, as good as he was did his in April when we run in the light. Without wishing to put words into his mouth, I imagine that Jordan was helped by having someone start just behind him, which is rare when you’re running that fast.

Rob Elmore also ran the Stag last night, started 10 seconds behind Jordan due to their runs in September and produced an outstanding run to finish in 12:40, break his own V35 record which he set last month, which would be quick enough for fifth on the all-time list (if he wasn’t already 3rd!) and probably in the top ten times ever! This however, was only good enough for 8th, and these two guys were over a minute quicker than anyone else on the night.

As ever, the most pleasing thing about the Stag was the numbers there, as the whole idea of the series is that it tries to create a level playing field for anyone to win. Next month we’ll get back to focusing on the points, however, a new course record for the first time in a generation, 182 Stag races and probably around 3000 performances is not something we should let pass without acknowledgment and congratulations.

Brilliant running by lots of people last night, but especially Jordan.

2020/21 Season Races:

Overall standings for the 2020/21 Season