Week Ending - 2024/06/23


Matt Scarsbrook continued his dominance of the 2024 Leicestershire Road Running League with his fourth successive win of the season so far, this time at the Prestwold 10K. Once again, the event was another scorcher weather wise but that did not deter Scarsbrook from dictating the pace from the off, establishing a healthy lead from the returning Mo Hussein which he was able to maintain through to the finish line some 31 minutes and 43 seconds later. With both men’s captains unavailable for the race, vice-captain Dave Jenkinson opted for a side packed with experience to back up the pacesetting Scarsbrook. In-form Neil Russell was second Badger back in an impressive 35:36, one-second shy of his personal best and just twelve off the vet’s club record, a cooler day would certainly have seen him go faster. His 13th place overall gave the side a real fillip before key men Chris Horton (36:16) and Glyn Broadhurst (38:23) finished in 22nd and 55th places respectively, part of a high-quality field seeing a return to action from some real top-end racers in the county from other clubs in addition to the imperious Hussein. 

Mark Repton was next back for the side in a quality 39:20 and Dave Jackson announced his return to the big time with a fabulous effort of 40:12 and with it a place once again in the scoring six, his first time since 2019, comeback of the year it should be said. Additionally, he achieved the dubious honour of being the first veteran Badger not to score for the vet’s team (of which only four count) while scoring for the main men’s team, such was the volume of old stagers in the Jenkinson selection. For the first time ever, five of the first six to finish were over forty, with plenty more to come soon afterwards, starting with the young youth Ashley Taylor who produced a frighteningly rare PB on a day for factor fifty over speed. The fastest man in Warton clocked a magnificent 40:29 before Mark Coggan, another vet, stormed home in a gold standard 41:46. Wayne Repton is in the form of his career to date, and he romped to a huge PB in 43:48 with yet another big performance. Stefan Martin ran well in 44:14 followed by fellow vets Matt Green (45:25), Bill Gutheridge (45:53) and Dave Purvis in the second quickest 10K of his career. 

Captain for the day Jenkinson was next over the line, delighted with his side’s showing, bolstered by the arrivals of Colin Lees, Rob Crow and Peter Mann who all ran particularly well. Mick Bailey has been battling a hernia as well as a knee problem of late, but he still managed to force his way around in 50:57, miraculously an improvement on his own V70 club record as well as earning the Kingsbury-based speedster a prize as the top V70 athlete in the event. Paul Cooper, a man thirty years Bailey’s junior, was next home in a personal best time of 52:35, one of just five PB’s on a hot, sweltering day. Adrian Parkes, Lee Millership, Paul Restall and Kieran Coopey gave great accounts of themselves, particularly Coopey who ran a PB of 58:07 when the odds were stacked against him. Matt Smith, Rick Reilly, and Terry Taylor (68:20 – PB) rounded up the male action with top efforts. 

The ladies were led home by Lucy Marchi who produced a stunning run in the heat to hit the heights of the top thirty overall. Her time of 46:07 was hugely impressive as was her running form on the closing straight when others around her were clearly flagging, a sign of even better things to come this summer. Skipper Megan Griffiths has been in good form this season and here she continued her excellent work to date with a gutsy 48:47 in sub-optimal conditions, enabling the pacy deputy headmistress to sneak her way into the top fifty. One of the runs of the day came from the impressive Charlene McGowan who made the scoring four with a wonderful 51:40, her first league race for the club for several years after having two children, both of whom were in attendance to see their mum speed home under the watchful gaze of fellow Badger and husband Dave, himself just one of four members to have featured in every one of the league winning teams to date. Victoria Jones (52:49) put in a solid shift to lead the vets team home as well as score for the ladies while London marathon ace Amber Nickless produced a classy time of 53:49, making the top 100 alongside the experienced Liz Peel who ran well in 54:30 but started further back.

Grace Barsby continued her great 2024 with another good time of 56:07. In her first season on the road, she looks every inch the experienced athlete and is a valuable addition to the ladies' team. Alice Belcher went well a place behind her while the duo of Joanne Crow and Jill Miller also finished in quick succession. The returning and much-loved Serena Baker battled hard to dip under the hour mark, a feat matched by vice-captain Sharon Jackson on her 47th birthday and newcomer Megan Church. 

When it comes to solid operators, few can claim to operate as solidly as the glamourous Clare Whetton who led home some of her Beginner graduates from years gone by, including the semi-legendary Judy Parkes who battled hard after taking a bike fall the week before. Karen Draper fought her way through to the finish as did debutante Steph Nickless (67:52 – PB) while Kate Rathbone and Sara Hawkins once again bagged the biggest cheers as they wrapped up a productive and sweaty morning for the side. 

The result sees Badgers men lose their hitherto unbeaten status in the LRRL this term and while they still top the lead, their combined score here was only good enough to take third on the day. Conversely, the vet men's team extended their lead at the top of Division One with now just four races left to run including the Steve Morris 5 race at Desford this Sunday. 

There was some action in addition to Prestwold. At the Worthington 6, Suzy Farrell ran a big new personal best time of 46:23. Steph White finished third in her age group in 52:46 while Colin Lees ran 45:10 three days before tackling the second of three races in the week, the Rise of the Phoenix trail race at Beacon Hill, where he ran 41:55. At parkrun there were top ten finishes for Liz Peel (10th at Kingsbury), Megan Griffiths (8th at Ferry Meadows) and Suzy Farrell (3rd at Cannock Chase). At Tamworth Castle, Eric Fowler got within 12 seconds of Martyn Barrett’s V60 club record with his fabulous 4th place finish of 20:16. And last but not least, Eleanor Fowler also came within 12 seconds of Liberty Underhill’s overall parkrun club record at Tamworth with a rip-roaring 20:30 which still meant she improved her own vets' club record in the process, not the last record coming her way we suspect.