Billericay Striders' 10K was blessed with clear blue skies and bright autumn sunshine as Road Runners Club member and course record holder Paul Whittaker took a mere 32:14 for a gun to tape, front running victory on Sunday morning (5 November).
The undulating, rural course features a narrow footbridge to avoid a slippery ford at 7k (see photo) but no such obstacles prevented the smooth progress of the race winner, a sub-30-minute man at his best. Whittaker was quick to distance himself from the 600 starters and had an impressive cushion of two minutes at the finish at Brightside School.
Whittaker's nearest opponents were Essex athletes Tim Wolfe (Braintree, 34:21) and James Bosher (Grange Farm and Dunmow Runners, 34:40). Leading age-group runners were M40 Andrew Low (Benfleet, 36:25); M50 Dave Solomon (Felixstowe, 37:31) and M60 Michael Harmer (41:21).
The top three women were among the 30 runners who beat the 40-minute barrier. Alexa Joel (Chelmsford, 37:52), Samantha Bilbie (W35 Springfield Striders, 38:59) and Rachel Brown (39:36) were the impressive trio who occupied the rostrum places. Vanessa Mathers (W45 Southend, 46:56) led the next masters' category and Debbie Barry (Harlow, 52:26) took the W55 award.
Half the field reached the finish in 53:35 and the final runner stopped the clock on 1:28:05. The course records are Paul Whittaker's 30:31 from 2015 and Southend's Kerry Holland has held the women's best (37:00) since 2013, so the £100 record bonus was safe for another year.
One popular feature of this traditional club race is that all pre-entrants have their first name emblazoned on their number – a nice touch that adds to the friendly and supportive feeling generated around the course. The organisers also offer a free number exchange service for anyone unable to take their place on the day.
St Luke's Hospice is the nominated charity and Fisher Jones Greenwood Solicitors and Ground Control were the all important race sponsors.