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CLC Striders Race Report - Pandemic PBs

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If last weekend’s VLM suggested that Eluid Kipchoge might have lost his mojo since the global pandemic, the same cannot be said of CLC Striders running club and its members. In fact, it’s almost as if the pandemic has brought out the best in the club and its athletes.

Overcoming the disappointments of lost competition and races, Striders countered these cancelled plans by making the most of having the streets and trails almost to themselves in the early days of lockdown to well and truly find their feet.

It says a lot about the spirit and resilience of the club has gone from strength to strength and seen some incredible performances over what has been the strangest of summers.

Throughout the early weeks of separation, and sometimes having to smile with good grace in the face of tutting locals, the club has organised its own virtual team battles over 5k, 3k, 10k and 5-mile distances. In later months, members ran every inch of the Cotswold Way and some who lost marathon opportunities turned their dejection into PB times on kilometre-long laps around the streets of Benhall, over the trails and stiles around Withington, and even up and down the Honeybourne line (22 times).

As soon as Government guidelines allowed, detailed COVID risk assessments were carefully completed and, thanks to a dedicated volunteer coaching team, the club returned to group training safely as soon as it was possible.

And then, to cap it all, on a wet weekend when, at last, a handful club athletes were able to return to their longed-for racing (4 October), four of them turned in stand-out performances. Liza Bradshaw and Catherine Wheeler both ran PB times in the Dorney Lake marathon, with Liza breaking the three-hour barrier in a new club record time for her age category of 2.54.59 (and 5th lady overall) and Catherine clocking an amazing PB of 3:08:13 in the same race.

Closer to home, Dan Bazzard ran a super-quick PB time of 16:49 in the Jon Ward Hereford 5k after a strong summer of training at the club’s speed sessions once lockdown restrictions had eased. And Helen Knight, committed to fulfilling her virtual VLM marathon run, set out from her house at 7am in the pouring rain and howling winds of Storm Alex to complete her local 26.2 miles in 3:14:10 (what would have been a new club category record in official race conditions) with the support of running company from some of her lady Striders for some of the route.

All-in-all it’s been a strange summer, and one none of us will forget – even if we’d like to. But, as adversity often does, circumstances have brought out the best in CLC Striders. That’s not to say, of course, that we’re not all raring to go and impatient to return to competition – across the country, on the roads and track. But, when we do, it will be all-the-sweeter. And, judging from the early signs, it feels like we might return faster and stronger than ever.