They say spring time is now upon us, although competitors at Sunday’s New Balance Stafford 20 may have been under the impression we had suddenly arrived in monsoon season. The event, which takes place at Lightfoot, witnessed - despite the wet and conditions - 410 runners complete the undulating 20 mile course.
Tipton Harriers’ Ben Gamble secured a convincing victory (and very probably a course record, yet to be confirmed) in 1:46:14, almost ten minutes ahead of second placed Scott Hazell, with Karl Welborn following. Gamble’s win will be all the sweeter considering he took second place in 2013.
In the women’s competition, Blackburn Harriers’ Rachel Wood secured first place in 2:15:02, with Joanne Bentley second in 2:21:38 and Michelle Buckle in third place (2:22:24). The mid-point competitor finished in 2:46:07, while the last runner came home in 4:15:06.
Race photographer and avid running enthusiast Bryan Dale said conditions at the event were some of the toughest he had experienced: "It is the first time in 12 years of Racephotos that I have had to abandon taking photos and sit in the car. The umbrella was useless, the driving rain was blowing straight on the lens of the camera at one point."
The professional that he is, Bryan still managed to send northernrunningguide.com some excellent photos of the event.