Willicott's Chester compensation after Budapest
A TEAM of Almost Athletes took part in the Chester Marathon.
Starting and finishing at the city's racecourse, the fast and mainly flat route is on closed roads covering 19 miles in England and seven miles in Wales – encompassing all of Chester's iconic landmarks.
First for the club was Mark Willicott in three hours, 44 minutes.
Along with his wife Anne-Marie, Willicott only entered the event the day before after a trip to the Budapest Marathon fell through due to a family illness.
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First lady home for the club was Alison Hume, whose dedication to a thorough training regime and strict pacing throughout the 26.2 miles paid off with a personal best time of 3:56.
Following close behind were Ali Shaikh in 3:57 – who raised £800 for the Help for Heroes charity in the process – and John Bailey in 3.58, in spite of a niggling knee injury.
Hampered by a long-standing knee injury herself, Anne-Marie Willicott adopted a successful run-walk strategy just to complete the distance.
She finished just ahead of the amazing and ever-improving Virginia Pawlyn, who ran with her trainer Dan Fivey and not only secured a personal best time of 4:14.30 but also won the LV70 age category.
She ran more than two hours quicker than her nearest age competitor.
Dominic Lyes, running Chester for the second time, suffered from debilitating cramp from about 18 miles onwards but fought valiantly to finish under the four and a half hour mark in a PB time of 4:27.
Further afield in Bucharest, Richard Read was the only Almost Athlete to take on the full marathon distance and completed it in 4:52.
Paul Thomas and Becky Stephens opted for the half marathon and finished in 1:36 and 2:23 respectively.
There was a great turnout of Almost Athletes in both the ladies and men's races at the first cross-country meeting at Cotswold Farm Park.
In the ladies race Sharon Bullimore was first home for the club in 22nd place, with Karen Galpin next in 42nd.
Sharon Nash made up the first ladies team, who were placed 13th in the Open category but fifth in the Masters.
There were also strong runs from Kim Davenport, Leanne Levi, Catherine Mason and Sam McGrath.
In the men's race Anthony Bailey was first home for the club in a superb tenth place.
Edward Collier was next home in 72nd and second in his age group, closely followed by James Wilkinson in 76th.
The men's team were placed 12th overall, and there were also impressive runs by Tony Evans, Arjo Van Vliet, Chris Midgley, Mike Wood, Nick Spice and Andrew Rawlinson.