There was a carnival atmosphere in Beverley last Sunday when over a thousand runners took part in the annual Hall Construction Group Beverley 10k.
After days of wet and overcast weather the sun came out and so did the spectators. Hundreds lined the finishing strait from Saturday Market to Wednesday Market or took up position amidst the buttercups on the Westwood. Beverley Brass Band entertained them at the Market Cross and Rock House performed in Angel Square.
All the local running clubs were represented in the race and there were also several hundred unattached runners, some of them running to raise funds for charity.
In the closest finish for several years the race was won by Darran Bilton of Leeds City AC in 32:25. Hot on his heels was Jim Cooper of Harrow AC who finished five seconds later in 32:30. Stuart Carmichael of City of Hull was third in 33:17.
It was the third successive win for Bilton, a popular local athlete who grew up in Hull and who is a former member of Beverley Athletic Club. Bilton started the race as favourite having won it eleven times in the past, however he admitted to mediocre form since last year’s race when he finished almost two minutes ahead of his nearest rival. He said that he did not expect to win in Beverley this time.
It was certainly a much closer race this year with the first three runners finishing within a minute of each other. At the two-mile point on the Westwood Bilton was leading a group of five athletes but after Walkington they could not maintain this pace and dropped back one by one. By the time Bilton reached the 5-mile point the group had split up into individual runners and he was 20 yards clear of his nearest rival Jim Cooper.
Aware of how close Cooper was, Bilton concentrated on his own race and left his rival to summon up the speed to challenge him. Despite Cooper’s best efforts in the finishing strait along Toll Gavel and Butcher Row, the positions remained unchanged at the finish in Wednesday Market.
Bilton described his win as “amazing” and acknowledged the encouragement of the many people watching the race who know him: “I have so many friends supporting me and I am overwhelmed by their kindness. I live at York, run for Leeds and work in Harrogate but on Sunday in Beverley I was home!”
In the ladies’ competition Beverley AC’s Carla Stansfield carried off first prize in her debut in the race. An accomplished cross-country athlete, it was only her third 10k on the road and she finished in 37th place overall in an impressive 38:39.
After the race she praised the spectators who had encouraged her on the course:
“There was brilliant support all round the course and the crowd was especially loud along the finish through town.”
Stansfield was favourite to win the race and she left the opposition far behind her, finishing almost 2½ minutes ahead of second placed Kerry Storrar of Barnsley AC who crossed the line in 41:01. Kingston-upon-Hull’s Nicole Peters was third in 41:21.
In the men’s team competition there was a reversal of last year’s result with City of Hull taking first prize and Beverley AC finishing second. City of Hull also won the won the ladies’ team competition for the third successive year and East Hull Harriers’ ladies were runners up. The victorious City of Hull teams were: Stuart Carmichael, Gareth Young and Pete Baker; Rebecca Fielding-Smith, Niki Whitaker and Pam Richards.
Veteran prizes were awarded for all the standard age categories and with this year’s official race charity being East Riding Age UK it was appropriate that there was an increased number of older competitors. The results listed 31 runners over the age of 60. The oldest was Ivor Michaels in the 75 -79 age group. He finished in 1:21:24 and was followed across the line by several younger runners half his age!
The 70 – 74 age group included five men and one lady. Ken Chapman of Kimberworth Striders was the first of them to finish. He completed the course in an amazing 47:08 while Scarborough’s Avril Reading recorded a commendable 1:11:19. Popular Beverley AC member Frank Harrison who will be 73 next month finished in 726th place out of 1083 runners in 57:35.
At the other end of the age scale it was good to see so many junior athletes moving up from the fun run to take part in the 10k. The first three U18 ladies were all from Beverley AC Juniors – Nicole Dawson was first, Elizabeth Evans followed in second place and Kendall Arnott was third. Arnott was pleased to have done so well as she had problems with her shoes and ran the last 2½ miles without them! Daniel Maw of Scarborough was first U18 male, Marco Gaisas was second and Beverley’s Ethan Dalton was third. In only his second 10k Harry Powell, also of Beverley AC, was fourth U18 male.
It was the second 10k race and the first in Beverley for unattached runner Alison Hudson from South Cave. Although she struggled against the strong headwind on the outward uphill section across the Westwood she really enjoyed the challenge. She finished in 1:07:32, a slower time than she’d hoped for, but she is aiming to break one hour next year.
The first runner from host club Beverley AC to finish was James Pearson. He was seventh overall in 34:28. He was pleased that the club had fielded a strong men’s team this year and praised the new members who had excellent runs.
In his first 10k since joining Beverley AC in February Lewis Holloway knocked almost a minute off his previous best to finish in 37:17 in 21st place. He was the third Beverley runner to cross the line and was delighted with his performance. He said:
“It was nice to run for a club for the first time and get so much support going round.”
It was a very special day for Brian Richardson who has been Secretary of Beverley AC for as long as anyone can remember. After being part of the organising team since the very first Beverley 10k in 1994, the last 5 years as Race Director, he ran the race for the very first time this year.
He described the support round the course as “fantastic” and was surprised at how many people knew and recognised him. Running the race he could see at first hand the results of his hard work over the years and he said
“I now realise how well organised the race is from a runner’s point of view and that’s why it sells out so quickly.” He continued: “When I strip away any bias it is certainly the best 10k I’ve ever run!” He finished in a commendable 49:55 and won second prize in the M65 category.
Race sponsor Hall Construction was represented by a ten-strong team all aiming to beat Chairman and Managing Director Martin Hall to the finish. Mr Hall was only a few seconds slower than last year but could not fight off the challenge from Graeme Pittaway and Alistair Borthwick who both finished ahead of him.
Commenting on the race he said:
“As ever Beverley AC organised it superbly. It’s always a pleasure to sponsor the event and be associated with such a great race for Beverley and the East Riding.”
William Becker, the last of the 1083 finishers, crossed the line in 1:23:11 to the cheers of the remaining spectators and the Beverley AC cyclists who had shadowed him round the course. He looked just as pleased with his achievement as Darran Bilton!
Reported by Kay Farrow