Marshall Milton Keynes AC’s Mark Ryall and wife Linsey combined house-hunting with medal-winning in this morning’s second annual Reach Mansfield 10k race.
And there was a big boost for the race’s future with the news that Mansfield District Council looks set to back the embryonic event for the next five years.
As local focus on athletics left television coverage of the Rio Olympics for the sunny streets of Mansfield, Ryall, 35, won the race in 34:12, three seconds ahead of Sutton Harriers’ Richard Robinson, going one better than last year’s third, with Mansfield Harriers’ James Mee third in 34:37.
Meanwhile, Ryall’s wife Linsey took the women’s Veterans 35 years title for a family double as they combined the morning’s race with looking for a house in the area.
The overall women’s winner was Jane Potter, of Charnwood Harriers, in 35:49 in a race which raises funds for local charity Reach Learning Disability.
With a slightly hillier course than last year, the 2015 32:10 winning time of Great Britain runner Mark Johnson was not beaten, but the runners enjoyed a new, improved race route, which consisted of two 5k circuits around the historic town centre, starting and ending in the Market Place.
A slight wind took the edge of what proved to be a very sunny morning with runners gathering before 8am to warm up for the 9am start.
Still getting his breath back at the end, Mark Ryall said: “It was pretty tough as I am not used to a hilly-type race, being from Milton Keynes.
“But I really enjoyed it. It was really, really well organised and it’s nice to run round a little town and get the support of the crowds.
“I’ve never really run in this area before. I am originally from Leeds, work in London and live in Milton Keynes.
“But I am moving here so I took the opportunity to have a look around for houses and get a race in.
“It seems a really nice place and I really enjoyed running.
“I did expect to win it, but I haven’t been running well.
“I dropped out of a race on Wednesday as I just couldn’t get my head around it. But this was a nice way to bounce back.
“I set off a little bit casual and let the guys at the front do the running and then at about 6k I thought I can win this so I ran a lot harder than I intended to.
“They were really up for it, the guys that were with me, so it was a nice tussle.”
He added: “I am way past my best now. I used to be a pretty good national runner.
“I’ve had an Inter-Counties bronze medal at 5k before in 14 minutes. I’m a bit older now so I can’t do that any more, but I am enjoying it a bit more than I used to.
“Historically, I normally try to defend my titles so hopefully I will be back to run it next year.”
Charnwood’s Jane Potter left with the winning women’s medal, coming home well ahead of Sarah Lowery, of Sheffield Running Club (38:36) and Jenny Evans, of Luton AC (40:10)
“It was tough,” said Jane “It was quite undulating and I got isolated, so I found it hard in the wind on my own. But it was a good work-out.
“I am more of a cross country runner really, that’s my favourite.
“Hopefully I am doing the Great North Run, so I like a good work-out before then and this was perfect.”
Male Veteran 40 winner was Matt Fisher in 38:37, Male Veteran 50 winner was Mansfield Harriers’ Peter Stafford in 39:46 and Male Veteran 60+ winner was Simon Lord, of Retford AC, in 50:29.
Elaine Quince took the Female Veteran 45 title in 47:56 and Jess O’Halloran the Female Veteran 55+ in 01:01:23.
Those not trying to win, but enjoying the morning as a day out or chance to raise funds for charity included a group of men dressed as nurses pushing a hospital bed, a runner with a pushchair and toddler in front of them and a granddad finishing with his grandchild in his arms.
Last year’s inaugural 10k race represented a return to road racing in Mansfield after a four-year gap, following the demise of the very popular Mansfield Half-Marathon, which had been run for more than 30 years before it was cancelled due to spiralling costs over health and safety.
The event has seen a huge amount of support for its second year in Mansfield, securing sponsorship from prominent local businesses McDonalds, Slimming World and Mansfield Building Society, as well as support from Mansfield District Council and Full Phat Design.
Support has come from far and wide in the shape of volunteers to help deliver the event, including those from the Mansfield Building Society and Notts Women Runners plus Perfect Motion PR.
The event is organised by Reach Learning Disability, and all funds raised will go towards supporting people with learning difficulties in the Nottinghamshire area to reach beyond all expectations.
Reach chief executive Steve Shatwell, who was also on the organising committee of the old Mansfield Half Marathon, said: “It’s been another great year and we are really pleased with it.
“It was a good turn-out, I am not sure of the final numbers yet but we were knocking on last year’s total by Friday.
“I believe we have confirmation that Mansfield District Council want to support it for five years which is brilliant for us as that means we can get it to financial sustainability. “It isn’t there yet – we need more sponsors and we need more runners.
“I think we need to get to 1,000 to 1,200 runners. Hopefully we can start to build the pedigree we had with the Mansfield Half Marathon.”
“The turnout from the town on the streets to watch was fantastic. And the great thing about this race is that you can stand here in the Market Place and you can see people go past you four times – what could be better? You don’t have to move!”
Full results and more photographs to follow on www.chad.co.uk.