Mansfield Harriers start countdown to major spring marathons

MARATHON MEN -- Mansfield Harriers duo, Matt Bradbury (left) and Martin Fickling, completing the Stamford 30k road race together.

MARATHON MEN -- Mansfield Harriers duo, Matt Bradbury (left) and Martin Fickling, completing the Stamford 30k road race together.

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The winter slog, in preparation for spring marathons across the country, is finally beginning to bear fruit for several athletes at the Mansfield Harriers club.

Months of increased mileage and carefully structured training plans will be put to the test at these major events, which include the London and Manchester Marathons. So, as part of their build-up, Harriers are competing in several long-distance races to gauge fitness and progress.

The Stamford 30k road race was on the agenda for some, over a tough, undulating course through rural Lincolnshire and in unforgiving conditions.

First back for the club was Matt Bradbury, who finished 247th of the 598 runners to complete the course in a time two hours, 31 minutes and 40 seconds and a chip time of 2.31.26. This augers well for a significant improvement in Bradbury’s previous marathons at Liverpool and Brighton when he races at London on Sunday, April 24. Clubmate Martin Fickling crossed the line with the same time, although his chip time was 2.30.59 and he came home in 248th place. This year’s Manchester Marathon on Sunday, April 10 will be Fickling’s debut at the distance, but his performance at Stamford showed he is going in the right direction.

The third Harrier to compete at Stamford was Colin Fell, who came 268th in a time of 2.34.21 and a chip time of 2.34.14. Fell’s display, which capped some good training, suggests he is running into terrific shape to beat his previous best performance at London and comfortably get under the four-hour barrier.

At the Sleaford Half Marathon last Sunday, Dave Peet and Steve Davies completed the tricky course in very windy weather. Peet, who is to tackle the Shakespeare Marathon at Stratford-on-Avon on April 24, finished the course in just over 91 minutes. Davies, who is one of the most experienced long-distance runners in the country with more than 100 half-marathons and 50 full marathons in the bag, continued to impress with a time of 93 minutes.

Meanwhile, in cross-country, Harriers had a small turnout at the last of the Nottinghamshire Mini-League races at Rushcliffe Country Park, but Courtney Spencer continued her fantastic winter season by finishing fourth in the U13 girls’ category and is now looking forward to the track season.

In the U13 boys’ event, the club’s cross-country find of the winter, Curtis Moss, maintained his tremendous form with 13th place, not far in front of teammate Joel Whittaker-Naylor in 21st.