In late 2018, the Badgers were sitting down in readiness for their Annual Presentation Awards when news filtered through that long-serving member Ashley Taylor had been hospitalised. The word was that he had broken his vertebrae, a very unusual injury for a runner and whilst concerned, without definite confirmation, many teammates half thought it may be some kind of fake news or hoax. As extreme bad luck would have it, Taylor’s name was then drawn from the club ballot to represent Badgers at the London marathon in 2019. As it became clear as to what had happened, a freak fall at home left him with a broken bone in his spine, the hugely popular Warton athlete spent weeks in University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire recuperating. This was followed by months at home in a neck brace destroying all hope of entering what would have been his first-ever marathon. Fast forward three years later and a faster, leaner and altogether meaner Taylor took his belated marathon bow at the Manchester marathon on October 10th. Taylor worked hard to not just return to full fitness, but to improve himself as a performer and with the help of some coaching from Danny Warren and engaging on a number of arduous run streaks, the 30-year-old has transformed himself into a faster animal. With personal bests across three different distances already this year, hopes were high at Manchester and he did not disappoint, with a beautifully measured and determined run to finish in 3:46:36.
Badgers teammate Dave Hill was alongside Taylor, aiming for a second successive sub-three marathon time in a week after his blistering 2:57 at London. Despite his best intentions and efforts, the Polesworth man’s goal narrowly eluded him, crossing the line in an agonising yet still spectacular 3:01:09, just 70 seconds shy of what would have been an incredible feat. He went through halfway in a mind-blowing 1:23 but as his energy levels understandably ebbed in the latter stages, so too did his pace. That said, he retained the resolve to knuckle down and get to the end before settling in to watch his teammate get home to the delight of the dozens back in the Midlands tracking the duo.
That was not the longest race of the weekend however as Angela Stallings, formerly of this parish but now resident in North Carolina and still a member, completed her first-ever Ultramarathon with a 100K effort in the Cape Fear 24 hour ultra event in Lillington. She took 22 hours 18 minutes in total before enjoying a well-earned lie down, a magnificent effort from another hugely popular club member.
Adrian Payne took second place at the Staffs Trail 10K at Cannock Chase. The craggy club pin-up ran an impressive 38:27, harnessing every advantage bestowed upon him via his muscular quadriceps and smaller than average head. At Sheffield, mother and daughter combo Maggi and Anna Savin-Baden ran the “101010” 10K together in 75 minutes. The name of the event being derived from the 10:10 start on the 10th of the 10th in case you were wondering.
There was a raft of Badgers at parkrun over the weekend and at Chasewater, Rachael Shelton, so often the bridesmaid in these events, finally took the first-ever first-place finish of her career. A regular at Kingsbury Water Park, she has finished in every other position in the top ten as well as being one of only a handful of Badgers to achieve the 25 volunteer stints milestone. The speedy Tamworth based star was running for the first time over at Chasewater and took win by just over half a minute from her nearest rival. Shelton is the veteran of 159 parkrun events altogether proving that persistence finally does pay off and her triumph was celebrated accordingly. Sam Starkey, a multi-time parkrun winner, was also in action clocking 20:12 in 5th spot.
Also in his 159th parkrun appearance, Chris Horton ran a season’s best 17:45 to finish behind Ashley Hurdman at Conkers. He was one of a host of Badgers who met up to help celebrate Merv Jones’s 100th parkrun as well as past stars Matt Tonks and Keir Hardy. Club Chairperson Danny Warren was third overall in 18:23 and Rob Crow was back in good form running 24:37. Other runners included Ashley Taylor ahead of his marathon effort, Glyn Broadhurst, Nicki Bowman, Paul Restall, Adam & Eileen McElhone, Paul Cooper, Vicki Smith, Terry & Alan Argyle, Liz Peel, Jo Hardy, Leesa Dennis, Jill Miller, Ivana Babicova, Karen Draper and Dave Bailey.
Cameron Barnes ran 20:19 but just missed out on the top ten at Cannock Chase, a similar tale to that of Tim Gould, 12th over at Rosliston, who ran with wife Amanda. Nick Miles was in action at Druridge Bay while Pip Weston took on the hilliest parkrun of them all in the Whitlatter Forest event near Keswick, running one of the slowest yet hardest 5K’s of her long career in 33:08. Andy Smith went well in Walsall clocking 21:56 with Adrian Parkes and Caroline Smith also featuring. Jared Karim and Zoe Yeatman were in action together at Congleton parkrun, Gail Gunn ran in Chichester and Matt Green Sutton Park.
Neil Clemons returned to action at Oaklands parkrun in 21:50, again another to narrowly miss out on a top ten spot. Mark Repton took 5th place at Babbs Mill in 19:31 a week after his marathon heroics while Colin Lees ran 21:45 to take 11th place. With the Kingsbury course waterlogged, many gravitated to Babbs Mill instead, which saw Neil Thorne, Wayne Repton, Steve Perry, Paul Wallace, Ian Orton, Matt Heap, Dave Grant, Yvonne Faulkner, John Restall and Steph Attenborough attend. Last but by no means least, Holly and Andy Smith ran together at Edgbaston Reservoir in 31:41.