Simkiss is unable to keep up with Jones
The Kenilworth Half may have moved several weeks earlier in the calendar from its traditional autumn slot but competitors hardly noticed on arrival at race HQ at Castle Farm Sports Centre as persistent rain and leaden skies threatened to dampen spirits of spectators and runners alike.
Thankfully, come the 10am start, the rain cleared and conditions were near ideal for runners, with welcome cloud cover and pleasant temperatures.
With runners enjoying chip timing for the first time, there was a spirited charge from the off with an early group of six runners leading the way.
By the first mile marker, Jones had broken clear and was never troubled, despite the best efforts of Kenilworth Runners’ Rich Simkiss.
Jones, with a 66:46 half-marathon best to his name, sped over the constant undulations of the rural course to come home in an excellent 69:25.
Simkiss ran valiantly to match his second position in the 2010 race and was delighted to run two minutes faster than last year, knocking 11 seconds off his best as he clocked a chip time of 72:19.
Moreover, Simkiss took first place in the Warwickshire Half Marathon Championships incorporated within the race.
Third position went to Ed Banks of BRAT (Birmingham Running and Athletics Club) with fourth going to Kenilworth Runners’ Connor Carson, who beat his best by four minutes.
Men’s team captain Phil Gould returned from illness to finish a fighting fifth, enabling Kenilworth to win the men’s team prize and the club showed strength in depth with Andrew Siggers finishing sixth and Matthew Kingston-Lee also inside the top ten.
In the ladies’ race, Kirkham led the way in 85:27 to beat Bournvillle Harriers’ Linda Howell, with Steph Russell of Northampton Road Runners third home.
Dispensation was only given to a few members of Kenilworth Runners to race rather than marshal the event.
However of the ten finishers for the club there was delight for Andrew Holbrook who took over a minute off his PB to finish 19th in 1:22:09.
Mick Williams finished 44th (1:27:54), while the only female Kenilworth Runner, Sarah Stein, ran superbly to finish seventh lady in 1:41:48.
Tom Dable was 259th (1:50:30); and Arthur Smith was 334th in 1:56:33, claiming second in the V65 category.
Eighteen Spa Striders took part, with Rich Merrell producing a storming run to finish 21st with a personal best of 1:23:11. Fellow Strider Trevor Wilkinson overcame a wrong turn to finish in 1:27:13, with Will Johnson next over the line in another PB of 1:28:17.
Additional Striders finishers: Nick Adams (1:32:56); Dewi Williams (1:34:49); Justin Mallard (1:35;49), Richard King (1:39.00); Michelle Clements (1:39:45); Nadine Fleckenstein (1:41:27); Caroline Whitehouse (1:43:56); Jackie Lindsay (1:45:45); Roz Cox (1:48:33); Kate Evans (1:49:51); Jo Hawkins-Butler (1:50:14); Michael Blackmore (1:55:13); Stuart Lee (2:05:29); Mel Carty (2:10:03).
A small contingent of Leamington C&AC runners also took part, with Steve Hundal and Bert Payne finishing in 1:24:11 and 1:43:16, respectively.
Carol Blower came home in 1.59.09 to move to the top of her age group in the Warwickshire Road Race League, while half marathon first-timer Faye Barr completed the course in 1:50:32.