On Sunday, Newport & District Running Club members were out en masse for the 2022 edition of the Stafford Half Marathon. After taking place in September last year, the race returned to its usual slot in mid-March, and runners were greeted with glorious weather – sunny, if a little breezy, but not a cloud to be seen. This year, just over 2,000 runners took to the start line to take on the town’s premier road running race.
The current route has been in use since 2015, and sees runners start in the town centre, before heading down the Newport road, then making a left turn down West Way. At the end of the road, they make another left turn, and head towards the south end of town, where they take in a lap of Ampleforth Drive, and then make the climb up Radford Bank. Once they reach the top, they head down Baswich Lane, then skirt around the eastern and northern ends of town, before returning to the finish in the Market square via the Stone Road and the Isabel Trail.
The first runner back for Newport was David Clarke, who finished in 62nd place overall with a time of 1 hour, 24 minutes, 38 seconds. Ashley Moore, running in his first half marathon, was just under 2 minutes behind, taking 87th position with a time of 1:26:21. Tom Pope was next back for Newport, a time of 1:33:44 securing 207th spot, whilst David Brown was 225th in a time of 1:34:53. Finishing close together were Andrew Wilmot (261st, 1:36:51) and Phil Dolding, just 17 places behind in 278th with his time of 1:37:21.
First female finisher for Newport was Charlotte Chapman, her time of 1:38:02 taking her to 295th place overall, as well 23rd female finisher in the race. Not far behind, Liz Bennett ran a new PB of 1:38:16 in 306th place, whilst Nick Watts clocked 1:38:21 to finish 318th and set a new PB. Also ducking under the 100-minute mark was Jonathan Pierce, who also ran a PB, and finished 331st in a time of 1:39:07. Aaron Nicholas was 401st overall with a time of 1:41:41, whilst Oliver Stokes ran a time of 1:46:19 to finish 543rd. Richard Bennett was 624th in 1:47:24, and Phil Cross took 776th place with his time of 1:52:49.
Emily Pope was the first of a close-finishing group of NDRC runners, finishing 925th in 1:56:59, closely followed by Jennie and Darren Waters (974th and 975th, 1:56:39, a new PB for Jennie) and John Metzger (981st, 1:56:14). Helen Edwards finished 1,134th in 2:00:40. Selwyn Plant ran a time of 2:06:44 to finish 1,318th, whilst Rodney Jones finished 1,457th with his time of 2:10:55. Tracy Hartridge was 1,681st in a time of 2:21:22, closely followed by Louise Patterson, who set a new personal best ever time of 2:22:18 in 1,716th position. Steve Cannon placed 1,772nd in a time of 2:26:02, Catherine Hawksworth finished 1,770th with her time of 2:26:27, whilst Louise and Vance Heath finished together, 1,797th and 1,798th respectively, in a time of 2:28:01, which was a PB for Louise.