Andrew Rooke and Leanne Finch fly to victories at Framlingham 10K

The leaders in the Framlingham 10K include eventual winner Andrew Rooke (No. 228), Jim Last (no. 6)

The leaders in the Framlingham 10K include eventual winner Andrew Rooke (No. 228), Jim Last (no. 6) and Robert Chenery (no. 375). Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

A record field took part in the 33rd annual Framlingham 10K road race last Sunday, with the entry limit having been reached a fortnight earlier.

In fact, race winner Andrew Rooke only managed to compete, after the entry limit had closed, due to the fact that he had won the event the previous year!

On the day, 358 of the 400 entries turned up to complete the challenging two-lap course, Rooke retaining his title in 33mins 09secs, and unaffiliated athlete Leanne Finch winning the ladies’ title in 41:37.

It was all a far cry from the early incarnations of this event, when fields did not even break three-figures.

Janet Green, President of race organisers Framlingham Flyers, and a runner herself over four decades, recalls: “The first time this race was staged (1985), Framlingham Flyers did not even exist as an affiliated club.

“Instead, the event was organised by Framlingham Sports Club and I think only about 60 or so runners took part.

“The following year, in 1986, the running club started and took over the event. That was also the year that I began running.

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“It’s continued to go from strength-to-strength. This year we had a bigger number of runners than ever before, and I thought it was incredible that 358 of the 400 entered actually finished the race, given that many people usually call off due to injuries, illness or not fancying it,” added Green.

Personally, I have run the Framlingham 10K on many occasions, the first time back in 1989. It is interesting that my very modest time that day (of 38:12) brought me home in only 30th spot, while such a time last Sunday would have been good enough for 14th spot.

Likewise, my slightly quicker time of 36:18 from nine years later, in 1998, had me in 14th position – it would have been a top 10 slot last weekend.

So although the quantity of runners has improved, perhaps the quality has not followed suit?

However, the quality was still there at the front of the field last Sunday, with Rooke retaining his title ahead of Ipswich JAFFA’s Robert Chenery (35:02) and Ipswich Harriers’ ever-improving teenager, Alex Tripp (35:07).

Another teenager Thomas Adams, the Friday Five Series winner from earlier in the summer, was lying in second spot until veering off course near the end. He finished fourth in 35:18.

It was also appropriate that host club Framlingham Flyers should win the men’s team prize.

Race-winner Rooke, who has recently joined the Flyers, was joined by club-record breaking veteran, Jim Last, who was fifth in 35:48, and the consistent Adam Howlett, who was seventh (36:15), just behind JAFFA’s Adam Wade (36:05).

For Rooke, it was only a modest run, due to some recent niggling injuries and other issues, even though he was actually eight seconds quicker than his winning time of 33:17 from 2016.

He set his personal best on his way to victory at the Woodbridge 10K last May, where he clocked 32:04.

“I had not raced for a while, so it was a weird experience for me,” explained Rooke, who is based at Kesgrave.

“The event had sold out two weeks ago. At the time, I was not as fit as I would have liked, but I did a few sessions and felt fit enough. But it was only when I found out that I could get a free entry, because I had won the race the previous year, that I was able to compete.

“I was not right physically, for the Great Bentley Five (in early July), so I backed off a bit and worked at my flexibility, which had been a problem. I have stretched every day since then.

“Sunday’s race was tricky. No one really fancied it early on. Jim (Last) pushed the pace a little and then Robert Chenery put in a spurt, a flat-out sprint really. I took the lead on the downhill section, on the other side of the castle, after about two kilometres,” added Rooke.

In the veteran stakes, the Flyers duo of Last (over-40) and Howlett (over-45) topped their age groups, as did the JAFFA pair of Wilf Campbell (O-50) and Stephen Pugh (O-55). Newmarket Joggers’ Clive Purbook was first over-60 in 47:15, and Framlingham’s Peter Russell won the over-65 section (51:14).

Finch won the ladies’ race by a big margin of nearly two-and-a-half minutes, from runner-up Geraldine Clarke, an over-45 veteran from the Flyers. She clocked 44:05.

The experienced Val Jennings was third overall and the leading over-50 in 44:08, ahead of first over-40 Louise Bell (44:53 in fourth) and Pacers’ over-50 Claire Hoblyn (45:59). Jenny Sheahan was first over-55 in 47:40.

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