Andrew Rooke and Odette Robson lead the way at Framlingham Friday Five
A remarkable seven Suffolk County road records were set at the Framlingham Flyers Friday Five last Friday evening, spearheaded by Andrew Rooke’s scorcher at the front of the field.
Rooke, of Ipswich JAFFA, won this third race in the five-strong Friday Five Series in a swift 25mins 02secs, finishing more than a minute-and-a-half clear of his closest rivals.
The 26-year-old therefore re-wrote the Suffolk County record books – last Friday’s event incorporated the Suffolk County five-mile Championships, attracting a bumper field of 395.
Rooke eclipsed the 25:15 landmark set by Nigel Powley, 21 years ago, at the Kirton Five in 1996 (these records only apply to official Suffolk County Championship races).
“My only real target was to beat Nigel’s time,” admitted Rooke.
“I’m really pleased with the time, especially as it was very hot and stuffy, with very little air and lots of bugs.
“I just wanted to get that county record, that was purely my one aim. I was not bothered about the time overall,” added Rooke.
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Rooke went quicker over five miles last season, breaking a JAFFA club record that had lasted for 28 years when winning the Kirton Friday Five in 24:55 last May, the first JAFFA runner to beat 25 minutes.
The Kesgrave-based runner went quicker still at the end-of-Series Great Bentley five-miler, at the start of last July, setting a personal best of 24:40, while at Framlingham last year he won in 25:20.
But Rooke is concentrating on the county races this year, which will also feature the 10K championships at the Ipswich Twlight event (August 18) and the 10-mile championships at the Coastal 10 (Felixstowe, Sept 10).
“I want to win as many Suffolk county titles as I can,” confirmed Rooke.
“I’d like to have a clean-sweep, eventually, although it would be virtually impossible to hold all the records at the same time. In the past, I’ve won Suffolk titles over 800 metres, 1,500m, 3K and 5K. I won the 10K at Framlingham last year, and have now won the five-mile on two occasions.”
With reference to last Friday’s victory, Rooke said: “I had company from Robert Chenery for three-quarters of the first mile, but I was basically running on my own after that.
“I clocked 4:53 for the first two miles, after what was a very quick start. But I absolutely love Framlingham. All their races are terrific,” added Rooke, who is a teaching assistant at Britannia Primary School in Ipswich.
His JAFFA club-mate, Chenery, was second in 26:41, while the teenage duo of Tom Adams (27:07) and Alex Lawrence (27:11), both of Ipswich Harriers, were third and fourth respectively.
Fifth spot went to Jim Last, of the host club Framlingham Flyers, in 27:21 – and that time was significant, because it gave Last the county record in the over-40 age group.
Flyers stalwart Last’s strong finish was important, because he only beat David Reed’s old landmark of 27:22 by one second. Reed, of Saint Edmund Pacers, had set his county over-40 best over a hilly course at Felixstowe in 2003.
Terry Back, of JAFFA, was another to set a new Suffolk county record for five miles. Back set a new over-60 mark with an eye-catching 30:13, finishing 26th overall.
No fewer than four records went in the ladies’ section, with the remarkable Odette Robson once again to the fore.
Robson, of Saint Edmund Pacers, won the ladies’ title outright in a cracking 29:11, finishing a mere three seconds behind her teenage son, Joe.
But that only told half the story. Robson, an over-45 veteran, set a new county record in that age group. She already holds the over-40 record (29:21 at Kirton in 2014).
In fact Robson, who seems to get better with age, was only seven seconds adrift of the female open county record at Framlingham, which is currently held by Sara Bird (29:04 in 2014).
Alice Goodwin, of Ipswich Harriers, was second in 31:14 over the rural route at Framlingham, with Pacers’ over-40 veteran, Zohra Armitage, third with 33:24. Fourth went to Stowmarket Striders’ Emma Attwood (33:34), and fifth to Haverhill RC’s Mary Ann Tuli (34:03).
Three other county records were broken in the female veteran ranks.
Unaffiliated runner Jenny Sheahan (37:47) in the over-55s, Pacers’ Jenny Morgan (38:47) in the over-60s and Ipswich Triathlon Club’s Moria Pinkney (44:55) in the over-65s all now have their names in the Suffolk record books.