MORE than 600 runners took part in the Stamford Striders’ 18th St Valentine’s Day 30k race on Sunday.
Raced over an undulating course through Little Casterton, Tolethorpe, Careby, Pickworth and Great Casterton, it attracts some of the toughest runners in the UK.
Many of the 620 athletes were in training for the London and Paris marathons.
Edinburgh’s Neil Renault (1h39m07), just missed out on the men’s course record but the first three women home all smashed the previous record, including Stamford’s Phillipa Taylor, who was third in 1h56m50 for Nene Valley Harriers.
The first local man to complete the race was Simon Fell, running for Stamford Striders, who finished 33rd in 2:02:41.
Besides the normal prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd there were also prizes for age and team categories, £100 for beating course records and prizes to runners taking part as Valentines Couples.
The event is now considered a classic by runners from across the country, and is a regular favourite in the Runner’s World Top 50 Races.
Couples running together received a prize, while all race finishers received a generous goody bag topped off with a now legendary packet of Love Hearts.
Instead of the standard kilometre markers, 30 bright red heart-shaped signs directed the route.
Nick Wells, race director, said: “Stamford Striders aims to host a runner’s race and to make it one of the biggies, attracting quality competition, while still retaining a friendly, local club feel.
“Over the years the Striders have built up that reputation, and the event has been judged by that toughest of critics – club runners – to be in the Top 10 of UK races in its category.
“That is a tricky position to maintain, with so many quality races around.”
The club will be making donations from the money the event raises to a number of local charities.