Miller wins home event

ROAD RUNNING: David Miller, at ease on his home course, blitzed a field of 460 on his way to another victory at the 21st Woodbridge 10km road race, staged in ideal running conditions.


DAVID Miller, at ease on his home course, blitzed a field of 460 on his way to another victory at the 21st Woodbridge 10km road race, staged in ideal running conditions.

Miller, the leading light of host club Woodbridge Shufflers, had company from Robin Coll for the first lap of two around the town. But he began to step on the gas as he passed the large numbers of spectators on Market Hill, and was going away from his rivals throughout the second half of the event.

Remarkably, this was Miller's 76th victory of his career, following on from win No. 75 at the Felixstowe Rotary five-miler just six days before.

And his record at Woodbridge has been excellent, with two firsts and two seconds during the last four years. He was a runner-up to Ian Horrocks in 1999 and Gareth Deacon last year, sandwiching a victory in 2000.

This year marked a change of course, due to the ever-growing popularity of the race, and the increase in traffic. Basically, the previous course was tackled in the opposite direction, to avoid some dangerous road crossings.

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The change proved a big hit with a bumper field – this Woodbridge event, following the demise of the Bury 20, has developed into the best-supported race in Suffolk (an entry of 500, plus a maximum 150 in the supporting junior fun run).

Miller crossed the finish-line in 32mins 45secs, just three seconds slower than the time he managed when finishing a close runner-up to Horrocks in 1999. His personal best for the 10K distance remains the 31.37 he clocked at Bungay.

"It was a great atmosphere and the town really got behind the event. The crowds were great along the thoroughfare, and that's where I made my move," explained Miller, who celebrated his 31st birthday yesterday.

"I'm still feeling the London Marathon in my legs from a month ago. I think it will take a few more weeks to fully recover."

Miller's Woodbridge club-mate Steve Hart also had a cracking day. Hart outgunned a number of experienced rivals to take third position in 34.48.

Ipswich Jaffa's David Laing, who used to dominate the Suffolk scene in the early 1990s, is also making a welcome return to road racing.

Laing confirmed his gradual progress by finishing just three seconds adrift of Pitts in fifth.

The ladies' race was a personal triumph for Pat Partridge, whose brave decision to enter the open category rather than her specific over-45 age group was vindicated in style.

Partridge left many of her younger rivals trailing in her wake as she stretched away during the final few kilometres to rattle up another victory in 39.52.

Lavenham-based Partridge, who runs for the Bury-based Pacers, has chalked up several wins over the last year, including events at Ipswich, Stowmarket and Bildeston. She was an excellent 38th overall at Woodbridge.

Maria Davis, who enjoyed a good win at the Felixstowe five-miler on Bank Holiday Monday, was hampered by a stitch during the second half of the race, but she still took second spot in 40.22.

Unaffiliated athlete Valerie Gladwell was third in 42.18, just two seconds ahead of Framlingham's Jackie Abbott, while Pacers' Elizabeth Gobbitt completed the top five.

Ipswich Jaffa won the men's team award, and Woodbridge Men's Keep Fit topped the unaffiliated section, ahead of Farlingaye High School, who were well represented.

Brothers Thomas and Daniel Murphy, together with Scott Thacker, made up the scoring Farlingaye trio.

There was an outstanding run from Adam White. The Bildeston Bounder, following in the footsteps of his Dad Graham, who is an international duathlete, was the first junior home in a terrific 37.33. Farlingaye's Melanie Moye took the junior girls' prize.

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