At the end of May, we introduced you to The Stable - a group of loveable running fanatics haunting the hallowed ground of Battersea Park in London. Under the guidance of KOTWF running coach Matt Welsh, the Stallions tackle almost every distance on every surface - and they have been very busy indeed! That means there is a lot to keep track of. We reconnect with The Stable to see what they've been up to and how their racing has been going since last spring.
Summer - Dave Clarke Mile Extravaganza
When we left the Stable, they had just finished a string of highly successful road races and were preparing themselves for a summer of track racing. Perhaps the most notable group outing on the tartan was at the Dave Clarke Mile Extravaganza in Wimbledon. Promising an A race featuring Australian Olympians and professionals, this was a high-profile event attracting the very best in the area. No way was The Stable going to miss this!
PBs are great but winning races is exactly what competition is all about. Alex Mills got to celebrate a big, fat W taking race 2 by the scruff of the neck. His partner Pete also took home a tasty PB - Matt and Daniella's power couple status was under challenge! Not to fret, Daniella was on the case. She cruised to a 5:32 PB while sporting her signature smile to defend hers and coach's honour.
Further down the programme we had an epic battle in store. Will, the tattooed Geordie, was about to take on Dylan "Country Kent" Mitchard as well as the clock. Would the pair dip under the elusive 5min barrier? They took it all the way to the finishing straight, but Kent eventually came out on top in 5:00.5 - Will was only half a second behind him. You love to see it.
Callum Stewart also deserves a shoutout for a breakthrough performance on this day. Clocking the mile in 4:23.59 was just the first step of a fantastic rest of the year for him. A few months and a hamstring injury later, Callum placed 8th at the Surrey County XC Championships and joined the top 50 at the South of England XC Championships. Plus, in January 2022 he improved his road 5k PB to a whopping 14:49. The man is fast and is only getting faster!
Autumn - London Marathon & Cambridge Half
We don't have to tell you the London Marathon is a big deal. That's understood. Every year, it attracts the fastest, keenest and best prepared runners in the country and beyond. The Stable was on site. Marathon expert Brad Courtney-Pinn was the first Belgrave Harriers across the line in a PB of 2:33:18. Most impressive, perhaps, is his ability to keep his composure and just go with the flow when the going gets really rough. We can all take a lesson from the Devon dude. On the women's side, it was Jess Saunders who stole the show with a massive 2:53:39 run. She said: "I never thought I would run a time like that in my life". Brace yourself, Jess! It's going to get much faster than that.
At the end of October, a handful of Stallions took to Cambridge for the half marathon. Of the three Stallions racing, it was Arne Dumez who led the charge. Since the first Log Book entry, Arne moved to North Yorkshire so this was his first real opportunity to reconnect with the team. A PB of almost exactly 2mins saw him place 10th. Fun fact: James Fox, who had run 10 miles of the course with Arne before pulling away in the final 5km, now also trains with The Stable. Coach Matt wasn't far behind - only four places, in fact - and proved the summer speed was still there. He closed hard but just missed out on a sub72 clocking.
Alex Mills decided the Stable would go 3 for 3 on Midsummer Common and chopped 35s off his previous best set on the Goodwood circuit in Chichester six months prior. From the mile to the marathon, Mr Mills means business!
Winter - Seville Marathon
Fast forward to February 2022. After months of smart, consistent and bloody hard training, no less than five Stallions headed to sunny Spain for the Seville Marathon. Once again, it was Brad who crossed the line first in a new PB of 2:32:37 but behind him were some incredibly stories unfolding. Steve Gardner had been trying to run a marathon since he first picked up running in 2016. Terrible luck with injuries, illness and pandemics meant that dream had to wait until this year - but he did it. Now, he's got a great track record over 5k, 10k, the half marathon and the marathon! If ever you needed proof that patience and perseverance paid off...
Dylan Mitchard made moves in Europe to finish just behind Steve in a whopping sub2:40 time. The Norman Park local just cannot seem to stop chipping minutes off his PB. It's all very exciting, in earnest. But he wasn't the only one! Mr Mills was only a few minutes behind Mr Mitchard and - in an absolutely gorgeous display of negative splitting - finished like a steam train to claim a 5min PB. That would have stolen the show in most races, but not in a race where James Morris takes 10mins off his best. Yes, 10 whole minutes! Unbelievable.
Getting these results on the board is fantastic, and it's a real testament to the strength of Matt's coaching. But the real foundation of this group lies in the positive energy they share on a day-to-day basis. In recent months, the headcount has swelled and the sessions have welcomed more and more athletes to the fold. Logistical challenges aside, every single one of these people drives the others to reach further, perform better and find joy in the journey. Hot off the Seville sizzle, the Stable is looking ahead to plenty more moments like these. The 2022 is going to be busy, but they wouldn't want it any other way.