MORE than 400 runners chose to spend a blustery Saturday evening at Sticker taking part in the Sticker 5 mile road race, round eight of the Cornwall Grand Prix Series, sponsored by Cornwall Glass and Glazing.
This popular event attracted a high quality field in both the Men's and Ladies' races, with Tony Brewer (Mile High) and Emma Stepto (Cornwall AC) claiming the top individual prizes.
In the Men's race 19-year-old Dan Nash (East Cornwall Harriers) soon moved ahead of the pack and by the three mile point had built up a lead 20 seconds ahead of a formidable chasing pack, which included Brewer, the Cornwall AC pair Justin Thomas and Penzance's James Waldie along with Dan Alsop (St Austell Running Club) and Dan Rodgers (Launceston Road Runners).
Nash, home on holiday from Cardiff University, where he is studying Bio Medical Science, began to tire on the hills as the race entered the tough closing few miles and Brewer soon sensed an opportunity to strike, which he took full advance of, passing Nash before the four mile marker and moving clear of the rest of the chasing pack, to win his second successive Grand Prix race within an 11 day period.
Nash rallied with the finish in sight, losing by just seven seconds, with Thomas third, just three seconds behind the East Cornwall Harrier.
Waldie, also enjoying a break from his History studies at Edinburgh University, maintained the intellectual presence at the sharp end of the race and was reasonably pleased to finish fourth, clear of Alsop (5th) and Rodgers (6th).
With Colin Snook (8th), Veteran 50 winner Dave Buzza (9th), Veteran 50 runner-up Chris Harry (10th) and triathlete Ceri Whitmore (14th), Cornwall AC proved unstoppable in the team competition with a low score of 48 points. St Austell Running Club (120 points) finished second, with Newquay Road Runners (136 points) hot on the heels of their mid Cornwall rivals.
An intriguing battle looked likely in the Ladies' race, with Cornwall AC's Emma Stepto prepared for the expected challenge from Miranda Heathcote (Newquay Road Runners) and Jane Khan (Hayle Runners), chosing to avoid the summer heat of Dubai by spending some time back home in St Ives.
Stepto and Khan shared the lead for the first mile, with Heathcote tucked in behind, before the Cornwall AC marathon international upped the pace and moved ahead of Khan, which was not totally unexpected, as the Hayle Runner would still be feeling the effects of a superb run a few weeks ago in the Edinburgh Marathon, where she finished second, achieving a fine personal best of 2 hours 43 minutes 55 seconds.
Once in the lead and scenting a sniff of victory, there was no stopping Stepto, who gradually built a substantial lead, crossing the finish line almost a minute ahead of Heathcote, with Khan a further 19 seconds adrift of the Newquay athlete.
At the post race press conference, held in the corner of the Sticker AFC bar, a relieved Stepto said: "After missing much of April and May due to injury, I was pleased and surprised with my recent run at Cubert and hoped it wasn't a one off, so today I was hoping to repeat the Cubert form, which I am pleased to say I did, running a new PB on this course, beating my previous best set last year by 54 seconds."
The Cornwall AC Ladies (62 points) made it a double team success for the club, with Heidi Tregenza (4th), Jenny Almey (8th), Kathryn Burgess (11th), Karen Harrison (18th) and a much improved Jenny Evans, showing her best form for many years in 20th place.
It was good to see Truro Running Club (134 points) feature in the team prizes, led by their England Ultra Distance international Isobel Wykes, who finished fifth. The Truro Ladies deservedly claimed the runners-up prize, with the Newquay Ladies (143 points) matching the result of their Men's team in third position.
The U20 competition reached the halfway point with Sticker being the third of the five race series.
The overall race runner-up, Dan Nash, was not surprisingly the undisputed winner of the category and again two promising youngsters caught the eye, with Gareth Smith (Newquay Road Runners) finishing second and more significantly, 11th overall, followed just over a minute later by Mount's Bay Harrier Ben Hicks.
The U20 Ladies' competition has produced a different winner in each of the opening three races, suggesting the 2013 awards will probably not be settled until the final race, the Newquay 10K, in October.
At Sticker, it was the turn of Jess Behennah (East Cornwall Harriers) to claim the individual honours from GP debutant Tabitha Allen (Truro Running Club), with the Cubert winner, Caitlin Mulroy (Cornwall AC), struggling with a back injury, settling for third.
Full results, Digest page 81.