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Captain's Log: Will Pearce, CLC Striders men's section

All Areas > Sport > Running

Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Sunday, 26th June 2022, 09:00

Will Pearce of CLC Striders in the Manchester Marathon Will Pearce of CLC Striders in the Manchester Marathon

As a keen Nottingham Forest fan, Will Pearce knows that the football season is a marathon, not a sprint.

And marathons are something the men’s captain of Cheltenham running club CLC Striders knows plenty about because he is very much a marathon runner, not a sprinter.

The soon-to-be 41-year-old has run 12 races over the 26.2-mile distance and will soon step up his training for this year’s London Marathon on Sunday 2nd October.

That will be his fifth London and he’s targeting a sub two-hour, 50 time which would give him a new course and distance PB.

“I’m a marathon guy,” he told The Local Answer. “I love the process of marathon training over a number of months, the high mileage. It’s my favourite distance, I still feel as though I’ve got a faster marathon time in me.”

The married dad-of-two spent much of his early life in the East Midlands before moving to this part of the world from London eight years ago – he lives in Leckhampton – and he has certainly never looked back since settling in glorious Gloucestershire.

He runs his own recruitment company with his wife Jen and joining CLC Striders, the well-run club based at Cheltenham Ladies’ College, has given him the opportunity to make new friends and continue his enjoyment of all things running.

“I used to play hockey when I was at university in Cardiff but when I was in London I started running because it was more flexible in terms of when I could do it,” he said.

“Running for me is a switch-off. I was a member of East London Runners for four years, they were a marathon-based club.”

No surprise there, then, and as well as the London, he has also run marathons in Berlin, Snowdonia, Luton, Goodwood and Manchester.

He ran the Manchester Marathon earlier this year, a race that gave him particular satisfaction.

“I’d had Covid a couple of weeks before so I wasn’t expecting too much,” he explained. “But conditions were perfect and I ran two hours, 54. I actually managed to run a negative split, I ran the second half of the race seven seconds faster than the first half.

“What made it so special was that from 15 miles to the end there was a group of eight of us together. We didn’t know each other but we all took turns to set the pace.

“That was such a buzz, that’s why I like marathons so much.”

And Pearce has another fond memory of that day in Manchester.

“It was great to share the experience with fellow Strider Oliver Watkins,” he said. “He had a brilliant run himself, breaking the club V40 marathon record in a new PB time of two hours, 42 minutes.”

Pearce’s best marathon time is two hours, 50 set around Goodwood motor circuit in between lockdowns in December 2020, and his best London time is two hours, 59.

His first race over 26.2 miles was in Luton and Pearce said with a laugh: “That was quite depressing, there are nicer places to run a marathon!”

Pearce is extremely easy to talk to and it’s not difficult to see why he’s men’s captain at CLC Striders, a club that is very close to his heart.

He is good friends with Brendan Ward, the former Cheltenham Harrier and one-time Northern Ireland cross-country runner who founded the club back in 2008.

“He’s still our head coach and a very respected figure around the club,"  said Pearce.

“The good thing about Striders is that we are an inclusive and a competitive running club. We’ve got 100-plus members and they are very diverse in terms of ability.

“We’ve got some very good runners like Rob Green who joined us recently. He won the Fission Half Marathon earlier this year in one hour, 11 and in the club’s Staverton 10-mile race he finished second in 53 minutes, 56 which was the fastest in the V40 age group in the country.

“But while we’ve got some elite level runners we’ve also got a very family supportive feel.”

And that all-for-one and one-for-all spirit manifests itself clearly during the cross-country season with Pearce, as you’d expect, right at the forefront.

“We take the Birmingham Cross-Country League very seriously because you can be relegated,” he said. “Running is quite individual but in cross-country it is all about the team, I love the camaraderie.

“There are four fixtures and last season was particularly exciting because we went into the last fixture in the relegation zone.

“But we fielded our strongest side and with Brendan screaming us on we had our best result of the season and went on to finish seventh in Division Two, our joint highest finish.

“This season could be just as good because Cheltenham Harriers have been relegated to Division Two while Western Tempo have been promoted from Division Three.”

Pearce admits that cross-country is not his strength – the club also compete in the Gloucestershire Cross-Country League – but he is more than happy to do his bit.

And he is certainly more than happy talking about CLC Striders, whether it be the excellent work of qualified coaches Joel Freeland, Amelia Mullins, Martin Bick and Matt Ashman or the thriving ladies’ squad, a squad that includes Liza Bradshaw who competed in the Elite field at the Great North Run last year.

Above all, it’s Pearce’s passion for running that shines through, a passion he showed when he ran a virtual marathon during lockdown.

“It was when we were living in Benhall,” he said. “I did 42 kilometre laps of Farmington Road and Campden Road, my kids supported as I went past our house and brought me out water.

“Brendan and my friend and club talisman Will Ferguson came to watch for a while and support from a distance! I think I did it in two hours, 55.”

Pearce’s children are eight-year-old Winston and recently-turned five-year-old Robin, with Robin in particular showing a keen interest in running.

And if it’s a sport he decides to pursue as he grows older, it’s a fair guess which club he’ll end up joining. It’s also fair to assume that his dad will still be running for the club!

Other Images

The CLC Striders men’s cross-country squad for the final Birmingham League fixture of last season at Redditch. Brendan Ward is pictured at the front in the middle with the hat, Will Pearce is on the right and Joel Freeland on the left

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