North Herts Road Runners were formally announced as champions of the Mid Week League First Division on Thursday night in front of nearly 600 runners. Having been promoted from Division two in the summer of 2017, NHRR firmly established themselves as a team to reckon with when the club finished in second place in 2018. Once the annual league rolled round once more expectations were high in the club and the push was on to finish first. This would not be an easy task though. Running 10km at race pace once a fortnight is exhausting enough without having the quality competition of Trent Park Running Club and St Albans Striders pushing hard themselves to win the league. Nonetheless, due to an outstanding team effort and some quality individual performances the North Herts Road Runners were crowned champions for the first time in their history. A remarkable achievement and one which firmly puts NHRR on the running map as a team leading the field.
The trophies were awarded after the celebratory ‘Mob Match’ where all 12 teams from Division 1 and Division 2 pounded the streets and underpasses of Welwyn Garden City. The men's team were undefeated over the four races with the 12 scoring team members finishing in the top 22 places in the final league race at Trent Park to scoop the cup with maximum points. Not to be outdone the male vets team, over 40, also claimed top spot overall. With Tom Webb taking the individual title, Mark Vaughan 1st V40, Jim McConnell 2nd V40 and Matthew Sayers 3rd V40 there was plenty to cheer about.
The women's team also ran superbly in order for the club to be crowned overall champions. They finished as runners-up to Trent Park with ladies team captain Katie Harbon leading from the front to finish 2nd in the individual title race. Astrid McKeown won the V45 category and Paula Adams was 3rd in the same category.
With success comes renewed pressure and already the club is aware of the renewed appetite of Trent Park to reclaim the trophy next year. Something coach Karen Dodsworth is more than willing to contend with.
Elsewhere the MWL was paying dividends for Kat Gourd who ran another 10k (because 4 is not enough) of her own accord at Regent’s Park establishing a new post-knee surgery personal best of 50:38 coming 20th out of 200 women. Sue Foot continued to knock out the marathons with the routine efficiency of a weekly parkrun by taking part in the ‘Roding around Marathon’ alongside Jo Summers and Andrew Porter. This was a circumnavigation of the nine noted villages named Roding in the beautiful Essex countryside of the Roding Valley. It was a self-navigated course with a written route description. The course was difficult at times with plenty of places to trip, get stung by stinging nettles and scratched by the overgrown tracks, but that didn’t stop them enjoying the very picturesque route. Both Sue and Andrew finished in 6hrs and 6 minutes whilst Jo finished in an excellent 4hrs 57 minutes but claimed, ‘I did actually finish before a lot of people who I am sure were well ahead of me at one point so I think quite a few 'diversions' were taken!’
Michelle Grudzinski put her fate in the hands of the Gods when she decided to run the Olympus Faethon Marathon. A simple little 44km race including a 3410m ascent of Mount Olympus. This firmly puts the Charlton to Preston hill into perspective. Zeus was not pleased with his home being treated in such a manner so unleashed thunderstorms and lightning in order to reduce the race distance to 30km. Lured by the thought of a soft drink and a slice of cake, Michelle managed to finish the race despite the never ending uphill nature of the course:
‘We started on the road before very quickly heading onto the mountain path... uphill... very uphill... lots of uphill... did I mention the uphill? Even in the stunning valley it was uphill... I was soon overtaken by mountain goats (aka the front runners of the half marathon) and then pretty much everyone else. It was still going uphill... the first 3 aid stations were shared by the marathon and half marathon and they were all UPHILL!!!’
Champion Squirrels! North Herts Road Runners win the Midweek League for the first time in the club’s history
Thursday saw the final race in Division 1 of the Midweek League, in which leading clubs from Hertfordshire and North London battle it out in a summer series of 10k races. North Herts Road Runners not only finished as overall winners on the night, but also sealed the league win. It was the first time the Letchworth-based club has won the first division, and was particularly impressive given the larger size of some of the league’s other clubs. Women’s team captain, Katie Harbon, said “We can’t forget that Division 1 is hard, with several strong clubs competing against each other and with every place to play for it certainly does test your strength.”
Throughout the season both the women’s and men’s NHRR teams consistently delivered leading results, right the way through to the final fixture, in which the women’s team finished second, having worked their way from third place to second throughout the four races, placing eight scoring runners between 4th position (Katie Harbon) and 46th (Rhia Botha). The men’s team won their race, as they have done in every fixture this season, placing twelve scoring runners between 3rd position (Tom Webb) and 22nd (John Rayner). “It wasn’t just the scoring teams that made us win,” said Katie Harbon, “but every single runner who put their all into each race contributed to our success.”
See below for all Thursday's results.
Saturday was the Midsummer Dawn and Dusk double First Saturday of the Month 5k. With cakes at the end and donations to the Hospice, 86 runners completed the dawn event and a 49 runners then ran at dusk. NHRR’s very own James Fox won at Dawn and whilst Matt Sayers won at Dusk.
Vanessa Rolfe had a good run at the Ware 10 mile race, despite not feeling confident following so closely to the MWL race on Thursday and a double appearance at the Dawn and Dusk. However, she did better than expected and finished in 1:53:37.
Showing off their multi-sport skills, several squirrels participated in the Hitchin Triathlon. Several more came down in support and there was many cheers from fellow squirrels on the course. Steve McKeown won the race, “fending off the youngsters” and retained his title from last year. Sofie Thrussell was third lady and Caroline Thrussell was 1st FV50. Shani Fielding throughly enjoyed completing the super sprint nitro event. Hayley Cocks also took on the challenge of Swim Bike Run for the first time and “would definitely do it again”. Adam Wilson completed the sprint distance for the first time. Afterwards Adam said that he beat his target time, but admitted he needs to work on his transitions. John Auld also competed, finishing 8th, taking 3 mins off his time from last year.
Anna Greetham and Helen Cromack had a great weekend at Love Trails Festival in The Gower. They each ran in the 5km, 13km and 9km guided trail runs taking in beautiful beaches and stunning scenery. With a relaxed vibe and food and music, they described it as a brilliant way to enjoy trail running.
Lucy Hurley went to Willingham to do the Fen Gallop 10k, and event fundraising for the local primary school. She finished in 51:40 and received a wooden medal.
Jo Summers ran marathons in the 5 day Great Barrow Challenge. She finished in 4:30 on Monday and 4:14 on Saturday.
Midweek league results;
Race Pos Cat Vet Time Name Surname Cat.
3 3 34:50 Thomas Webb S
6 6 1 1 35:36 Andrew Leach V 50
7 7 1 2 35:43 Mark Vaughan V 40
8 8 2 3 35:49 Jim McConnel V 40
10 10 35:59 Adam Bowller S
12 12 36:12 James Fox S
13 13 36:21 Nathan Pask S
15 15 4 5 36:40 Matthew Sayers V 40
18 18 36:52 Stewart Overton S
19 19 6 7 36:54 Wayne Bell V 40
21 21 8 9 37:03 Edward Price V 40
22 22 37:04 John Rayner S
29 29 37:38 Ollie Saville S
49 49 38:58 Andy Mutton* S
52 52 3 20 39:19 Nicholas Malpeli V 50
93 4 41:24 Katie Harbon S
99 95 30 36 41:36 James Keogh V 40
110 105 42:15 John Auld S
112 6 1 1 42:23 Astrid McKeown V 45
122 115 38 50 43:12 Ian Datlen V 40
127 118 40 53 43:22 Vincent Wright V 40
134 10 3 5 43:38 Paula Adams V 45
137 11 44:06 Sophie Thrussell S
138 127 16 59 44:06 Peter Sibbett V 50
155 137 45:26 Brent Lloyd S
171 22 1 14 46:49 Caroline Thrussell V 55
172 150 51 73 46:50 Andrew Underhill V 40
181 26 7 17 47:15 Helen Cairns V 45
183 157 22 77 47:27 Richard Harbon V 50
186 159 47:32 Mark Seddon S
188 28 11 19 47:42 Rachel Arnott V 35
191 162 47:56 Scott Reed S
213 177 60 91 49:33 James Drew V 40
219 179 62 93 50:04 Steve Tracey V 40
221 181 26 94 50:15 Andrew Robson V 50
231 189 67 102 50:44 Stuart Cocks V 40
240 46 51:16 Rhia Botha S
252 53 21 39 51:58 Dervla Downing V 35
258 55 52:23 Ellie Scott S
261 57 22 42 52:38 Jane Clarke V 35
262 205 52:41 Daniel Mallett S
266 61 52:53 Kat Gourd S
269 207 36 117 52:58 Johnny Spinks V 50
276 212 72 120 53:34 Harry Agius V 40
281 214 38 122 54:09 Andrew Cooper V 50
283 215 11 123 54:26 Elwyn Howell V 60
296 75 7 53 55:36 Linda Aird V 55
297 76 25 54 55:38 Lewina Agius V 35
303 80 9 58 56:17 Lucy O'Connor V 55
314 85 10 61 57:06 Jo Harbon V 55
316 87 27 63 57:10 Jennie Andrews V 35
317 230 57:13 Chris Poole S
329 235 3 141 58:06 Andrew Porter V 70
336 101 30 76 58:37 Jennie Fraser V 35
341 239 4 145 58:56 Ian Sutcliffe V 70
344 104 30 79 59:28 Sue Vaughan V 45
345 105 16 80 59:28 Karen Dodsworth V 55
361 115 35 90 1:01:17 Alison Blunt V 45
364 247 18 152 1:01:34 Geoff Murray-Rochard V 60
369 119 19 94 1:02:25 Miranda Morgan V 55
387 131 1:04:56 Gladys Cheng S
394 138 28 110 1:06:24 Vanessa Rolfe V 55
397 140 40 112 1:07:45 Lindsay Cook V 35
400 143 29 115 1:08:23 Jane Tyler V 55
406 258 21 162 1:11:34 Patrick Norris V 60
Three North Herts Road Runners went to Wrest Park in Bedfordshire for the Silsoe Stride, a 10k race over fields and farm tracks. Linda Aird, who finished 1st in her age category (55:23), said “This was a really nice local event, raising money for the local school. The course was very nice but quite challenging - rough underfoot in many places, undulating and with uneven surfaces and lots of fallen branches on the tracks, so you really had to watch your step.” Finishing just in front of Linda was Lucy O’Connor, also 1st in her age category (54:47), and 3rd home for the club was current Squirrel of the Month Lorna Chambers, in 66 minutes. All three ladies were very happy with their outing, but it may have been more than the race itself. Linda continued, “The home-made cake stall at the end was absolutely epic, as was the size of the cake slices … “
Covering the same distance, Jillian Boys took on the Run Orwell 10k. She reported “On this beautiful sunny and breezy day, the course was a wonderful off-road route which passed the wonderful Greenwich Meridian marker globe which was the theme of the finishers medal, quoting the words “everyone crosses the line”. I completed the race in 50.35 and finished 2nd lady, proudly wearing my squirrels vest!”
Stewart Overton and Nathan Pask took part in the Finsbury Park 5000’s on Friday evening. Stuart commented “Organised by London Heathside, it proved to be a good event with packed races and plenty of spectators on a sunny London evening. Races organised in time order give a good chance to run in competitive races with similar standard runners.” Stewart ran 16:36 in race 6 of 7 and Nathan ran 16:12 in the final race of the evening.
Tackling a much longer distance, Sue Foot ran the Herts Hobble on Sunday. The veteran marathon runner said “The whole route was just over 27 miles starting in Buntingford and out to Great Holmead, Little Chishill, Reed, Chipping and back to Buntingford. The terrain varied from grass trails, to stony tracks, woods and farmland. It was a complicated route, but there was plenty of food and drink at the 3 checkpoints and overall a very enjoyable event.”
As usual there were plenty of parkruns. At Westmill Glyn Blakey finished 12th in 23:23. At Stevenage there were four Squirrels. Helen Giffin was first home for the club in 31:09 followed by Gina Joseph (31:33), Pat Norris (34:29) and Ruth Hicks (35:56). At Wimpole Estate Jillian Boys finished 6th lady in 25:23, while Angeliki Shearstone-Strathopoulou finished 5th lady in 24:23 at Ellenbrook Fields. Brian Judkins completed Castle Parkrun in Bishops Stortford in 37:09. At Letchworth parkrun there were 8 Squirrels. James Dalton was first home for the club in 22:19, followed by Ian Datlen (22:23), Rhia Botha (25:03), Daniel Mallett (25:16), Jegan Simon (26:46), Steve Brenton (27:07), Jennie Fraser (29:06) and Paul Bowal (29:33). Finally, and much further afield, Naomi Parkinson travelled to Hamburg, where she finished the Alstervorland parkrun as 3rd lady (24:25).
Sixty two hardy Squirrels battled the M25, road closures and rush hour traffic to defend their lead in the 3rd round of the Midweek League in Epping Forest. Their efforts were not in vain. Stewart Overton describing the ‘First Class’ commitment of club members commented “the men’s team have won all 3 rounds and currently hold maximum points going into the last round. Seeing 8 squirrels in the top 13 showed how dominant we have been at the sharp end with Tom Webb taking a well deserved win.” All eyes are now on the fourth and final race at Trent Park next week.
The Road Runners were out in force to take on the Hitchin Hard Half on Sunday. Linda Aird speaking after the race said she was very pleased to finish in 1:58:55 – “my best time on this course and first time I've run it in under 2 hours since then as well! I always enjoy this one, despite the challenging hills, and it is often quite warm - today was no exception”. Hitchin Hard Half results: Natalie Lawrence 1:27:13 Brent Lloyd 1:38:32 James Dalton 1:42:22 Chris Stokes 1:46:37 Caroline Thrussell 1:46:49 Rachel Arnott 01:49:28 Dan Martin 1:51:36 Steven Peel 1:58:34 Linda Aird 1:58:55 Adam Wilson 1:59:17 Lucy O'Connor 2:02:56 Alice Noakes 2:12:33 Alan Hazlehurst 2:16:57 Vanessa Rolfe 2:34:10
Hitchin Hard 10K results: Helen Cromack 1:09:49 Anna Greetham 1:09:52
Despite racing success during the week, less than 48 hours later, 20 club runners took part in the annual Greensands Ridge Relay Event consisting of 46 teams of 6 runners competing over 35 miles. The first of the NHRR teams narrowly missed first place by just 35 seconds. Team Member Alan Hazelhurst blamed his slower than anticipated time on the hot conditions, hills, a detour and his inability to run in straight lines!
Six squirrels travelled down the A1M to compete in the Welwyn 10K. The hills, including one at the end named ‘The Stinger’ did not prove a problem for Nick Malpeli who was 2nd V50 (Veteran, 50 or over runner) in both the main race and in the County Championships and to Andrew Porter 3rd V70 in both! Kat Gourd enjoyed the scenic course, despite the hills, and as the only female Road Runner was delighted to take the place of first lady home for the club in 0:52:24. David Weston struggled with the hills, lacking energy and dehydrated, but “drew on the power of his inner squirrel” for a strong finish in 0:43:53. Other finishers included;Christian ALLEN 0:50:17 Christopher POOLE 0:51:21 Ian SUTCLIFFE 1:00:09.
John Auld was pleased to finish 5th in the 4.6 mile Silkestone Shuffle, tackling high grass and stiles along the way and attributed his return to running fitness to his training partners and coaches at North Herts Road Runners.
The North Herts Road Runners’ Parkrun results for Saturday 22nd June: Letchworth – James DALTON 21:35 Glyn BLAKEY 23:10 Katherine GOURD 25:29 Damon CLEVELLY 25:43 Jillian BOYS 25:58 Jegan SIMON 26:05 Dave Braybrook 27:00 Jennie FRASER 27:11 Philip Flack 29:28 Carl GOODRUM 32:17
Stevenage –Dervla DOWNING 22:36 Mike MORALEE 27:38 Helen GIFFIN 31:28 Patrick NORRIS 35:24 Jane CLARKE 36:23 Ruth HICKS 36:40
Holkham – Matthew SAYERS 18:03
Marston Vale – Chris POOLE 24:09
Conkers -Naomi PARKINSON 24:11
Ruimsig, South Africa - Rhiannon BOTHA 24:01
Sunday saw North Herts Road Runners organising Letchworth’s Run Round the Garden - three running events in one day in the world’s first garden city: a 5k race, a 1-mile race & a free-to-enter kids' fun run. The sun shone in patches across the centre of the town as 500 runners took to the tree-lined streets for the 5K and 1 mile races. In the 5K men’s race NHRR’s Tom Webb stormed to victory with an impressive 16:10. In 2nd place, in a time of 16:53 was James Fox (Reading AC) and in 3rd place Dan McAlpine (Fairlands Valley Spartans) in 17:15. For the ladies Rebecca Newstead (Bedford and County) won the race (17:43), followed by two Bedford Harriers runners, Kirstie Sharman (18:55) and Stephanie MacLeod (20:49). In the men’s mile race James Fox was first in 4:53, followed by NHRR’s Ed price (4:56) and Hitchin Running Club’s Stuart Hansell (4”57). In the ladies’ mile race, Kirstie Sharman won in 5:47. In 2nd place was Bedford and County’s Maddison Webb (5:56) and in 3rd was Stevenage and North Herts AC’s Imogen Rose in 6:23.
Other finishers for the Squirrels were Lee Hayes (19:05), David Weston, who set an unexpected PB of 19:07. Dave said “I hadn’t prepared much due to a change in job limiting the amount of running and training I could do. However, I decided to go out hard and see if I could maintain the pace. It was a fast race and everyone had the same thought when the rain came down and we were all tip toeing round the 180 turns. Having the last KM downhill allowed for a final push and I was happy to knock 10 seconds off my PB and 26 seconds off this course from last year finishing in 19:06. Great support all the way round and a great race as always from the amazing team at NHRR”, Adrian Sherwood (19:39), Brent Lloyd (19:57), Ian Datlen (20:10), James Dalton (20:11), Stuart Cocks (21:14), Helen Nuttall (21:38), Liam Jones (21:43), Chrstian Allen (22:16), Andrew Robson (22:36), Andrew Coates (22:56), Chris Poole (22:57), Lucy O’Connor (23:41), Harry Agius (24:26), Andrew Cooper (24:32), Angeliki Shearstone-Stathopoulou (24:44), Alice Noakes (24:49), Linda Aird (25:13), Dave Braybrook (25:30), Alan Hazlehurst (25:35), Sue Vaughan (26:08), Mike Jones (26:32), Sherryl Chatfield (27:05), Elwyn Howell (27:09), Gladys Cheng (27:38), Jeanette Everitt (27:54), Philip Flack (27:58), Andrew Porter (28:01), Mike Hennessy (29:01), Helen Marson-Smith (a PB of 29:16), Hailey Batson also ran a PB. She said “I didn't expect much from myself as I haven't been training as much recently but got a new PB of 28.57. It was a lovely event, well organised and with great support!“. Helen Wilson (29:19), Natalie Williams (29:07 ,a new PB, and her first sub-30 minute 5k race), Naomi Parkinson (30:15), Joy Stroud (32:09), Hayley Cocks, 32:27 knocked 6 minutes off her time from last year and loved the support from her family, Shani Fielding (32:51), Glyn Blakey (33:05), Davinder Shekhon (33:44).
In the mile race, other Squirrel finishers were John Rayner (5:02), Stuart Cocks (5:56), Chrstian Allen (6:18), James Dalton (6:39), Chris Poole (6:46), Andrew Robson (6:57), Naomi Parkinson (6:57), Alice Noakes (7:13), Geoff Murray-Rochard (7:16), Harry Agius (7:23), Alan Hazlehurst (7:52), Helen Nuttall (8:05), Natalie Williams (8:54), Elwyn Howell (9:37), Gladys Cheng (10:29) and, on her return to running after a 9 month injury break, Sheila Leavy (13:59).
Three squirrels trekked over to North Wale to run the Coed-y-Brenin trail half marathon. Caroline Thrussell said “The race was everything I love about running. A great atmosphere and really well organised. After recent racing I went at a fairly relaxed pace. It was a challenging route through the forest park with muddy ups that meant one step forward and one slide back, rocky downs where your body goes too fast for your legs and you're not sure where your feet are landing. Lovely friends to support and stunning scenery.” Caroline was first V50 lady, finishing in 2:11. Adam Wilson finished in 2:29 and Paul Bowal in 2:45.
Pat Norris ran the Suffolk Trail Festival 24hr ultra over two days (Saturday and Sunday). Pat said “I managed to get my nutrition right this time but I got caught by not having the right clothing for the drop in temperature overnight and had to stop between 3.30 and 4.30 to wait for sun up before I carried on. The course was mostly on grass trail, which managed to wreck my right calf which eventually slowed me down.” Pat said he found running at night “quite different but rather relaxing” though he now has a lot of sleep to catch up on.
Quite a different experience running in the night but rather relaxing (just have to make up for the loss of sleep now). Talking about ultras he said “an ultra is all about one’s personal battle with the distance and terrain. There were teams entered for the event but I finished as a solo runner far from last place. I managed to complete 10 of the 20, 5-mile loops, giving me a 50-mile total in 22 hours. I was actually aiming for 60 miles but my leg prevented this (last year’s winner managed 85 miles) , but I'm still very happy with my result although my toes have never looked so bad as they are at the moment!”
Stewart Overton led the field at a very muddy the Letchworth Parkrun on Saturday, finishing 1st in 18:25. Oliver Brady was 3rd in 19:50. Other finishers for the Squirrels were James Dalton (21:27), Chris Stokes (24:40) Jennie Fraser (a course PB of 24:46), Ian Datlen (24:46), Ellie Scott (26:28), Carl Goodrum (29:09), Naomi Parkinson (30:56), Carol Goodrum (37:06). In other parkruns, Chris Poole ran Ellen Brook Fields in 24:42. At Wimpole Estate Vince Wright finished in 22:16, Jillian Boys in 25:24. Glyn Blakey ran Tees Barrage in 30:32. Helen Giffin ran Stevenage in 31:20. Brian Judkins ran Cambridge in 36:40 and Jane Clarke ran Moors Valley in 23:20.
‘Rain, wind and cold’ plus 44 stiles in the first half of the race alone were just a few of the challenges overcome by Jo Summers on her way to winning the Farthingstone Foot Fest off-road marathon in Northamptonshire on Saturday.
The North Herts Road Runners member and long-distance specialist said she ‘was so cold that I did consider stopping’ at the half-way checkpoint, but ‘knowing how cross I would be with myself I set off again before I could change my mind’.
Summers exchanged places with another runner twice in the last three miles, but her customary strong finish saw her hold the lead all the way to the line, where she recorded a time of 5 hours and 40 seconds.
Much warmer conditions on Sunday meant ice lollies were the well-deserved reward for Ali Mottram and Helen Govey after a ‘hot and hilly’ St Albans Half-marathon.
The two North Herts Road Runners athletes were both delighted with their finishing times, in Mottram’s case because her 2.32.37 clocking was a new personal best and in Govey’s because it was the first time she had run more than seven miles since being laid low by ‘a nasty virus’ at the end of February.
Reflecting on her result, Govey said ‘considering the circumstances I am pleased with it. Not every run is a race and today I learnt that not every race is a race either. Sometimes it is so much more than that.’
Vanessa Rolfe also tackled the 13.1 mile distance in the Jersey Half-marathon and said she would ‘definitely recommend the lovely course’ and the liquid refreshments and food at the finish. She celebrated her 2.25.39 finish with ‘white wine and tuna sandwiches’ courtesy of the race organisers.
Despite blisters from new insoles, Lorna Chambers said she was ‘glad to take part’ in the Milton Keynes Race for Life 10k. She ‘limped home’ in 1.03.36.
North Herts had three finishers in the top ten at Letchworth Parkrun, with Stewart Overton first across the line in 18.31, Matt Sayers fourth in 19.09 and Oliver Brady seventh in 19.30. Other NHRR finishers at Letchworth were Ian Datlen (21.41), James Dalton (21.58), Alex Jegan (27.17), Philip Flack (29.33), Steve Brenton (29.51) and Glyn Blakey (35.01).
Nick Malpeli led a four-strong contingent of Squirrels home at Stevenage Parkrun with a time of 19.12, followed by Dervla Downing (22.57), Jane Clarke (31.26) and Pat Norris (33.24).
Other NHRR Parkrunners were Chris Poole at Walthamstow (24.27), Peter Clarke at Ellenbrook Fields (18.10), Darren Matussa at Roding Valley (19.13) and Naomi Parkinson at Forest of Marston Vale (24.26).
“Such a stunning course with fun and friendly marshals, and plenty of countryside,” was Naomi Parkinson’s verdict of the inaugural Great Hertfordshire AONB Marathon which started at Offley. Naomi was pleased to finish the challenging course as 6th lady in 4:51.30. “From a runner’s perspective it was really enjoyable and well organised,” said Naomi. “I’d definitely recommend it for next year!” Also running the marathon was Alan Hazlehurst, who said: “I'm going to claim that it was looking at the views and watching the magnificent red kites that made me finish in 5:39:17.” Naomi and Alan were joined in the marathon by Sue Foot (5.25.32), Miranda Morgan (5.36.16) and Niccolo Bassani, who finished 10th overall in 04:04:34.
They weren’t the only Squirrels to take part in one of the event’s three races. Adam Wilson ran in the half marathon. “I think this could become a regular,” said Adam, who was delighted to finish his first attempt at a trail half marathon in 2.12.33. Jillian Boys and her running buddy Lulu (a choccy labrador) completed the half marathon in 2:11 and thoroughly enjoyed the “beautiful course and amazing atmosphere”.
Hailey Batson ran the 10km race in 1:08, citing the heat and the hills as reasons why it was one of the hardest races she had done in a while. Elwyn Howell also ran the 10km race, and finished in 58:28, coming first in in 60+ age category and 36th overall. Elwyn’s result was particularly impressive as he had also run the Stevenage parkrun the day before, finishing in 26:18.
Jillian Boys had also taken part in the Vitality London 10,000m on Monday 27 May in a time of 47.52. Before the race started it was perfect running conditions,” said Jillian, “not too warm and with a nice cool breeze. But whilst we were all waiting to start in our wave pens the clouds parted and the sun came out and it was suddenly very warm! Not quite a PB, but was 2 mins quicker than last year so I was pleased with that!”
This week’s parkrun results:
Tamar Trails parkrun: 25 Steve BRENTON 00:24:15
Stevenage parkrun: 49 Jillian BOYS 00:23:51; 109 Elwyn HOWELL 00:26:24; 124 Mike MORALEE 00:26:57; 286 Hayley COCKS 00:33:22
Wimpole Estate parkrun: 99 Naomi PARKINSON 00:25:18
Delamere parkrun: 9 Nick MALPELI 00:19:21
Brandon Country Park parkrun: 68 Sam BARRY 00:29:46
Ellenbrook Fields parkrun: 9 9 Ian DATLEN 00:19:39
Letchworth parkrun: 28 Glyn BLAKEY 00:24:36; 32 Jegan SIMON 00:25:10; 39 Angeliki SHEARSTONE STATHOPOULOU 00:25:51
There were a number of significant sporting achievements for North Herts Road Runners this week with one squirrel donning an England Masters Vest. These vests are awarded to athletes who compete and achieve a qualifying time at a number of qualifying races. They are difficult to earn and a huge honour to wear. The honour this week went to Linda Aird who qualified for the Female over 60 category England vest at a qualifying race in December. The race Linda qualified for was the Simply Health Birmingham Great 10k.
Linda remarked, ‘Although I'd trained quite well for this over the last few weeks, on the day there wasn't much glory for my lovely new England vest as I've struggled with a cold, cough and being generally unwell for the last few days. I knew I wouldn't be able to achieve the result I'd hoped for, but I gave it my best shot anyway.’ Linda headed out ahead of the mass start with the other Masters athletes but due to her ill health soon dropped off the pace. However, Linda still finished in an excellent 52:48 and can be proud of her achievement and vest.
Sophie Thrussell and Caroline Thrussell both trained hard over the past months targeting Edinburgh Marathon. Both suffered setbacks along the way with injuries and illness but with the support of one another and their clubmates they both arrived on the start line ready to race. The weather on the other hand had different ideas. Having been warned of ‘Adverse’ weather conditions the Thrussells turned up wearing the not so uncommon sight of dustbin liners and braced themselves as the rain blew sideways and the wind whipped round them. However, after 5 gentle downhill miles the sun came out as they hit the coast. It was at mile 18 that Caroline started to struggle, ‘That was the low point for me - slightly undulating, relentless head wind and oh so tired legs’. At mile 24 Caroline was passed by her niece who powered on to finish in 3:32:40 - a remarkable achievement for her marathon debut. Caroline finished just behind Sophie in 3:33:58 and had her struggles rewarded with not only a 13 minute PB but also becoming the new owner of the Club Female Vet 55 age category. In fact Caroline was the 3rd FV55 in the marathon.
During the week no less than 83 club members turned out to run in the first midweek league 10km race of the summer along with many supporters. The race hosted by St Albans Striders was a fast one and everyone set out hard and fast. The straight flat course can be a struggle at times but everyone’s superb efforts resulted in the club taking first place in the men’s category, third place in the women’s category with the same results in the Vet category resulting in NHRR holding second place after the first race. Tom Webb finished first for the club in a speedy 33:46 with Patrick Norris bringing in the rear in a superb time of 1:12.
The weekend was rounded off nicely for Ed Price who took part in the Vitality Westminster Mile running in the British Masters Championships Wave finishing in a rapid 4:51. Ed said, ‘ It was a strong field of vets, along a scenic course, with loads of support from start to finish. Great to take part in an event that celebrates the iconic mile, definitely recommended!’
Squirrels were out in force this weekend competing for England places in Devon, tackling mountains in Snowdonia, battling heat in Finland and scampering around neighbouring Hitchin.
Mark Vaughan and Jim McConnel travelled down to Plymouth this weekend for the Ocean City Half Marathon. This race was an opportunity to qualify for an England Masters vest, with runners being selected to run for England. Vaughan commented “Plymouth is not known for being flat and so the race proved to be a bit of a rollercoaster ride, but an early start meant the conditions were favourable, with things warming up towards the finish.” Vaughan finished 6th, 1st Male Vet (MV) 45 in 1:14:07 and McConnel 10th, 2nd MV45, 1:15:29 putting them both in line for England selection.
Thirteen Squirrels scampered over to the Hitchin Hares’ 10km to take on the mostly flat course in great race conditions and six of them walked away with Personal Bests (PBs) for the distance! Niccolo Bassani was first home for the club in 41:43 with his best time in nearly 6 years, closely followed by Stuart Cocks (43:30 PB) and Andrew Underhill (43:38 PB). Harry and Lewina Agius ( 50:29 and 53:19 respectively) were “astonished to hit new PBs – the great training from the club has certainly helped”. Helen Marson-Smith secured a PB of 1:03:12 and Hayley Cocks took 8 minutes off her previous time for the distance, finishing in 1:04:29.
Others competing were as follows; James Drew (46:45), John Russell (47:41), Adam Wilson (50:03), Lucy O’Connor (50:46), Matt Ankers (52:42), Jo Kenlin (1:14:58).
Jennie Fraser journeyed to Helsinki to attempt a personal best marathon time. Frustratingly, an unseasonal heat wave scuppered Fraser’s chances of a PB. She pushed through, despite extreme sickness, to get her medal and still enjoyed running in her favourite country with the “fabulously Finnish support”.
Jo, Helen and Katie Harbon travelled to Snowdonia to compete one of the toughest half marathon routes in the UK. Katie was 4th lady and Jo and Helen completed the course in an impressive 2:10:00
Three of the club’s female veteran Squirrels journeyed to the Midlands to compete in the British Masters Athletic Federation road relays at Sutton Park. Lucy O'Connor ran the first leg in 24:51, Linda Aird, who described the course as “an undulating 5k around the park”, ran leg 2 in 26:04 and Karen Dodsworth completed the team results with 27:18. The team maintained their 8th place position throughout the whole race despite fierce competition.
Sue Foot completed the Guernsey Ultra 36 in an incredible 8:35:00 despite the first 16 miles being cliff paths with every uphill and downhill involving steps. Foot said “the second 20 mile section was on the coastal path and was slightly undulating but straight forward and I managed to do this section faster than the first”.
On Saturday Jillian Boys took on the gruelling Paras 10 in Colchester with her (canine) running buddy Lulu – an undulating 10 mile course that included river crossings, trudging through swamps and running through military display gunfire and smoke grenades. Speaking after the race Boys said “It was so much fun and Lulu was in her element the entire way. We finished in a very respectable 1:22:00 and we had a fantastic time!”
Viv and Lindsey Lucas and Jo Sopala all completed the Wimpole 10km Hoohah race. Lindsey commended the lovely route, said they were all pleased with their times and enjoyed the home made flapjack at the finish! Viv Lucas 51:55 Jo Sopala 1:12:59 Lindsey Lucas 1:13:43
The North Herts Road Runners’ parkrun results for Saturday 18th May: Letchworth parkrun Stewart OVERTON 18:16 Oliver BRADY 19:19 Ian DATLEN 00:21:03 James DALTON 00:21:25 Eva MCCABE 23:59 Rhiannon BOTHA 24:26 Ellie SCOTT 25:07 Glyn BLAKEY 25:53 Carl GOODRUM 28:51 Natalie WILLIAMS 30:29 Helen CROMACK 33:10 Panshanger parkrun Angeliki SHEARSTONE STATHOPOULOU 25:58 Stevenage parkrun Matt ANKERS 24:23 Philip FLACK 26:59 Patrick NORRIS 34:12
Wimpole Estate parkrun Vincent WRIGHT 22:52 Pont y Bala parkrun Chris POOLE 23:27
NHRR's very own Greenway challenge was on Sunday and race director Karen Dodsworth proclaimed afterwards “as always, its was an amazing team effort and I was blessed with so much awesome support”. The greenway is home to many black squirrels and 25 NHRR squirrels raced round the self guided event in the sunshine.
For Lorna Chambers this was her first half marathon. Afterwards she reflected that she has come from “a wheezing asthmatic on the couch to a half marathon inside a year and a half”. Also running their first half marathon, “in a time way better than they'd hoped for” was Harry and Lewina Agius. Afterwards they described the race as a tough course, but had amazing encouragement from all the marshals, public, and other runners really helped spur them both on.
On Bank holiday Monday, John Rayner ran the Breckland 10km in Norfolk. Realising in the last quarter of a mile that he was on for a personal best, John thought back to his training and treated the last 400m as a lap of the track. John was “overjoyed” to finish in 5th place with a time of 35:10.
Vanessa Rolfe made her annual pilgrimage up north to run in her home town at the Leeds half marathon. Vanessa said afterwards that the course doesn't get any flatter and this year was under very hot conditions. She finished in 2:25:56.
On a “beautiful day to run a marathon”, Jo Summers ran her favourite course at Halstead in Essex. She described it as one of the prettiest and best organised runs she's ever done. Jo was very pleased to finish in 3:52 considering recent training.
Also on Bank holiday Monday, several members of the Harbon clang ran at the Kimpton 9.5km. They described it as a lovely run with great community spirit. Katie was first home in 38:44. Followed by Richard in 40:40. Matt Ankers finished in 48:24 followed by Jo Harbon in 49:41.
Paula Holm made her debut at Triathlon in the sprint distance HSV Triathlon in Hatfield. Recovering from a car crash in the Autumn, Paula Holm decided that this was an opportunity to move outside of her comfort zone and take on a new challenge. Delighted afterwards, Paula summed up the experience by saying “I survived the swim, enjoyed the bike and surprisingly felt comfortable on the pretty run”. She was also overjoyed to beat her target time of sub 1:25:00 by getting 1:14:41.
Greenway Challenge NHRR results are as follows: Dan Martin (1:32:45), Lee Hayes (1:32:46), James Keogh (1:33:17), Chris Stokes (1:34:03), Ian Datlen (1:34:31), James Datlan (1:36:40), Caroline Thrussell (1:37:47), Brent Lloyd (1:40:48), Stuart Cocks (1:42:46), Dervla Downing (1:44:24), Steven Peel (1:46:05), Andrew Underhill (1:46:55), Liam Jones (1:48:57), Steve Brenton (1:49:10), Katherine Gourd (1:54:12), Jillian Boys (1:54:33), Matt Ankers (1:56:02), Lucy O'Connor (1:57:35), Richard Weber (1:57:40), Harry Agius (1:58:43), Lewina Agius (2:05:12), Allison Blunt (2:08:15), Lorna Chambers (2:17:24), Naomi Parkinson (2:20:27), Hayley Cocks (2:35:09)
Completing Parkruns this week, NHRR squirrels appeared at:
St Albans: Chris Poole (23:38)
Bedford: Rachel Annetts (27:16)
Milton Keynes: Naomi Parkinson (24:27)
Stevenage: Dave Braybrook (25:38), Jane Clarke (27:50), Patrick Norris (34:33)
Dulwich: Georgina Quayle (26:29)
Wimpole: Katherine Gourd (26:26), Brian Judkins (35:57)
Bideford: Brian Bailey (27:40)
Letchworth: Oliver Brady (19:18), Steve McKeown (19:50), Ian Datlen (24:31), Jillian Boys (24:53), Jennie Fraser (25:51), Jegan Simon (26:12), Rhia Botha (26:51), Steve Brenton (27:35), Glyn Blakey (28:44), Philip Flack (28:58), Carl Goodrum (31:07), Carol Goodrum (35:40)
Great Denham: Richard Harbon (20:02), Lindsay Cook (28:36)
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