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)
In his 1st race back after injury, Andrew Leach finished 4th in the Grand East Anglian Run 10K, smashing the previous club V55 record set in 2003 by Derek Myall. Myall's record was 39.17 but Andrew ran an incredible 33.41 to break the record by 5 mins 36 seconds!
5 members of North Herts Road Runners travelled to the race, looking for some quick times before the RunHerts midweek league kicks off later in May. It was a flat course, with a few twists and turns as it snakes in and around the beautiful town of Kings Lynn. Mark Vaughan, one of the other NHRR runners said, “It was bitterly cold before the start, and a bit windy, but once we got going things warmed up. Conditions were perfect until about the 7K point where there was a strong headwind which slowed things down a bit, and then again just before the finish.” All 5 Squirrels had great runs: Andrew Leach 4th (33:41); Mark Vaughan 8th (34:05); Pete Sibbett 65th (39:42) (including toilet stop, which cost him over a minute!); Sue Vaughan 931st (53:39); Karen Dodsworth 980th (54:28). Mark continued “This is a great, well organised race with around 3000 runners, with some faster guys at the front end to provide some good racing and Kings Lynn is quite a nice place for a post-race shopping spree - what's not to like!”
At the 5k distance, Hayley Cocks continued her impressive form, running at the First Saturday of the Month at 9am on Norton Common in Letchworth. Turning up dressed for summer in a vest and star-spangled leggings, Hayley was taken aback by the bitter cold wind. She said, “I started off and felt pretty slow, but actually I wasn’t! I overtook about 5 people on the second hill of the first lap, which felt awesome. Training on that very hill on Tuesday had helped!” She managed to settle in after a tough 1.5 km and finished strongly, clocking up a new 30-second PB of 31.43. Hayley was elated. “Maybe the new running leggings helped!?”
Andy and Michelle Grudzinski entered two trail events on consecutive days. On Saturday they travelled to mid-Wales where they competed in the Red Kite Challenge. Michelle quipped, “As is usual for a Welsh race it started uphill, finished uphill and was longer than 13.1 miles. However, it was also stunning, beautiful and contained insane uphill sections! We both loved the event save for the strange part where we had already clocked over 13.1 miles and were then sent up and down a hill rather than to the finish line.” They finished the race in 2:49. On Sunday they headed to Winchcombe in the Cotswolds for the Winchcombe cross. Michelle continued, “Andy was doing very well but it soon turned into another photo running adventure with an ice lolly stop. We decided to stop at 13.2 miles and hit the cake shop!”
Clare Hooley and James Keogh were away visiting family over the bank holiday and of course that meant taking on the local parkrun (Lyme Park). Clare said “This is in fact one of the hilliest courses in the country and to boot the surface isn’t the easiest with uneven cobble tracks, woods and bogs. The positive is that you see all the major sights of the country park and have great views over Manchester.” James finished in 21:01 and was slightly disconcerted by the herd of red deer, “definitely more imposing than the deer you get in Norton Common!”. Clare continued, “The weather can have a huge effect on the course; last time it was winter and we ran round together and a very helpful marshal warned us of a slippy bog up ahead, only for me to go sploosh a few seconds later. This time the marshals warned us not to worry about the highland cattle - they were very friendly really and if they got too close they would move them on!” Clare finished in 39:04, 10 mins faster she had done it before.
On a day that will be long-remembered by the North Herts Road Runners, the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon saw no fewer than 16 Squirrels taking part, eight of whom completed the race in under three hours, helping to raise thousands of pounds for charity.
First home for the club was Adam Bowller, who saw the culmination of months of hard training come to fruition and produced an incredible performance to finish the race in 2:32:57 - the fastest time a North Herts Road Runner has ever run a marathon, beating a record which has stood since Paul Pearce, a GB paralympian, ran 2:34:34 in 2005.
Having taken the club record, an emotional Adam described himself as “humbled and honoured” and was quick to congratulate his teammates, many of whom also gained PBs. These included Darren Sunter, who finished second for the club in 2:39:09 and was eager to acknowledge the cheers he received from members of NHRR as well as other local running clubs. “Apart from seeing all the fabulous Squirrels on the course, all the running community from different clubs in Herts were all amazing and it was great to hear their support.”
Another runner to come away with a PB on the day was Matt Sayers (2:41:18), who raised money for the local charity TRACKS Autism. “They have been a great support to my family and do amazing work with young children with autism,” said Matt. “I’m pleased with all the donations - every pound makes a real difference to keeping TRACKS going.” Matt wasn’t the only runner from North Herts to raise money for TRACKS. Niccolo Bassani, who was the recipient of a club place in the marathon, also raised money for the Stevenage-based charity. Niccolo had run the Brighton marathon only two weeks before, and was pleased to finish at London in an almost identical time of 3:29:50.
Still more Squirrels finished the grueling 26-mile distance in under three hours. Nathan Pask was the club’s fourth finisher in 2:41:21. Not far behind was Rob Harris, whose time of 2:44:10 was also a personal best. After the race, he said, “I got to 30km and told myself it was time to properly knuckle down. I cramped up at Embankment and the Mall, as usual, but finished with an 11-second PB and a negative split (faster second half) overall.” Guy Jones ran 2:52:46, followed closely by Nick Malpeli (2:53:44) and Stewart
Overton, who ran a PB of 2:54:40.
There were plenty more successful races (and PBs) for the Squirrels, including Vince Wright (3:27:01), Hailey Batson, who finished close to her target time and was delighted to have doubled her initial sponsorship target for the mental health charity Mind. There was even another club record, as Andrew Porter got the club's over-70 marathon record. After the race, he said: “What an amazing day, the atmosphere, the encouragement from the crowds all helped me to keep going and achieving a time of 4 hours 49.”
Here’s the full list of Squirrels who ran the Virgin Money London Marathon, and their finishing times:
Bowller, Adam 2:32:57
Sunter, Darren 2:39:09
Sayers, Matthew 2:41:18
Pask, Nathan 2:41:21
Harris, Robert 2:44:10
Jones, Guy 2:52:46
Malpeli, Nick 2:53:44
Overton, Stewart 2:54:40
Wright, Vincent 3:27:01
Bassani, Niccolo 3:29:50
Sherwood, Adrian 3:43:35
Barry, Sam 3:57:56
Harding, Laura 4:10:16
Allen, Christian 4:45:26
Porter, Andrew 4:49:54
Batson, Hailey 4:55:02
London wasn’t the only major city to host a marathon at the weekend. Sue Foot ran the Düsseldorf Marathon. Although there were slightly fewer runners than at the London Marathon (around 5000), Sue enjoyed the route, which took the runners twice over the River Rhine. “I finished in 4.13.16,” said Sue. “This was my 21st road marathon and am now at 130 in total!”
In other news, Kat Gourd ran the Runthrough “Chase the Sun” Hyde Park 10k on Wednesday evening. “It was a bit repetitive,” said Kat, “but weather conditions were good and I got a new post-knee surgery PB of 51:41.”
David Annetts competed at the RWA National 10k Race Walking Championship at Warwick University. He finished 4th overall (3rd in the Senior men's race) in a time of 49:56, and said: “I’m happy to get a medal and a time just under 50 mins.”
The North Herts Road Runners’ parkrun results for Saturday 27th April:
Letchworth parkrun 7 Ian DATLEN 00:21:21 9 James DALTON 00:21:44 41 Katherine GOURD 00:26:07 46 Jennie FRASER 00:26:46 51 David WESTON 00:27:06
Great Denham parkrun 6 John AULD 00:19:38 15 Peter SIBBETT 00:21:06 44 Angeliki SHEARSTONE STATHOPOULOU 00:25:18 52 Karen DODSWORTH 00:26:43
Jersey Farm parkrun 2 Mark VAUGHAN 00:17:48 90 Sue VAUGHAN 00:27:56
Millom parkrun3 Glyn BLAKEY 00:23:59
Stevenage parkrun 43 Dervla DOWNING 00:22:55 46 Jane CLARKE 00:22:59 150 Bob DAVIS 00:28:05 252 Patrick NORRIS 00:34:41
Tees Barrage parkrun 200 Brian JUDKINS 00:30:50
Wimpole Estate parkrun 111 Lucy O'CONNOR 00:26:18
Sixfields Upton parkrun 29 Chris POOLE 00:24:37
The Easter weekend brought a break in racing but there was plenty of Parkrun activity for North Herts Road Runners.
Tom Webb ran the fastest Parkrun in Exmouth amongst a speedy field finishing 3rd with a parkrun (and 5k) PB of 15:47. John Rayner ran the Dartford parkrun and finished 2nd in 18:06, two seconds off his course PB. Rayner was pleased saying ‘having picked up a few injuries last year I feel like I am on my way back to full speed.’ Paul Jackson won Letchworth Parkrun also in a time of 18.06. Further afield at the Keswick Parkrun Richard Harbon, Matt Ankers and Helen Harbon mixed it with fell runners and holiday makers over the surprisingly hilly but very scenic disused railway line finishing in 21:19, 24:34 and 24:44 respectively.
Race walker David Annetts had a successful week winning Vets AC 5 mile Race Walk at Battersea Park on Tuesday in a personal best time of 38:47. Then in very warm condition on Saturday at the Picketts Lock Track in Lee Valley he won the Enfield League 5000m Race Walk in another PB of 23:24.
Full Parkrun Results: Milton Keynes parkrun Naomi PARKINSON 23:14, Kettering parkrun Steve WILLIAMSON 21:44, Bury St Edmunds parkrun Patrick NORRIS 33:52, Walsall Arboretum parkrun Chris POOLE 23:39, Stevenage parkrun Chris STOKES 21:08, Dervla DOWNING 22:48, Bob DAVIS 28:50, Carl GOODRUM 29:41, Jane CLARKE 32:36, Carol GOODRUM 34:02, Tees Barrage parkrun Lindsay COOK 33:06, Darlington South Park parkrun Brian JUDKINS 31:34, Sheringham parkrun Nick MALPELI 19:41, Wimpole Estate parkrun Vincent WRIGHT 21:15, Chloe LUCAS 23:07, Jillian BOYS 23:42, Steve BRENTON 24:02, Lucy O'CONNOR 26:05, Skipton parkrun Ellie SCOTT 24:40, Keswick parkrun Richard HARBON 21:19, Matt ANKERS 24:34, Helen HARBON 24:44, Dartford parkrun John RAYNER 18:06, Exmouth parkrun Tom WEBB 15:48, Eleanor BIGGS 25:16, Letchworth parkrun Paul JACKSON 18:06, Daniel MALLETT 22:57, Glyn BLAKEY 23:14, James DREW 24:29, James WALSH 24:33, Richard MALLETT 28:31, Brian BAILEY 28:58, James DALTON 31:05, Coldham’s Common parkrun an DATLEN 20:00.
North Herts Road Runners came close to sweeping the board at the Flitwick 10k with members taking home a clutch of individual prizes and the award for leading men’s team.
26 Squirrels turned out for the race after the Letchworth-based club chose it as their ‘Run of the Month’ for April, and the demanding course around the Bedfordshire country lanes proved to their liking.
NHRR Membership Secretary Phil Hunt said he ‘loved the undulating route and I felt strong going up the hills’. Paying tribute to his club-mates, Hunt said he ‘loved the sunshine, but most of all I loved the company. A great day out for the Squirrels!’
Despite the challenging terrain, Hunt joined Caroline Thrussell in securing a new personal best – 44.05 and 44.18 respectively.
Thrussell hailed a ‘fantastic morning and great company’ after ‘getting bored of long lonely runs and feel in need of a social run with mates’. In a remarkable achievement, she not only beat all the women in her own age group but those a decade younger as well to take first prize for the 45+ category. Thrussell’s success cleared the way for Lucy O’Connor (51.28) to take the title for the 55+ group.
Tom Webb led the Squirrels home with a superb 3rd place in 33.10 and was joined by Darren Sunter (5th in 34.09) and Mark Vaughan (6th in 34.32) in carrying off the men’s team prize.
Oliver Brady (37.53) was first male under-17 and Vaughan was the leading 45+ man.
Other Squirrels running at Flitwick were Wayne Bell (36.47), Peter Clarke (38.57), Peter Sibbett (39.46), James Keogh (40.20), David Weston (41.56), James Walsh (42.28), Richard Harbon (42.45),
Stuart Cocks (45.33), Jane Clarke (48.29), Chris Poole (48.36), Damon Clevely (49.39), Linda Aird (52.08), Jo Harbon (52.13), Sue Vaughan (56.05), Karen Dodsworth (57.14), Vanessa Rolfe (1.03.48), Joy Stroud (1.05.18), Clare Hooley (1.09.44) and Jo Sopala (1.10.12).
Four Squirrels took part in the Brighton Marathon, with Club Secretary Lindsay Cook raising money for Tracks Autism after being awarded one of NHRR’s ‘club places’ in the race. Cook reported ‘the last four miles were tough as it was sunny and running into the wind’, but was ‘very pleased to finish in 5.05.41 as I was expecting to get nearer to 5.30’.
Niccolo’ Bassani agreed that the ‘real game-changer was the wind blowing in from the East’. Despite the ‘really, really tough’ conditions, he finished in 3.29.39 and ‘finally under the 3.30 mark after 5 years – really pleased with my result!’
Jim Marvell was also delighted to finish what was his first marathon since a serious accident in 5.21.32 and Pat Norris finished in 6.22.11.
Race-walker David Annetts successfully defended his Veterans Athletic Club and Herts County titles in their 10,000m championships on the Millennium Track in Battersea. Walking faster than many competitive athletes would run, Annetts crossed the line in a superb 48.54.
Jo Summers was ‘very happy’ to complete the super-flat Boston (Lincolnshire) Marathon in 3.55 after a last mile that was her ‘quickest of the run by over a minute’.
Monica Cullin finished the Goodwood Grand Prix 10k in 1.33.46, overcoming ‘very cold and windy’ conditions – plus a course a good quarter of a mile longer than the official distance.
Angeliki Shearstone was back home in Athens for the Pedio Areos 10k race and was pleased to record an excellent 52.32 despite having to take painkillers to ward off severe toothache.
As usual, North Herts members popped up at Parkruns across the country over the weekend. Rob Harris travelled furthest and ran fastest as he finished the Newcastle parkrun in 17.40. Ellie Scott clocked 22.18 in Norwich and Dervla Downing (22.55), Jane Clarke (34.55) and Chris Stokes (20.42) all turned out at Stevenage.
Parkrun specialist Chris Poole showed that his recovery from the Manchester Marathon just six days earlier was going well as he finished the Houghton Hall Parkrun in 24.12.
Jillian Boys clocked 22.14 at Wimpole Hall and Sam Barry was at Mulbarton Parkrun in Norfolk, finishing in 27.21. Georgina Quayle tackled Fulham Palace Parkrun in 26.53.
Closest to home, an impressive 11 Squirrels completed Letchworth Parkrun, with Matt Sayers second in 18.23. Other Letchworth finishers were Chloe Lucas (23.24), Naomi Parkinson (24.34), Dave Braybrook (25.04), Harry Agius (25.51), Steve Brenton (26.58), James Dalton (29.13), Ian Datlen (30.13), Carl Goodrum (30.18), Carol Goodrum (35.00) and Lindsey Lucas (35.55).
Places are selling out fast for this year's Greenway Challenge. Organised by North Herts Road Runners, this year’s event will be held on Sunday 12th May at 9am, starting and finishing at the family-friendly venue of Standalone Farm.
“The Greenway Challenge provides a delightful step up to the half marathon challenge,” says race director, Karen Dodsworth. “Whilst it is self-guided the paths are well marked and the map and instructions are excellent. Helpful and encouraging marshals will be positioned at key points along the route, so there’s no danger of getting lost!"
The Greenway Challenge is an ideal race to run as a group with friends or family, plus there will be water stations and jelly beans provided on the route. Running the Greenway Challenge is also a great way to support local charities, as profits from the race will go to North Herts Road Runners’ club charities Jackie's Dropin and Tracks Autism. Finishers will receive a medal and there will be plenty of delicious home-made cakes (including gluten free options) for all.
Just a few weeks to go to this fabulous event and there are fewer than 80 places remaining so enter today to secure your place.
The City of Lincoln 10km saw a flurry of personal bests from squirrels that made the trip to the scenic city which finished at the Cathedral. Tom Webb lead the way finishing 32:39 and 10th in a field of over 4500. The Lucas family, Chloe, Viv and Lindsey also produced some great results. Chloe took over a minute of her previous best and Lindsay over 4 mins. Lindsay said that she drew inspiration from the clubs recent talk on mental health and running – that and imagining the voice of a training partner Jo Sopala got her over the line.
Saturday was the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park First Saturday of the Month 10km and four squirrels made the trip into Stratford. Adam Bowller proclaimed the trip a success with two squirrels on the podium. Adam won the race in 34:44 closely followed by Stewart Overton in 3rd and John Rayner in 7th. Darren Mattussa finished in 33rd.
72 runners turned out for NHRR's very own First Saturday of the Month 5km in Norton Common. Paula Holm was first lady finishing 15th overall. Peter Clarke was the first Squirrel home finishing in 2nd place. Closely followed by James Keogh in 4th, James Dalton in 5th, Richard Harbon in 6th and Ian Dalton in 8th.
It was ideal cool and still conditions at the Sandy 10 mile. Tackling the hills and waving to the donkeys was six squirrels including Helen Cairns, Dervla Downing, Linda Aird, Lewania Agius, Ally Blunt and Vanessa Rolfe.
Chris Poole ran Manchester Marathon in memory of is dog, Millie. Chris worked hard to put himself in position for a personal best and despite fatigue setting in in the latter stages, Chris achieved a marathon best of 3:54.
Pat Norris ran the St Clare Hospice 10km near Harlow – a slightly undulating course where all proceeds went to the Hospice. Pat was happy with his even pacing as he went through 5km in 34 mins and finished in 69 mins.
Good luck to all the squirrels running a spring marathon hopefully the training has gone well and you’re now enjoying your taper.
Those that were lucky enough to get a club place in London and Brighton are fundraising for our club charities TRACKS autism and Jackie’s Drop In.
You can support them and our charities by making a donation to one of their fundraising pages below just click on the photo to donate:
London Marathon runners:
Brighton Marathon runners:
It was a relatively quiet weekend of racing for the North Herts Road Runners. This did not mean there was a lack of action though. President Dickie called upon the club members to take part in a Great British Litter Pick this Sunday and where better to do it then on the Greenway. A circular loop of Letchworth that has given so much enjoyment to the club for so many members for so many years. Dickie, Paul, James, Jon, Jo, Katie and Penny all worked tirelessly to clean up a large stretch of the Greenway managing to collect no less than 22 bags of rubbish! A superb effort helping to keep the Greenway looking beautiful especially in time for the club’s Greenway Challenge on the 12th May.
Monica Cullin continues to set an example by winning her age category of female V70 finishing the Bedford Autodrome 10k in 1:31:22. Jo Kenlin also ran this race finishing in 1:10:39. Although the race was relatively flat there was a ferocious wind to contend with.
Miranda Morgan and Sue Foot ran the Thaxted Marathon on Sunday. 3 loops of Thaxted starting and finishing at the Village Hall. This was an off road marathon so the runners had to follow a very detailed description to stay on track! Both Miranda and Sue managed to do this with only a few minor wrong turns both finishing in 6:05. All runners were awarded with a bottle of red wine which I’m not sure is the best way to recover from a marathon but probably the most enjoyable.
The Letchworth Parkrun which continues to become more and more popular attracted a gang of squirrels for it’s 62nd event. Paula Holm who had, ‘Always been too scared to run the course due to mud and hill scaremongering’ finished first female in a time of 22:38. She was hugely pleased with this result having contended with injury the last 5 months culminating in a ‘disaster’ of a race at the Oakley 20 last week. She was accompanied by Carol Goodrum, Carl Goodrum, Andrew Underhill, Angeliki Shearstone, Naomi Parkinson, Jennie Fraser, Phil Hunt, Steve Brenton, Ian Datlen, James Walsh and James Dalton.
Brockwell Parkrun, Herne Hill Georgina Quayle 28:01
Westmill Parkrun Adam Wilson 27:06 Helen Wilson 31:22
Medina I.O.W Parkrun Damon Cleveley 23:16
Stevenage Parkrun Jane Clarke 28:33 Patrick Norris 33:49
Houghton Hall Parkrun Chris Poole 23:48
Wimpole Estate Parkrun Jillian Boys 24:10 Lucy O Connor 30:39
Letchworth Parkrun James Dalton 21:14 Ian Datlen 21:58 James Walsh 22:36 Paula Holm 22:38 Steve Brenton 23:28 Phil Hunt 23:31 Jennie Fraser 25:03 Naomi Parkinson 25:06 Angeliki Shearstone 25:36 Carl Goodrum 30:21 Andrew Underhill 35:17 Carol Goodrum 38:45
Great Denham Parkrun Richard Harbon 20:17 Lorna Chambers 28:54
Loch Leven Parkrun Brian Judkins 33:02
North Herts Road Runners turn out in numbers in a crucial weekend of running ahead of the marathon season.
With marathons in London, Brighton and Manchester just weeks away, dozens of Squirrels made the most of the beautiful weather and took to the roads, with two events dominating the weekend’s races: Oakley 20 and, for the men’s team, the 12-stage road relays in Milton Keynes.
Firmly established in the local running calendar as an ideal preparation for a spring marathon, and famous for the iconic hoodies give to all finishers, Bedfordshire’s Oakley 20-mile race always enjoys a large turnout of runners keen to test their legs. This year was no exception, with dozens of North Herts Road Runners among the entrants. Among them was Phil Hunt, who spoke of a sunny day with a cooling wind: “it was pretty ideal conditions. It's not a flat course, but it is beautiful, taking in several picturesque villages – including their tempting pubs!”
Natalie Lawrence successfully avoided all pubs and won the women’s race in a time of 2:17, not far behind North Herts’ first finisher Rob Harris who ran 2:11. Other Squirrels joining them included Cara Sutton, Alan Hazlehurst and Paula Holm. Naomi Parkinson came away with a 2:57 PB, and Phil Hunt was delighted to finish as the first North Herts Road Runner in his age category. Hailey Batson took two minutes off her best time for a half marathon on her way to finishing in 3:43. As for the hoodies? They were a lovely sapphire blue, and according to Paula Holm “the only thing that kept me going for the last 12 miles!” (See below for the full list of Oakley 20 finishers.)
Just the other side of the M1, the NHRR men’s team took part in the South of England Athletics Association’s prestigious 12-stage road relays at Milton Keynes. Lining up alongside some of the fastest runners in the South of England were twelve of North Herts Road Runners’ men’s finest, taking turns to run alternate long (7.6km) and short (5km) legs. The team were led out by Tom Webb (25:26) who ran the first long leg, and were brought home by Ian Datlen (20:51) who finished the final short leg 4 hours and 44 minutes after the start. As key team member John Auld pointed out, “everyone put a shift in for the team today.” (See full results below.)
Coach Karen Dodsworth’s pictures of a memorable day for the men’s team are here:
The weekend saw plenty of other squirrels in action, including Stuart Cocks, who ran the London Landmarks Half Marathon in a time of 1:47. Stuart commented on the great atmosphere adding “I was feeling good all the way round.” He wasn’t alone in that respect, as Hayley Cocks ran the same race, finishing in 2:33, an impressive 14 minutes quicker than her previous best time.
Hastings on the South Coast provided the backdrop for the “hardest half marathon” that Vince Wright has ever done, and little wonder given the race has a total elevation gain of 864ft. More surprising is that this weekend was actually the fifth time Vince has completed
this challenge. This year, recording his best time at the event, he finished in 88:53 for 89th place out of 2598 finishers. Meanwhile, Pat Norris travelled to Bury St. Edmunds to take on the Kings Forest 10k, and finished in 1:13. “I managed to overtake quite a few runners on the last 3k,” said a delighted Pat, before adding: “Three weeks to Brighton (and a bit more for you Londoners!) bring it on!”
Parkrun results Letchworth: James DALTON (00:21:14), Ian DATLEN (00:23:07), Chloe LUCAS (00:23:11), Jillian BOYS (00:23:13), Daniel MALLETT (00:23:55), Steve BRENTON (00:24:13), Damon CLEVELEY (00:24:38), Angeliki SHEARSTONE STATHOPOULOU (00:26:16), Philip FLACK (00:30:13), Carl GOODRUM (00:30:36).
Stevenage: Dervla DOWNING(00:22:35), Patrick NORRIS (00:33:32), Jane CLARKE (00:36:54).
Great Denham: Ellie SCOTT (00:23:08), Naomi PARKINSON (00:24:18).
Rising Sun: Carina QUAYLE (00:29:59).
Northwich: Nick MALPELI (00:19:47).
Loch Neaton, Watton: Sam BARRY (00:29:37).
Dunstable Downs: Stephen LUMMIS (00:24:34), Chris POOLE (00:25:13)
The full list of Oakley 20 finishers: Pos. Name Chip time 21 Rob Harris 2:11:46 40 Natalie Lawrence 2:17:52 152 Caroline Thrussell 2:38:13 194 Phil Hunt 2:41:57 208 Paula Holme 2:42:52 308 Christopher Poole 2:52:46 368 Naomi Parkinson 2:57:44 409 Jennie Fraser 3:00:53 530 Alice Noakes 3:11:07 586 Susan Foot 3:17:36 632 Alan Hazlehurst 3:24:07 763 Cara Sutton 3:42:33 769 Hailey Batson 3:43:35
SEAA 12-stage relays
(odd numbers long (7.2km), even numbers short (5km)
North Herts RRC 4:44:08
1 Tom Webb 25:26 29 25:26
2 Stewart Overton 17:17 31 0:42:43
3 Jim McConnel 26:20 31 1:09:03
4 Steve Mckeown 18:41 34 1:27:44
5 John Rayner 27:44 35 1:55:28
6 Edward Price 17:51 35 2:13:19
7 Mark Vaughan 27:48 36 2:41:07
8 James Walsh 19:06 35 3:00:13
9 Richard Harbon 33:08 37 3:33:21
10 John Auld 19:43 38 3:53:04
11 Peter Clarke 30:13 39 4:23:17
12 Ian Datlen 20:51 39 4:44:08
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