Let’s get Christmassy with NHRR Santa Canta on Saturday 1st December. It’s your regular First Saturday of the Month 5k but with an added festive sparkle.
It’s the perfect way to start December and is suitable for everyone including children to take part. Dig out the Christmas jumper or dust off that Rudolf onesie and run, jog or canta around Norton Common (fancy dress is optional but there will be prizes and you might look like a bit of a grinch if you don't).
It’s free to enter just register at 8am on the day or pre-register at www.firstsaturday5km.org.uk
If you already have a FSOTM barcode there is no need to register again for the Santa Canta.
This year NHRR are fundraising to support Tracks Autism, all donations on the day are very welcome.
There will be medals and mince pies for all finishers, so come and join us for some festive fun with bells on.
‘Perhaps I should start drinking Cognac’ was Michelle Grudzinski’s verdict as she reflected on contrasting fortunes for herself and husband Andy over a weekend of international marathon-running for the two North Herts Road Runners members.
After enjoying her marathon exploits in Athens twelve months ago, Michelle was back in the Greek capital again, but a challenging build-up to the race saw her having to battle her way to the finish line and her time of 5.41.57 was her slowest road marathon time yet.
Husband Andy, by contrast, secured a new personal best time of 5.05.51 at the Cognac Marathon in Jarnac, Bordeaux. There are no reports as yet on whether his improved performance was fuelled by the wine-tastings famously available at the aid stations around the course.
Chris Poole packed in almost as much travelling for his running, albeit without leaving the country. Poole spent his weekend criss-crossing the north of England, starting with the Fountains Abbey Parkrun in North Yorkshire on Saturday morning, where he clocked a handy time of 24.09. By the afternoon Poole was in Wythenshawe for a fixture in the Manchester Cross-country League, where he took a steady approach to save himself for an even bigger challenge the next day.
On Sunday Poole was back in Yorkshire for the Bolton Abbey Trail Half-marathon on what he described as a ‘brutal course’. The hardy Squirrel somehow enjoyed the ‘wet, muddy and very hilly’ conditions and said ‘running through two rivers and copious amounts of mud was epic. The finish time of 2.20.32 was nowhere near my fastest, but with 2,231 feet of climbing it was a good day out!’.
The weekend saw the first cross country league race for North Herts Road Runners. Participating in the Three Counties XC league as defending champions, 46 bright eyed and bushy tailed squirrels made the journey from HQ at the Squirella Building Letchworth over to Dunstable. Although the weather has been fairly mild thus far - the course was still challenging - winding its way up and down off road hills around the quarry. North Herts Road Runners ladies and men started as they finished the league last year both finishing 2nd in each gender competition and finished 1st in the combined competition.
Speaking with scoring ladies Jane Clarke and Paula Adams afterwards, Jane mentioned it was “a wonderful way to spend a Sunday morning - making sure we truly earn our tea and cake by running up and down just a few small hills”. She continued “It was great to see so many Squirrels running today bringing huge team spirit as always.“ Paula followed up stating that it was “it felt tough, but we were surprisingly strong. It was a massive bonus to win the team competition”.
Cross country enthusiast James Walsh was “delighted to be part of it all this morning”. Happy with his run, he went on to say “well done to all our brilliant runners for a stellar set of performances on a tough course and thanks to our supporters as well.”
For the ladies, the scoring team was Astrid Mckeown, Paula Adams, Jane Clarke and Caroline Thrussell. Scoring for the men was Tom Webb, Adam Bowler, Darren Sunter, Matt Sayers, Stewart Overton, John Rayner, Darren Mattussa and Rob Harris.
Being the first weekend of the month, 87 runners took part in NHRR organised First Saturday of the Month 5km around Norton common. James Fox, 17 years of age, won the race in 18:07. First Squirrel home was Chris Stokes, finishing in 21:02 (11th). Eva McCabe was the first lady finishing in 21:36 (18th).
Several squirrels ran the Stevenage Half marathon. Stuart Cocks proclaimed he was “totally buzzing” after running a new personal best for the distance in 1.43.58. This knocked nearly a minute of his old time. Cara Sutton and Dervla Downing said “it was a great course, hilly in places but running through Fairlands Valley park was lovely.” The pair both ran personal bests finishing in 2:03 and 1:46 respectively. Vanessa Rolfe also finished in 2:25.
Richard Weber ran his first race as a squirrel through the Cambridgeshire villages of Histon and Impington at the Histon Bonfire Burn 10k. He was pleased to report that he achieved a personal best of 51:02, knocking over 90s of his previous best.
Four squirrels ran parkruns on this week. Pat Norris ran 32:23 (181st) at Stevenage Chris Poole ran 22:48 (56th) at Krakow. Steve Lummis ran 27:15 (97th) at Tring and Matt Davies ran 25:08 (31st) at Lochore Meadows.
NHRR are hosting their next #RunAndTalk event on Tuesday 6th November, 19:00-21:00 at Spirella Building in Letchworth. The aim of the event is to encourage people to #RunAndTalk to improve their mental health and wellbeing through running.
Naomi will be giving a short talk introducing the role of Mental Health Champion and share some of her story on "Mental Health, Running and Me".
Then there will be groups heading out on an easy social run/jog/walk, giving everyone a chance to chat to friends and make new ones too. Afterwards we'll be heading back to Spirella for hot drinks and biscuits.
Scenic ten-mile race provides the perfect setting for another strong showing from the North Herts Road Runners.
“A lovely course although very hilly, and we got stuck behind a steam engine rally for a fair part of the way - interesting but smelly!” reported prize-winning Caroline Thrussell at the end of the Ricky Road Run 10-mile race. Caroline, and a group of other North Herts Road Runners, took on Sunday’s scenic race, which made its way around the Chiltern villages of Chorleywood and Little Chalfont. “We were all thrilled with our times.” added Caroline, and well they might be. On the day, NHRR’s ladies won second place for the team prize and Caroline, who completed the course in 1:17:29, was the first woman in the V55 category. She not only broke the club’s record for this race but she also won the County Championship too. Paula Holm also had a race to remember. Finishing in an impressive time of 1:10:49 (a four-minute personal best), she was third lady overall as well as being third woman in the V35 age category. Not bad for what Paula described as “the second hilliest race I have ever done!” Dervla Downing ran a PB of 1:20:07, and Lucy O’Connor came second in the V55 category in a time of 1:21:49. Russ Hagan ran his first ever 10 mile race in 1:28:54 and Jane Tyler, who is recovering from a cycling injury, finished in 1:46:30.
In North Wales, the Snowdon Marathon Eryri attracted another group of hardy Squirrels. Sue Foot was the first V65 and ran a time of 4:44:58. “I think we were all happy with our finish,” said Michelle Grudzinski after the race. “My time of 5.13.59 was an event PB by just under 3 minutes. For the others it was the first time doing the event.” They were Paul Bowal (5.03.39), Miranda Morgan (5.13.43) and Andy Grudzinski (5.33.40).
Sue Vaughan and Joe Summers were more North Herts Road Runners to get age category wins at the weekend. Sue ran at the Great Denham parkrun on Saturday morning. Despite starting off a little quicker than intended, she managed to keep the pace up and finished first in her age category in a time of 25:41, 53 seconds off her previous PB! “Very happy with this result after a solid block of training recently,” said Sue. “I celebrated with a healthy breakfast at a nearby café! No bacon rolls for me!”
Meanwhile Jo Summers took on the Bury St Edmunds Marathon. “No idea where this came from,” said Jo, “but having run no further than 11.2 miles in the last 10 weeks and rarely managing a weekly total of 20 miles in the last 6 weeks I somehow managed to run this in 3.45. That's my quickest time for two and a half years - and I've only gone quicker 10 times in 213 runs! Think it must be the 'run every day' training method kicking in!” Jo was 4th lady on the day and the 1st woman in the V50 category.
Now autumn is here, not only does that mean the start of cross-country season, but also ‘canicross’ season. Canicross is essentially cross-country running with a dog (or dogs) attached to you! “Yes, it’s a real sport and it is so much fun!” said Jillian Boys, who took part in the Loki 10k trail run in Thetford on Sunday with her chocolate lab Poppy. The two managed to bag a new PB together – 47.58. Poppy celebrated with a good dunk in the river afterwards.
Niccolo Bassani went off to Luton for the Love Luton 10k. Niccolo was pleased with his time of 42:07, and had the chance (for the third time ever since he started running) to hear the speaker call his name and club just before the finish line. “That did really make my day,” he said. Adam Wilson ran the half marathon at the same event in a time of 2:03.
The cross-country season started in style for North Herts Road Runners, as a group of Squirrels took on the Ampthill Trophy and lived to tell the tale.
“Beautiful day for it, and a lovely location, but those hills don't get any easier!” said Linda Aird at the end of a challenging race. Linda was one of a group of North Herts Road Runners who ran the Ampthill Trophy on Sunday. For many, this is the first cross-country fixture of the season, and this annual event is the perfect opportunity for hardy runners to dust off their running spikes and check their fitness on a testing, but ultimately rewarding course. Linda Aird was pleased to finish in 58:18, two minutes quicker than last year. Jillian Boys also had reason to celebrate having ran the undulating course in 56:21, a race PB and no less than 5 minutes quicker than her previous best time. “For some reason my brain failed to remember just how tough this course was,” said Jillian, “and that coupled with the totally unexpected heat and glaring sun made it even more of a challenge!” Also running were Hayley and Stuart Cocks. Stuart was pleased with his time of 51:13, while Hayley was delighted to have finished at all, having ran the race with something of a fuzzy head – this being the day after her 40th birthday celebrations. “Don't drink prosecco and gin the night before a challenging 10k cross country in Ampthill,” was Hayley’s sage advice. She nevertheless finished the race in a time of 1:24:25, and headed straight for a well-deserved bacon, sausage and egg roll!
Sunday also saw four squirrels join a field of just over 2000 runners at the Cambridge Town and Gown 10k. This was a charity race for Muscular Dystrophy UK. The course packed in a lot of the Cambridge sights including The Backs, the historic centre, Jesus Green and Midsummer Common, and a section alongside the Cam towards Stourbridge Common. “Conditions were perfect - sunny but cool and the route was very flat and fast,” said James Keogh, “and this certainly helped me to a time that was maybe slightly flattering but nevertheless a new PB.” James’ time was 38:02, and he finished in 49th position. Close behind were James Drew (43:39), Sophie Thrussell (45:44) and Vanessa Rolfe (1:02:04).
Further afield, Helen Nuttall ran the Great South Run in Portsmouth. “I think this was my first race this year- I’ve been struggling with heart related thyroid problems so just wanted to see how much I could push it (whilst trying to enjoy it)!” said Helen. “It was a beautiful day for running on the coast and there was loads of support. I finished in 1:12:56. Not my best but still very enjoyable!”
North Herts Road Runners were well represented at a very wet Perkins Great Eastern Half Marathon through the centre of Peterborough. Despite the weather, in a competitive race incorporating area championships, the Squirrels put in some stunning performances: Andrew Leach finished in 25th in a new V50 course record of 71:59. He was followed by Darren Sunter in 30th with a London Championship qualifying time of 73:25 and a PB and Adam Bowller with a sub 3 minute PB was just 1s behind in 31st with 73:26. Also setting a PB in 69th was Matt Sayers stopping the clock at 76:13. Stewart Overton again smashed the 80 min barrier with 78:57 and John Rayner ran 83:40. V50 Lee Hayes set a PB of 87:46 followed by Niccolo Bassini 92:07, Martyn Annetts 95:02, John Auld 96:00, Suzy Trott 97:45, James Drew 1:38:09 and Luke Callan 1:56:28.
Tom Webb finished 8th overall at the ITU World Championship qualifying event for the Standard Distance Duathlon at Bedford Autodrome. Tom finished the 10k run, 40k bike and 5k Run in 1:56:29 and has qualified for the world championships in Spain in 2019.
Ed Price and Lindsay Cook ran in the Manchester half marathon. Ed finished in 1:15:40 on a great (flat) course, with really good support throughout. Lindsay surprised herself by finishing in 2:13:53, her best time for a couple of years. Lindsay said,“After doing lots of cycling and swimming this summer and not much running I didn't feel very confident and was expecting around 2:30 but once I got going I felt strong, despite it being very wet.”
In another half marathon, this time at the Royal Parks in London in the pouring rain, Jim Marvell ran his first full race since an accident last year. Expecting to finish in 3 hours, hoping for 2:45, Jim actually finished in 2:30:26 with a negative split (faster second half)! So far he has raised over £1000 for Alzheimer's Research.
Lucy O’Connor and Miranda Morgan ran the challenging Ridgeway 15km Trail Run in the scenic Chilterns Hills. Lucy said, “Despite the drenching rain, glorious & slippery mud, dodging rabbit holes and those HILLS, we both thoroughly enjoyed it.” Lucy crossed the finish line in 1:26:23 (4th VF55) and Miranda in 1:40:20 (12th VF55).
Three Squirrels and a dog ran at the Hatfield House 10K. It was a lovely course around the grounds of Hatfield park in the relentless rain, but was lots of fun! Helen Marson-Smith ran the distance for the first time, finishing in 1:08:29. Lindsey Lucas nearly pulled out when she woke to the rain, thinking that having to keep her hearing aids dry would make a valid excuse but realised that would be letting her disability win! Linsey stormed across the line in 1:17:38. Jillian Boys also ran the race and canicrossed with her pooch Lulu. It was Lulu’s first ever race and she was a little superstar. Jillian and Lulu finished 2nd canicross with a time of 52:47.
David Annetts competed in the Enfield Race Walking League, 5 Mile race at Picketts Lock. In unseasonably warm and windy weather on quiet roads David continued his stunning performances, finishing 1st in 40:37.
Finally, the Squirrels were also present, as usual, at local parkruns: in Letchworth, Ian Datlen finished 5th (22:11); James Dalton was 6th (22:12); Jillian Boys was 21st (2nd lady) (25:24); Jennie Fraser finished 39th (27:31); Ellie Scott was 42nd (27:51); Naomi Parkinson was 43rd (27:52); Bob Davies was 43rd (29:49) and Brian Bailey was 53rd (32:11). In Stevenage Dervla Downing finished 2nd lady (23:34); Helen Giffin was 184th (31:13) and Pat Norris was 205th (32:29). At the Pocket Parkrun in St Neots, Chris Poole finished 35th in 23:18
Sunday was host to NHRR’s esteemed Standalone 10k. The weather was as cheerful as the amazing NHRR marshals. Whilst the majority of the club volunteer to help on race weekend, a team is selected to compete in the event and county championships.
North Herts Road Runners men won the open team competition with a team of Andrew, Adam, Darren and Mark. The ladies team also won the open with Katie, Astrid and Paula. In the Hertfordshire 10km veteran county championships, NHRR men of Andrew Mark, Ed and Matt won the county gold. Likewise the ladies won the veteran county champs with Astrid, Paula and Sarah.
Squirrels also won individual gold with Mark Vaughan winning the V40 category gold. Andrew Leach was 3rd overall in the race and the 1st V50 in the county. The gold kept coming for the ladies with Paula Holm wining 1st V35 and Astrid Mckeown winning V45. Oliver Brady was 2nd U20 and set a new club record. Sarah Mitcherson was 2nd in the V35 county champs and Jane Clarke was 3rd V35.
In the race, first home for the club was Andrew Leach who finished 3rd overall in 33:23. Other members of the team were right behind him meaning that after the first two in the race, NHRR had 5 squirrels in the top 7 - finishing continuously from 3rd to 7th. Adam Bowller (4th) with a new PB of 33:33 said afterwards that it was “An absolute honour to represent the club when so many others are working hard to make the wonderful event happen. Thanks so much for the fantastic support out on course”. Others finishing for the men were Darren Sunter (5th) 33:37 (PB), Mark Vaughan (6th) 34:09, Ed Price (7th) 34:42, Matt Sayers (11th) 35:07 (PB), Oliver Brady (21st) 36:42 (PB) (CR). Darren said after the race that following his PB at Hatfield 5km earlier in the week and another at Standalone - he’d was looking forward to cracking open a bottle of Drambuie to celebrate.
The ladies team was fantastic too. First home was Katie Harbon (65th) 39:34 followed by Astrid Mckeown (88th) 40:55, Paula Holm (101st) 41:23, Sarah Mitcherson (120th) 42:11, Jane Clarke (144th) 42:57 (PB), Sophie Thrussell (145th) 43:00 (PB), Helen Cains (169th) 44:00.
Standalone Eve was also the First Saturday of the month, and this day is always host to NHRR's own 5km in Norton Common. The event saw 47 runners in the morning sunshine before the rain started. NHRR's own Paul Jackson lead the way finishing in 17:51 whilst the first lady was NHHR's own Eva McCabe finishing 10th overall in 21:39. The field included another 12 squirrels including James Keogh (4th) 19:20, Ian Datlen (7th) 21:10, Declan McCabe (9th) 21:39, James Walsh (14th) 22:26, Caroline Thrussell (19th) 23:53, Geoff Murray-Rochard (28th) 26:51, Lewina Agius (30th) 27:08, Andrew Porter (34th) 27:55, James Dalton (36th) 28:24, Lindsay Cook (44th) 31:09 and Dawn Power (45th) 31:58.
Nick Malpeli ran in what he described as almost perfect conditions, chilly and dry, at the Chester Marathon. It was as good as day as it could get, said Nick, finishing in 41st overall and 2nd MV50 with a time of 2:43:16. This was a PB by over 1 minute. Competing in the England vs Celtic nations challenge, Nick finished 1st MV50 and 2nd in the British masters MV50. Nick also achieved the 3rd highest age grading in the England masters marathon team. Other squirrels running at Chester were Lucy Hurley and Naomi Parkinson who finished in 4:18:41 and 4:07:20 respectively.
On Wednesday, a scurry of 35 squirrels participated in the 3rd and final race in the Hatfield 5k series. First home for the club was Tom Webb (4th) 15:58. Darren Sunter (5th) 16:15 (PB), Mark Vaughan (7th) 16:28, Matthew Sayers (10th) 16:38, Stewart Overton (12th) 16:40, Oliver Brady (22nd) 17:34 (PB), John Rayner (26th) 17:45, Nick Malpeli (37th) 18:21, Lee Hayes (46th) 18:38, John Auld (47th) 18:45, Astrid Mckeown (50th) 18:59, Vincent Wright (53rd) 19:28, Martyn Annetts (55th) 19:34, David Weston (60th) 19:42, Sarah Mitcherson (69th) 20:35, Jane Clarke (74th) 20:46, Peter Sibbett (75th) 20:46, Chris Poole (86th) 21:28, James Walsh (91st) 21:27, Andrew Underhill (98th) 21:49, Ellie Webb (103rd) 22:03, Rhia Botha (106th) 22:06, Lucy O'connor (110th) 22:12, Hannah Keeble (126th) 23:27, Russell Hagan (138th) 00:24:17, Geoffrey Murray-rochard (154th) 25:21, Nicky Tracey (157th) 25:36, Sue Vaughan (162nd) 26:18, Karen Dodsworth (168th) 27:00, Joy Stroud (185th) 30:09 , Brian Judkins (186th) 30:22, Helen Marson-smith (189th) 30:37, Hayley Cocks (190th) 30:45 (PB), Joanne Sopala (201st) 34:54, Jo Kenlin (202nd) 37:14.
Now in its fourth year running, the Hitchin 5k as organised by fellow running club the Hitchin Hares went off without a ‘hitch’. A fun community race, it involves two laps of the small market town both starting and finishing in the market square. There was quite a turnout from North Herts Road Runners in support of this excellent event. Superb individual performances also lent themselves to the club finishing in 3rd Team place overall. Mark Vaughan, Paula Holm, James Dalton and Niccolo Bassani all producing top results in order to win the team prize. Mark Vaughan finished 2nd Male in 17:01 whilst Paula was overjoyed at finally winning some money as second lady in an excellent time of 20:51.
Amongst others the Cocks family descended on the town with both mum and daughter achieving PBs. Hayley ran the race in 31:44 which was an improvement of 5 minutes and 6 seconds compared to last year which ‘goes to show that the training really does pay off’. Her daughter Abbi pushed herself to her limits finishing in 28:48 whilst Stuart finished first for the family in 22:13.
Other notable performances were Geoff Pettengell in 32:38 with this being his first competitive race for nearly a year; Ian Sutcliffe finishing 1st in the V70 category in a time of 26:55, Lewina Agius finishing with a PB of 26:40 in her first ever 5k race and Jillian Boys setting a new PB of 22:59.
In other races Vanessa Rolfe ran the MIlton Keynes Half in 2:22:52 and especially enjoyed the fact that it was on a Saturday with a late start time of 1pm! This being a week after sneaking in a quick Sheffield 10k in 65:15 on the way home from a holiday. True dedication!
Stewart Overton ventured up to Biggleswade for one last track race in the 3000 Open and finished 1st in an absolutely superb time of 9:40. A great finish to the summer season in prep for the upcoming glorious cross country.
Steve Foster surprised himself after bettering his time of 1:35 in the Great North Run at the Windsor Half in 1:31:44 whilst Andrew Robson continued his dedication to the Bedford Sprint Triathlon Series completing his 12th consecutive entry to this race (3 races a year for 4 years) in 1:31:16.
Also the England Masters Inter-area cross-country challenge was held on Saturday at Bury St Edmonds. There were two races, women (all ages) and men 65+ over 6km and then a third race which was all men aged 35-60 over 8km. It was a flat and fast course over varied terrain, in glorious sunshine. Andrew Leach was 8th in the men's race (first M50). Andrew was also a members of the winning East region team (this involves a rather complex scoring scheme, based on age-graded times, 10 men + 5 women per team). The race is also being used as a "selection guide" for the upcoming Britain/Ireland Masters cross-country international in November. We wish Andrew good luck in this endeavour!
It was a very successful week for the North Herts Road Runners' Vets teams. On Wednesday, the women's and the men's teams both finished first at the Hertfordshire Veterans' 5k Championships, which were being held as part of the Hatfield 5k series. (In road running, a vet is any man over 40, or any woman over 35). The County title-winning women's team was Astrid McKeown (19:16), Paula Holm (21:03), Sarah Mitcherson (21:06) and Jane Clarke (21:10), while the men's team was led by Mark Vaughan (16:37), with Ed Price (16:41), Matt Sayers (16:56) and Nick Malpeli (18:04). In total, 33 North Herts Road Runners took part in this, the second event of the series' three 5k races, including Hayley Cocks who ran 32.30, a time two-minutes faster than her previous PB.
The following Sunday, the club sent a men’s vets team to the hotly contested South of England Vets 4-stage Road Relay Championships, which was held at the iconic Crystal Palace National Sports Centre. Running hilly laps just short of 6km, Andrew Leach (19:01), Mark Vaughan (19:41), Matt Sayers (20:15) and Jim McConnel (19:30) made up the North Herts Road Runners' team, and competed strongly against some of the biggest clubs in the country, to finish in second place overall. “This is the second time in recent years that we have got silver at this race, and it is a special one,” said Mark Vaughan. “We took quite a few scalps of the larger, more established road running and athletics clubs on the way. The other teams certainly know who we are now!"
In other news, Tom Webb finished third at the Hever gauntlet 70.3 Castle series triathlon, which comprised a 1900 metre (chilly) swim, a 90km bike ride with 4500ft climbing, and an off-road half marathon for the run. Tom described it as a horrific day that was rescued by his first podium at a competitive triathlon, behind two professional triathletes.
David Annetts took part in Enfield Race Walking League's 1hr Badge Race at Picketts Lock track - a test to see how far the race-walkers can reach in exactly one hour. He went for an ambitious target of an unofficial 10000m PB, which he passed in 50:30, and at the hour he finished second in the race on 11.835km / 7.35 miles.
Adam Bowller finished second at the Leighton 10 on Sunday morning, a hilly 10 miler in Leighton Buzzard. His time was 57:21, a PB by 1:22.
James Keogh ran the Guernsey parkrun two weeks in a row having been marooned on the island by the ferry. The first week, he was 4th in 20:10 and second time round managed 3rd in 19:17.
Lucy O’Connor and Brian Judkins ran the Steeple Morden 10k, a very muddy and wet off road course. Lucy's time was 55:28 and Brian's was 1hr:13.
John Auld finished in eighth position at the third event in the Silkstone Shuffle series. The result puts him in third position overall in the ongoing series.
Finally, a group of Squirrels ran St Paul’s Walden 10K on Sunday, which is organised by the charity Autism Angels. Katie Harbon came home First Lady and first for the club, Richard Harbon second for the club, Jo Summers 3rd, followed in order by Jo Harbon, Helen Harbon, Matt Ankers, and Sue Foot.
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