The North Herts Road Runners saw out July in style as they celebrated numerous successes at their run of the month 10km race in Bedford
The squirrels were out in force on Friday 30th July for the popular AAA Bedford 10k, which was the nominated “run of the month” for the club. The mainly flat, scenic race started at Bedford’s Priory Park, heading out along cycle paths out towards Danish Camp and back, skirting the Great Ouse. It also served as the Bedfordshire 10km County Champs, so a very strong field of runners toed the start line looking forward to a mass start “normal” race. Men’s team captain John Auld agreed that it seemed very close to a normal event, although women’s captain Tash Pitman noticed that the athletes were more spaced out than in pre-COVID times.
Among the excellent turnout of 17 squirrels, there were some superb individual and team performances. The men’s team of Andrew Leach (34:02), Matt Sayers (35:35), Stewart Overton (36:12), and Nick Malpeli came second (37:19), behind a very strong Huntingdonshire AC, with Andrew Leach winning the M55 age category. Not to be outdone, the ladies A team of Tash Pitman (42:33), Astrid McKeown (43:32), and Tracy Pitcairn (43:57) came second to Bedford Harriers, with Tracy also winning the F35 age category. The squirrels’ success did not stop there, with the ladies B team, Lucy O’Connor (49:17), Anna Gibson (49:36), and Deborah Smith (56:03), claiming third place on the podium. Impressively, it was Deborah’s first ever 10km and even though she admits she was “pretty nervous”, she was pleased with her steady pace and finished with a huge smile, completely smashing her target of under an hour. Several of the runners achieved impressive personal best times, including Dave Braybook, who was “over the moon” to see his previous personal best tumble from 50:22 pre-lockdown to a fantastic 43:30. Richard Weber also recorded a fantastic personal best of 45:49 in his first proper 10k race since the lockdowns. Other squirrels who took part were John Auld (38:25), Pete Sibbett (43:19), Richard Thackeray (44:58), Andrew Porter (56:43), and Brian Judkins (1:08:41). All the runners were hugely grateful to fellow supporters from the club who came along and gave the runners a boost to help them sprint over the line.
Meanwhile, Kat Gourd ventured into London for the London Landmarks Half Marathon on Sunday 1st August. The closed-road race was one of the first mass, large-scale running events to take place since the easing of restrictions, with more than 11 000 runners taking part. The race started near Trafalgar Square and took the runners on a well-planned, albeit slightly squiggly, sightseeing route of various key landmarks around central London, including the iconic St Paul’s Cathedral, with a huge amount of support, entertainment, and music throughout. Although the weather became increasingly warm during the event, mist showers and plentiful drinks stations were provided to help keep the runners cool on the 13.1 mile route. As the sole squirrel taking part in the race, Kat was thrilled to achieve her fastest ever half marathon time of 44:06.
Saturday also saw the second week of the much-awaited return to the weekly free parkrun 5km races across the UK, with North Herts Road Runners embracing the opportunity to take part in events both near and far. Nine squirrels ran at Letchworth, including Ian Datlen who was fifth overall in an impressive 21:02, followed by Vincent Wright (21:20), James Dalton (21:36), Matt Roberts (22:49), Kat Gourd (24:17), Rhia Botha (24:43), Eleanor Biggs (26:29), Carol Goodrum (30:02), and Brian Judkins (39:43). Meanwhile, five other squirrels ran at Stevenage, with Tim Banting completing the course in 24:51, followed by Russ Hagan (25:20), Charlotte Coles (26:30) and Phillip Flack (27:00). Across the border in Cambridgeshire, two squirrels ran at the popular Wimpole Estate event (Jillian Boys 27:42 and Lucy Hurley 28:07), and Carl Haskell ran at Storeys Field (23:29). Further afield (indeed, much further afield in some cases!), Chris Poole ran at Long Eaton (24:35), Glyn Blakey completed Keswick parkrun in 22:44, Ian Harvey ran at Weymouth (21:06), and Jane Clarke ran at Lands End (24:02).
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