In a busy week for the North Herts Road Runners, the ladies team notched up some fantastic times racing in Norfolk, and the club’s legendary First Saturday of the Month race finally returned.
After the 2020 races were cancelled, 11 ladies from the North Herts Road Runners were delighted to finally get the chance to race at the rolling parkland of the stately home Holkham Hall in Norfolk on Sunday 4th July. Katie Harbon was the sole squirrel to take on the challenge of the half marathon distance and ran a superb 1.26.18 to finish 6th in the race and 2nd lady overall, merely seconds behind first place. Despite the grey and damp conditions, running in a torrential downpour and having to contend with a tough, undulating course, with many off-road sections, Katie was thrilled to podium and said, “I loved my first race back after 14 months and am delighted to be so competitive. Can’t wait for my next race in 2021!” By 1pm, the weather had improved, with blue skies and a rise in temperatures seeing the remaining runners set off to tackle the 10km distance. Despite some testing hills, the North Herts Road Runners team did brilliantly, with Tash Pitman finishing fourth overall and first in her age group in 43.32, followed by Helen Cairns (47.55) and Jane Clarke (48.05), who took second and third spots in their respective age groups. Next across the line was Karen Dodsworth, smashing her target and third in her age group in 56.00, followed by Jo Harbon (56.28), Sue Vaughan (58.45), Miranda Morgan (1.05.17), Vanessa Rolfe (1.10.00), and Joy Stroud, who won her age category in 1:15:36. The team exuded great team spirit, with everyone cheering on the sidelines, maintaining social distancing but really relishing a return to racing in real life after 16 months of virtual races.
Closer to home, Steve McKeown was delighted to report a trio of consecutive wins at the Hitchin Sprint Triathlon (a 400m swim, 20km bike, and 5km run), coming in first overall in 59:49 – a new course record! Other squirrels competing in the event were Natalie Lawrence (1:00:33) and Oliver Starr (01:38:28).
Also this week, the North Herts Road Runners were finally able to restart their legendary and popular free monthly 5km event in Letchworth for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic. Following a test event last month for club members only, the squirrels held their first public event of the First Saturday of the Month 5k on Saturday 3rd July, successfully attaining the required approval to host the event several weeks before parkrun! Despite the overcast and very muggy conditions, the runners were out in force to complete the picturesque circuit on Norton Common. There were 47 finishers in total, with Richard Poulter first man home in 19:06, and Kat Gourd first lady in 24:14.
Within the club, the runners have also had another busy week of excellent social runs, with Mike Bullock and Susan Mansfield organising another fantastic and scenic run, this time an 8.5 mile route starting from Woburn and heading out into the surrounding countryside, parkland, and around the edges of the safari park, with excellent opportunities to spot elephants, giraffes, and rhinos through the fences of the park – animals not usually found roaming in the local countryside! July has also seen the start of the intra-club “Squirrels cup”, in which runners compete in cake-themed teams of three to run the fastest 5k distance during the month.
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