It was a huge weekend for the North Herts Road Runners, with both the London and Chester marathons taking place on Sunday and great representation from the club at both races.
The London Marathon – arguably the biggest and most famous road running event in the UK – usually takes place in April, but was held on the first weekend of October this year as a hangover of the past couple of years of COVID-19 restrictions. A total of 13 squirrels undertook the epic 26.2 mile challenge, many of them raising money for important charities as they notched up the miles.
Mark Vaughan was toeing the line on the Championship start. He admitted that he set off too quickly “which caused a few raised eyebrows from the super squirrel supporters”, but his tactics clearly paid off, as was rewarded with a stunning finish time of 02:36:03 – which he was, quite rightly, “very pleased with” – breaking his own previous club record for the MV50 age category and finishing third in the World Masters V50 race. Mike Roberts, who ran his first ever London marathon, crossed the line in a fantastic 02:34:52. He set off at an ambitious and speedy pace, admitting admitted he found the “going tough from 18 miles onwards as we went through Canary Wharf, but managed to hang on!” Not far behind him were Stewart Overton (02:52:11) and Vincent Wright (02:54:16). Overton expressed his thanks to all his NHRR teammates who travelled to London to support those running (despite the train strikes making journeys rather tricky). Richard Weber crossed the line in a “solid” 03:55:54, and added that the event was “supremely well organised, really atmospheric and iconic.” Other NHRR men who completed the iconic event were Nick Malpeli (02:59:36) and Oliver Parsons (03:06:38).
Among the ladies in London, Anna Klucnika was the first female squirrel over the line, in an incredibly speedy 02:57:03. Rhia Botha ran her first ever marathon, completing the course in a stunning debut time of 03:30:32 and Cara Sutton recorded an excellent 04:14:53, taking a massive 11 minutes off her previous marathon personal best. Rhia enthused “I will never forget this day. It will be cherished memory for the rest of my life”, while Cara added “The support from the crowd and the numerous squirrels around the route was utterly phenomenal and extremely welcome. We have an amazing club.” Other female squirrels who took part were Natalie Delaney (05:15:09), Carina Quayle (05:29:27), and Amanda Pritchett (07:32:33). All the runners thanked their fellow teammates from the club who travelled down to London for their support. Mike Roberts summed up their appreciation: “It’s such a lift to see familiar faces cheering on in those last few miles.”
Runners were also able to take part in the London Marathon virtually if they wished, with Elwyn Howell and his wife Linda completing their race in 6:53:27. Remarkably, they started their running at 2:00am in Greece at the end of their holiday and completing it in the UK when they returned home that evening – an impressive feat of completing one marathon across two countries within 24 hours! James Dalton also took part in the virtual event in and around Letchworth and Baldock, finishing in a great time of 04:11:57.
Meanwhile, three squirrels headed up to Chester to take part in the marathon there. Matt Sayers and Lucy O’Connor were both representing their age groups in the England Masters, each wearing the illustrious England Master’s vest, and both rose to the challenge with wonderful performances. Matt crossed the line in a superb 02:40:05, and was second in the MV45 age category, while Lucy achieved a big new personal best of 03:51:35, setting a new club record for her age category (FV60) in the process. She described the course as “picturesque and mainly flat… and definitely a marathon that I would recommend!”
A little closer to home, Eleanor Griffith took on the half marathon distance at the Milton Keynes Autumn Run Weekend on Sunday, completing the course in an excellent 02:05:24.
On Saturday, several squirrels and local runners opted to run a shorter distance when they participated in the North Herts Road Runners’ free monthly first Saturday of the month 5k event at Norton Common in Letchworth. A total of 59 runners took part on a crisp and sunny Saturday morning, with squirrels taking first place among both the men and ladies: Sam Coxon was the first male finisher in 19:50, closely followed by first lady Katie Harbon in 19:56. Several other NHRR members took part in weekly 5k parkrun events both locally and further afield. A full list of this week’s parkrun results is as follows: CHESTER: Lucy O’Connor 31:31, Anna Gibson 31:33; STEVENAGE: Bob Davis 26:52; Andreea Weisl-Shaw 28:28, Brian Judkins 35:03; LINFORD WOOD: Branka Moss 51:50; GUNPOWDER PARK Darren Matussa 20:41; WIMPOLE ESTATE George Wright 23:45; HUNTINGDON James Godfrey 20:55; LETCHWORTH James Dalton 22:59, Steve Brenton 25:35, Ellie Scott 55:59; SEAFORD BEACH Philip Hawkes 29:19; HENLOW BRIDGE LAKES James Poulton 21:36, Steve Tracey 22:20; STOREYS FIELD: Georgina Quayle 26:40.
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