After a successful evening at The Comet Sports Awards it was back to business again the very next day for North Herts Road Runners.
Travelling the short distance to Hampstead Heath to take part in the Southern Counties Cross Country Championships, several squirrels took part in what is regarded to be the most famous and most testing cross country course in the country. First to finish for the club in the energy sapping mud and hills of the senior mens 15K race was Andrew Leach in 00:53.24, next up was Veteran of the Year nominee Mark Vaughan in 00:58.39; Darren Sunter 00:59.30; Dan Hills 00:59.50; Darren Matussa 1:06:04;Vince Wright 1:07:08; Dan Martin 1:07:45; Richard Harbon, winner of the Services to Sport Award, in 1:08:45; Greg Pounder 1:14:48 and Jonny Spinks 1:25:26. The senior ladies ran a shorter but just as testing 8K course and the first squirrel to finish was Katie Harbon in 00:34:00. She was followed by Paula Adams 00:38:52; Jo Harbon 00:45:21; Georgina Quayle 00:45:33; Rachel Pounder 00:53:17; Lindsay Cook 00:54:37 and Carina Quayle 00:55:16. The mens' team placed 31st out of 69 teams and the ladies placed 44th of 63 teams.
Several squirrels also travelled for various Parkruns. Furthest to travel was Chris Priestley who ran in Melbourne, Australia in a time of 24:41. Pete Sibbett was in Bedford to record the impressive time of 20:22; Chris Poole ran at Colchester Castle in 22:52 and Kettering saw Steve Williamson finish in 23:45. 8 club members ran at Stevenage. Darren Matussa finished in third place in 18:42, Chris Poole 19:37; Ollie Garbas 19:42, Chloe Lucas was second lady to finish which she did in the time of 22:47. Also running were Joe Sherry 24:11, Bob Davis 26:05 and Sheila Leavy 30:08.
Sunday 22 January saw the Santa Pola Half Marathon take place in Spain. Miranda Morgan set a superb new personal best with 2.01.48 and was followed by Joy Stroud (2.21.14), Jane Tyler (2.22.50) and Coach of the Year winner Brian Bailey overcame a list of injuries to finish in 2.23.28.
On a frozen course at Sharnbrook, near Bedford, the Squirrels mens’ team beat off a strong challenge from Ampthill and Flitwick Flyers to clinch victory on the day and the Three Counties Cross-country League title. North Herts pipped the Flyers by just two points at the end of the five-race season.
The Sharnbrook contest was the Squirrels’ first outing in redesigned race-day vests, and Kit Secretary Mark Vaughan celebrated by winning the trophy for second man over the series of races.
The NHRR ladies team finished 4th in the League standings and the Club‘s combined male and female teams were 3rd.
Jim McConnell was first finisher on the day for North Herts, pushing the pace hard in the first mile and eventually finishing 6th. Katie Harbon was first across the line for the North Herts ladies’ team.
McConnell also took the series prize for 1st 35-plus man and Ed Price followed suit as first in the 40-plus category.
Yuko Gordon’s outstanding performances over the season were rewarded with first place in the 55-plus category – a remarkable achievement given she beat competitors 10 years her junior.
Full NHRR placings: 6 Jim McConnell, 8 Mark Vaughan, 10 Adam Bowller, 11 Rob Harris, 13 Ed Price, 18 Darren Sunter, 23 John Rayner, 28 Dan Hills, 31 John Auld, 53 Nick Malpeli, 58 James Keogh, 60 Adrian Sherwood, 62 Stuart Overton, 65 Katie Harbon, 74 Vince Wright, 81 Richard Harbon, 99 Greg Pounder, 115 Kat Burr, 144 Rob Milburn, 148 Paula Adams, 149 Pete Sibbett, 178 Yuko Gordon, 180 Chloe Lucas, 188 Jonny Spinks, 190 Chris Poole, 211 Steve Williamson, 216 Jo Harbon, 217 Helen Harbon, 234 Matt Ankers, 237 Adam Wilson, 289 Rachel Pounder, 298 Lindsay Cook, 299 Andee Price, 302 Helen Ferguson, 321 Brian Judkins.
Preferring to stick to the roads, Ian Sutcliffe and Chris Stokes competed in the Fred Hughes 10-mile race at St Albans. Sutcliffe was 4th in the V70 category in a time of 1.35.58 and Stokes was pleased to hit his target time with 1.10.02.
Four Squirrels headed to Snowdonia for the Winter Trail Wales Half-marathon. In crisp mountain weather, Andy Grudzinski recorded a new personal best time for the event with 2.45.12, running the second half of the course with Ashley Murray-Richard, who recorded the same time. Michelle
Grudzinski crossed the line in 2.35.17, and Dawn Power was delighted to finish her first-ever trail event in 3.08.31.
It was a quiet weekend of racing for North Herts Road Runners with only a few members braving the wintry conditions on Saturday in parkruns around the country.
In Bedford, Nicky Kemp set a new 5km personal best of 23:09 finishing in 5th lady and first female vet 40. Steve Tracey was the 1st male vet 45 and 10th overall completing the 2 laps around the park in 20:14.
In Stevenage, Ollie Garbas (picture) was first home in 5th position in 20:09 narrowly beating Simon Poole in 6th in 20:14. Bob Davis finished 68th in 26:37, Ellie Scott was 87th in 27:44 and Jenni Spurr-Jones completed the Fairlands Valley course 125th in 29:53.
Darren Matussa and Chris Poole travelled to Essex to take part in the inaugural Roding Valley parkrun. Darren finished in 5th position in 18:21 and Chris was seconds away from his PB in 22:25 in 33rd place.
Further afield, Joe Sherry took park in the Bexley parkrun (89th in 26:04) and Phil Hunt was in Durham (58th in 23:10).
North Herts Road Runners had a great start to the year racing at the Herts County Cross-Country Championship at Hertford Heath. There were heroic efforts from everyone who took on this challenging course. The men’s team battled it out over 11,000m of mud and hills to finish 2nd overall. First home for the club and in 5th place was Andrew Leach in 38.26. Mark Vaughan finished 12th in 39.56 followed by Jim McConnell 19th 40.44, Adam Bowler 25th 41.36, Darren Sunter 26th 41.42, Dan Hills 41st 43.25, Darren Matussa 68th 45.50, John Auld 78th 47.33, James Keogh 84th 48.06, Dan Martin 89th 48.46, Vince Wright 90th 48.49, Stewart Overton 100th 50.32 and Matt Ankers 131st 64.43.
The women competed over 8,000m with Katie Harbon finishing 8th in 31.52 next home for the club was Kat Burr 30th in 36.37 then Jo Harbon 48th 41.05, Linda Aird 54th 42.58, Helen Harbon 58th 43.15, Miranda Morgan 64th 45.07, Lindsay Cook 74th 49.48, and Carina Quayle 78th 49.48.
Richard Harbon travelled to Wales to take on the Fan Dance. Despite the name this event is a gruelling 24km non-navigational race over two sides of Pen Y Fan, the highest mountain in the Brecon Beacons. This infamous route has long been a part of SAS Selection programme. Richard put in an excellent performance on the fells in a field of over 250 runners to finish 6th overall, second master and first vet 50.
100 Marathon Club member and North Herts Road Runner Jo Summers added yet another 26.5 miles to her total at the East Hanningfield Trail Marathon. Despite the mud and having to navigate her way round, she managed to finish in 5.28.
Michelle and Andy Grudzinski finished 48.6 magical miles in Orlando. They completed the Run Disney Dopey Challenge. A four day event which includes a 5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon on consecutive days.
The First Saturday of the Month for 2017 saw 88 runners taking part in this 5k on Norton Common. Darren Mattussa won the race in 18.39, followed by Steve McKeown in 4th place in a time of 20.00 and Gary Cook was 6th in 20.06. Other finishers for the club were Oliver Brady 20.20, John Cooper 21.51, Ellie Scott 24.38, Paul Bowal 25.59, Alan Hazelhurst 26.26, Chris Priestley 26.54, Jeni Spurr-Jones 30.25, Dawn Power 30.33, Lindsay Cook 31.28, Joy Stoud 31.31, Jennifer Naisbitt 38.04 and Brian Bailey 38.07.
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