North Herts Road Runners flew around Ampthill Park on Sunday in race four of the Three Counties Cross Country League. The squirrels won both the men’s and ladies team event keeping them top of the league overall with one race to go.
Cross country captain John Auld couldn’t have been happier with the result. ‘I am absolutely delighted that we got a well-deserved clean sweep of victories today! Exactly the results we wanted. A superb team performance by all.’
There were 37 runners who toughed it out in windy conditions over a challenging course. The women’s team totally smashed all the competition finishing 35 points clear of nearest rivals Wellingborough and District. Natalie Lawrence was first home for the team followed by Katie Harbon, Astrid McKeown, Paula Adams, Jane Clarke and Caroline Thrussell. They are now joint top in the league competition with it all to race for in the last race.
It was a close competition between NHRR and Ampthill and Flitwick Flyers men’s teams with the squirrels winning with just one place making all the difference. Tom Webb lead the men’s team home finishing in 3rd place. There were more strong performances from the scoring team with Adam Bowller 5th, Jim McConnell 7th, Darren Sunter 9th, Matt Sayers 10th, Ed Price 19th, Stewart Overton 22nd and Mark Vaughan 25th.
Having won the combined men’s and women’s competition in all 4 races so far, NHRR are firm favourites to retain the title at the final race in two weeks.
Michelle and Andy Grudzinski headed for some sunshine miles on the Caribbean island of Turks & Caicos. Their holiday happened to coincide with the TCI Move-a-thon which included a marathon. Michelle finished in 4:54:26 2nd female and 3rd overall and Andy finished in 5:31:23 6th overall. Michelle did confess, ‘The total Marathon field amounted to 7 people! In fact, the locals seemed to think running, let alone a marathon, was a stupid idea; Andy doesn’t disagree.’ Andy responded that, ‘In Michelle’s words - we were not last, and it is not our fault no one else entered. She’s going to be living off her podium finish for the rest of her life.’
David Annetts competed in the first race of the Enfield Race Walking League (5 miles) on Saturday. Good conditions and recent training and coaching sessions gave Annetts the confidence that he could extend his race pace and was rewarded with a personal best winning time of 38:54.
Jillian Boys doubled up this weekend not only competing in the cross country at Ampthill but also racing the ‘Fido’s Forest Frenzy’, which is a purely canicross race. Canicross is racing with dogs. The event was set in the beautiful Thetford Forest and run over a course that was approx 12km. Boys ran with both her dogs Poppy & Lulu the chocolate labs. Boys said, ‘They were absolute superstars and did me proud as we finished in 2nd place in a chip time of 56.54!’
Matt Sayers also doubled up this weekend by winning his Parkrun debut at Letchworth in a time of 18:26.
‘Gritty and attritional’ was Tom Webb’s verdict on a close-fought Herts County Cross-country Championships race, as only the narrowest of margins prevented North Herts Road Runners from regaining the Herts County mens’ Cross-country title they last won in 2015.
After a tough battle over a demanding 12k course in St Albans’ Verulamium Park, the Squirrels saw their six-man team’s finishing positions total 105 points – just two more than the 103 registered by new champions Watford Joggers.
Webb secured an impressive fourth place in the individual standings and had great support from Jim McConnel (8th), Matt Sayers (12th), Ed Price (24th), Mark Vaughan (26th) and Stewart Overton (31st). ‘I enjoyed it’, said Overton after giving his all on the final circuit of the undulating 3-lap course - ‘my heart rate felt steady but the legs couldn’t take me any faster’.
Webb, McConnel and Sayers saw their performances rewarded with invitations to represent Hertfordshire at the prestigious Inter-counties Championships at Loughborough in March.
Ellie Webb flew the North Herts flag in the ladies’ Championships and finished comfortably in the top half of the field in 37th, while Eva McCabe finished 8th in the under-17s race.
It was a weekend of double success for Matt Sayers as he had warmed up for Sunday’s cross-country by winning the Road Runner’s regular First Saturday of the Month 5k in an excellent time of 18.02. An impressive 92 runners braved the chilly conditions to complete their first ‘FSOTM’ of the year. Elodie Levis of Team Trident was the first lady in 23.59.
Serial marathon runner Sue Foot spent New Year’s Day tackling the Flitch Way Marathon – an out-and-back route between Braintree and Bishop’s Stortford. She was pleased to finish in 4 hours 36 – ‘nine minutes faster than the marathon I did four days earlier’.
Lindsay Cook was delighted to hit her sub-30 target at the Bakewell Parkrun with a 29.14 finish time – ‘a great start to my new year of running!’.
A first 90%-plus age grading was David Annetts’ reward as he continued his successful conversion to race walking at the Lee Valley New Year Open Meeting. Annetts completed the 3000m race in 13.43 for an outstanding second place and said he was particularly pleased as he ‘had narrowly missed the 90% grade as a runner’.
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