North Herts Road Runners’ Katie Harbon led the squirrel’s home at the Bedford 10 mile race on Sunday, winning the women’s event, scoring a brilliant new PB for the distance, and breaking the club’s existing 10 mile women’s record in the process.
Harbon crossed the line in a superb 1:00:28. She described the fast and flat course as having “virtually no ups or downs, but the wind was tough in places” and added that she was “delighted” with her result. Fellow squirrel Andreea Wiesl-Shaw also took part in the race, which comprises a single-lap course that starts on the Bedford Embankment and finishes with a lap of Priory Park. She achieved a fantastic new PB of 1:35:22, knocking 4 minutes off her previous time for this distance, adding “It was a lovely morning for running and the course is beautiful, so great fun to run”. Elwyn Howell continued his recent string of strong performances, with a new PB of 1:16:21 and finishing third in his age category. Melanie Flynn added to the bounty of new PBs for the club, crossing the line in a brilliant 1:26:21, and was also full of praise for the event: “I’d highly recommend this race which was a nice flat, traffic-free course with some scenic riverside paths.” Other squirrels who completed the race were Dave Braybrook (1:17:32), Anna Gibson (1:26:36), and Bev Rimmer (1:35:04).
Opting to race in warmer, sunnier, and more exotic climes, Michelle Grudzinski and Jennie Fraser headed to Morocco for the Marrakesh Marathon. Michelle explained that their (rather enviable) pre-race prep consisted of “hot air ballooning over the Atlas Mountains, haggling in the souks (we both now have some lovely leather slippers), cake eating and dodging snake charmers!” The race was apparently very well organised, and was a certainly an interesting experience according to Michelle: “We spotted sheep, camels, donkeys, horses, peahens, and peacocks on our urban safari, not the sort of thing we see on the streets of Letchworth!” However, the calm and organised start made way for a rather chaotic finish, especially in the last 3 miles which involved “dodging cars, bikes, trees as the roads opened, a bit of off road running through rocks, stopping for directions at junctions as we and our surrounding runners were looking for the finish.” Despite having little race strategy and forgetting to buy snacks for the route, the duo were delighted to finish together in an impressive time of 4:42.
Closer to home, Stewart Overton and Darren Matussa raced in the Serpentine 5k in Hyde Park, London, on Friday. They both achieved impressive sub-20 times, with Overton finishing in 17:10 and Matussa in 19:34.
Seventeen Squirrels donned their warmest running gear to head down the frosted A1 on Sunday morning, to race in the sell-out St Albans Striders Fred Hughes 10 mile road race. There was a late change to the course on Saturday afternoon as St Albans Striders the race organisers reported a change to an alternative 2 lap course as parts of the original course were covered in heavy ice, so not suitable to be used for the runners safety. The race served as the Hertfordshire County Senior 10 mile championship, which meant a really strong field of the counties best runners. The Male Squirrels teams were on fire despite the sub zero temperatures, racing to victory in the Male race, led home by James Fox in a personal best time of 53 minutes and 27 seconds and second in the County Champs. He was closely followed by Mike Roberts, Andrew Leach and Nathan Pask. The squirrels B team also did well, finishing 6th with Ed Price, Matt Sayers, Shahab Ahmad and Kris Whitmore racing their socks off. Both Shahab and Kris smashed their personal best times. In the Female race Tash Pitman was the first home for the club, happy to have avoided slipping on the frosty patches and she was following in by friends Tracy Pitcairn and Eve racing together for their first 10 mile race. The Female scoring team was completed by Lucy O’Connor, who enjoyed the company of Anna Gibson to cheer her round.
Name Chip Time Category Position
James Fox 00:53:27 4
Mike Roberts 00:54:31 5
Andrew Leach 00:56:30 1
Nathan Pask 00:56:50 4
Edward Price 00:58:35 10
Matthew Sayers 00:59:14 13
Shahab Ahmad 00:59:19 15
Kris Whitmore 01:02:13 22
Ian Datlen 01:07:28 18
Natasha Pitman 01:08:29 4
David Weston 01:13:04 77
Matthew Roberts 01:21:06 119
Tracy Pitcairn 01:25:21 57
Eve Surridge 01:25:22 58
Lucy O'Connor 01:26:20 12
Anna Gibson 01:27:02 67
Carina Quayle 01:45:25 53
North Herts Road Runners won the fourth race in the hotly contested Three Counties Cross Country fixture in Stopsley on Sunday. Both male and female teams put in blistering performances to each take their respective categories.
The squirrels were apprehensive going into the race with victory needed to keep their hopes of winning the league for a third consecutive year alive. They needn't have feared the persistent rain in the run up, or the buffering winds on race day as the team saw a record turnout for the season with 56 toeing the line with 361 runners competing in total.
Katie Harbon ran superbly to win the female race and Mike Roberts came in a very close second place for the men.
North Herts Road Runners finished first in the combined team championship due to a fantastic performance by both men's and women's teams - who also both finished ahead of the rest in first place.
The most common remarks as the squirrels dipped over the finish line were about the killer final hill (described as feeling like a mountain by some!), the seemingly gale force winds in the second half and gratitude for the immense support from lots of team mates who came to lend their support with extremely loud cheering and cowbells!
Men’s Cross Country Captain John Auld commented “This was a brilliant team performance that has made the last race on 5th February a very exciting prospect. With a last race ‘winner takes all’ battle for both the women's and men's team competitions against Bedford Harriers and Ampthill and Flitwick Flyers respectively. NHRR are currently leading - but it can be overturned in the last race by finishing behind the relevant club in either competition.”
16 squirrels celebrated Christmas week by running the popular Buntngford 10 in very wet and blustery conditions. Ladies team captain, Tash Pitman, led the club home in 71.19 and was delighted to win bronze in the Herts Championships. A string of squirrels followed her across the line in sub 80 minutes: James Godfrey 72.58, David Edwards 74.13, Ian Harvey 74.47, Steve Brenton 77.45 and Dave Braybrook 78.13. Also running well in the challenging conditions were: David Weston 83.58, Anna Greetham 86.18, Mel Flynn 87.12 PB, Anna Gibson 87.17, Lucy O’Connor 87.31, Frances Stanton 1.311.26, Dawn Power 1.36.53, Natalie Phillips 1.42.33, Andreea Weise-Shaw 1.45.43 and Geoff Davis 1.47.34.
Ely New Year’s Eve 10k
Karen Dodsworth and Brian Judkins were delighted to secure an entry for the Ely New Year’s Eve 10k which returned this year for the 1st time after the pandemic. Karen said, ‘this is such a fast course but the highlight of the race is the piper at the top of the hill at 9k, the sound of the bagpipes really spurs you on’. Karen finished in 54.23 and Brian in 73.31.
Many North Herts Road Runners enjoyed the opportunity to see out the old year and/or welcome in the New Year by running Park Runs on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
New Year’s Eve
Bedford: Richard Barker 22.16, Georgia Barker 29.46
Cleethorpes: Vince Wright 18.31
Folkestone: Helen Cairns 25.58
Gunpowder: Darren Matussa 20.58
Henlow Bridge Lakes: Mike Over 24.25, Andrew Coates 26.18, Tim Banting 27.41, Natalie Phillips 32.17.
Letchworth: Anna Klucinka 22.50, James Dalton 23.46, Astrid McKeown 24.05, Rachel Arnott 24.07, Nick Walker 26.35, Steve Brenton 28.19, Ian Harvey 28.22, David Weston 28.23, Alice Noakes 29.12, Philip Flack 36.34, Geoff Pettengell 39.37, Branka Moss 56.23.
Luton: Tracy Pitcairn 21.23
Mersea Island: Will Harrison 22.13, Laura Fairbanks 24.52
Stevenage Kris Whitmore 19.21, Jane Clarke 27.10, Sue Vaughan 29.29
New Year’s Day
Letchworth: James Dalton 23.14, Ian Harvey 23.32, Rachel Arnott 23.56, Dave Braybrook 26.13, Steve Brenton 27.56, Jennie Fraser 28.59, Cara Sutton 29.27 PB, Drew Norton 29.37, Andrew Grudzinski 30.25, Karen Shaw 34.45, Philip Flack 35.26, Aimee Flack 40.05, Branka Moss 58.40.
Stevenage: Kris Whitmore 19.15, James Godfrey 21.33, Elwyn Howell 21.46 PB, Mike Over 33.22, Rhia Botha 24.28, Paul Holm 24.30, Barbara Sayers 24.58, Dervla Downing 25.40, Andrew Coates 25,42, Karen Dodsworth 28.24, Paul Bowal 28.47, Andreea Weisi-Shaw 29.14, Georgia Barker 29.48, Richard Barker 29.49, Clare Hooley 40.05.
44 heroic squirrels ran in the third event in the Three Counties XC league. North Herts Road Runners were the host club and the conditions were challenging for both runners and organisers. Despite less-than-ideal conditions, 283 runners finished the race in the snow across the fields between Baldock and Weston.
North Herts Road Runners finished 1st in the combined competition which wasn’t surprising after finishing first in both the ladies and men's competitions.
Men's team captain, John Auld said that “the men's team were amazing. They achieved one of the lowest scores in recent years. The ladies also were fabulous against very tough opposition. The best team performances are when people turn out and run for each other. “
The result means that overall in the league, the squirrels are 2nd in the men's league. Also 2nd in the ladies league, despite being level on points. Bedford have a superior score difference. The squirrels are now leading the combined league championship ahead of rivals Ampthill and Flitwick Flyers.
The scoring team for the men's were Adam Bowller, Ben Hadman, Mike Roberts, Wayne Bell, Nathan Pask, Ben Sewell, Stewart Overton and Vince Wright.
Scoring for the ladies was Katie Harbon, Anna Klucnika, Rachel Arnott and Hannah Ridley.
A big thank you from both team captains to all involved in staging the event and to all the runners!
The snowy icy conditions meant Letchworth parkrun saw a huge turnout of 179 runners as all other local events were cancelled due to safety concerns. Tracy Pitcairn celebrated a milestone 50th parkrun and James Dalton was proud to finally wear his milestone 100th parkrun vest.
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