‘The weather gods were certainly having fun up there’ was Kat Gourd’s summary of conditions at the Baldock Beast Half-marathon, with ‘driving stinging rain’ and ‘horrendous headwinds that nearly finished me off’.
Despite the conditions – also described by fellow North Herts Road Runner Susan Mansfield as more wind, more rain and even hailstones at one point’, the Squirrels took top spots in both the ladies’ and men’s team competitions.
Gourd (finish time 1.52.11) teamed up with Caroline Thrussell (1.42.59) and Suzy Trott (1.45.03) to take the ladies team title, while Tom Webb (second in the race with 1.18.59), Darren Sunter (3rd in 1.19.15), Rob Harris (6th in 1.23.20) and Darren Bonham (16th in 1.32.38) took the men's prize.
The popular local race attracted a strong turnout from the Letchworth-based club with the Squirrels’ ladies' B team of Rhia Botha, Lucy O’Connor and Grace Cleary also taking third spot in the team standings and Brent Lloyd, James Dalton, William Harrison and Chris Stokes following suit for the men.
Hailey Batson managed to knock a remarkable 7 minutes off her time in last year’s race with a 2.17. 40 clocking – a fine performance in the testing conditions.
In the age categories, Caroline Thrussell took first place in the ladies 55-plus group, Suzy Trott second in the 45-plus and Rob Harris was first in the men’s 40-plus category .
Full NHRR Baldock Beast results:
Tom Webb, 1:18:59; Darren Sunter, 1:19:15; Rob Harris, 1:23:20; Darren Bonham, 1:32:38; Brent Lloyd, 1:34:15; James Dalton, 1:35:11; William Harrison, 1:36:17; Chris Stokes, 1:36:21; Ian Datlen, 1:36:38; David Weston, 1:37:38; John Auld, 1:38:31; Andrew Underhill, 1:42:34; Caroline Thrussell, 1:42:59; Mike Bullock, 1:44:58; Suzy Trott, 1:45:03; Stuart Cocks, 1:46:10; Kat Gourd, 1:52:11; Andrew Coates, 1:53:20; Matt Roberts, 1:54:40; Dan Mallett, 1:55:33; Rhia Botha, 1:55:55; Lucy O’Connor, 1:57:24; Christian Allen, 1:57:33; Liam Jones, 1:58:05; Andrew Robson, 1:58:18; Grace Cleary, 1:58:20; Carl Haskell, 1:58:12; Chris Poole, 1:58:12; Alice Noakes, 1:59:49; Susan Mansfield, 2:00:11; Steve Brenton, 2:01:32; Ellie Scott, 2:02:46; Matt Ankers, 2:03:07; Jennie Fraser, 2:03:08; Georgina Quayle, 2:03:42; Sue Foot, 2:08:02; Andrew Porter, 2:10:24; Colin Calcutt, 2:15:26; Alan Hazlehurst, 2:17:08; Hailey Batson, 2:17:40; Carina Quayle, 2:23:18; James Poulton, 2:24:14; Anna Greetham, 2:26:09; Ali Mottram , 2:33:00; Hayley Cocks (tail runner), 2.49.
Brighton was Dervla Downing’s choice for a half-marathon and the wind made its presence felt there as well. Although she had ‘never run in such intense and strong wind’, Downing was pleased with her finish time of 1.44.21.
Vanessa Rolfe found much more pleasant conditions at the Naples Half-marathon in Italy, where she completed the course in 2.23.49.
William Harrison, 21.07, Ellie Scott, 25.41.
Naomi Parkinson, 25.09; Jillian Boys, 31.09
Glyn Blakey, 24.09
Chris Poole, 25.32
Adam Wilson, 25.59; Helen Wilson, 33.39
Stewart Overton, 19.53; James Dalton, 22.19; Richard Harbon, 24.57; Carl Goodrum, 31.41; Philip Flack, 35.01; Steve Brenton, 44.10
Carl Haskell, 22.31; Abbie Haskell, 39.34; Vicky Haskell, 39.36
North Herts Road Runners gave strong performances in the Barcelona half marathon and closer to home in the Milton Keynes Winter Warmer 10K,
As the UK suffered another wet and wild weekend being battered by Storm Dennis, and countless races and Parkruns were again called off due to the extreme weather, two squirrels wisely escaped to run in sunnier climes. Michelle and Andy Grudzinski jumped on a plane to Barcelona to run the Barcelona Half Marathon as part of their training for the forthcoming Paris Marathon, and to support a friend doing her first half marathon. Michelle admitted that “three days of walking and sightseeing is probably not the best half marathon preparation” but they also took advantage of the abundance of tapas and paella offered by the Catalonian city. “Loaded up with seafood and injuries”, they embarked on the 21km course, sticking together for the first 13km, and finishing in an excellent 2:15:57 (Michelle) and 2:23:23 (Andy).
Back home in the UK, the furies of Storm Dennis didn’t quite manage to cancel all the scheduled races. Four hardy squirrels braved the elements and headed to Milton Keynes to take part in the "questionably named" (according to Matt Roberts) 10k Winter Warmer. Determined performances all round saw Julie Toland finish in 53:22, Tim Banting in 53:22, Saab Bharaj in 1:06:18, and Matt Roberts in a new personal best of 49:58. Although several local Parkruns were cancelled, club members did venture out to some events on Saturday, with James Fox coming first at Stevenage.
Stevenage: James FOX 16:47, Nick MALPELI 19:23, William HARRISON 19:24, Naomi PARKINSON 23:17, Andrew COATES 23:40, Matt ROBERTS 24:39, Philip FLACK 27:09, Glyn BLAKEY 28:07, Abbie HASKELL 29:01, Carl HASKELL 29:01, Patrick NORRIS 36:59.
Lowestoft: James POULTON 26:16.
Ellenbrook Fields: Jillian BOYS 27:34.
Crewe: Chris POOLE 22:59.
With Storm Ciara closing in on the UK, many of Sundays’ races were cancelled for the health and safety of all runners and marshals, though many Squirrels managed their weekly Saturday Parkrun ahead of high winds and rains while two members tackled an Ultra.
Two hardy squirrels, Mike Bullock and Susan Mansfield, undeterred by severe weather warnings, ventured to the barren North on Saturday to compete in the Leicester Round Ultra - a 100 mile trail route round the villages and hamlets of Leicester, split into 3 races; this was the third event , distance 58km
Mike commented after the race “Let’s just say it was 58km of pure muddy torment...big hills and constant never-ending mud, so we were filthy and soaking wet from start to finish.
I will be grateful never to run across another ploughed field in my life, one farmer was actually ploughing his field as we ran across it, just to torture us, and some of the hills were so muddy we actually went up on our hands and knees.”
They claimed that navigation isn’t one of their strengths and struggled with some of the course marking, but luckily didn’t take too many wrong turns, and managed to find the finish line, Mike in 8hrs 5 minutes , Susan in 8 hrs 16 minutes. They are looking forward to the Amersham Ultra in just a few weeks!
Kettering: Steve WILLIAMSON 22:36 Stevenage: Dan MALLETT 23:39, Kat GOURD 24:26, Glyn BLAKEY 24:27, Dave BRAYBROOK 24:45, Julie TOLAND 24:58, Chris POOLE 26:08, Georgina Quayle 26:38, Helen Giffin 31:18, Patrick NORRIS 36:07, Jane CLARKE 36:59 Wimpole: Jillian BOYS 30:17 Conwy: Jo SOPALA 35:44 Crissy Field (San Francisco): Natasha PITMAN 21:07 Letchworth: Matt ROBERTS 25:18, Philip FLACK 29:42, Carl GOODRUN 29:54, Carina QUAYLE 31:36, John O’GORMAN 40:18 Wendover Woods: Abbie HASKELL 31:41, Carl HASKELL 31:42 Coldham’s Common: Naomi PARKINSON 24:46
Six Squirrels headed west on Sunday for the Watford Half Marathon, an iconic event that the Watford Harriers have been proudly hosting for over 50 years. First home for the club was Matt Sayers, who ran 1:16:17. ‘This was my debut half marathon in 2004 (1:45:34) so a special event for me personally,’ said Matt. ‘It's put on by runners for runners. Lots of enthusiastic marshals, locals come out to cheer along the way, occasion music blasting out en-route.’ Although just outside his PB, Matt was delighted to get 2nd V40 overall and V40-49 Half Marathon Herts County Champion. Also running were Grace Cleary (1:52:03) and Siobhan Walsh (2:17:20), and Ian Harvey (1:43:04), Chris Poole (1:47:07) and Richard Weber (1:58:56). ‘It was great to see the Squirrels putting in impressive personal performances,’ said Matt.
Andrew Porter, Lucy O'Connor and Ian Sutcliffe ran the RSPB Race for Wildlife 10k at Sandy on Sunday. Ian, who finished in 63 minutes, described it as a ‘lovely course and not too muddy,’ adding that it includes two steep hills ‘which we have to run up TWICE!’ ‘It was a real treat to run on an off-road multi- terrain course,’ said Lucy O’Connor, who finished in 54:07, four minutes quicker than the last time she ran this race.
The weekend began with the First Saturday of the Month, North Herts Road Runners’ popular timed 5k run round Letchworth’s Norton Common. As ever, the event was only possible thanks to all the marshals and helpers. Although a bit muddy in places, the conditions weren't too bad - good enough for NHRR’s Tom Webb to fly around in 17:55, nearly 2 minutes ahead of second place. Eva McCabe provided the other standout performance: the junior athlete was the second female, and finished in 23:06. In total, seventy people ran (see the forum for full results).
In parkrun news, Elwyn Howell completed the Teignmouth Park run in a PB time of 24.20 on a beautiful day in Devon. This week’s full parkrun results:
Albert parkrun, Melbourne
335 Anna PRIESTLEY 30:26
479 Abbie HASKELL 01:01:41
480 Carl HASKELL 01:01:42
Milton Keynes parkrun
75 Naomi PARKINSON 22:57
47 Steve WILLIAMSON 22:22
129 Chris POOLE 25:36
168 Georgina QUAYLE 26:53
436 Jane CLARKE 37:45
1 James DALTON 21:51
10 Daniel MALLETT 25:07
15 Steve BRENTON 26:09
43 Elwyn HOWELL 24:20
233 Lindsey LUCAS 36:06
Fulbourn Hospital parkrun
116 Brian JUDKINS 34:09
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