Veni, vidi, vici
Andy and I headed to Rome for a weekend of sun, sightseeing, eating (yummm gelato) and, oh, we squeezed in a little marathon so we could sweep up any bits we missed on the tours!
Our pre event carb loading was taken very seriously with the local delicacies of pizza and pasta aiding our preparation. I swear that gelato is also a carb and ensured it played a starring role in the menu choices🐷
The pre-race organisation left something to be desired so it was with some trepidation that we left our hotel at some insanely early time on Sunday morning (seriously, who steals an hour of sleep from athletes the night before a marathon 🤬?) Feeling less like gladiators and more like plebeians we gathered under the colosseum to await our destiny...
We had already decided to run our own "race" and split up ready to see what the Parcae had waiting for us...
I think Andy rather hoped that the streets would be lined with Cognac like the last Marathon he ran but it wasn't to be... it was lined with cobbles 😱
It appears that Jupiter took pity on the plebeians and sent them some celestial help!
Andy came in with an excellent time of 4.33.07, a 16 minute marathon PB and after 23 further attempts (at marathon and marathon + attempt 24) Michelle finally broke her PB set in her first ever marathon by 22 minutes coming in at an unexpected 4.08.44!
Michelle intends to start Paris next weekend with an éclair in one hand and a bottle of sprite in the other and take it easy sightseeing and eating en-route!
Written By Michelle Grudzinski
Andy and Michelle Grudzinski of North Herts Road Runners headed to Rome to take part in the marathon setting out like gladiators from the majestic Colleseum before charging round the ancient city soaking up all of the stunning historic architecture. Andy came in with an excellent time of 4 hours 33 mins and 7 seconds, beating his previous best time by 16 minutes. Michelle was delighted to better her best time which was set in her first ever marathon by 22 minutes, finishing in 4 hours, 8 minutes and 44 seconds.
Meanwhile closer to home Jo Sopala and Lindsey Lucas begrudgingly remembered the clocks had sprung forward to drive to Hoohah Thetford Forest 10km, through Britain's largest lowland pine forest. Lindsey "really enjoyed running on trails through the forest as it was lovely and peaceful." As usual her running partner Jo Sopala was by her side keeping her going for the first part and they finished with big smiles on their faces with Jo recording 72:28 and Lindsey 73:36.
Even closer to home, Russ Hagan and Kat Hinitt ran the 10km option in the Lee Valley Run Fest with a flat course on the trails around Lee Valley Park and Watersports Centre offering potential for fast times. Russ set a great new personal best time of 49:41 and Kat was motivated to set a speedy pace as car troubles meant she was racing to catch an AA man!
NHRR finishers at parkrun events:
Daniel Martin 19:23; Ian Datlen 19:35 ; James Dalton 21:11; William Harrison 21:16; Daniel Mallett 22:49; Paul Bowal 28:09; Bob Davis 29:07; Lucy Hurley 29:32; Jennie Fraser 29:57, Philip Flack 29:59
Sue Vaughan 28:33
Henlow Bridge Lakes parkrun
James Poulton 24:19
Upton Court parkrun
Joseph Sherry 26:11
Wimpole Estate parkrun
Vince Wright 19:47; Kat Hinitt 23:53; Andrew Coates 24:07; Anna Gibson 24:15; Lucy O’Connor 25:03; Jillian Boys 25:37; Russ Hagen 27:09; Brian Judkins 33:16
Queenstown parkrun (New Zealand)
Tash Pitman 20:29 - first lady
Kat Hinitt's adventurous spirit saw her venture up to Northamptonshire to race in the Stanwick Lakes Spring Run on Sunday. Kat chose to race the 10km distance and said, "The 10km race was two laps around the picturesque country park, taking in views of the pretty lakes. The course was fairly flat and straightforward, apart from some unexpected water crossings in the form of very large puddles which took me by surprise!". It was Kat's first 10km for some months and she was pleased with her time of 47:24, and delighted to be 4th lady and 11th finisher overall.
Meanwhile Vince Wright headed over to Hastings to compete in his sixth Hastings half marathon and took an astounding 5 minutes off his course best to finish in 83:24, ranking 44th overall and 4th in his age group. Vince reported, "The Hastings half marathon is the hardest half I have done with over 850 ft of ascent. The first 6 miles mainly up hill and then down for the next 5 with 2 miles along the seafront to the finish. Apart from the sun being out the whole time, the conditions were perfect with an unusual Easterly tail wind to the finish."
Meanwhile over at Saturday's 5km parkruns, we had 19 squirrels taking part in 9 different events, with Tracy Pitcairn running strongly to be crowned first female at the lovely hilly Letchworth parkrun in an impressive time of 21:22. Mark Vaughan ventured slightly further away to the popular fast Great Denham parkrun and secured 3rd place on the podium in 17:10 as his return to form continues.
NHRR finishers at parkrun events:
Clapham Common parkrun
Scott Reed 27:41
Great Denham parkrun
Mark Vaughan 17:10; Sue Vaughan 29:27
Daniel Martin 20:38; James Dalton 21:22; Tracy Pitcairn 22:22; Corne Swart 27:05; Alan Hazlehurst 28:15; Philip Flack 33:38
Lyme Park parkrun
James Keogh 22:09
Ellie Scott 31:23
Brian Judkins 32:01
Rutland Water parkrun
Joseph Sherry 23:51
Tracy McCreath 31:29; Kelly Hanlon 39:55
Wimpole Estate parkrun
Jillian Boys 24:50; Lucy O'Connor 25:38; Anna Gibson 29:19
Written by Tash
There was success far and wide for North Herts Road Runners as the Squirrels fanned out across the country.
Andrew Leach took a national-level title by winning the British Masters V55 Cross-country Championships on a demanding course at Tonbridge, Kent. ‘Despite perceptions to the contrary’, Leach reported, ‘Kent can be quite hilly, and this was a good illustration - three laps of mostly up and down with one particularly brutal climb each lap’. Leach was delighted to ‘hold off the challenge’ of regular rival Ben Reynolds and said ‘having had to withdraw from the Cambridge Half-marathon last weekend it was good to get a race into the legs and lungs!’.
Leading the way at the Oundle 20-mile race were the trio of Lucy O’Connor, Anna Gibson and Richard Weber, with O’Connor’s 3:03:52 a new personal best by two minutes and good enough for first in her F60 age category. No wonder she hailed the course as ‘an absolute delight’ with ‘pretty villages all with distinctive churches who spires and towers could be seen from afar – I think this is my favourite race to date’.
Weber’s 2:53:44 finish demolished his previous best by ten minutes and he ‘absolutely loved this race – highly recommended’. Gibson recorded 3:28:19 as she continues to clock up the miles in her marathon preparation.
The Milton Keynes Festival of Running also played host to a strong contingent of Squirrels, with Clare Hooley and Men’s Captain John Auld taking the 5km option. Auld finished 4th overall in 18:24 and reported ‘it wasn’t the time I wanted, but the conditions were windy and the course was much more undulating than I thought. In particular, kilometre four was brutal!’. Focusing on the positives, Auld highlighted ‘the fact that I came through the field very well. I picked them off one by one - slowly but surely.’
It was Hooley’s first race in more than two years, and she enjoyed the ‘special’ character of the event, with the staggered starts across all the distances meaning that ‘if you are in the shorter races you can recover, grab a coffee and get out to cheer those doing the longer races. She duly cheered in Ben Sewell, who completed the 20-mile race in a tremendous 2:12:46, and James Keogh, who was pleased that his 1:34:56 half-marathon result was ‘only two minutes longer than in 2019, which seems a long time ago now’. Dervla Downing also completed the half-marathon in 1: 47:05 and NHRR Chief Coach Karen Dodsworth clocked 55.16 in the 10k race.
Squirrels were out in force at Parkruns on Saturday morning, with 29 completing the 5km distance. Joanne Hoare was first lady across the line at Letchworth and Elwyn Howell was first in his age category at Teignmouth.
Dan Martin 21:31; James Dalton 22:15; Steve Brenton 25:04; Joanne Hoare 27:07; James Walsh 27:47; Andrew Grudzinski 29:23; Michelle Grudzinski 29:27; Jennie Fraser 30:36; Paul Bowal 30:38; Philip Flack 36:15
Dalby Forest Parkrun
Brian Judkins 32:22
Henlow Bridge Lakes Parkrun
Rob Milburn 28:21; Helen Giffin 32:59
Chris Stokes 21:58
Somerdale Pavilion Parkrun
Adam Wilson 25:30
Matthew Ronayne 18:57; Michael Over 21:13; Paula Holm 22:45; Richard Harbon 22:52; Andrew Coates 24:36; Matt Roberts 25:18; Barbara Sayers 25:37 Tim Banting 25:44; Sue Vaughan 29:36
Storeys Field Parkrun
Joe Sherry 25:40
Elwyn Howell 21:53
Wimpole Estate Parkrun
Vince Wright, 20:19
Written by James Walsh
The weekend started with North Herts Road Runners very own First Saturday of the month 5k with 41 finishers, including 13 squirrels. First squirrel home was James Dalton in 22:15 who stayed just ahead of Mike Over in 22:16, chasing him down in the finish straight the pair finished 5th and 6th respectively. Helen Harbon was first lady home finishing in 9th in 23:27. Other squirrels finishing were Katie Harbon 11th (24:13), Jill Tooley-Boys 12th (24:13), Jon Hunt 14th (24:43), Viv Lucas 21st (27:27), Grace Cleary 22nd (27:41), Niamh Madigan 23rd (28:33), Lorna Chambers 26th (29:49), Dawn Power 32nd (32:01), Cara Sutton 33rd (32:01), Tracey McCreath 35th (35:14).
Sunday saw a superb scurry of 35 squirrels running the Cambridge half marathon. The flat course attracts a very strong field of 14,000 runners and with fantastic weather conditions its was set up for some great times and the squirrels delivered!
Squirrels setting new personal bests for the distance were Tom Webb, Adam Bowller by 34 seconds, Adam Wilson broke his by 1 minute. Michelle Grudzinski was hoping to get under 2 hours but ended up beat her previous best by 8 mins. Ian Datlen by over 5 mins, Stewart Overton, Darren Sunter, Ben Ryan, Kyle Stout, Sophie Thrussell, Julie Taylor, Anna Greetham, Matt Roberts, Rhia Botha by over 8 mins and Steve Brenton by almost 4 mins.
Tom Webb was first home for the club, finishing 10th overall in the race with 1:08:50. Running with fellow squirrel, James Fox, they made a sensible call to drop off the lead pack after the first mile and work together through to 10 miles. Competing for his first claim club, Belgrave, James finished in 1:09:12. Webb described those last few miles as tough, but mentioned that the downhill from Trumpington and the support coming back into Cambridge kept him going. Most notably, an ecstatic head coach, Karen and both his wife and daughter at miles 5 and again at 11.
Darren Sunter set a new club record for male aged above 40 category finishing 28th in 1:11:00. Along with many others, Adam Bowller said it was great to see so many other squirrels both running and supporting - with the fast course and favourable conditions, Bowller finished in 1:12:02. Sophie Thrussell was first Lady home for the squirrels, finishing in 1:26:42 - achieving her goal of London Marathon championship start qualification.
Elwyn Howell ran 1:41:31. Elwyn also noted afterwards that is was lovely to see so many squirrels at the event. Kat Burr ran her first race in over 3 and a half years, finishing in 1:40:13. Ben Ryan was gutted to miss out on breaking 1 hour 40 mins by only 6 seconds. He gave thanks to Elwyn for all the pacing advice during the race and for setting the pace through the mid section of the race where he confessed to struggling.
Ian Datlen commented on the weather being perfect as was the course elevation. After getting a reasonable start after the initial congestion, the crowds pushed him to a slightly faster than planned first 5km - which bizarrely started to feel comfortable for him. Ian kept going with no idea how - but the crowds coming back not Cambridge made the last 5km fly by.
Julie Taylor ran here first half marathon in 2:25:48 - Julie commented that it made a big difference to her having the support of friends and family.
Enjoying the race was Kat Hinitt who ran back to back half marathon race weekends and with sore legs from last weekend, Kat took it more steady this week but was delighted to set her second best ever time for the course, and third fastest time for a half marathon distance. Also commenting on perfect weather conditions.
Rhia Botha said it was a wonderful course which was only made better by the sun shining down and the support received from the clubs brilliant coaches and fellow team mates. Rhia couldn’t be happier after beating her target by more than 2 mins.
Likewise, Steve Brenton mentioned the great support and conditions adding also that he beat his time before joining the club on the course by almost 20 mins.
Full list of finishers included at the end of report.
Ben Sewell ran in the Essex 20 mile finishing in 25th with 2:02:19. Ben said that the course was quite tough in sections because of the wind across an airfield but was happy with his performance.
Dave Braybrook ran the Wymondham 20 mile race as part of his Manchester marathon training. Dave finished in 2:50:09 and was really pleased with his time which had given him confidence and a much needed boost with his training.
Chloe Locas ran the Marakele 10km in Marakele National Park, South Africa. Home to the big 5 and usually only vehicle access is permitted. However, Chloe didn’t see any wildlife on route she finished 5th lady in a time of 52:15 in the high altitude and high humidity.
Park run results:
Stevenage: Jane Clarke 32:37
Rushmere: Brian Judkins 39:02
Northwich: Nick Nalpeli 1st 19:06
Henlow Bridges: Vince Wright 2nd 19:38
Storeys Field: Jo Sherry 25:26
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