Squirrels slay the Marathon dragon on Saint George's Day
The 43rd edition of the much loved London Marathon returned to its pre-pandemic April billing on Sunday, Saint George's Day with the weather offering the classic Spring mixed bag of heavy showers and bright sunshine. Sixteen North Herts Road Runners undertook the epic 26.2 mile challenge, many of them raising money for important charities as they notched up the miles. They were cheered round by the Super Squirrel Support Squad who were strategically dotted around the course. Sophie Thrussell thanked the team for their support, saying "It really does make the world of difference".
First female home for North Herts was Sophie Thrussell in her best ever time of 3 hours and 13 minutes which gives her a championship entry for next year's race. Rhia Botha "was dreading the cold and wet" but ran her best marathon time of 3 hours and 26 minutes. Lucy O'Connor looked in great form to finish in 3 hours and 57 minutes, with Eve Surridge close behind raising money for Dementia UK. Sue Foot finished almost less than a minute ahead of Dawn Power in 4 hours and 39 minutes. Dawn was running in a club ballot place and raising funds for our club charity Stevenage and North Hertfordshire Child Contact Centre. Andreea bolstered our female contingent in 4 hours and 57 minutes, and in typical Andreea fashion said yesterday evening "I can't wait to get training again and improve my time!"
First male home for the Squirrels was Ben Hadham in a time of 2 hours and 32 minutes in his debut marathon, and ranks 3rd in the all-time marathon list! He was closely followed by experienced marathoner Matt Sayers who was "both pleased and relieved" to finish in 2 hours and 38 minutes and Ben Sewell in 2 hours and 45 minutes. Tom Barclay ran a stunning debut marathon in 2 hours and 48 minutes. Stewart Overton also smashed the 3 hour barrier in 2 hours and 50 minutes. Casey Walker and Dan Mallet finished within seconds of each other in just over 4 hours and 13 minutes. Alan Hazlehurst had knee pain from around 19 miles, but battled on over the last 7 miles to finish in 5 hours and 25 minutes. Paul Forde supported the men home, breaking the six hour barrier in 5:59:52.
Runners were also able to take part in the London Marathon virtually if they wished, and we had one brave squirrel take on this challenge. James Dalton set off around the local towns and villages to complete his 26.2 miles in 4 hours and 15 minutes.
Also worth celebrating the performance of our North Herts friend Yuko Gordon who ran for Fairlands Valley Spartans. Yuko won the female 70-74 age category in an amazing time of 3 hours, 28 minutes and 20 seconds, setting a new GB record and only 4 minutes off Jeannie Rice's world record set in Berlin in 2019.
Ben Hadman 2:32:18; Matt Sayers 2:38:42; Ben Sewell 2:45:03; Tom Barclay 2:48:48; Stewart Overton 2:50:45; Sophie Thrussell 3:13:22; Rhia Botha 3:26:04; Lucy O’Connor 3:57:45; Eve Surridge 3:59:17; Casey Walker 4:13:37; Dan Mallett 4:13:59; Sue Foot 4:39:37; Dawn Power 4:40:16; Andreea Weisl-Shaw 4:57:59; Alan Hazlehurst 5:25:06
Georgia and Richard Barker ran the Hoohaah Thetford 10k trail race - pleasant flat run in the forest with 246 other runners and 55 Canicrossers. Although rain had been predicted the sun was shining and conditions were dry leading everyone to agree they were over dressed. Georgia and Richard crossed the finish in 1 hr 2mins and 11 secs.
Jill Tooley-Boys and Lulu also completed the Canicross in 50 mins 18 seconds.
41 squirrels ran at 11 different Parkruns this week.
Leamington: John Russell (25:15)
Bedford: Mike Bullock (39:37)
Milton Country: Anna Klunika (19:41), Frances Stanton (29:35)
Stevenage: Ian Harvey (20:54), Mike Phillips (21:13), Mike Over (21:15), Elwyn Howell (21:40), Matt Roberts (22:27), James Poulton (23:07), Chris Stokes (23:27), Ian Datlen (24:51), Andrew Coates (24:56), Barbara Sayers (25:07), Angeliki Shearstone (28:07), Paula Holm (28:42), Natalie Philips (28:42), Amanda Greig (30:10).
Mile End: Kris Whitmore (18:55)
Sheringham: Richard Harbon (26:00), Jo Harbon (30:28)
Wimpole Estate: Jane Robson (33:12), Julie Taylor (33:13)
Shrewsbury: Andy Grudzinski (27:08)
Cleethorpes: Jon Hunt (22:33)
Letchworth: James Dalton (21:12), Steve Brenton (25:00), Georgina Quayle (25:17), Philip Flack (28:40), Alice Noakes (29:21), Aimee Flack (33:27), Karen Shaw (33:35), Geoff Pettengell (35:42), Carina Quayle (39:10).
Great Denham: David Edwards (19:53)
Henlow Bridge Lakes: Richard Barker (23:43), Dave Braybrook (24:50), Rob Milburn (26:52), Tim Banting (27:13), Bob Davis (29:33).
Squirrels roll with it at Manchester Marathon
Twelve North Herts Road Runners headed up to Manchester to take part in the marathon which is seen as one of the fastest courses in the country. There were 7 personal best times and three athlete smashed the 3 hours barrier in near perfect conditions.
First home for the club, was Sam Coxon, knocking an impressive 15 minutes off his debut marathon time to lead the North Herts contingent home in 2:45:05. He was followed home by Anna Klucnika who also ran her fastest ever marathon despite a "huge crash" to finish in 2:54:33. Ollie Parsons completed the trio to break the magical sub 3 hours, also running his fastest ever time of 2:58:51. Luke Nicholl has just joined the club and did a brilliant time of 3:06:56, even more impressive considering he only completed Brighton two weeks ago! Paula Holm had an amazing race, speeding up with every mile to knock 14 minutes off her previous best time to finish in 3:21:06. Talking after the race Paula credited coach Karen for an excellent training plan to get her to the start line uninjured and in peak condition. James Godfrey also looked determined and finished in 3:28:23. Laura Fairbanks had a stunning race to finish in 3:34:00, a 14 minute improvement from her previous best time from Paris in 2019 and a huge 53 minutes faster than her first marathon in London 2014. She commented "she is over the moon, gave it everything and never been so relieved to see a finish line in her life!" David Weston dipped under 4 hours in 3:59:14 and is now focused on his training plan for the Richmond Marathon in September. New club member Emma Sandham ran an excellent 4:00:22, a huge 29 minutes off her time at Edinburgh last year and she is "super chuffed"! Jodie Wilkes was next home in 4:08:47 followed by Anna Gibson in 4:35:12 and Laura Preston in 5:57:55.
Full results: Sam Coxon 2.45.05; Anna Klucnika 2.54.33; Ollie Parsons 2.58.51; Luke Nicholl 3:06:56; Paula Holm 3.21.02; James Godfrey 3.28.23; Laura Fairbanks 3.34; David Weston 3.59.14; Emma Sandham 4.00.22; Jodie Wilkes 4.08.47; Anna Gibson 4.35.12; Laura Preston 5.57.55
Squirrels conquer the infamous hills at the Flitwick 10k
Closer to home the 12 Squirrels were out in force at the Flitwick 10km. As usual, it was a great event, very well organised by our friends at Ampthill and Flitwick Flyers. The weather made it very pleasant for running conditions and for a great post-race social. Tom Webb lead the way home for the squirrels, as he did the whole race - finishing first overall and winning the race. North Herts Road Runners won both the men's and woman’s team competitions. The winning men comprising of Tom, Ian and Oli. The winning ladies team were Karen, Rachel and Linda. Ian Datlen also won 1st V50 prize and Rachel Arnott 1st FV45. Oli Babik finished very strong with a new 10k PB.
Full results: 1st Tom Webb 34:03; 19 Ian Datlen 39:54; 29 Oli Babik 40:50; 30 John Auld 40:55; 42 Karen Townsend 42:23; 49 Rachel Arnott 43:03; 68 Steve Tracey 45:17; 228 Linda Aird 56:30; 353 Miranda Morgan 1:07:04; 354 Susan Foot 1:07:05; 364 Jana Robson 1:08:03; 386 Julie Taylor 1:08:13.
Resolution 5k - Ridlins Athletics Track, Stevenage
14 squirrels ran the Resolution 5k at Ridlins track on Wednesday evening. Mens team captain John Auld commented, "The atmosphere was fantastic - with a number of graded races throughout the evening - it was a great opportunity to both race and support fellow team mates. It’s brilliant for spectators and athletes getting a cheer every 400m from supporters positioned round the track. Every squirrel correctly counted 12.5 laps and had a fantastic time!"
North Herts Road Runners were 2nd in the combined team competition of 3 men and one woman. With another similar event planed in October - this is one to look out for to join in the team effort.
Full results: Stewart Overton 16:19 (equalled his PB and looking fantastic ahead of Sunday's London Marathon); Ed Price 17:36; Kris Whitmore 18:41; John Auld 18:50; Ian Datlen 19:00 Ian Harvey 19:13; Darren Matussa 19:15; Oliver Babik 19:21; James Walsh 19:56; Tracy Pitcairn 20:31; Stuart Cocks 21:31; Astrid Mckeown 21:43; Lucy O’Connor 24:20; Linda Aird 27:33
Harbon continues to dazzle with another personal best time in the Lincoln 10km
Katie entered Lincoln 10k at the last minute and said "It was a great event with a good sized field and fab crowds on the way round. Having started strong and seeing if I could ‘survive, the last 2km was a struggle with it being a long up hill to the finish. Pleased to have finished in 34:49, a 24 second PB and new club record. Although I need to get back into the headspace of fast 10k’s ready for the midweek leagues!" Katie was 3rd in a competitive field with the race won by Lincoln local Abbie Donnelly in 31:42 who represents GB at cross country.
On Saturday, parkruns proved very popular with 36 Squirrels running in 12 different parkruns:
Great Denham parkrun event #197 Six squirrels headed to Great Denham Parkrun on Saturday. A flat two lap course, it was a final hit out before London Marathon next week. Darren Sunter won the race (16:25), closely followed by Stewart Overton in second (16:54). Matthew Sayers (17:14) was third, which was his Parkrun PB and club record in the M45-49 category. John Auld (19:16) came 8th, reaching his 25th Parkrun milestone. Tracey Pitcairn (24:49) and Eve Surridge (24:49) also with impressive performances. All enjoyed a well-earned coffee and cake in the cafe for a post-race debrief.
Stevenage parkrun event #288 Matthew Ronayne 19:02, Ian Harvey 20:24, James Poulton 22:53, Michael Over 23:42, Jennie Fraser 23:58, Alice Noakes 24:41, Matt Ankers 25:18, Sarah Mitcherson 26:45, Rhiannon Botha 27:29, Matt Roberts 27:29, Philip Flack 28:17, Jane Clarke 28:42, Tash Pitman 28:42, Siobhan Walsh 33:43
Henlow Bridge Lakes parkrun event #78 James Dalton and Chris Stokes were pleased to take 3rd and 4th place on a very muddy course 21:15 and 21:39 respectively.
Gunpowder parkrun event #523 Darren Matussa 24:06
Houghton Hall parkrun event #204 Mike Bullock48:19
Wimpole Estate parkrun event #432 Vincent Wright 21:16, Georgia Barker 31:45, Richard Barker 31:46, Lucy Hurley 55:02
Coldham’s Common parkrun event #162 Elwyn Howell went to try this Cambridge event and despite two laps of slippery grass finished first in his category in 22:34.
Clacton Seafront parkrun event #263 John Russell 24:37
Skipton parkrun event #435 Paula Holm 25:07
Melton Mowbray parkrun event #366 Brian Judkins 36:55
Jersey Farm parkrun event #154 Jon Hunt 24:55, Richard Harbon 24:59, Jo Harbon 29:16
Fulbourn Hospital parkrun event #87 Joseph Barker-Sherry 30:57
Easter saw members of North Herts Road Runners fanning out across the country and tackling races wherever they were on their travels.
The Maidenhead Easter 10 provided a handy stop-off for Linda Aird on her return from a holiday in Bruges and was also an opportunity to revisit the scene of her best 10-mile time, which she set on the same course in 2011. ‘12 years and plenty of injuries down the line, but continuing my cautious return to racing, I wanted to test myself over a slightly longer distance’ said Aird, as she set herself a pre-race target of finishing in less than 1 hour 40.
She ‘headed off cautiously in favourable conditions’ and was pleased to find she could ‘increase the pace a little in the last couple of miles’. A fast finish saw her clock a very pleasing 1.32.39 - ’10 mins slower than my PB, but not the personal worst I was expecting’.
Anna Greetham reported that she had to ‘battle the elements’ as well as the course as she tackled the Easter 10k Coastal Road Race in Guernsey. After a ‘character-building’ race she was pleased to cross the line in 49.08 and celebrate with a jam doughnut provided by her support crew in the form of her brother!
Elwyn Howell completed two races in Devon, celebrating his birthday with a 21.31 finish at the Teignmouth Parkrun on Easter Saturday and then clocking 45.43 at Yeovilton’s Easter Bunny 10k on Monday. Howell made it a particularly active holiday by also fitting in a 13-mile training run on Easter Sunday!
Ross Black was another Squirrel on tour, in his case tackling the ‘Kilomathon’ 13.1 km race in Edinburgh, which he finished in 1.04.17
Closer to home, Sheila Leavy took the short trip down the A1 to Stevenage and was delighted to complete her first Parkrun since a major hip operation, completing the 5km course in 43:10. Adopting a fast-walk strategy, she said she ‘really enjoyed it and was able to keep up a steady pace’. Well done, Sheila!
The Squirrels recorded another Parkrun success by providing both male and female first finishers on the hilly Letchworth course, with Tom Webb and Katie Harbon clocking 18.02 and 19.07 respectively. Stewart Overton was first finisher at Henlow Bridge Lakes in 17.45.
North Herts Road Runner Katie Harbon joining 10 other squirrels at the sell-out hilly Sandy 10 mile race on Sunday which was our April Run of the Month. She won the female race and finished fifth overall in a blistering 59 minutes and 40 seconds breaking the female course record and the 16 year old club record in the process. The men’s team of Robert Harris, Ian Datlen, James Keogh and James Dalton all ran great races to win the men’s team race. James Keogh entered as “it was the 40th anniversary of this race and realising that I had run the 30th anniversary race, which I think was my very first race as a member of NHRR. I also still have the souvenir t-shirt (as well as a bottle of beer) from that race, so wore that today.” He said “There was a slight delay to the prize giving, but glad we stayed for it. Even when there was a collective gasp as one of the glass trophies was awarded to the wrong runner and had to be recalled just the same time as the previously awarded trophy slipped from the fingers of the recipient to sound of shattering. Thankfully, it turned out that wasn’t the trophy in question!” Ian Datlen was chuffed with his PB and said “it was tough, hilly, hilly and breezy.... so only a bit traumatised”. Dave Braybrook commented he was “pleased with his time on a challenging course. Fantastic to see so many friendly faces out on the course supporting.”
Sandy NHRR results:
5 Katie Harbon F 00:59:40.47
9 Robert Harris M 01:00:14.63
29 Ian Datlen M 01:06:20.83
33 James Keogh M 01:06:57.97
34 James Dalton M 01:07:21.92
67 Dave Braybrook M 01:15:58.12
110 Lucy O'Connor F 01:22:20.97
133 Steve Brenton M 01:25:44.22
151 Mel Flynn F 01:27:52.11
189 Ed Hartley M 01:34:07.97
247 Carina Quayle F 01:49:09.5
Meanwhile other runners toed the line at big city marathons with 4 runners heading to Brighton. It wasn’t quite beach weather, but that didn’t stop Luke Nicholl dipping under 3 hours, followed by Rachel Arnott 3:18:14, fourth in her age category. Mike Phillips was delighted to finish his debut marathon in 3 hours and 42 minutes despite bad cramping over the last 10 miles. Across The Channel at the Paris Marathon, Jenny Wilkinson finished in just over 4 hours and said “I was pleased given I’d not been able to train properly while travelling overseas for work”. This was Lindsay Cook’s 17th marathon and she managed even pacing, crediting head coach Karen Dodsworth for a great training plan. She was very pleased with how she ran to finish in 5 hours and 1 minute and said "Conditions were perfect for marathon running, cold and overcast and a staggered start and wide roads made for good running without too many people. I especially enjoyed the ginger cake at the water stations and am now planning on enjoying a very large beer!”
Closer to home saw Andreea Weisel-Shaw and Ben Ryan head down to London to run the London Landmarks Half Marathon. It was the first time at this event for both and they gave it rave reviews, with Ben saying “It was amazing. Great crowd support and an awesome route. Finished two minutes slower than my PB which I was very happy with considering lack of training. Need to get back to NHRR training sessions soon!”. Andreea achieved a PB of 2:00:58 in only her third ever half marathon and loved it so much she has already pre-registered for next year! This came just one day after a Parkrun PB of 27:10, a day after celebrating her birthday and entry into a new age category.
The final race report relates to the previous weekend where Jillian Tooley-Boys and her lovely dog Lulu took part in Cani-Trail UK Ultra in Llanharan, the UK’s first ever Canicross Ultra Marathon, Wales. Gillian said it was “30 miles of super tough terrain and relentless conditions. Gales force winds, horizontal hail, endless bogs plus almost 5000ft of elevation was the order of the day and I can honestly say it was the hardest but most amazing thing I have ever done!” Tash Pitman wondered "whether a dog could ever be nominated for Squirrel of the Month!"
Saturday saw the April Fools Day edition of the popular North Herts Road Runners free to enter First Saturday of the Month 5km on Norton Common. Much to the runners amusement, the route started at the usual finish point and was run in reverse. Luckily there were plenty of marshals to keep the runners on the right track and Brian Bailey did a great job overseeing proceedings and scanning us all! Conditions were incredibly muddy, with lots of slipping and sliding, but Vince Wright had a smooth run and was first male over the finish line in 20 minutes and 23 seconds, with Astrid McKeown running strongly to claim first female in 23 minutes and 4 seconds.
Want to run FSOTM next month?? FSOTM - Free 5km Race (nhrr.org.uk)
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