58 Squirrels began North Herts Road Runners campaign in Division One of the Midweek League by battling rush hour traffic, steep hills and escaped bulls to compete in the picturesque Epping Forest in the first of four races of the Summer season. Some standout individual performances and superb team efforts meant that NHRR finished in second position overall. The men's team was led by Jim McConnell who finished in 2nd position and Katie Harbon was first female squirrel home, also in 2nd position. Darren Matussa commented that it was a "Fantastic evening. The team spirit was great!"
Sarah Mitcherson ran in Hitchin's inaugural 10km race and finished with a podium placing as 3rd lady (43:29) she described her experience as "a well organised, great 10km race around my home town". She was closely followed by Helen Cairns 1st FV35 (44:29). Other squirrels racing were Sonja Grbavac (52:13) and perfectly paced for a sub hour were Linsey Ashley and Jennie Andrews (58:58), Helen Ferguson (59:14) and finishing with a PB of 1:19 was Jo Kenlin.
There were perfect running conditions in Letchworth for NHRR's annual Greenway Challenge on Sunday, with record entrants and finishers, PBs a plenty and 31 squirrels representing the club. Jim McConnell was first in for the club in 75:58 and the first lady was NHRR’s Katie Harbon in 88:53. The Challenge also saw several squirrels complete their debut half-marathon, with Cara Sutton, Dervla Downing, Gladys Cheng and Geoff Murray-Rochard all joining the 13.1-mile club.
Jillian Boys travelled into Bedfordshire for the 36th annual Stevington 12km race "unexpectedly warm and there was literally not one flat part to the course!" Despite these challenges she was rewarded with 8th lady in a fantastic 59:18.
NHRR's youngest squirrel travelled to Lllanelli in South Wales to complete her first Youth Super Series Triathlon. 15 year old Eva McCabe endured a chilly 400m sea swim, followed by a 12km cycle and finished with a 2.5km coastal run.
Searing heat made for tough conditions for the few squirrels that took the short trip north for the Milton Keynes Marathon Weekend. Naomi Parkinson and Lucy Hurley took on the full 26.2 miles through Milton Keynes and the surrounding countryside. They set off in 23-degree temperatures that quickly climbed into the high twenties but thanks to the locals who turned out to support the runners with hoses and super soakers making the heat that bit more bearable. With more runners walking more than running the valiant squirrels scurried on to the finish. Naomi Parkinson finished in 4:30 and Lucy Hurley in 4:54.
Helen Govey, Brian Bailey, Jim and Melissa Marvell took the more sensible option of the MK Marathon Relay finishing in 4:54. Matt Davies and Michelle Grudzinski went for the half marathon option with Davies taking it easy in the heat to finish in 1:38 and Grudzinski doing well to finish in 1.59 which was only her third time under 2 hours.
Andrew Leach was running for the ‘England Masters’ vs the ‘Celtic Nations’ as part of The Great Birmingham 10k on Sunday. Selection for the England team was based on 2017 performances due to qualifying races being cancelled because of the Beast from the East. In a field of over 8,000 Leach finished 1st MV50 and was 22nd overall in 33.34. Leach admitted, ‘the second 5k was much slower than the first thanks to the heat and the last mile being uphill’.
Jim McConnel travelled to the very beautiful Carding Mill Valley in Shropshire to race an off-road half marathon called ‘Revenge of the Fifth’. Organised by How Hard Could it Be Events, the race involved over 800 metres of ascent with two steep downhills. McConnel won the race in 1:38:32 and was over 9 minutes ahead of the second-place runner. McConnel said, ‘it was a very enjoyable day in the sun and good preparation for the Snowdonia Trail Marathon in July’.
Jo Summers having completed over 200 marathons was at it again in an out and back course along the Flitch Way where she was the first marathoner to finish in 3 hours and 58 minutes.
Simon Poole headed to the Clumber Park Duathlon (5k run, 20k bike, 2.5k run) on Saturday which was also a qualifier for the 2019 European Championships. Coming back from a foot injury he had set his targets low and went out conservatively on the first run. The bike went well and put him in a great position for the final run. Poole finished 1st in his age category which secured him a place at the Euros
Monday night was the Pednor 5 which incorporated the Herts County Vets Championships. Mark Vaughan took gold in the MV40 category and Linda Aird was 3rd FV55. The bank holiday heat wave was still an issue at 7pm when the race started. Aird said, ‘it was still too warm to be racing! And it's a hilly one, so even tougher in the heat’.
David Annetts continued his race walk campaign by winning the Herts County Vets 3000m championships at Ridlins in Stevenage finishing in 14:51.
Norton Common was bathed in sunshine for the First Saturday of the Month 5k which was enjoyed by 105 runners. First to finish was North Herts Road Runner Paul Jackson in 18:19 followed by Oliver Brady who was 2nd in 19:05 and Steve Mckeown finished 4th in 19:24. First lady finisher was North Herts Road Runner Sarah Mitcherson in 22:00. The next race will be Saturday 2nd June.
Parkrun result; Finsbury Park, David Weston 33rd 20:06, Westmill, John Russell 9th 23:34, Fulham Palace, Georgina Quayle 420th 33:59, Hereford, Linda Aird 54th 26:16, Tring, Stephen Lummis 48th 25:02 and Letchworth, Chris Poole 23rd 24:47.
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