There were a number of significant sporting achievements for North Herts Road Runners this week with one squirrel donning an England Masters Vest. These vests are awarded to athletes who compete and achieve a qualifying time at a number of qualifying races. They are difficult to earn and a huge honour to wear. The honour this week went to Linda Aird who qualified for the Female over 60 category England vest at a qualifying race in December. The race Linda qualified for was the Simply Health Birmingham Great 10k.
Linda remarked, ‘Although I'd trained quite well for this over the last few weeks, on the day there wasn't much glory for my lovely new England vest as I've struggled with a cold, cough and being generally unwell for the last few days. I knew I wouldn't be able to achieve the result I'd hoped for, but I gave it my best shot anyway.’ Linda headed out ahead of the mass start with the other Masters athletes but due to her ill health soon dropped off the pace. However, Linda still finished in an excellent 52:48 and can be proud of her achievement and vest.
Sophie Thrussell and Caroline Thrussell both trained hard over the past months targeting Edinburgh Marathon. Both suffered setbacks along the way with injuries and illness but with the support of one another and their clubmates they both arrived on the start line ready to race. The weather on the other hand had different ideas. Having been warned of ‘Adverse’ weather conditions the Thrussells turned up wearing the not so uncommon sight of dustbin liners and braced themselves as the rain blew sideways and the wind whipped round them. However, after 5 gentle downhill miles the sun came out as they hit the coast. It was at mile 18 that Caroline started to struggle, ‘That was the low point for me - slightly undulating, relentless head wind and oh so tired legs’. At mile 24 Caroline was passed by her niece who powered on to finish in 3:32:40 - a remarkable achievement for her marathon debut. Caroline finished just behind Sophie in 3:33:58 and had her struggles rewarded with not only a 13 minute PB but also becoming the new owner of the Club Female Vet 55 age category. In fact Caroline was the 3rd FV55 in the marathon.
During the week no less than 83 club members turned out to run in the first midweek league 10km race of the summer along with many supporters. The race hosted by St Albans Striders was a fast one and everyone set out hard and fast. The straight flat course can be a struggle at times but everyone’s superb efforts resulted in the club taking first place in the men’s category, third place in the women’s category with the same results in the Vet category resulting in NHRR holding second place after the first race. Tom Webb finished first for the club in a speedy 33:46 with Patrick Norris bringing in the rear in a superb time of 1:12.
The weekend was rounded off nicely for Ed Price who took part in the Vitality Westminster Mile running in the British Masters Championships Wave finishing in a rapid 4:51. Ed said, ‘ It was a strong field of vets, along a scenic course, with loads of support from start to finish. Great to take part in an event that celebrates the iconic mile, definitely recommended!’
Squirrels were out in force this weekend competing for England places in Devon, tackling mountains in Snowdonia, battling heat in Finland and scampering around neighbouring Hitchin.
Mark Vaughan and Jim McConnel travelled down to Plymouth this weekend for the Ocean City Half Marathon. This race was an opportunity to qualify for an England Masters vest, with runners being selected to run for England. Vaughan commented “Plymouth is not known for being flat and so the race proved to be a bit of a rollercoaster ride, but an early start meant the conditions were favourable, with things warming up towards the finish.” Vaughan finished 6th, 1st Male Vet (MV) 45 in 1:14:07 and McConnel 10th, 2nd MV45, 1:15:29 putting them both in line for England selection.
Thirteen Squirrels scampered over to the Hitchin Hares’ 10km to take on the mostly flat course in great race conditions and six of them walked away with Personal Bests (PBs) for the distance! Niccolo Bassani was first home for the club in 41:43 with his best time in nearly 6 years, closely followed by Stuart Cocks (43:30 PB) and Andrew Underhill (43:38 PB). Harry and Lewina Agius ( 50:29 and 53:19 respectively) were “astonished to hit new PBs – the great training from the club has certainly helped”. Helen Marson-Smith secured a PB of 1:03:12 and Hayley Cocks took 8 minutes off her previous time for the distance, finishing in 1:04:29.
Others competing were as follows; James Drew (46:45), John Russell (47:41), Adam Wilson (50:03), Lucy O’Connor (50:46), Matt Ankers (52:42), Jo Kenlin (1:14:58).
Jennie Fraser journeyed to Helsinki to attempt a personal best marathon time. Frustratingly, an unseasonal heat wave scuppered Fraser’s chances of a PB. She pushed through, despite extreme sickness, to get her medal and still enjoyed running in her favourite country with the “fabulously Finnish support”.
Jo, Helen and Katie Harbon travelled to Snowdonia to compete one of the toughest half marathon routes in the UK. Katie was 4th lady and Jo and Helen completed the course in an impressive 2:10:00
Three of the club’s female veteran Squirrels journeyed to the Midlands to compete in the British Masters Athletic Federation road relays at Sutton Park. Lucy O'Connor ran the first leg in 24:51, Linda Aird, who described the course as “an undulating 5k around the park”, ran leg 2 in 26:04 and Karen Dodsworth completed the team results with 27:18. The team maintained their 8th place position throughout the whole race despite fierce competition.
Sue Foot completed the Guernsey Ultra 36 in an incredible 8:35:00 despite the first 16 miles being cliff paths with every uphill and downhill involving steps. Foot said “the second 20 mile section was on the coastal path and was slightly undulating but straight forward and I managed to do this section faster than the first”.
On Saturday Jillian Boys took on the gruelling Paras 10 in Colchester with her (canine) running buddy Lulu – an undulating 10 mile course that included river crossings, trudging through swamps and running through military display gunfire and smoke grenades. Speaking after the race Boys said “It was so much fun and Lulu was in her element the entire way. We finished in a very respectable 1:22:00 and we had a fantastic time!”
Viv and Lindsey Lucas and Jo Sopala all completed the Wimpole 10km Hoohah race. Lindsey commended the lovely route, said they were all pleased with their times and enjoyed the home made flapjack at the finish! Viv Lucas 51:55 Jo Sopala 1:12:59 Lindsey Lucas 1:13:43
The North Herts Road Runners’ parkrun results for Saturday 18th May: Letchworth parkrun Stewart OVERTON 18:16 Oliver BRADY 19:19 Ian DATLEN 00:21:03 James DALTON 00:21:25 Eva MCCABE 23:59 Rhiannon BOTHA 24:26 Ellie SCOTT 25:07 Glyn BLAKEY 25:53 Carl GOODRUM 28:51 Natalie WILLIAMS 30:29 Helen CROMACK 33:10 Panshanger parkrun Angeliki SHEARSTONE STATHOPOULOU 25:58 Stevenage parkrun Matt ANKERS 24:23 Philip FLACK 26:59 Patrick NORRIS 34:12
Wimpole Estate parkrun Vincent WRIGHT 22:52 Pont y Bala parkrun Chris POOLE 23:27
NHRR's very own Greenway challenge was on Sunday and race director Karen Dodsworth proclaimed afterwards “as always, its was an amazing team effort and I was blessed with so much awesome support”. The greenway is home to many black squirrels and 25 NHRR squirrels raced round the self guided event in the sunshine.
For Lorna Chambers this was her first half marathon. Afterwards she reflected that she has come from “a wheezing asthmatic on the couch to a half marathon inside a year and a half”. Also running their first half marathon, “in a time way better than they'd hoped for” was Harry and Lewina Agius. Afterwards they described the race as a tough course, but had amazing encouragement from all the marshals, public, and other runners really helped spur them both on.
On Bank holiday Monday, John Rayner ran the Breckland 10km in Norfolk. Realising in the last quarter of a mile that he was on for a personal best, John thought back to his training and treated the last 400m as a lap of the track. John was “overjoyed” to finish in 5th place with a time of 35:10.
Vanessa Rolfe made her annual pilgrimage up north to run in her home town at the Leeds half marathon. Vanessa said afterwards that the course doesn't get any flatter and this year was under very hot conditions. She finished in 2:25:56.
On a “beautiful day to run a marathon”, Jo Summers ran her favourite course at Halstead in Essex. She described it as one of the prettiest and best organised runs she's ever done. Jo was very pleased to finish in 3:52 considering recent training.
Also on Bank holiday Monday, several members of the Harbon clang ran at the Kimpton 9.5km. They described it as a lovely run with great community spirit. Katie was first home in 38:44. Followed by Richard in 40:40. Matt Ankers finished in 48:24 followed by Jo Harbon in 49:41.
Paula Holm made her debut at Triathlon in the sprint distance HSV Triathlon in Hatfield. Recovering from a car crash in the Autumn, Paula Holm decided that this was an opportunity to move outside of her comfort zone and take on a new challenge. Delighted afterwards, Paula summed up the experience by saying “I survived the swim, enjoyed the bike and surprisingly felt comfortable on the pretty run”. She was also overjoyed to beat her target time of sub 1:25:00 by getting 1:14:41.
Greenway Challenge NHRR results are as follows: Dan Martin (1:32:45), Lee Hayes (1:32:46), James Keogh (1:33:17), Chris Stokes (1:34:03), Ian Datlen (1:34:31), James Datlan (1:36:40), Caroline Thrussell (1:37:47), Brent Lloyd (1:40:48), Stuart Cocks (1:42:46), Dervla Downing (1:44:24), Steven Peel (1:46:05), Andrew Underhill (1:46:55), Liam Jones (1:48:57), Steve Brenton (1:49:10), Katherine Gourd (1:54:12), Jillian Boys (1:54:33), Matt Ankers (1:56:02), Lucy O'Connor (1:57:35), Richard Weber (1:57:40), Harry Agius (1:58:43), Lewina Agius (2:05:12), Allison Blunt (2:08:15), Lorna Chambers (2:17:24), Naomi Parkinson (2:20:27), Hayley Cocks (2:35:09)
Completing Parkruns this week, NHRR squirrels appeared at:
St Albans: Chris Poole (23:38)
Bedford: Rachel Annetts (27:16)
Milton Keynes: Naomi Parkinson (24:27)
Stevenage: Dave Braybrook (25:38), Jane Clarke (27:50), Patrick Norris (34:33)
Dulwich: Georgina Quayle (26:29)
Wimpole: Katherine Gourd (26:26), Brian Judkins (35:57)
Bideford: Brian Bailey (27:40)
Letchworth: Oliver Brady (19:18), Steve McKeown (19:50), Ian Datlen (24:31), Jillian Boys (24:53), Jennie Fraser (25:51), Jegan Simon (26:12), Rhia Botha (26:51), Steve Brenton (27:35), Glyn Blakey (28:44), Philip Flack (28:58), Carl Goodrum (31:07), Carol Goodrum (35:40)
Great Denham: Richard Harbon (20:02), Lindsay Cook (28:36)
In his 1st race back after injury, Andrew Leach finished 4th in the Grand East Anglian Run 10K, smashing the previous club V55 record set in 2003 by Derek Myall. Myall's record was 39.17 but Andrew ran an incredible 33.41 to break the record by 5 mins 36 seconds!
5 members of North Herts Road Runners travelled to the race, looking for some quick times before the RunHerts midweek league kicks off later in May. It was a flat course, with a few twists and turns as it snakes in and around the beautiful town of Kings Lynn. Mark Vaughan, one of the other NHRR runners said, “It was bitterly cold before the start, and a bit windy, but once we got going things warmed up. Conditions were perfect until about the 7K point where there was a strong headwind which slowed things down a bit, and then again just before the finish.” All 5 Squirrels had great runs: Andrew Leach 4th (33:41); Mark Vaughan 8th (34:05); Pete Sibbett 65th (39:42) (including toilet stop, which cost him over a minute!); Sue Vaughan 931st (53:39); Karen Dodsworth 980th (54:28). Mark continued “This is a great, well organised race with around 3000 runners, with some faster guys at the front end to provide some good racing and Kings Lynn is quite a nice place for a post-race shopping spree - what's not to like!”
At the 5k distance, Hayley Cocks continued her impressive form, running at the First Saturday of the Month at 9am on Norton Common in Letchworth. Turning up dressed for summer in a vest and star-spangled leggings, Hayley was taken aback by the bitter cold wind. She said, “I started off and felt pretty slow, but actually I wasn’t! I overtook about 5 people on the second hill of the first lap, which felt awesome. Training on that very hill on Tuesday had helped!” She managed to settle in after a tough 1.5 km and finished strongly, clocking up a new 30-second PB of 31.43. Hayley was elated. “Maybe the new running leggings helped!?”
Andy and Michelle Grudzinski entered two trail events on consecutive days. On Saturday they travelled to mid-Wales where they competed in the Red Kite Challenge. Michelle quipped, “As is usual for a Welsh race it started uphill, finished uphill and was longer than 13.1 miles. However, it was also stunning, beautiful and contained insane uphill sections! We both loved the event save for the strange part where we had already clocked over 13.1 miles and were then sent up and down a hill rather than to the finish line.” They finished the race in 2:49. On Sunday they headed to Winchcombe in the Cotswolds for the Winchcombe cross. Michelle continued, “Andy was doing very well but it soon turned into another photo running adventure with an ice lolly stop. We decided to stop at 13.2 miles and hit the cake shop!”
Clare Hooley and James Keogh were away visiting family over the bank holiday and of course that meant taking on the local parkrun (Lyme Park). Clare said “This is in fact one of the hilliest courses in the country and to boot the surface isn’t the easiest with uneven cobble tracks, woods and bogs. The positive is that you see all the major sights of the country park and have great views over Manchester.” James finished in 21:01 and was slightly disconcerted by the herd of red deer, “definitely more imposing than the deer you get in Norton Common!”. Clare continued, “The weather can have a huge effect on the course; last time it was winter and we ran round together and a very helpful marshal warned us of a slippy bog up ahead, only for me to go sploosh a few seconds later. This time the marshals warned us not to worry about the highland cattle - they were very friendly really and if they got too close they would move them on!” Clare finished in 39:04, 10 mins faster she had done it before.
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