This Sunday the 24th June was the annual Hitchin Hard Half and 10K event. An event known for its energy sapping hills and stunning scenery not to mention the hot temperatures today. I guess that’s why it is known as the ‘Hard’ half but not nearly hard enough for Mark Vaughan and Nick Malpeli who cruised in to 1st place and 2nd place respectively! They led the field of 251 runners and finished in times of 1:18:35 and 1:23:31. They were closely followed by Astrid Mckeown who finished first lady in 1:29:21. In addition to these outstanding results, new member Tom Webb came in 1st in the 10K in a superb time of 37:22. The duel between Hannah Keeble and Adam Wilson continued in earnest at this race with both egging each other on until finally finishing hand in hand over the line on the 2 hour mark. All in all 23 squirrels descended on Hitchin Priory and everyone made it out the other side of this gruelling race with grins on their faces.
Continuing on the trophy theme, 6 squirrels set out to take part in one of the newer Hertfordshire races - the Welwyn 10k and managed to bag themselves three trophies. Mark Edmondson-Jones, Stuart Cocks, Christian Allen, Miranda Morgan, Sheila Leavy and Vanessa Rolfe all set out on this lovely run in the super hot weather with Sheila finishing in 2nd VF65, Mark as 2nd VM50 and Miranda as 3rd VF55.
Elsewhere, at the Letchworth Parkrun, North Herts came out to support the all female marshalling and organising team in celebration of #thisgirlcan. Adam Bowller set a new course record finishing in 17:36 being chased by Ed Price in 17:39 (2nd), Stewart Overton in 17:48 (3rd) and Oliver Brady in 19:20 (5th).
Lindsay Cook excelled in her first ever Olympic Triathlon at the Royal Windsor Triathlon last Sunday. Having woken up before sunrise to get there it started with a shock to the system with a 1500m swim in the River Thames followed by a 44km cycle which then ended with a 10km run lapping windsor castle, along long walk to the Thames, and then back. A superb personal achievement with the following timings of swim 36:01, Bike 1:40:24 and Run 1:09:23 totalling 3:40:29 including transitions.
An excellent week of sporting success for the North Herts Road Runners and now all eyes turn to the final Mid Week League Race in Stevenage on Wednesday night!
North Herts Road Runners bring a festival of running to Letchworth Garden City.
Father’s Day saw the streets of Letchworth Garden City teeming with runners of all stripes, thanks to the return of Run Round the Garden. Organised by North Herts Road Runners, the day was a great success, with 213 people finishing the 5k race, 48 runners taking part in the 1-mile race, and over a hundred children participating in the fun run. The 5k race was won by North Herts Road Runner Ed Price in a time of 17:01. “It was great race,” said Price, “and the fact that there was fun run afterwards meant that my eight-year-old son could take part as well. There was such a good atmosphere, it made it a Father’s Day to remember.” In second place was Charlie Grayson of Stevenage & North Herts (17:58) and in third was North Herts’ Adrian Sherwood, who finished in 18:16.
The first woman in the 5k race was Bedford Harrier Kirstie Sharman (19:00), who then went on to repeat the feat by running 05:48 to finish as the first female in the mile. The winner of the men’s mile was Hitchin Running Club’s Stuart Hansell, who ran 05:06, followed closely by North Herts’ Darren Matussa in 05:11, who along with other clubmates had taken on pacing duties in the earlier 5k race.
Filling out the top three in the women’s 5k were Sarah Mitcherson and Helen Cairns of North Herts Road Runners, whose placings and times (19:59 and 20:40 respectively) were especially impressive given that only the day before they had both been part of the North Herts women’s team that not only won the Greensands Ridge Relay Ladies’ Trophy, but took the course record for a women’s team. This hotly contested regional event is a handicap relay race for teams of six people, running from Waterside Park, Leighton Buzzard along the Greensands Ridge pathway to the church in Northill, Bedfordshire. Joining Mitcherson and Cairns in the successful ‘NHRR Flying Squirrels’ team were Jane Clarke (who also raced on Sunday), Katie Harbon, Sophie Thrussell and Paula Adams. They ran the course in a combined time of 4 hours and 15 minutes – three minutes faster than the previous best time. Two other teams from North Herts also took part in the event: another women’s team, who ran the course in 5 hours 33, and a mixed team, whose time was 4 hours 30.
Plenty more Squirrels were in action over the weekend. Hot on the heels of a successful Riga Marathon, Stewart Overton brought his impressive form to bear on the “quick and flat course” at Bedford 10k. Overton finished the race in 35:40, a minute and 40 seconds faster than this previous best time, and came away full of praise for the event: “Some good support from 8k in gets you moving those legs and a quick finish home.” Julia Callan was also at Bedford, running her first ever 10k in a time of 1 hour 8 minutes.
Elsewhere, David Annetts travelled to Bolton to take part in the BMAF 5k Road Walk Championships. His third place in (an unofficial) 26:08 was enough to win Gold in the V50. On the evening of Friday 15th, Jo Kenlin completed the Stowe 12k run, which she described as a “really beautiful place to run with some stunning views and a few hills.”
The Artic capital of Tromśo in Norway hosted the Midnight Sun Marathon, which North Herts Road Runner Jennie Fraser completed in 4:37.33. Speaking of her incredible experience, Fraser said “It was more like the Midnight Wind and Rain Marathon but when the sun broket through the cloud it was highly dramatic as all the permafrost on the mountains light up like diamonds.”
Closer to home, Jo Summers ran the Baslow Boot Bash, a self-guided 26 mile trail race in Derbyshire, in 5 hours 9 minutes – in eighth place out of 150 finishers. John Auld continued his quest to win South Yorkshire’s Silkstone Shuffle series of races. Saturday’s was the second race of the series, and Auld finished in 5th position. “I started the day in 2nd [overall], 99 seconds down and finished the day in 2nd, 50 seconds down. So, from that perspective it’s a good result,” said Auld.
The week before, three hardy squirrels had travelled to Wales to take part in the Salomon Trail Marathon, a race in the hills of south Snowdonia, 26.4 miles with 1100m height gain. Michelle Grudzinski ran 6:28.28 (“Not a pb for the course but that's not always what it's about...”), Andy Grudzinski ran 5:47.43 and Paul Bowell ran the Half Marathon in 2:31.50.
There’s plenty more to look forward to from North Herts Road Runners, with a very special First Saturday of the Month planned for July. This ever-popular timed 5k race around Letchworth’s Norton Common is to be run at both dawn (9am) and dusk (7.30pm) on Saturday 7th July, with the dusk runners encouraged to bring family, friends, food and drink. With free entry, the Dawn & Dusk Double 5k is another example of North Herts Road Runners’ popular social running events, and promises to be a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the best that midsummer has to offer in a picturesque setting. Find out more at www.firstsaturday5km.org.uk
Last week the big outing for NHRR was the Mid Week League race at Trent Park. 54 squirrels took part in the race with a good number of supporting cast. The first Squirrel home was Mark Vaughan in 13th place in just 37:09 with Katie Harbon the first female home in 39:30 in an excellent 41st place overall. After 3 races in the series the Men are in 3rd place in the League and the Ladies 2nd with the overall club position showing a strong 4th well clear of the 5th placed club.
Following the competitive Mid Week race there was a bit of a pace change on the Saturday with the annual ‘Bird Run’ which combines a bit of a run with a bird watch and breakfast. Binoculars and ears at the ready being lead by an expert bird lover the group witnessed Whitethroat, Swallows, House Martins, Red Kite, Blackcap and glimpsed a typically elusive Reed Warbler. Plus they heard Great Spotted Woodpecker and Garden Warbler. They also saw a fine display of Marsh Orchids.
Running is not just a social event, its not just a way of keeping fit, this proves that it is a great way of getting out in the great outdoors and experiencing the world around you. Summer club training runs often come with the added bonus of a spectacular Sunset.
More individual performances this week included Jo S taking part in the Farthingstone Foot Fest. The race is a minimum (!!!) of 26 miles when advertised and ran to 27.3 this year taking an off road route, but it is was a sociable outing apart from the stinging nettles which were totally anti-social.
A last minute decision for Jilian Boys to run in the Stotfold 5K Challenge paid off as she came in the first lady to finish in 22 mins. She was one of 6 Squirrels taking park with Ian Sutcliffe finishing in 26:13, Claire O coming in third lady in 24:12, Helen M-S finishing in 32mins and Andrew P in 28:15. The main feature of the ran that they all remember is running through lots and lots of long grass.
Sue F ran the Redway festival of Running Maraton, having battled to be fit for the race after a lengthy layoff with a foot injury she felt a little underprepared but previous conditioning and great metal attitude kicked in and finished happy in just 4 hours 28 minutes.
Michelle was at the end of a fairly major flight plan to run the Green Half Marathon in Lefkada, part of the Greek Ionian Islands. Finishing in under 2 hours 5 the run was around the bay as the sunset. Running shoes are an essential part of a squirrels awaydays packing!!!!
Nicolo took part in the St Albans half Marathon, trying to keep up with the 1:40 pacers proved only just a little bit much with a finishing time of 1:41. The highlight of the race though was a lady at mile 7 with a moral boosting sign saying 'You're running better than Thameslink'
Shani Fielding, Jo K, Halyley Crocks and Stuart Crocks took part in the Marston Mortain 5K which was a mostly flat but a little slippery underfoot. Stuart managed a 5K PB in 21:22 and Shani a PB of 32:45. Hayley was less happy with her time but it just proves even squirrels suffer when full of cold – but they are still running.
With the huge variety of one off races and after the mid week league there were only a few running at Park Runs this week. Darren Matussa ran in Roding Vally finishing 51st out of 151 in 24:03, In Bracknell Steven Lummis was 50th out of 349 runners in 24:39. In Stevenage Nick Malpeli was in 4th place out of 330 runners in 19:18, followed by Chris Stokes (20:15), Richard Harbon (21:24), Chris Poole (23:04) and Joseph Sherry coming in last of the Squirrels but only in 147th place in 27:45. Jillian Boys ran the Wimpole estate in 23:24 finishing 69th out of 335 runninger. Helen Giffin was another squirrel travelling with her running shoes as she took part in Keswick finishing in 30:30. James Dalton was the only Squirrel running in the Letchworth event finishing 7th out of the 114 runners in 22:05.
This July, the First Saturday of the Month will be held at both dawn (9am) and dusk (7.30pm), with the dusk runners encouraged to bring family, friends, food and drink.
Run hard in the morning and unwind with a social run in the evening, or use the morning's run as a warm up, and blast the 5k at sundown, or you could even just do one and not the other. Whichever you choose, it's a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the best that midsummer has to offer in the picturesque setting of Norton Common.
Bring the kids, or make it a date night – the Midsummer Dawn & Dusk Double 5k is another example of NHRR's well-loved social events. Free entry. All welcome. Sign up on our First Saturday of the Month page
Saturday saw the 7th anniversary of Letchworth’s First Saturday of the Month 5k race. This free event is run once a month by volunteers from North Herts Road Runners and takes in two laps of the beautiful Norton Common. With barcode timing and free tea and coffee, the race has gone from strength to strength over its 7 year history. To celebrate the birthday, this week, cake was added to the post-finish rewards with the chocolate-covered flapjacks earning particular praise! 93 runners finished the course, with NHRR’s Paul Jackson leading the field home in 18:04, and former Squirrel Emily Hutchinson leading the ladies home in 18:38, magnificent times from both runners. Other Squirrels chasing the cake home were: 6th - James Keogh (19:30); 9th - Lee Hayes (19:59); 11th - David Weston (20:19); 15th Steven Peel (22:17); 16th - James Walsh (22:19); 19th - Richard Harbon (22:43); 23rd - Stuart Cocks (23:17); 25th - Jane Clarke (23:59); 28th - Sam Barry (24:10); 29th - Drew Norton (24:30); 32nd - Andrew Robson (24:55); 39th - Cooper (25:36) - 41st - Richard Weber (26:09); 47th - Paula Holm (27:13); 50th - Linda Aird (27:37); 54th Allison Blunt (27:54); 66th Gladys Cheng (30:21), 67th - Sheila Leavy (30:24); 78th - Dawn Power (32:58); 85th - Helen Marson-Smith (34:15); 89th - Kelly Hanlon (35:25) and 90th Clare Hooley (37:31). Linsey Ashley said “Thanks for a great FSOM. My daughter had a great time and can't wait to do it again next month, and the Run Around the Garden (on 17th June). Future Squirrel!! Everyone was so encouraging with her as ever.”
Further afield, Eleanor Williams travelled to Ireland to run the Cork half-marathon. After the race she said “it was crazily humid and hillier than I was expecting. The crowd was amazing and there was plenty of water, cold wet sponges and lucozade to keep everyone going.” The race didn’t go exactly to plan, however. “The day didn’t get off to the best start as I had a sickness bug but it managed to hold off during the race. I managed 2hrs 26 - my second best half marathon time. Absolutely loved the race itself, the scenery, the crowd and my play list. It was by far one of the best organised events I’ve been part of. I’d highly recommend it to anyone.”
Elsewhere,. Matt Davies and Jodie Brumhead competed in the Mountain Yomp Challenge in Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria. Matt commented “We did the Half Yomp, so 11.5 miles with ~1850ft elevation gain. Rain all day on Saturday meant it was about 90% humidity and the path turned to knee high bog in parts. The weather cleared for the race, however, to give us some great views and it was a lovely day with most of the locals out on the hills.” Matt finished 6th in 1hr 48:15 and Jodie was 39th in 2hrs 27:31.
Hayley Cocks and her daughter Abbi took part in a Cancer Research UK “Pretty Muddy” 5k in Stanborough Park, Welwyn Garden City, which, apart from lots of mud, included a number of uphill and downhill slops and a shallow river. Hayley said “I’d never imagined so much mud!”.
There were a posse of Squirrels travelling to various Parkruns. Ellie Scott ran in Norwich, finishing 102nd lady (30:54). Also in Norfolk, Jillian Boys finished 7th lady in Kings Lynn (23:43). Rachel Annetts ran in Bedford, finishing 20th lady (26:35). In Leamington John Russell finished 81st (22:53). Three Squirrels ran in Stevenage, with Naomi Parkinson leading them home as 7th lady (24:05). Bob Davis was 131st (27:05) and Pat Norris 252nd (33:39). At Mount Edgcumbe, Simon Poole finished 4th (21:28) and at Erddig Chris Poole was 53rd (25:06)
This week saw a scurry of 72 Squirrels take on the 2nd Midweek League Division 1 race at Highfield Park St Albans. Overall NHRR finished 4th with the men 4th, the women 2nd whilst the Vet man and women finished 2nd and 1st respectively. After two races NHRR are now 4th in the league, a single point behind 3rd and everything to play for in the remaining two races.
Squirrels running were Darren Sunter (34:10), Edward Price (34:18), Mark Vaughan (34:57), Matthew Sayers (35:30), John Rayner (36:29), Andy Mutton (36:54), John Auld (37:29), Darren Matussa (37:48), Katie Harbon (38:04), Adrian Sherwood (38:04), Oliver Brady (38:23), Steve McKeown (38:31), James Walsh (38:59), Lee Hayes (39:53), James Keogh (40:05), Astrid McKeown (40:53), David Weston (41:16), Matt Davies (41:35), Paula Adams 41:39), Sarah Mitcherson (42:12), Richard Foster (42:59), David Frampton (43:40), Helen Cairns (43:45), Kat Burr (44:16), Stuart Cocks (44:39), Phil Hunt (44:54), Marcus Farnfield (45:34), Sophie Thrussell (45:44), Sam Barry (46:00), Daniel Mallett (46:40), Chris Poole (46:56), Steve Lummis (47:17), Naomi Parkinson (47:39), Jane Clarke (47:50), Niamh Barry (48:31), Jillian Boys (48:58), Alice Noakes (48:58), Colin Calcutt (49:13), Lucy Hurley (49:39), Andrew Robson (49:40), Paul Bowal (49:57), Claire O'Sullivan (50:09), Ellie Scott (50:20), Helen Harbon (50:41), Adam Wilson (50:55), Hannah Keeble (50:57), Angeliki Shearstone (50:58), Linda Aird (51:59), Lucy O'Connor (52:07), Jason Davis (53:07), Andrew Cooper (53:25), Jodie Brumhead (53:52), Jo Harbon (54:40), Jenny Andrews (54:44), Ian Sutcliffe (54:52), Sue Vaughan (55:10), Brian Bailey (55:35), Karen Dodsworth (55:57), Matt Ankers (56:08), Helen Govey (56:41), Cara Sutton (56:44), Johnny Spinks (57:17), Geoff Murray-Rochard (58:30), Shiela Leavy (59:33), Christine Sharp (1:01:20), Lindsay Cook (1:04:02), Helen Cromack (1:04:06), Eleanor Williams (1:05:24), Brian Judkins (1:06:19), Shani Fielding (1:08:42), Hayley Cocks (1:13:10).
A couple of squirrels ran the Hatfield Broad Oak 10k. Ryan Smith ran a new PB of 37:02 and Sarah Mitcherson finished 3rd V40 in 42:47. Ryan said that he must have been the only one hoping that the sun stayed behind the clouds on the bank holiday, but was was delighted with a PB considering the weather forecast.
Andy and Michelle Grudzinski travelled to Canada for a couple of races. The first race was Woody's RV World Trial Marathon which had wildlife warnings about bears and aggressive beavers. A week later they ran the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon to which Andy completed the marathon in 5:19 and Michelle completed the 50km Ultra in 5:49.
Others running were Chris Poole who ran the London 10,000 in a time of 46:03 and Miranda Morgan who ran the Edinburgh marathon in 4:54.
Several Squirrels ran Parkruns. Ed Price ran 17:29 at Basingstoke. Steve Williamson ran 21:11 at Kettering. Seven finishers at Stevenage include Chris Stokes (21:36), Chris Poole (23:00), Steve Lummis (23:14), Sam Berry (26:21), Helen Giffin (30:49), Simon Poole (32:27) and Patrick Norris (34:11). Brian Judkins ran 33:27 at Wimpole Estate. Vincent Wright (21:46), James Dalton (22:45), Jullian Boys (24:39) and Bob Davis (29:17) all ran at Letchworth.
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