Superb performances at the prestigious MK 5000 PB Special saw members of North Herts Road Runners seize places at the top of the national rankings.
The Letchworth-based club sent five runners to compete in the series of 5000 metre races on the Stantonbury Athletics Track in Milton Keynes. With the men’s and women’s A races also serving as the English 5000 championships, the Squirrels found themselves rubbing shoulders with plenty of high-profile GB runners. NHRR member Stewart Overton said ‘The chance to watch the current and future stars of GB athletics from lane 4 and the chance to interact (and get the odd photo) with them puts this event on a par with any track meet’.
Andrew Leach was the standout performer for North Herts as a superb 16.04 clocking put him first in the national rankings for the 55+ age group by over a minute, while Mark Vaughan’s 16.28 put him 18th in the country in the 45+ category.
Nathan Pask had a ‘bittersweet’ result, securing a 12-second personal best with 16.00, but missing a sub-16 clocking by just 0.68s of a second – ‘literally a dip for the line’ according to team-mate Overton, who finished in 16.33.
Tom Webb closed out what Overton summarised as ‘a great evening of racing for NHRR’ with 15.43 for the club’s fastest time of the night.
Damp conditions did not stop Elwyn Howell from enjoying the ‘nice scenery’ and securing 7th place in his age category as he finished the Lee Valley 10k in 55.40. Kat Gourd completed the 10-mile version of the same event in 1 hour 23 mins, and was 11th female. She said it was ‘an absolute treat to run in cooler temperatures under cloudy skies and rain after all the hot weather lately! ‘
Andrew Robson achieved new personal bests in all three triathlon disciplines as he finished third in his age group at the Galeforce Events Bedford Tri Crazy sprint triathlon. Despite the rain, ‘which could have made the ride tricky’, he was pleased to finish in 1.27.53. Andrew commented ‘It is a very friendly local triathlon and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to dip a toe in the triathlon water, so to speak. The next race is on 29th September.’
As ever there was a strong NHRR turnout at Parkruns far and near:
Luton Wardown: Chris Stokes 20:30; Newcastle, Joe Sherry 28.20; Medina (Ise of Wight), Damon Clevely 23.38; Stevenage, Jennie Fraser 26.21, Paul Bowal 27.13, Helen Giffin 31.17, Pat Norris
33.42; Wimpole Estate, Jillian Boys 24.51; Whinlatter Forest, Glyn Blakey 26.48; Holkham, Ian Datlen 20.58,; Letchworth, James Fox 17.30, Peter Clarke 19.25, James Dalton 21.29, Jegan Simon 25.20, Ellie Scott 27.29, Carl Goodrum 28.30, Philip Flack 28.45, Lucy Hurley 31.27, Naomi Parkinson 31.28, Carol Goodrum 35.59; Fletcher Moss, Chris Poole 25.40.
North Herts Road Runners were celebrating on Friday night with success at the Bedfordshire AAA 10k. In unseasonably damp conditions, nine Squirrels made their way to Bedford. It looked like the evening was going to turn sour as the rain started pouring down at the start of the race. Nevertheless, the Squirrels’ spirits were still high from a successful Midweek League race series, and the conditions didn’t put a stop to some decent performances all round. In fact, the men's team scooped up the team award, narrowly beating Bedford & County on their own patch.
Mark Vaughan, who had spent the day celebrating his 49th birthday, was first home for NHRR, and ran a season’s best time of 33:44 to finish in an impressive 3rd place overall (fastest V45). Sue Vaughan also ran, and the husband and wife team were first man and first lady home for the Letchworth-based club, with Sue finishing in a time of 54:21 – what a way to celebrate a birthday!
Andrew Leach was second home for NHRR in 5th (fastest V55). Matthew Sayers (9th) and Stewart Overton (10th) were both happy to get in under 35 minutes. John Rayner and Wayne Bell were not far behind and men's team captain Peter Sibbett was in good form. Also representing the ladies was head coach Karen Dodsworth. (See below for all Beds AAA results.)
Three Squirrels travelled north to run the 40th Northumberland Coastal Run. Linda Aird, Lucy O’Connor and Andrew Porter described the event as “fabulous, with stunningly beautiful coastal scenery”. It starts in Beadnell, and heads south to eventually finish on the beach at Alnmouth. “We started on the beach and almost immediately our shoes were soaked as we had to run through the retreating tide.” said Linda. “When we eventually left the first beach section we found we had to clamber over slippery rocks and seaweed to get up onto the coast path. We were rewarded by spectacular views of the very impressive - and very ruined - Dunstanburgh castle, before hitting the half-way point in the lovely little harbour at Craster. Another climb up, and some more beach sections with added seawater for our shoes, then a few miles on roads and tracks before eventually descending to the beach again at Alnmouth for a 1.5 mile run across more sand, rocks and seawater to cross the finish line at Alnmouth.” The weather was in the trio’s favour (unlike last year's event, apparently) with sunny intervals and a pleasant breeze - which turned into a bit of a headwind on the final push across the beach in Alnmouth, making for a tough finish to a challenging event. Linda was very happy with to knock four minutes off her previous time there ten years ago, and finished in 2:15:41. Lucy O’Connor’s time was 2:17:00, and Andrew Porter was was awarded the prize for 2nd V70, and finished in 2:19:22.
Closer to home, Jo Summers, Sue Foot, Alan Hazlehurst and Lucy Hurley were among a number of Squirrels to take part in the FVS Challenge at the weekend. “Perfect running conditions - warm and sunny” was Jo Summer’s verdict after she completed the marathon in 4.35 (first lady). Also running the marathon was Sue Foot, who was going along nicely when she tripped in mile 10 and somehow scraped her nose. “One very helpful runner patched me up with a plaster,” said Sue. “It caused me to walk for a while but with no other damage apart from a bloody nose and swelling i was soon back running if a bit slowly and finished in 5.56.”
Alan and Lucy took part in the half marathon, and finished in 2:25. Alan described it as “a lovely self guided run around the countryside near Stevenage. Lucy's navigation was impeccable,” he added, “as was her encouragement for me in the last few miles as I slowed badly after. A really enjoyable friendly event with great company!”
Stuart Cocks ran the London Asics 10k in 43.41, beating last year's time by five minutes. He was joined by Hayley Cocks, who finished in 1.08.50, which although not a PB was still 21 minutes quicker than the previous year. Hayley had decided to run it with her sister Shani Briers (“my partner in crime” says Hayley) and just enjoy it. The plan was to run steady and both were very consistent which meant they were able to produce a sprint finish at the end.
Helen Harbon (50:58) and Matt Ankers (52:17) ran the Run Norwich a 10k race in the centre of Norwich. “It was a lovely run through some of the great sites of Norwich,’ said Matt after the race. “It was incredibly hot but lovely.”
Vanessa Rolfe ran the inaugural Ilkley Half Marathon on Sunday 14th July, after gaining permission to run from her husband (it was their wedding anniversary!). She described the event as “a definite recommendation for a running weekend away” and finished in 2:24:58.
Beds AAA Results
Mark Vaughan 3rd 33:44 (V45 winner)
Andrew Leach 5th 34:02 (V55 winner)
Matthew Sayers 9th 34:57 (PB)
Stewart Overton 10th 34:59
John Rayner 18th 35:41
Wayne Bell 20th 35:53
Peter Sibbett 63rd 41:24
Sue Vaughan 160th 54:21
Karen Dodsworth 162nd 54:40
NHRR parkrun results 20/07/2019
210 Helen GIFFIN 00:30:10
251 Sarah MILLHOUSE 00:32:35
346 Jane CLARKE 00:38:57
Wimpole Estate parkrun
20 Ian DATLEN 00:21:07
54 Rhiannon BOTHA 00:23:48
84 Jillian BOYS 00:25:09
5 James DALTON 00:21:29
19 Andrew ROBSON 00:24:04
24 Steve BRENTON 00:24:35
28 Damon CLEVELEY 00:25:01
42 Adam WILSON 00:26:18
59 Lucy HURLEY 00:27:39
71 Paul BOWAL 00:29:29
74 Philip FLACK 00:29:46
96 Helen WILSON 00:32:05
22 Glyn BLAKEY 00:22:20
32 Andrew COATES 00:22:53 (PB)
38 Katherine GOURD 00:23:21 (PB)
249 Sheila LEAVY 00:43:14
67 Chris POOLE 00:25:55
North Herts Road Runners were formally announced as champions of the Mid Week League First Division on Thursday night in front of nearly 600 runners. Having been promoted from Division two in the summer of 2017, NHRR firmly established themselves as a team to reckon with when the club finished in second place in 2018. Once the annual league rolled round once more expectations were high in the club and the push was on to finish first. This would not be an easy task though. Running 10km at race pace once a fortnight is exhausting enough without having the quality competition of Trent Park Running Club and St Albans Striders pushing hard themselves to win the league. Nonetheless, due to an outstanding team effort and some quality individual performances the North Herts Road Runners were crowned champions for the first time in their history. A remarkable achievement and one which firmly puts NHRR on the running map as a team leading the field.
The trophies were awarded after the celebratory ‘Mob Match’ where all 12 teams from Division 1 and Division 2 pounded the streets and underpasses of Welwyn Garden City. The men's team were undefeated over the four races with the 12 scoring team members finishing in the top 22 places in the final league race at Trent Park to scoop the cup with maximum points. Not to be outdone the male vets team, over 40, also claimed top spot overall. With Tom Webb taking the individual title, Mark Vaughan 1st V40, Jim McConnell 2nd V40 and Matthew Sayers 3rd V40 there was plenty to cheer about.
The women's team also ran superbly in order for the club to be crowned overall champions. They finished as runners-up to Trent Park with ladies team captain Katie Harbon leading from the front to finish 2nd in the individual title race. Astrid McKeown won the V45 category and Paula Adams was 3rd in the same category.
With success comes renewed pressure and already the club is aware of the renewed appetite of Trent Park to reclaim the trophy next year. Something coach Karen Dodsworth is more than willing to contend with.
Elsewhere the MWL was paying dividends for Kat Gourd who ran another 10k (because 4 is not enough) of her own accord at Regent’s Park establishing a new post-knee surgery personal best of 50:38 coming 20th out of 200 women. Sue Foot continued to knock out the marathons with the routine efficiency of a weekly parkrun by taking part in the ‘Roding around Marathon’ alongside Jo Summers and Andrew Porter. This was a circumnavigation of the nine noted villages named Roding in the beautiful Essex countryside of the Roding Valley. It was a self-navigated course with a written route description. The course was difficult at times with plenty of places to trip, get stung by stinging nettles and scratched by the overgrown tracks, but that didn’t stop them enjoying the very picturesque route. Both Sue and Andrew finished in 6hrs and 6 minutes whilst Jo finished in an excellent 4hrs 57 minutes but claimed, ‘I did actually finish before a lot of people who I am sure were well ahead of me at one point so I think quite a few 'diversions' were taken!’
Michelle Grudzinski put her fate in the hands of the Gods when she decided to run the Olympus Faethon Marathon. A simple little 44km race including a 3410m ascent of Mount Olympus. This firmly puts the Charlton to Preston hill into perspective. Zeus was not pleased with his home being treated in such a manner so unleashed thunderstorms and lightning in order to reduce the race distance to 30km. Lured by the thought of a soft drink and a slice of cake, Michelle managed to finish the race despite the never ending uphill nature of the course:
‘We started on the road before very quickly heading onto the mountain path... uphill... very uphill... lots of uphill... did I mention the uphill? Even in the stunning valley it was uphill... I was soon overtaken by mountain goats (aka the front runners of the half marathon) and then pretty much everyone else. It was still going uphill... the first 3 aid stations were shared by the marathon and half marathon and they were all UPHILL!!!’
Champion Squirrels! North Herts Road Runners win the Midweek League for the first time in the club’s history
Thursday saw the final race in Division 1 of the Midweek League, in which leading clubs from Hertfordshire and North London battle it out in a summer series of 10k races. North Herts Road Runners not only finished as overall winners on the night, but also sealed the league win. It was the first time the Letchworth-based club has won the first division, and was particularly impressive given the larger size of some of the league’s other clubs. Women’s team captain, Katie Harbon, said “We can’t forget that Division 1 is hard, with several strong clubs competing against each other and with every place to play for it certainly does test your strength.”
Throughout the season both the women’s and men’s NHRR teams consistently delivered leading results, right the way through to the final fixture, in which the women’s team finished second, having worked their way from third place to second throughout the four races, placing eight scoring runners between 4th position (Katie Harbon) and 46th (Rhia Botha). The men’s team won their race, as they have done in every fixture this season, placing twelve scoring runners between 3rd position (Tom Webb) and 22nd (John Rayner). “It wasn’t just the scoring teams that made us win,” said Katie Harbon, “but every single runner who put their all into each race contributed to our success.”
See below for all Thursday's results.
Saturday was the Midsummer Dawn and Dusk double First Saturday of the Month 5k. With cakes at the end and donations to the Hospice, 86 runners completed the dawn event and a 49 runners then ran at dusk. NHRR’s very own James Fox won at Dawn and whilst Matt Sayers won at Dusk.
Vanessa Rolfe had a good run at the Ware 10 mile race, despite not feeling confident following so closely to the MWL race on Thursday and a double appearance at the Dawn and Dusk. However, she did better than expected and finished in 1:53:37.
Showing off their multi-sport skills, several squirrels participated in the Hitchin Triathlon. Several more came down in support and there was many cheers from fellow squirrels on the course. Steve McKeown won the race, “fending off the youngsters” and retained his title from last year. Sofie Thrussell was third lady and Caroline Thrussell was 1st FV50. Shani Fielding throughly enjoyed completing the super sprint nitro event. Hayley Cocks also took on the challenge of Swim Bike Run for the first time and “would definitely do it again”. Adam Wilson completed the sprint distance for the first time. Afterwards Adam said that he beat his target time, but admitted he needs to work on his transitions. John Auld also competed, finishing 8th, taking 3 mins off his time from last year.
Anna Greetham and Helen Cromack had a great weekend at Love Trails Festival in The Gower. They each ran in the 5km, 13km and 9km guided trail runs taking in beautiful beaches and stunning scenery. With a relaxed vibe and food and music, they described it as a brilliant way to enjoy trail running.
Lucy Hurley went to Willingham to do the Fen Gallop 10k, and event fundraising for the local primary school. She finished in 51:40 and received a wooden medal.
Jo Summers ran marathons in the 5 day Great Barrow Challenge. She finished in 4:30 on Monday and 4:14 on Saturday.
Midweek league results;
Race Pos Cat Vet Time Name Surname Cat.
3 3 34:50 Thomas Webb S
6 6 1 1 35:36 Andrew Leach V 50
7 7 1 2 35:43 Mark Vaughan V 40
8 8 2 3 35:49 Jim McConnel V 40
10 10 35:59 Adam Bowller S
12 12 36:12 James Fox S
13 13 36:21 Nathan Pask S
15 15 4 5 36:40 Matthew Sayers V 40
18 18 36:52 Stewart Overton S
19 19 6 7 36:54 Wayne Bell V 40
21 21 8 9 37:03 Edward Price V 40
22 22 37:04 John Rayner S
29 29 37:38 Ollie Saville S
49 49 38:58 Andy Mutton* S
52 52 3 20 39:19 Nicholas Malpeli V 50
93 4 41:24 Katie Harbon S
99 95 30 36 41:36 James Keogh V 40
110 105 42:15 John Auld S
112 6 1 1 42:23 Astrid McKeown V 45
122 115 38 50 43:12 Ian Datlen V 40
127 118 40 53 43:22 Vincent Wright V 40
134 10 3 5 43:38 Paula Adams V 45
137 11 44:06 Sophie Thrussell S
138 127 16 59 44:06 Peter Sibbett V 50
155 137 45:26 Brent Lloyd S
171 22 1 14 46:49 Caroline Thrussell V 55
172 150 51 73 46:50 Andrew Underhill V 40
181 26 7 17 47:15 Helen Cairns V 45
183 157 22 77 47:27 Richard Harbon V 50
186 159 47:32 Mark Seddon S
188 28 11 19 47:42 Rachel Arnott V 35
191 162 47:56 Scott Reed S
213 177 60 91 49:33 James Drew V 40
219 179 62 93 50:04 Steve Tracey V 40
221 181 26 94 50:15 Andrew Robson V 50
231 189 67 102 50:44 Stuart Cocks V 40
240 46 51:16 Rhia Botha S
252 53 21 39 51:58 Dervla Downing V 35
258 55 52:23 Ellie Scott S
261 57 22 42 52:38 Jane Clarke V 35
262 205 52:41 Daniel Mallett S
266 61 52:53 Kat Gourd S
269 207 36 117 52:58 Johnny Spinks V 50
276 212 72 120 53:34 Harry Agius V 40
281 214 38 122 54:09 Andrew Cooper V 50
283 215 11 123 54:26 Elwyn Howell V 60
296 75 7 53 55:36 Linda Aird V 55
297 76 25 54 55:38 Lewina Agius V 35
303 80 9 58 56:17 Lucy O'Connor V 55
314 85 10 61 57:06 Jo Harbon V 55
316 87 27 63 57:10 Jennie Andrews V 35
317 230 57:13 Chris Poole S
329 235 3 141 58:06 Andrew Porter V 70
336 101 30 76 58:37 Jennie Fraser V 35
341 239 4 145 58:56 Ian Sutcliffe V 70
344 104 30 79 59:28 Sue Vaughan V 45
345 105 16 80 59:28 Karen Dodsworth V 55
361 115 35 90 1:01:17 Alison Blunt V 45
364 247 18 152 1:01:34 Geoff Murray-Rochard V 60
369 119 19 94 1:02:25 Miranda Morgan V 55
387 131 1:04:56 Gladys Cheng S
394 138 28 110 1:06:24 Vanessa Rolfe V 55
397 140 40 112 1:07:45 Lindsay Cook V 35
400 143 29 115 1:08:23 Jane Tyler V 55
406 258 21 162 1:11:34 Patrick Norris V 60
Three North Herts Road Runners went to Wrest Park in Bedfordshire for the Silsoe Stride, a 10k race over fields and farm tracks. Linda Aird, who finished 1st in her age category (55:23), said “This was a really nice local event, raising money for the local school. The course was very nice but quite challenging - rough underfoot in many places, undulating and with uneven surfaces and lots of fallen branches on the tracks, so you really had to watch your step.” Finishing just in front of Linda was Lucy O’Connor, also 1st in her age category (54:47), and 3rd home for the club was current Squirrel of the Month Lorna Chambers, in 66 minutes. All three ladies were very happy with their outing, but it may have been more than the race itself. Linda continued, “The home-made cake stall at the end was absolutely epic, as was the size of the cake slices … “
Covering the same distance, Jillian Boys took on the Run Orwell 10k. She reported “On this beautiful sunny and breezy day, the course was a wonderful off-road route which passed the wonderful Greenwich Meridian marker globe which was the theme of the finishers medal, quoting the words “everyone crosses the line”. I completed the race in 50.35 and finished 2nd lady, proudly wearing my squirrels vest!”
Stewart Overton and Nathan Pask took part in the Finsbury Park 5000’s on Friday evening. Stuart commented “Organised by London Heathside, it proved to be a good event with packed races and plenty of spectators on a sunny London evening. Races organised in time order give a good chance to run in competitive races with similar standard runners.” Stewart ran 16:36 in race 6 of 7 and Nathan ran 16:12 in the final race of the evening.
Tackling a much longer distance, Sue Foot ran the Herts Hobble on Sunday. The veteran marathon runner said “The whole route was just over 27 miles starting in Buntingford and out to Great Holmead, Little Chishill, Reed, Chipping and back to Buntingford. The terrain varied from grass trails, to stony tracks, woods and farmland. It was a complicated route, but there was plenty of food and drink at the 3 checkpoints and overall a very enjoyable event.”
As usual there were plenty of parkruns. At Westmill Glyn Blakey finished 12th in 23:23. At Stevenage there were four Squirrels. Helen Giffin was first home for the club in 31:09 followed by Gina Joseph (31:33), Pat Norris (34:29) and Ruth Hicks (35:56). At Wimpole Estate Jillian Boys finished 6th lady in 25:23, while Angeliki Shearstone-Strathopoulou finished 5th lady in 24:23 at Ellenbrook Fields. Brian Judkins completed Castle Parkrun in Bishops Stortford in 37:09. At Letchworth parkrun there were 8 Squirrels. James Dalton was first home for the club in 22:19, followed by Ian Datlen (22:23), Rhia Botha (25:03), Daniel Mallett (25:16), Jegan Simon (26:46), Steve Brenton (27:07), Jennie Fraser (29:06) and Paul Bowal (29:33). Finally, and much further afield, Naomi Parkinson travelled to Hamburg, where she finished the Alstervorland parkrun as 3rd lady (24:25).
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