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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