Thursday saw Ed Price, Ben Hadman and Tom Webb made their way down to the London Marathon Community Track at the Olympic Park to take part in the Twilight 5000 event.
Ed ran in Race 6 (paced for a 16:20 to 17:00 finish), along with around 25 others. In such a large field of runners with very similar ability levels, the first kilometres were characterised by crowded lanes, ebbs and flows in pace, and nervy manoeuvres.
As the laps ticked by things opened up. Thanks to the pacers, a fast field, and vocal support from a large and knowledgeable crowd, it was possible to get into a groove, and let the laps tick by. Despite this, Ed found himself falling slightly off the desired pace with three laps to go, but was able to dig in and put together a faster last lap, taking five places and finishing just one second off his target in 16:41.
A fairly small field meant quite a lot of solo running and being drafted for 22 laps!! Before a couple of last k pickups meant Stuart finished 3rd overall and 1st V40 in a time of 34:48
Away from the track Ian Datlen finished 3rd Place Overall at the Lee Valley Sundowner 10k. A mostly flat Off Road, Multi Terrain 10k, with 70% paved 30% Trail/grass course. Ian said ‘ I had to dig deep to keep going after I got dropped by the leaders 3km in, but I held on for my first ever Podium!’ Ian finished in a time of 39:10.
Whilst you squirrels were asleep in your bed, Andy Grudzinski and Jennie Fraser ran a marathon instead, the torches, including the spare, were donned with care. With hopes that the elevation would be gentle and fair. It was an out and back and the South Downs offered no slack. With 3,500 fl to conquer, they ran the first half together without a falter. With aid stations full of Freddos and melon. They’d settled into a pace but when midnight struck, they took a photo and tried their own luck. Jennie returned in a time of 5:47 and Andy 7:16. Jennie commented “she was surprised how quickly she managed it given the terrain and the pitch black!”
Proving squirrels are not just good runners, Sophie Thrussll was the 1st lady in the 2k open water swim at Grafham water.
And finally, one of the most anticipated events in the running calendar is the Annual Sheepy Shuffle. The Sheepy is a virtual 5k or half marathon which raises funds for the 55 woollies at the Mirkwood Rest Home for Retired Sheep and Squirrels have been taking part in the Sheepy since the inaugural run in 2020. Mirkwood was founded by runner Andy Bailey and the running community have taken Andy and his sheep to their hearts. Today saw Squirrels Richard Weber, Sue Foot, Anna Gibson, & Miranda Morgan run the half. Linda Aird, Brian Judkins, Lucy O’Connor and Jo Kenlin walked the half and Brian Bailey, Sheila Leavy and Monica Cullen walked/ran the 5k. This year’s route was the Letchworth Greenway followed by coffee and cake at Standalone Farm.
Thursday evening saw 14 teams of Squirrels descend on Fairlands Valley Park to compete against runners from Herts and Bedfordshire running clubs in the annual 3km relay competition hosted by Stevenage's biggest running club, Fairlands Valley Spartans. The race is a four leg relay around the lake in the park. Each leg is 3km and 4 members must complete a leg to make up team. There were awards for the top three teams in Mixed, Womens and Mens categories.
North Herts Road Runners enjoyed great success on the night. Provisional results show NHRR women’s senior and women's veterans teams both finished second in their categories, while the mens veterans finished 3rd overall, but claimed the county silver medal.
Women's senior team, Team Grey Squirrels were Katie Harbon (second fastest and one of only two women to complete the 3km in under 10 minutes); Hannah Ridley, Rhia Botha and Astrid McKeown. Vet women, Team Black Squirrels were Rachel Arnott; Paula Holm, Tash Pitman and Jane Clarke. Vet Men's team, Team Red Squirrels were Ed Price; Matt Sayers; Shahab Ahmad and Steve McKeown. Men's Team Captain John Auld commented "it was a great team outing, similar to an end of season party which is accessible to all, regardless of speed or age".
Silver in Bedford
Rhia Botha was out racing the ATW half marathon in Bedford in Sunday. She took a fantastic second place in a time of 1:34. A fantastic achievement to podium on a course Rhia noted for its “many 180 degree turns”, ultimately it was shy of a PB but Rhia places yet again in a strong summer of running.
Elsewhere Philip Flack returned to the Millennium Country Parkrun, Forest of Marston Vale, for the second year running. A Parkrun claimed to be the longest Parkrun name in the world! Philip was delighted to finish in the top half in 27:31 (To be confirmed as a club record for M70-74 Parkrun). This was 4 minutes faster than last year and cam with it the honour of 'sounding the gong' for a course PB, a local ritual. Philip said “I have to give massive thanks to Karen Dodsworth who has been coaching me this year and enabled me to do this.”
Wednesday evening saw the season finale of The Run Herts Mid-Week 10-kilometre road racing league, nicknamed the ‘mob match’. This was an opportunity for all divisions to race each other, followed by the season’s awards presentation.
Friendly local rivalry ensued with North Herts Road Runners (division one), Hitchin Hares (division three), Fairlands Valley Spartans (division two) and Royston (division two) able to go head-to-head for the first time this season.
North Herts Road Runners topped the rivalry finishing fifth overall with Katie Harbon the star of the show winning the women’s race in her 3rd 10km race in six days. They were followed by Fairlands Valley Spartans in ninth, then Hitchin Hares in eleventh and Royston Runners in twelfth.
Ladies Captain, Tash Pitman was delighted with our women’s team finishing third, after some injuries and other commitments saw a few of our regular scorers unable to attend. Katie Harbon, Astrid McKeown, Rachel Arnott, Tash Pitman, Rhia Botha, Laura Fairbanks, Joanne Hoare and Lucy O’Connor all ran brilliantly to make the podium!
Fairlands Valley Challenge
Sunday saw four Squirrels heading to Stevenage to take part in the Fairlands Valley Challenge, an off-road and self-navigated challenge through the picturesque Hertfordshire countryside around Stevenage. There are no marshalls or signs, just a written route description.
Sue Foot, Jennie Fraser and Alice Noakes opted for the 27.5 option. ‘Having not run longer than seven miles in the last couple of months due to illness’ Sue was ‘pleased to finish in 6.19 without getting lost!’ Jennie and Alice ran together and finished together. Brian Judkins opted for the half marathon and noted that it was run in the opposite direction to when he last ran it in 2016. Despite getting slightly lost early on he completed 14 miles in 3:03.
Exe Estuary Half Marathon
Elwyn Howell headed to Topsham, Devon to take part in the Exe Estuary Half Marathon. Elwyn was ‘pleased to finish in under two hours considering there are lots of climbs on the Southwest Coast Path’. Elwyn finished 15th of 109 in 1:58:25.
Dunstable Downs Trail Half
Kat Burr and Adam Wilson had terrific runs at the Dunstable Downs Trail Half. Kat was 14th overall, 3rd female and 1st FV40. Kat noted that it ‘was really tough in places due to the wind and the steep hills’. Adam Wilson was 75th and ran in 2:26:40
Parkrun results from the weekend
A strong squad of 59 North Herts Road Runners made the short trip to Stevenage on a warm and sunny Thursday evening to tackle the final Hertfordshire Division One Mid Week League road race. The team won the race with the men taking top spot and the women coming second. John Auld the club’s team captain said “I’m absolutely delighted with the team’s performance this season.
The team spirit was fabulous with Squirrels turning out consistently to run and support each other and the club. Winning the season finale at our host race was fantastic and solidified us as runners up in Division One”.
After all four races, Katie Harbon won the Women’s Senior League and Ben Hadman finished second in the Men’s Senior League. Astrid McKeown claimed third in the Veteran Womens 45+ Age category, with Lucy O’Connor 2nd in the Womens 55+ category. Mid week league secretary Pete Sibbett said, “a huge thank you to all those members who gave up running last night to ensure that we put on a safe and enjoyable race, you are star squirrels”.
The team are excited for the upcoming Mob Match in Welwyn Garden City on Wednesday which brings all three divisions together, so they can go head-to-head with Division 2 runners up Fairland Valley Spartans who have gained promotion to Division One for the 2024 season, to revive their friendly rivalry!
Squirrels storm round the streets of London
Katie Harbon and David Edwards headed to London to toe the line with 17,500 other runners at the Asics 10km. The race started on the edge of Green Park, and took in some of the most iconic sites on closed roads, including Westminster Bridge, the London Eye, Piccadilly Circus, Big Ben, and Trafalgar Square, before finishing on Whitehall, just past Downing Street.
Katie had a brilliant race and finished 4th female in an incredibly quick time of 36 minutes and 25 seconds. David was pleased to run a personal best time of 41 minutes and 50 seconds and finished in the top 800 males.
Five Squirrels in action at Ultra 5km
On Sunday, five determined North Herts Road Runners ran the Bedford Ultra 5km in very humid conditions at Box End. Rhia Botha, Kris Whitmore, Mike Philips and Ian Datlen undertook the 5 x 5km. with Steve Brenton running the 3 x 5km race.
The event comprised a 5km run on the hour every hour with the total time for all runs added together for a total time. It was a tough course with a soft trail including a few inclines and switch backs, so definitely not for the faint hearted!
Rhia was dominant in the female field coming in 7 mins ahead of 2nd place! The men’s competition was more closely fought with 2nd to 5th positions separated by only two minutes. Kris Whitmore was delighted to finish second with a strong sprint finish seeing him gain a position. In the 3x5k, Steve Brenton finished third make and said “It was really different, challenging type of race, and managed to bag my first ever trophy for the shelf!"
Rhia Botha 1st Lady 1:55:10
Kris Whitmore 2nd Male 1:43:20
Ian Datlen 5th Male 1:45:52 3 x 5km
Mike Philips 15th Male 2:03:37 Steve Brenton 3rd Male 1:11:29
Runners were given the opportunity to run in North Herts Road Runners annual Midsummer Dawn and Dusk Double 5k, allowing runners and their supporters to enjoy the beautiful Norton Common both in the morning and the evening. Eighteen tireless runners completed both the morning and evening editions with Nathaniel Rosa and Astrid McKeown finishing in the fastest times over the two races.
Andrew Robson was one of those eighteen, commenting "I ran both the dawn and dusk editions of the First Saturday of the Month finishing in a very consistent 30:09 at dawn and 30:08 at dusk. I enjoyed both races, especially the dusk version which I ran with my daughter Elizabeth. She finished in 30:50, having run off ahead of me on the first lap, and then I caught up on the second time around.
Kris Whitmore headed over to our Mid Week League friends, Ware, for their home race of the Ware 10 Mile. Kris described his performance as "frustrating, having let the lead group go at the long downhill so I was running on my own for most of it, finished seventh in 65 minutes exactly."
Elwyn Howell completed the Exeter 10k River Run on Friday evening in 45:08 finishing 2nd in his age category on a very humid evening.
Four North Herts Road Runners were early risers at the Hitchin Sprint Triathlon on Sunday morning. Starting at 6:30am the conditions were perfect for the excellently organised race by Burnt Hare consisting of 400m pool swim, 20K bike and 5K run around the town. Steve McKeown secured his fourth victory in the main sprint event in a time of 1.00.24. Other Squirrels competing were Shahab Ahmad (1.21.28); Sarah Mitcherson (1.23.32) and Lindsay Cook (1.29.07) all finishing in respectable times. Trophies were presented by TV celebrity and professional boxer Tommy Fury. The event also hosted a smaller Nitro distance race and a Kids Triathlon, highlighting the commitment to encourage both newcomers and children to the exciting world of Triathlon.
Elwyn Howell was once again travelling around the country and took the opportunity to compete at The Exeter 10k River Run on Friday evening. He finished second in his age category in 45:08, "on a very humid evening".
Parkruns were less frequented than usual due to our double header First Saturday of the Month. Nevertheless, 9 Squirrels took part in 9 different parkruns across the country:
All eyes are now firmly fixed on this Thursday's final race in the Midweek League, with all to run for as North Herts host this fourth and final 10km race!
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