Tough running in the heat’ was Lucy O’Connor’s verdict on a week of testing but successful local racing for North Herts Road Runners at the Hatfield 5k and inaugural Stevenage 10k.
The flat course and midweek evening format of the Hatfield event make it a popular race for runners across Hertfordshire and a strong turnout from 23 Squirrels saw the Letchworth-based club put in a series of impressive performances.
The event also served as the Hertfordshire Veterans championships and NHRR Chairperson Astrid McKeown led the way by taking the silver medal in the female 45-plus category in a time of 19.24. Matt Sayers replicated the feat with 16.47 for second place in the male 40-plus group.
Fellow Squirrel Andrew Porter was delighted to record a new best time of 26.53 over the 5k distance and Hayley Cocks said she was ‘absolutely over the moon’ with her first-ever sub-30 minutes 5k clocking. Cocks crossed the line in 29.49 and was delighted when a fellow athlete from Stevenage-based Fairlands Valley Spartans admitted she had been using her as a pacer; ‘Me, a pacer – wow!’ was the post-race comment from Cocks.
Also running at Hatfield were:
John Auld, 18:35; Peter Sibbett, 18:35; Adrian Sherwood, 18:44; Ian Datlen, 19:09 (PB); Charlie Grayson, 19:16; Stuart Cocks, 20:26 (PB); Richard Harbon, 20:38; Neil Jefferson, 21:09; Rhia Botha, 21:28; Caroline Thrussell, 21:34; Chris Poole, 22:08 58; Dervla Downing ,22:35; Kat Gourd, 22:57 (PB); Lucy O’Connor, 23:23; Richard Weber, 23:31 (PB); Harry Agius, 23:48 (PB); Geoff Murray-Rochard, 23:50 (PB); Lewina Agius, 25:10 (PB); Ian Sutcliffe, 27:26; Hannah Keeble, 27:28; Carina Quayle, 28:31
Conditions had warmed up further by the time of Sunday’s first-ever Stevenage 10k, but Lucy O’Connor found the heat to her liking as she won the 55-plus age group with a time of 52.04 and Dervla Downing took silver in the 35-plus category with 48.14.
Fellow Squirrel Kat Gourd admitted she had ‘never been so glad to run downhill into one of Stevenage's oh-so-glamorous -but gloriously-shady underpasses’, although each descent was matched with ‘trepidation about the inevitable uphill slog (often in full sun) that would follow!’. Gourd battled her way to a new best time of 48.57 and was delighted to finish first in the senior female category.
Also running at Stevenage were:
Chris Poole, 46:59; Stuart Cocks, 47:13; Steve Brenton, 48:30; Andrew Coates, 48:38; Christian Allen, 50:35; Dave Braybrook, 53:38; Allison Blunt, 59:22; Jennifer Naisbitt, 1:05:02; Anna Greetham, 1:07:06; Hayley Cocks, 1:10:54.
Long-distance specialists Sue Foot and Jo Summers completed another new event – the Five Rivers Challenge Marathon, covering five loops all starting and finishing in Ware. Sue described the whole route as ‘very picturesque and perfect trail running’. She finished in ‘around 5 hours 25’, with Jo ‘well in front of me!’.
As ever, NHRR were strongly represented at Parkruns near and far:
Andrew Coates, 22.20; Kat Gourd, 23.29; Dave Braybrook, 24.19; Sarah Millhouse, 24.57; Jane Clarke, 28.33; Pat Norris, 32.40; Sarah Mitcherson, 36.55.
Paul Jackson, 18.33.
Lucy Hurley, 26.39
Chris Poole, 23.25
James Keogh, 20.58; Clare Hooley, 37.34
James Dalton, 20.59; Andrew Underhill, 22.15; Rhia Botha, 22.29; Damon Cleveley, 22.59; Sherryl Chatfield, 27.12; Carl Goodrum, 27.12; Adam Wilson, 27.56; Alan Hazlehurst, 27.58; Philip Flack, 28.08; Ellie Scott, 28.30; Rebecca Nicholl, 33.53; Carol Goodrum, 34.28
Brian Judkins, 36.32
Nant y Pandy
Glyn Blakey, 31.27
North Herts Road Runner, Rhia Botha, finished as first lady at the Baldock Rat Run in a time of 21:26. Not far behind was Paula Holm, who finished third in 21:58. In total, fourteen Squirrels took part in the second running of Sunday’s 5km race through the streets of Baldock. Speaking after the event, Richard Harbon (21:03) said it was: “A beautiful day and a great course. There were some outstanding results, and all proceeds went to Garden House Hospice Care.” Lucy O’Connor agreed, describing the conditions as “perfect running weather,” and ran 24:21. Helen Marson-Smith was pleased with her time of 29:51, her second fastest 5k time. See below for all NHRR Baldock Rat Run results.
Naomi Parkinson ran the Thames Path Challenge 100k, fundraising for Mind. “A 100k is not for the faint hearted,” said Naomi, “and having 9 months of training under my belt I’m really pleased to say I finished in 14 hours 57 minutes, 25th lady and 123rd overall. The support from well stocked rest stops, family and friends made all the difference - and a special thanks to all the Squirrels that have trained with me!”
On Saturday, John Auld was in his native Yorkshire to take part in the third of the four-race Silkstone Shuffle series. “It was a lovely morning actually. Lovely sunshine and a dry course,” said John. “Going into this race I was seventh in the series by a single second, so I planned to be at sixth after this race.” John was delighted to finish the race in seventh position, which means he is currently in fourth position overall. “Fourth is currently the first senior man outside the top 3, so in December I have a seven-second lead over fifth to defend - should be a good race - just how I like it!”
John wasn’t the only Squirrel to head north at the weekend. Pete Sibbett travelled to Salford Quays to run the UKFast Salford 10km. “This was an England Masters qualifying race,” said Pete. “I was racing to see where I need to get to in order to qualify in my age category; the answer was over 2 minutes faster!” However, Pete ran a season’s best 38.30, and achieved the 39min qualifying time. He was 4th in his age group. “Lots of work needed without getting injured in the process” was Pete’s final assessment, adding: “It was good to see another distinctive NHRR vest as Chris Poole was also racing.” Chris finished the race in 46:04.
Pat Norris did the Iceni Festival half on Sunday. He described it as a tough run round the town then out and around an RAF base, which was an undulating track comprising Brekon's sandy and loamy soil. “This was fortunately booked for me by my son as a birthday present as,” said Pat. “If I had seen it myself, I would have gone for the full marathon option (there was also a 10k at the same time) and I may not have finished it! Fortunately because this turned into quite a tough run. Only the first 8 finishers managed to go under 2 hours with the winner coming in at 1:38. Considering the weather was almost perfect and there were virtually no hills then I can only put this down to the conditions underfoot. Even so, my slowest half time ever at 3:28.”
In what he has decided will be his last race, Oliver Saville ran the Great North Run in 1:16:55. “I’m just going to run for enjoyment now,” said a relieved Oliver. Also running was Jim Marvell, who finished in finished in 2:20:21 - a post injury PB by just under 11 minutes.
Vanessa Rolfe took on the Draycote Water 20-mile race on Sunday. “Never done this one before,” she said after the event. “Although it was four times round the reservoir it wasn’t as boring as it sounds, and I was very happy to finish in 3:46:55.” Vanessa’s time was especially impressive as only the week before she had run the Bedford Half Marathon in 2:22:34.
In the NHRR-organised First Saturday of the Month 5k at Norton Common there were 64 runners. First home for the Squirrels were Matt Sayers, who ran 18:25 to finish in first position overall, and Caroline Thrussell, who was the first woman, and ran a time of 22:12. A Special ‘WELL DONE’ goes to to Fiona Oldham who completed her first 5k after doing the Couch-to-5k course.
Only the day before he took part in the Baldock Rat Run, Richard Harbon had run another 5k, this time at the Wetherby parkrun. The family were in the area for a wedding, and Katie Harbon finished as first lady in 19:45. See below for all NHRR parkrun results.
In race-walking news, David Annetts completed the last of the Tuesday night summer races at Woodford Green Open. In the 3000m Race Walk he finished 3rd in 13:47.
Baldock Rat Run results
Ian Datlen 5th 20:13
Richard Harbon 21:03
Rhia Botha First Lady 21:26
Paula Holm third lady 21:58
Andrew Coates 22:27
Steve Brenton 22:51
Lucy O’Connor 24:21
Andrew Cooper 25:27
Alan Hazelhurst 26:50
Sherryl Chatfield 27:20
Helen Marston Smith 29:56
Brian Justin’s 32:49
Helen Govey 34:36
25 Steve BRENTON 23:32
112 Sarah MILLHOUSE 25:19
313 Sarah MITCHERSON 33:53
349 Jane CLARKE 36:25
Roding Valley parkrun
9 Darren MATUSSA 19:24
494 Glyn BLAKEY 52:57
6 Katie HARBON (First Lady) 19:45
14 Richard HARBON 20:57
? James BERRY 24:11
40 Matt ANKERS 24:45
Exeter Riverside parkrun
149 Dave BRAYBROOK 24:22
23 Chris STOKES 20:33
48 Chris POOLE 24:48
The North Herts Road Runners have been selected as the East region’s Club of the Year in the England Athletics’ 2019 Volunteer Awards. The Letchworth-based club was chosen in recognition of its results and for the opportunities given to everyone involved in the club. The award was received by Club Chair Astrid McKeown, Club President Richard Harbon and Head Coach Karen Dodsworth at Bedford International on Sunday 1st September.
“This award is for all of our members,” said Astrid McKeown. “It was not just based on strong and improved performances in leagues and championships, but also how over the last 12 months we have demonstrated our ongoing commitment to the sport and the opportunities we have provided.”
The criteria for the award included adopting a pro-active approach to the recruitment and retention of volunteers, as well as providing a friendly and supportive environment in which they can develop. North Herts Road Runners organise many running events in the local community, including the First Saturday of the Month, a monthly free 5k race, the ‘Greenway challenge’, a self-guided half marathon that for many is their debut HM, and the always over-subscribed Standalone 10k. These events are staffed entirely by volunteers from the club.
North Herts Road Runners also play an important role in promoting fitness in the local community. The club’s couch to 5k scheme introduced 40 people to running, many of whom joined NHRR as a result, and now regularly take part in races and other local running events.
The award’s criteria also included strong or improved club performances in leagues, championships and other club competitions through the development of club athletes. This year has been exceptional for the Squirrels in terms of performances and team success. In 2019, the North Herts Road Runners have won both the Three Counties (Herts, Beds, Bucks) Cross Country League and the Herts Midweek League, results which demonstrate the quality of coaching provided by the club.
And the Squirrels are continuing to produce strong performances. The Club of the Year award was presented at the end of a week in which North Herts Road Runners won the men’s Hertfordshire County 5km championships at Hatfield, and had members, Adam Bowller and Mark Vaughan, competing for the England Masters team at the Maidenhead half marathon.
The first of the Hatfield 5km series was on Wednesday. The first event being the Hertfordshire County championships.
28 squirrels turned out in force earning a few trophies and PBs. The mens team of Tom Webb, Andrew Leach, Mark Vaughan and Stewart Overton won the county championship gold. Tom Webb finished 2nd in the race and won silver in the county championships in a course best time for him of 15:49. David Weston was delighted to get a new PB of 18:35. Mark Vaughan finished 11th in 16:38. Kat Gourd finished in 23:40. Harry and Lewina Agius both managed PBs with 23:56 and 25:55 respectively. Andrew Coates also got a PB finishing in 21:55.
Having qualified for England vests to run for England Masters at the half marathon distance, Mark Vaughan and Adam Bowller ran the Maidenhead half marathon as part of the England Masters team against the Celtic masters team. Mark finished 15th overall and 4th V40 in a time of 72:48. Adam finished 21st with 73:50 and Jane Clarke also ran and finished 848th in 1:51:23.
David Annetts race walked in two events this week. On a very warm Tuesday evening in Battersea Park, he finished the last Vets AC summer series in first place. He achieved a new 5 mile PB of 38:11 at the Vets AC 5 Mile Race Walk. On Saturday he then finished 2nd in 24:07 at the L.I.C.C. and Enfield League 5000m Race Walk at Allianz Park Barnet.
Sue foot and Jo Summers both ran the Dunstable Downs Challenge. Sue finished in 5:07 and Jo in 4:19. Not having done the event in a few years, Jo thoroughly enjoyed it – describing it as a lovely route with spectacular views and perfect running weather.
Tom Webb achieved a PB at the Ladywell 10,000m B race on his 35th birthday. This was Toms first 10,000m on the track and finished 4th in 32:25.
Several Squirrels ran at the Bedford running festival which included a 5km, Twilihght 10km and Half marathon. Several squirrels completed multiple events. Completing the 5km was Helen Govey (28:06) and Andrew Cooper (26:09). Dave Braybrook and Andrew Coates both ran the 10k in 51:14 and 48:38 respectively. Andrew's time being a new PB. Dave Weston finished the half in 92:34, knocking 4 mins off his previous PB. Kat Gourd also ran the half and despite a spectacular tumble at around 10 miles, she was very pleased to finish in 1:51:30. Also completing the half were Lewina Agius with a new PB of 1:59:39. Helen Cromack 2:33:01 and Anna Greetham 2:32:59 also having great runs. Ali Mottram completed both the 5km and 10km in 34:30 and 2:32:59 (PB) respectively. Elwyn Howell completed both the 10km (53:32) and the half (2:10:20) – achieving a PB in each. Training for a Autumn marathon, Jennie Fraser took part in all three events obtaining much bling and a total of 22.4 miles. Jennie finished the 5km in 24:56, 10km in 51:09 and half in 2:10:56.
A scurry of squirrels took part in the The Freedom Tri Duck n Dash aquathon in home territory of Norton Common. John Auld was first squirrel home in 11th (29:53). Closely followed by James Keogh 15th (30:47), Richard Harbon 29th (34:55), Lucy O'Connor 57th (39:22) and Matt Ankers 62nd (40:08). James Keogh was happy to have completed the race faster than his first event 10 years ago and attributed this to consistent training. In the relay Katie Harbon finished the run in 20:15 with a combined time of 30:12.
Susan Mansfield & Mike Bullock took on the St Albans Stampede as solo runners. The event is a lapped 12 hour Ultra where the objective is to complete as many laps of the 4 mile off road hilly course. The duo also took on the 12 hour all you can eat buffet as the organisers laid on free bacon butties. Between the two of them they completed 170km.
News, Notifications and Race Results