This weekend, the North Herts Road Runners hosted their flagship annual Standalone 10k race. The popular event, which is now in its 35th year, is a very popular annual fixture in the running diaries of local runners and those from further afield alike.
As in previous years, the race started on Wilbury Road outside Standalone Farm in Letchworth, before heading out in a 10km loop through the closed roads of Letchworth, Norton, and Stotfold, before passing the Fairfield estate with a lovely downhill section back down Wilbury Road to the finish at the farm itself. This year, there were 813 finishers, who were blessed with perfect running conditions of a cool but sunny day basked in beautiful September sunshine. The race was well supported, with enthusiastic NHRR marshals out in force to keep the runners safe and well supported, along with many local spectators cheering them along the route.
The men’s race was won by Stefano Federici of the St Albans Striders in a very impressive 32:29, and the female winner was reigning champion Lizzy Janes of Herts Phoenix in 35:27. Hot on their heels were the NHRR mens’ and ladies’ teams who secured both team prizes. The first male home for the club (and coming in 2nd place overall, just a few seconds behind the winner) was Tom Webb in a stunning 32:36, with his fellow teammates Ben Hadham (32:54), James Fox (33:16), Darren Sunter (33:24), Adam Bowller (33:32), and Stewart Overton (34:45, who also won the MV40 age group) securing the majority of the top places in a flurry of squirrel successes! In addition, Andrew Leach (33:52) placed 7th overall and was first in his age category (MV50). Meanwhile, the NHRR ladies’ team also put in a similarly wonderful performance, with Katie Harbon leading the team home in a new personal best of 36:30 and securing second place overall, with Karen Townsend (39:51), Paula Holm (42:03), and Rachel Arnott (42:19) making up the rest of the winning team and coming in third to fifth place. Tracy Pitcairn was close behind her clubmates, coming in as sixth lady overall (42:59) and won her age category (FV35). There were many other successes from other local clubs as well as runners who had travelled much further distances, including the winner of the FV45 age category, Julie Kelly of the Sydney Striders in Australia, who is visiting the UK to run the London Marathon next week. She completed the Standalone 10k in an excellent 43:36, and surely also deserves a prize for most far-flung runner!
The event was a huge success overall, with the runners all enjoying a fantastic morning in the autumn sunshine, with plenty of praise for the well-organised event and lots of thanks to the NHRR marshals for their excellent help and support. Those who opted to receive the iconic, and arguably highly collectable, annual Standalone t-shirt were rewarded by a recycled t-shirt in a vibrant electric green shade this year, whereas others chose to have a tree planted on their behalf in ongoing efforts to make the event as green and eco-friendly as possible. Race Director Richard Harbon said: “Every year the Standalone 10k just seems to get better and better. This was the 35th year of this superb event and the sun always shines. It was no different this year with over 1000 runners signing up and so many great personal stories from the race. It is an incredible community event where so many people come together to run, spectate, or help out. Thank you to each and every one of them”.
A great turnout of 21 NHRR last Wednesday at the third and final race in the 2022 edition of the Hatfield 5k.
Katie Harbon led the squirrel’s home in a superb person best time of 17:14 (85.4% age grade) to set a new club record and won the women’s race, also setting a new course record in the process! Karen Townsend was second woman home in an impressive 19:28.
Shahab Ahmad led the men home in a PB of 17:47, finishing 17th overall, 5th in MV40. Nick Malepeli was hot on his heals in 17:54 (85.5% AG). There were lots more PB’s including Tracy Pitcairn in 20:10! The race series championship showed the consistency of lots of squirrels with all 3 races needed to enter the final rankings, with the best 2 times contributing to series position.
Seven female and four male squirrels did all 3 races, so well done to Rachel Arnott, Tracy Pitcairn, Jane Clarke, Helen Cairns, Andreea Weisel-Shaw, Karen Dodsworth, Tash Pitman, John Auld, Ian Harvey, James Walsh and Andrew Wallis. Am sure you all look forward to getting back to your usual training patterns!
We won at least a cabinet full of trophies with the Ladies Team WINNING the overall event. Rachel, Tracy and Tash loved running as a team, helping each other pace and this showed in the results! Tracy won the individual V35 category, with Jane 2nd. Rachel won V45, with Helen 3rd!
We hope all of you that could run in any of the series enjoyed the experience and a huge thanks to all the supporters over the month, with Sibbo at all 3 races providing tremendous encouragement! The cheers give such a boost when you’re running - am sure at least a 10 seconds off your time!
This week the veteran runners of Hertfordshire were spoilt for choice with two County Championship races within 5 days. The Herts 5km Veteran’s County Championships on Wednesday at the Hatfield 5km and the 10km Championships on Sunday at the Stevenage 10km!
The North Herts Road Runners Women's Team came second in both the 5km and 10km Championships and the Men's Team came second in the 10km Championships.
Last Wednesday, thirty squirrels travelled to Hatfield to race the second 5km in the series. Katie Harbon led the team home in an extremely impressive 17:34, finishing as the 3rd female and Shahab Ahmad was the first male home in a new personal best of 17:55. A plethora of PBs were broken including those by Ian Datlen, David Edwards and Andrew Wallis. Finally, Paula Adams set a new FV50 club record with a gun time of 21:57, chip 21:46.
In the County Vets competition Lucy O’Connor was second FV55 with an awesome 81.1% age grade. Tracy Pitcairn was the 3rd FV35, and helped our women’s vets team to claim second place with Rachel Arnott and Tash Pitman. The next three squirrels to finish were Paula Holm, Astrid McKeown and Jane Clarke, who claimed the 4th women’s vets team position meaning six female squirrels finished in top 16!. The final round of the series is this Wednesday.
An amazing 54 squirrels ran the Stevenage 10km on Sunday, with the men’s and women’s vets teams both coming 2nd in the county champs!
It was a tough little course, but our runners put in some brilliant performances. Men’s team: Shahab Ahmad; Nick Malpeli; James Dalton; Ian Sutcliffe. Women’s team: Tash Pitman; Linda Aird; Andreea Weisl-Shaw.
Stuart Overton represented North Herts Road Runners at the Veterans Athletics Club 10,000m championships at Battersea Park on Wednesday evening. Stuart finished 5th overall and was the 1st MV40 in a time of 35:01. Stuart enjoyed the race, commenting ‘I really enjoyed the friendly atmosphere of the Vets AC races and the run to Battersea park in the sunset was pretty nice too.’
Another busy week for North Herts Road Runners saw Adam Bowller win the Sandy 10 and crowned Beds Champion in a PB 54.57 whilst Anna Klucnika stormed to a stunning 1.22.57 PB when finishing 1st lady at the Cheshire Half Marathon. With the ladies team of Tash Pitman, Rachel Arnott and Tracy Pitcairn winning the silver medal at the Herts 5km champs in Hatfield on Wednesday it was another wonderful week for the squirrels and just reward for their hard work in club training sessions.
Four squirrels finally got to race the Sandy 10 after covid cancelled the 2020 and 2021 events. Adam Bowller was delighted that a fast last downhill mile enabled him to break the 55 minute barrier and record a 54.57 PB to win the race and the Beds Championships. V60 Lucy O’Connor also showed sparkling form finishing in 1.21.38 as she prepares for her England Masters debut at the Cheshire Marathon in October whilst Rachel Arnott and Anna Gibson both ran well to finish in 1.11 and 1.31.11 respectively.
Last Wednesday saw the return of the popular Hatfield 5km series after a 2 year absence and the squirrels celebrated it’s return with a host of stunning PBs including an amazing improvement of a minute for Andreea Weisl-Shaw who raced to a 26.36 PB. Ian Datlen led the club home in a PB 18.17, despite a typically enthusiastic first km, followed by John Auld 19.37 and Dave Edwards who smashed the 20 min barrier with a 19.51 PB. Ladies’ team captain Tash Pitman clocked 20.02 and Rachel Arnott ran a stunning 20.05 PB. Returning from injury James Walsh was surprised and pleased to run 20.24, followed by Tracy Pitcairn 20.38, Andrew Wallis 20.47, Ian Harvey 20.59, Darren Matussa 21.10, Jane Clarke 23.04, Helen Cairns 23.23, Karen Dodsworth 27.01 and Ian Sutcliffe 28.48. With the ladies team of Tash Pitman, Rachel Arnott and Tracy Pitcairn scooping the silver medal in the Herts Champs the squirrels are hoping for more success next week in the Herts Vets Champs.
Also in action in the Lake District Mel Flynn, Caroline Thrussell and Paul Bowal took on the tough but stunning Ambleside 25km trail run. With an elevation gain of 2700 feet and some very difficult technical sections Caroline was delighted to finish in an excellent 12th place 3.34.48 followed by Mel 4.05.15 and Paul 4.44.14.
Tackling the iconic Great North Run Ian Harvey and Dave Braybrook finished within seconds of each other in 1.44.01 and 1.44.42 respectively. Dave said, ‘This was a race of two halves. I was on track for a good finish but the rolling hills and heat took its toll. However, the support and atmosphere were amazing and I’d definitely recommend this race’.
Twenty eight squirrels took part in park runs on Saturday. Richard and Georgia Barker raced to 25.54 and 30.31 clockings at Bedford whilst Vince Wright ran a speedy 17.43 at Hastings. James Dalton led his club mates home at Letchworth in 21.00 followed by Ian Datlen 22.25, Charlotte Gibson 23.02, Steve Brenton 23.08, Philip Flack 30.17, Jane Robson 32.08, Geoff Pettengell 33.51, Aimee Flack 34.09 and Branka Moss 39.31 whilst Brian Judkins enjoyed a great run at Great Denham finishing in 32.31. 7 members enjoyed the Henlow Bridge Lakes course with Adrian Sherwood finishing 3rd in 19.47 followed by Dave Braybrook 24.17, Matt Roberts 24.20, Andrew Coates 24.37, Kat Hinitt 25.23, and Rhia Botha and Jane Clarke both crossing the line in 29.37.
Sophie Thrussell took on the challenge of the St Neots standard distance triathlon including a 1500m swim in the river Ouse, a 45km bike around scenic villages and 10km run in Riverside Park. In her debut event Sophie swam, cycled and ran superbly to finish 2nd overall in 2.47.30 and win her age category.
A slight change from our running reports, Amanda Greig took part in the GB open water masters swimming at Lake Bala in Wales. Amanda took the silver medal in her age group and described it as a tough choppy swim.
The Vitality Big Half Marathon starting at Tower Hill north of the Thames and finishing south at the Cutty Sark saw 19 North Herts Road Runners and 11 Fairlands Valley Spartans overcome cancelled trains and tubes to make the early 8:30am start time. They knew they were in good company with Sir Mo Farrah and Eilish McColgan leading the elite field with 12,000 following in their footsteps. Many squirrels used the race as part of their Autumn marathon preparations, so the times achieved were especially impressive during a heavy milage training block. All 19 squirrels came home in under 2 hours. Mark Vaughan had a perfect race finishing in 1:14:56, bagging second fastest male in the veteran 50 years age group. Mike Roberts led the club home in 1:13:19,with Stewart Overton hot on his heals in great time of 1:15:19. Matt Sayers was fourth in 1:17:49 and Sam Coxon smashed his previous best time in 1:21:41. In the ladies race Katie Harbon finished in 1:25:10, very impressive after completing the Three Peaks Challenge in under 24 hours a fortnight ago. Tash Pitman followed up in 1:34:36 and Rhia Botha ran a solid 1:35:29, despite it being the weekend she moved house!
Full results: Mike Roberts 1:13:19; Mark Vaughan 1:14:56; Stewart Overton 1:15:19; Matt Sayers 1:17:49; Sam Coxon 1:21:41; Katie Harbon 1:25:10; Ian Datlen 1:25:41; John Auld 1:29:04; Oliver Parsons 1:30:03; Tash Pitman 1:34:36; Rhia Botha 1:35:29; Mike Philips 1:37:02; David Weston 1:41:51; Mike Over 1:42:48; David Edwards 1:43:16; Matt Roberts 1:44:25; Kyle Stout 1:45:27; Jane Clarke 1:55:26; Scott Read 1:57:27.
Baldock Town Centre welcomed the fourth edition of the popular Rat Run raising funds for the fabulous Garden House Hospice. North Herts Road Runners had 5 runners taking part with Paula Holm winning the female race in an impressive 20:49, closely followed by clubmate Jill Tooley-Boys who ran canicross with her gorgeous dog Lulu to finish third. James Dalton was first male squirrel home in 20:38 to claim third male, with good runs from Jon Hunt first in his age category and a solid sub 30 minute effort for Alan Hazlehurst.
Meanwhile up on the undulating country roads north of Bedford, five North Herts Road Runners embarked on the popular Bedford Harriers Oakley 20 mile race. Dervla Downing was first home for the club in an impressive 2 hours 56 minutes and 52 seconds, closely followed by Richard Weber in 2:59:22. Lucy O’Connor managed a an outstanding 03:05:55, whilst also claiming second place in her age category and also first Bedfordshire County in the veterans 60 category. Maurice Glatzhofer finished in 3 hours and seven minutes despite a an issue with his knee. Coach Cara Sutton also ran strongly finishing in 3:14:20, knocking over 25 minutes off her 2019 PB for this course. Richard Weber reported "It was an attractive but hilly route (especially the beast of a hill at around the 7-mile mark) and recommends it to anyone who enjoys the challenge of a hilly route!"
Rachel Arnott visited the small village of Northestow to the north of Cambridge for their annual running festival where she competed in the half marathon distance and despite taking two wrong turns, she didn't get lost and secured first place on the podium and sixth overall in a speedy time of 1:37:40.
Over at the Bedford Running Festival the club had some great results with Adam Bowller choosing to race the 5km and proved his return to form winning the 5km race in a stunning 16:45. He said "It was lovely to have a lead bike to guide me round!" Elwyn Howell was also on sparkling form with his fastest recorded times in three different distances over two days and won his age group in all three events! He ran the 5km event in 21:22 on Saturday morning, then the Twilight 10km event in the evening in 44:41. On Sunday he ran the half marathon in 1:39:26. Lindsey Lucas also ran the 10km in 73:36 reporting, "There's lots of water to glimpse through the trees and encouragement from a wide variety of onlookers; fisherman, kayakers, campers and dog walkers as well as family and friends. I even spotted a heron as I crossed one of the many bridges."
Parkruns: 14 different parkruns this week as parkrun tourism season continues!
Leamington parkrun: John Russell 24:58
Shipley Country parkrun: Brian Judkins 34:55
Kettering parkrun: Steve Williamson 25:18
Stevenage parkrun: James Godfrey 20:24; Chris Stokes 22:12
Homewood parkrun: Karen Shaw 32:59
Wimpole Estate parkrun: Andreea Weisl-Shaw 29:33
Panshanger parkrun: James Poulton 21:42; Kat Hinitt 25:30
Gedling parkrun: Helen Marston-Smith 37:20
Letchworth parkrun: Jennie Fraser 30:04
Milford Waterfront parkrun: Carl Haskell 23:54; Vicky Haskell 39:22; Abbie Haskell 39:22
Land’s End parkrun: Anna Gibson 27:20
Henlow Bridge Lakes parkrun: Steve Tracey 23:07; Rob Milburn 24:49; Bob Davis 27:12
Storeys Field parkrun: Joseph Barker-Sherry 26:48
Bury Field parkrun: Branka Moss 41:26
North Herts Road Runners’ men’s team Captain John Auld showed that a new age category is no barrier to impressive performance as he tackled two races in a week to mark joining the 40-45 ‘masters’ group.
His first outing was over the steep terrain of the Silkstone Shuffle 7.5 km off-road race in Barnsley, where he finished 9th in what he described as ‘one of my favourite races’. The course involves ‘3 km up a stony trail hill followed by 4.5 km down’ and Auld said he ‘knew I had to go over the top of the hill in the lead’ if he was to keep first spot in what is an unofficial series of races. Auld achieved his first objective, but ‘had gone too deep into the red up the hill and struggled coming back down’. Despite being passed by a few rivals on the run-in, he was able to ‘enjoy the course a bit more than usual – it is fantastic’.
Our intrepid hero was in action again two days later, with yet more hills and off-road terrain to tackle at the Nostell Priory Parkrun. Auld finished as first V40 and second in the race overall and has now clocked up 21 Parkruns, so he is ‘looking forward to getting towards a milestone of 25’.
Darren Sunter was also in sparkling Parkrun form as he set a new North Herts club record for the 40-plus age group with a rapid 16:21 at University Parks Parkrun in Oxford. Sunter finished third after ‘a decent battle with two other lads’, whom he credited for ‘dragging me round’ as he sliced a second off the previous mark.
Ian Datlen also indulged in ‘Parkrun tourism’ as he clocked 19:32 at Godalming Parkrun - a ‘flattish but very technical three-lapper with lots of stop-start corners’. Datlen’s performance was good enough for first in his 50-plus age category.
Other Parkrun results
Rob Harris 18:32, James Dalton 21:22, Chloe Lucas 23:09, Kat Hinitt 25:05, James Godfrey 26:06, Phil Flack 29:30, Aimee Flack 35:35, Steve Brenton 54:54
Andrew Coates 25:21
Roosevelt Island DC
John Russell, 26:06
Richard Barker 24:53, Andreea Weisl-Shaw 28:36, Georgia Barker 30:39
Mike Phillips 22:53, Matt Roberts 26:06, Natalie Phillips 29:55
Dave Braybrook 21:17
Branka Moss 54:28
Paul Jackson 18:30
Henlow Bridge Lakes
Jane Clarke 25:24, Amy Murch 27:28, Bob Davis 27:44, Jillian Boys 28:03, Sarah MItcherson 30:10, Sue Vaughan 30:30, Jane Robson 32:33, Brian Judkins 34:24
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