Three North Herts Road Runners, Paul Bowal, Caroline Thrussell and Jennie Fraser, travelled to Wales at the weekend to take part in the Eryie Marathon Snowdonia, a race billed as the UK’s toughest road marathon. It lived up to its’ billing with howling 30mph winds, driving sideways rain and a circling mist shrouding Snowdon’s peak.
A testing start sees the first 5 miles climbing 1,100 feet up the Llanberis Pass before a steep downhill and undulating mile until at mile 22 you endure a 3.5-mile slog to reach Bwich y Groes at 1.200ft. The final mile was an even sharper cross country skip slide downhill back into Llanberis and the welcome finish line.
Caroline Thrussell stormed the race finishing in 4.20.48 with Jennie Fraser in 4.54.20. Unfortunately, injury caused Paul Bowal to stop running at 10 miles but completing the roue on his bike he was able to offer aid to a runner who had become severely dehydrated in the dreadful conditions.
Closer to home several squirrels took part in a very wet Herts 10km and Half Marathon held at Knebworth House. In the 10k Rhia Botha finished 1st V35 in 43.10, Elwyn Howell was 3rd V60 in 46.18 and Alice Carty was delighted to run a PB, 47.46. Sharon French, running her 1st race for 4 years, was also thrilled with her 62.22.
Further success followed in the half marathon with Rachel Arnott finishing 1st V45 in 1.34.33 and Dervla Downing 2nd in the same category in 1.51.44. Laurie Scott set a course PB of 1.51.04 and also running well were Mike Philips, 1.38.19, Adam Wilson 2.00.04 and Dawn Power 2.09.34.
Park runs again proved popular with Branka Moss completing her 100th at Letchworth in 43.21 and Sue Vaughan reaching her 50th milestone at Great Denham, 27.48. Tash Pitman finished 2nd lady in Salento, Italy and Andreea Weisi-Shaw ran 28.41 at Holyrood in Edinburgh. Tom Webb finished 2nd at Exmouth in 16.59 whilst James Godfrey smashed through the 20 min barrier for the 1st time at Stevenage clocking 19.53. At Henlow Bridge Lakes John Auld was 3rd in 20.37 and Astrid McKeown and Paul Holm were 1st and 2nd ladies respectively in 21.51 and 22.19. 1st lady at Stevenage, 21.14, Tracy Pitcairn was chased hard by club mate Jane Clarke finishing 2nd in 23.33.
Also enjoying park runs were: Henlow David Edwards 22.07, Linda Aird 28.53, Letchworth James Dalton 21.49, Ian Datlen 23.13, Helen Giffin 30.43, Philip Flack 31.46. Gunpowder Darren Matussa 22.44, Bedford Ian Harvey 19.52 and Stevenage Mike Phillips 22.18, Sarah Mitcherson 26.56, Natalie Phillips 28.11, Georgia Barker 29.28, Richard Barker 29.28 and Carina Qualye 38.18.
After a 2-year Covid enforced absence and 1015 days since the final race in the 2020 season, the Three Counties XC league returned with biblical weather conditions to welcome the runners to the first race of the 2022/2023 season in Wellingborough. The atrocious weather meant the regular course was changed to avoid the usual water crossing at the brook which is usually deep, still water but Brian Judkins described as "a raging torrent" today. The organisers had to reroute the course to ensure the runners safety and created a 4-lap route of Croyland Park, winding its way up and down the toughest climbs, much to the runner’s dismay!
Poor weather never puts off dedicated athletes defending their league championship. Twenty-five North Herts Road Runners ran in total, 9 sows and 16 boars!
In the team results, North Herts Road Runners were combined team winners with Ampthill and Flitwick Flyers finishing 2nd. The ladies finished 3rd, just 3 points ahead of the combined runners up. Whereas the men finished 2nd, just 11 points behind the same league rivals.
Cross country representative, John Auld was absolutely thrilled to see the team performance and results - it was a great team performance. Fantastic to see squirrels racing in the mud with fellow team mates. As far as I know, everyone absolutely loved it.
Scoring for the ladies was Astrid Mckeown, Hannah Ridley, Jane Clarke and Alice Carty. Whilst scoring for the men was Ben Hadman, Mike Roberts, Ben Sewell, Sam Coxon, Mark Vaughan, Vince Wright, Shahab Ahmad and Matt Sayers.
Others running were John Auld, Will Harrison, Ian Harvey, Dave Edwards, Steve Tracey, Matt Roberts, Ross Cook, Helen Carins, Mel Flynn, Karen Dodsworth, Lindsay Cook, Carina Quayle and Brian Judkins.
There were several debut cross country appearances and some really impressive individual performances.
Meanwhile up at the popular Leeds Abbey Dash 10k, one of the clubs fastest runners Darren Sunter was pleased that it was a "standard Yorkshire day with wet, dark and miserable!". Darren finished in 32 minutes and 51 seconds, a PB and first time under the 33-minute mark.
Kris Whitmore travelled back to his first half marathon course in Stroud, where he first toed the line in 1990. This was his ninth time and despite dire weather forecasts, just before the race start at 9am, the clouds parted and while damp underfoot the adverse weather kept at bay. Kris beat his target time of sub 90 minutes, finishing in 89:07 to claim 68th place. Kris said "Not back fully fit again I had a target of sub 90 which I just about managed despite falling apart somewhat during the last 5 miles." He put this down to not enough long Sunday runs.
Meanwhile over at the Abingdon Marathon in Oxfordshire. Tash Pitman did her first marathon since setting a Guinness World Record for fastest marathon female back in 2015. Today she loved completing the marathon distance in 3 hours 17 minutes and 7 seconds, and although not in an official outfit said she felt like she was in a drowned rat for the majority of the race.
Parkrun was very popular again this week with squirrels competing at Letchworth, Henlow Bridge, Stevenage, Gunpowder Park, Huntingdon, Weymouth, March, Exmouth, Amsterdam Bos,
Kettering parkrun: Steve Williamson 24:50
Stevenage parkrun: Andreea Weisl-Shaw 27:51; Sue Vaughan 29:05
Gunpowder parkrun: Darren Matussa 23:07
Huntingdon parkrun: Branka Moss 54:52
Weymouth parkrun: Scott Reed 25:12
March parkrun: Rhia Botha 21:41 (First female)
Exmouth parkrun: Tom Webb 15:52 (2nd male)
Letchworth parkrun: James Dalton 22:44; Philip Hawkes 24:41; Paul Bowal 27:25; Alice Noakes 28:44; Philip Flack 34:32; Geoff Pettengell 36:32; Aimee Flack 37:09
Amsterdamse Bos parkrun: Chole Lucas 22:50; Lindsey Lucas 35:31
Henlow Bridge Lakes parkrun:
Mike Phillips 22:23; Matt Roberts 25:12; Andrew Coates 25:53; Jane Clarke 26:00; David Edwards 26:01; Richard Barker 26:01; Tim Banting 26:23; Sarah Mitcherson 26:51; Natalie Phillips 28:32; Georgia Barker 31:17; Rachel Annetts 31:22
Ian Datlen managed a PB of over 10 minutes at Yorkshire Marathon. His time of 3:02:06 puts him over 12 minutes inside the good for age qualification for London 2024. Ian described the race as a tough day at the office, but was very pleased that all the hard work in training had paid off. Also running was Adrian Sherwood, finishing in a speedy 3:18:43 and Carina Quayle in 5:16:31.
Continuing the marathon theme, Maurice Glatzhofer ran the Amsterdam marathon, his official time was 04:05:14. Maurice said “I was on track for sub 4hrs, but a dodgy knee didn't help. Great atmosphere though with superb support.”
At the Great Eastern Run in Peterborough, Mel Flynn was delighted to achieve a massive half marathon PB today, finishing in 1:56:41. This was 10 minutes quicker than her lifetime PB (set in 2010) and 14 minutes better than her recent PB – set earlier this year. Mel said “I was only aiming for just under 2 hours so was thrilled to be several minutes under! This was a fantastic flat course with lots of enthusiastic supporters along the route”. Also running was Adam Bowller, finishing in 1:10:28, snatching a 94 second pb and 7th place overall. Karen Townsend completed the PB full house with a time of 1:26:23. Karen commented “the route is certainly a PB route with manageable elevation and lots of support around the course”.
Nick Malpeli ran the Bath Half Marathon, despite the weather forecast earlier in the week the sun shone as he finished in just 1:19:49, gaining him the third MV55 place. Nick said “running London marathon two weeks ago didn't have too bad an impact, but I certainly slowed down towards the end of the race”. Also running was new member James Godfrey. He also secured a shiny new PB of 1:36:41, beating his previous record by just over 5 minutes.
Continuing an amazing year of racing, Elwyn Howell travelled to one of his favourite races – the Oxford half. He completed the half marathon in a new PB of 1:41:16, beating his previous best at Cambridge by 5 seconds and shaving 9 minutes off his previous course record.
Down at the Great south run, Tom Webb finished in 28th place with a very impressive time of 53:28 over the 10 miles. Also running was Darren Sunter who finished 39th in a time of 54:53.
Over at the Cambridge Town and Gown 10k, Ian Harvey had a fantastic run with a time of 40.20, a 10km PB. He said “the first 5km was in 19.24, which would also be a 5km PB”. Joining him was Andreea Weisl-Shaw who also beat her previous best with a PB of 55:29. Andreea was very pleased with the result, commenting “This was my first race of this magnitude and on a beautiful sunny morning, with close to 2k runners on the course, I really enjoyed it”. Matthew Ronayne also ran, finishing in an excellent time of 39.17.
North Herts Road Runners’ Andri Johnston was ‘super happy’ after returning from injury with a trouble-free performance at the Royal Parks Half-marathon in central London.
Her 1:46:03 finish came exactly a year after she tore ankle ligaments while running with her Husky, Ace: ‘I couldn’t walk at all for two weeks, was on crutches for four and still have some pain, even when walking. When I ran my last half-marathon in February I ended up in extreme pain, so this really was a comeback half for me’.
Three more Squirrels completed the 13.1 mile course around four of the Royal Parks, described by Tash Pitman as ‘a sightseeing tour passing Admiralty Arch, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Westminster, London Eye and the Royal Albert Hall’. Rob Harris was first North Herts finisher in 1:18:47, looking in good shape for the Snowdon Marathon in three weeks time. David Edwards and Tash Pitman took it as a ‘training run’, clocking 1:41:33 and 1:41:34 respectively.
Laurie Scott said he would ‘highly recommend’ the Loch Ness Marathon after completing the 26.2 mile classic distance in a new personal best of 4:08:44. He praised the ‘great atmosphere and spectacular scenery’, but said he ‘definitely felt the couple of really nasty hills between miles 18 and 20’.
The Hitchin 5k proved a popular local outing, with Lindsay Cook ‘very pleased to dip under 30 minutes’ after not having run ‘a huge amount recently’. Shahab Ahmed was similarly pleased with his 17:59 clocking after ‘a few weeks off rehabbing a couple of niggles’ and Andreea Weisl-Shaw joined running buddy Tracey McCreath on the start line, completing the course in 27:00 and 31:29 respectively – Tracey’s third-fastest 5k ever.
It was a huge weekend for the North Herts Road Runners, with both the London and Chester marathons taking place on Sunday and great representation from the club at both races.
The London Marathon – arguably the biggest and most famous road running event in the UK – usually takes place in April, but was held on the first weekend of October this year as a hangover of the past couple of years of COVID-19 restrictions. A total of 13 squirrels undertook the epic 26.2 mile challenge, many of them raising money for important charities as they notched up the miles.
Mark Vaughan was toeing the line on the Championship start. He admitted that he set off too quickly “which caused a few raised eyebrows from the super squirrel supporters”, but his tactics clearly paid off, as was rewarded with a stunning finish time of 02:36:03 – which he was, quite rightly, “very pleased with” – breaking his own previous club record for the MV50 age category and finishing third in the World Masters V50 race. Mike Roberts, who ran his first ever London marathon, crossed the line in a fantastic 02:34:52. He set off at an ambitious and speedy pace, admitting admitted he found the “going tough from 18 miles onwards as we went through Canary Wharf, but managed to hang on!” Not far behind him were Stewart Overton (02:52:11) and Vincent Wright (02:54:16). Overton expressed his thanks to all his NHRR teammates who travelled to London to support those running (despite the train strikes making journeys rather tricky). Richard Weber crossed the line in a “solid” 03:55:54, and added that the event was “supremely well organised, really atmospheric and iconic.” Other NHRR men who completed the iconic event were Nick Malpeli (02:59:36) and Oliver Parsons (03:06:38).
Among the ladies in London, Anna Klucnika was the first female squirrel over the line, in an incredibly speedy 02:57:03. Rhia Botha ran her first ever marathon, completing the course in a stunning debut time of 03:30:32 and Cara Sutton recorded an excellent 04:14:53, taking a massive 11 minutes off her previous marathon personal best. Rhia enthused “I will never forget this day. It will be cherished memory for the rest of my life”, while Cara added “The support from the crowd and the numerous squirrels around the route was utterly phenomenal and extremely welcome. We have an amazing club.” Other female squirrels who took part were Natalie Delaney (05:15:09), Carina Quayle (05:29:27), and Amanda Pritchett (07:32:33). All the runners thanked their fellow teammates from the club who travelled down to London for their support. Mike Roberts summed up their appreciation: “It’s such a lift to see familiar faces cheering on in those last few miles.”
Runners were also able to take part in the London Marathon virtually if they wished, with Elwyn Howell and his wife Linda completing their race in 6:53:27. Remarkably, they started their running at 2:00am in Greece at the end of their holiday and completing it in the UK when they returned home that evening – an impressive feat of completing one marathon across two countries within 24 hours! James Dalton also took part in the virtual event in and around Letchworth and Baldock, finishing in a great time of 04:11:57.
Meanwhile, three squirrels headed up to Chester to take part in the marathon there. Matt Sayers and Lucy O’Connor were both representing their age groups in the England Masters, each wearing the illustrious England Master’s vest, and both rose to the challenge with wonderful performances. Matt crossed the line in a superb 02:40:05, and was second in the MV45 age category, while Lucy achieved a big new personal best of 03:51:35, setting a new club record for her age category (FV60) in the process. She described the course as “picturesque and mainly flat… and definitely a marathon that I would recommend!”
A little closer to home, Eleanor Griffith took on the half marathon distance at the Milton Keynes Autumn Run Weekend on Sunday, completing the course in an excellent 02:05:24.
On Saturday, several squirrels and local runners opted to run a shorter distance when they participated in the North Herts Road Runners’ free monthly first Saturday of the month 5k event at Norton Common in Letchworth. A total of 59 runners took part on a crisp and sunny Saturday morning, with squirrels taking first place among both the men and ladies: Sam Coxon was the first male finisher in 19:50, closely followed by first lady Katie Harbon in 19:56. Several other NHRR members took part in weekly 5k parkrun events both locally and further afield. A full list of this week’s parkrun results is as follows: CHESTER: Lucy O’Connor 31:31, Anna Gibson 31:33; STEVENAGE: Bob Davis 26:52; Andreea Weisl-Shaw 28:28, Brian Judkins 35:03; LINFORD WOOD: Branka Moss 51:50; GUNPOWDER PARK Darren Matussa 20:41; WIMPOLE ESTATE George Wright 23:45; HUNTINGDON James Godfrey 20:55; LETCHWORTH James Dalton 22:59, Steve Brenton 25:35, Ellie Scott 55:59; SEAFORD BEACH Philip Hawkes 29:19; HENLOW BRIDGE LAKES James Poulton 21:36, Steve Tracey 22:20; STOREYS FIELD: Georgina Quayle 26:40.
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