The first event of this season's Three Counties Cross Country league was a new venue and course in Wellingborough. The course was undulating and had a mixture of surfaces to contend with including some very wet mud, grass and some hard paths. The weather was fabulous sunshine and little wind with mild temperature. The event saw a huge total of 491 overall finishers which included 43 squirrels.
The squirrels start this season as champions of all competitions and are very determined to defend these titles. In beautiful sunshine, NHRR got off to a great start by winning the women’s competition and finishing runners up in the men's, resulting in first overall in the combined team competition.
Katie Harbon won the women's race, while Tom Webb was third male. Women's team captain, Tash Pitman commented she was “Delighted with the team performance to get the squirrels off to a storming start to the new XC season and great to see so many squirrels out supporting each other!” This was echoed by the mens team captain John Auld.
Scoring for the women were Katie Harbon, Rhia Botha, Tash Pitman and Hannah Ridley. Whilst scoring for the men was Tom Webb, Darren Sunter, Stewart Overton, Ben Sewell, Matt Sayers, Shahab Ahmad, Ian Datlen and Steve McKeown.
Grace Cleary ran the Dublin Marathon in 3 hours 50 minutes 26 seconds which was a personal best on a very wet day! Grace described it as “An amazing race, beautiful first half through the city and into Phoenix Park”. And gave massive thanks to Cara, her coach, for guidance over the last few months!
Jennie Fraser ran Marathon Eryri for the second consecutive year finishing in 4:40 which was 16 minutes quicker than last year. Jennie was “loving the perfect conditions with liquid sunshine and rainbows to frolic around” in Snowdonia National Park in North Wales. Alice Noakes finished in 5:06 having stormed the final incline of 838ft over 2 miles with an iron will and desire for it all just to be over.
Elwyn Howell completed the Exeter Halloween 5 miler in a new PB time of 36:18 finishing 3rd male and 6th place overall with a nice trophy to match. He got dressed up in Halloween fancy dress which added to the fun morning.
On Sunday, five North Herts Road Runners completed the Stevenage Half Marathon, which also hosted the Herts Senior County Championship. After a few days of stormy wet and windy weather, the runners were rewarded with a lovely crisp and sunny autumn morning for the race. Rhia Botha was first home for the club, second female overall, and first female in the Herts Half Marathon County Champion in a superb 1:31:33. James Dalton ran alongside her for the first of the two lap course and finished just behind her in 1:34:54. Rhia said “It was an unexpectedly hilly two-lap course, and we really felt those hills on the second lap”, adding “It was so well organised by the most lovely people.” Other squirrels who completed the race were Ian Harvey in 1:37:38, Alice Carty in 1:52:34 and Farzana Bhatti in 3:13:01,
Resolution 5k results
A few days prior to this, on Wednesday 11 squirrels were also in action in Stevenage, this time at Ridlins track for the October Resolution 5k. The conditions were rather less favourable, described by John Auld as “very wet! And there was a bit of wind”, although he added that he really enjoyed the race. In the first race, Sam Coxon took the win in an amazing 16:57. He was followed by a pack of four squirrels (John Auld 18:55, Kris Whitmore 19:04, Ian Datlen 19:11 and Andrew Wallis 21:01. Completing the squirrels contigent were Lee Varley (21:40), Lucy O’Connor (24:40 and first in her age category FV55), Mel Flynn (25:11), Linda Aird (27:42), Karen Dodsworth (28:04), and Sheila Leavy (39:49 and first FV65). The squirrels notched up a superb team performance overall, with Sam, John, Kris and Lucy winning the team competition with a combined time of 1:19:46, and Ian, Andrew, Lee and Mel coming third behind the Fairlands Valley Spartans.
Dashing at Duxford
A little further afield, Hannah Ridley ran the Duxford Dash 5k on Sunday, which is a fast and flat out and back race that takes runners up and down the runway at the Imperial War Museum Duxford. She was delighted to cross the line in a fantastic 20:40.
Lots of squirrels took part in parkruns near and far on Saturday. Notably, Elwyn Howell broke the club record for the V60 category, completing Teignmouth parkrun in 20:51. Other NHRR parkrun results are below:
The crisp autumnal conditions proved ideal for the fourteen North Herts Road Runners who headed to the popular Cambridge Town and Gown 10k through the heart of Cambridge passing many landmarks, historic university college buildings and along the River Cam. The Squirrels returned home with plenty of personal best times and not just one club record but two!
Pete Sibbett was delighted to run 39:40 setting a new club record for the V60 category and finishing 2nd V60 in the race. Pete commented ‘I was surprised to run so fast but the great crowd support and fast, flat course were amazing’. Pete broke the previous club record (40:46) held by Deryk Myall that has stood since 2006!
Astrid Mckeown also set a new V50 club record after finishing in 41:03 taking 2 minutes 23 seconds off the previous time held by Chris King since Standalone 2012. Ian Datlen, Nat Rosa, Rhia Botha, Ian Harvey, Mike Phillips, Steve Brenton, Andreea Weisl-Shaw and Georgia Barker all set new PB’s. Rhia commented ‘I took 2 minutes off my PB, which I had only just got at Standalone two weeks ago to get 38:56. Team captain said 'why run a sub 40 when you can go run a sub 39'. One week after his first marathon last Sunday at Chester Elwyn Howell finished in 46:08 and 12th in his age category. Georgia Barker excelled with her first sub 1 hr 10k time in a couple of years coming across the line in 57:19 ably paced by Richard Barker who also completed the Chester marathon last weekend.
Chelmsford Parks Marathon
Sue Foot completed the Chelmsford Parks Marathon, an undulating road route along some very pretty countryside. Having done 27 miles at the Sussex Stride three weeks ago over the South Downs, she was pleased to finish this one in 04:38:53.
Yorkshire Marathon Festival
The Yorkshire Marathon Festival was celebrating its 10th anniversary this year and hosted a fantastic event offering distances from 5k right up to the marathon. Katrina Slisane opted for the marathon distance and says she had a great time setting a personal best time of 3 hours and 50 minutes, thanking green group coach Richard Harbon’s advice of an ‘uphill arm swing’ as it drove her up a few nasty hills, especially as the morale started to slip. Vanessa Rolfe and Allison Blunt also joined the festival, opting for the 10-mile option. They said "The weather was perfect and we were given a very warm Yorkshire welcome along by the spectators, their dogs and even a couple of guinea pigs! It was made extra special by all the music played along the way from local bands. We had a great run and were very pleased to finish in 02:00:19 and 01:59:47 respectively."
Great South Run
Jo Kenlin completed the Great South Run on Sunday in Portsmouth finishing in 02:44:46. Jo said ‘It was a tough run as I’m just back from injury and illness, and hit a brick wall at the 5-mile mark. But I continued and managed to get through. Last 2 miles are along the coast and you take in many of Portsmouth’s landmarks."
Elwyn shared he ran his 50th parkrun at Stevenage
Squirrels race round the Royal Parks
James Dalton and Jenny Wilkinson headed to London to take part in the stunning Royal Parks Half Marathon that winds its way through four Royal Parks. James ran to raise money for Caffod in an impressive time of 1:34:05, especially as he went into the race with a slight knee injury but is hopeful he hasn't made it worse. Jenny Wilkinson also raced round in 1:47:58 and said "Such a lovely run in the sunshine!"
Cani-Trail Ultra 50k
Jill Tooley-Boys and Anna Gibson took on the mighty Cani-Trail Ultra 50k up in the Welsh mountains near Llanharan with their incredible furry sidekicks Lulu and Flora. Jill reported "We set off in the dark at 7am and soon found ourselves running literally in the clouds with 10m visibility at some points. It was a pretty brutal course with steep and stony ascents and descents, plus the odd bog and a few stiles thrown in for good measure (always tricky with a dog attached to you!). We finished a respectable 7h 40m and both in one piece – not bad considering I forgot to pack my trail shoes and had to run the whole thing wearing someone else’s shoes!"
Lindsey and Viv's Australian trip near it's end, so this is "The final one". Loved reading these!
"As it was our last Saturday in Australia, we wanted to do a parkrun. As usual we had to work out the logistics of finding a parkrun nearby we can get to and checking timings with our itinerary. Fortunately we have a car at the moment so a parkrun 20km away was doable. With a 7am start we were on the road by 6.15 and easily found the location in Urunga. A beautiful setting with a river, beach and boardwalk over the mangroves. After the large gathering of 400plus runners in Centennial Park last week, this week it was back to a field of 40 runners. As always we were made very welcome and asked the standard question “have you done Bushy?”
Another lovely Parkrun completed. It’s been a lovely way of doing some running on our trip and meeting lots of very friendly people."
This weekend saw the legendary NHRR Standalone 10k take place, a regular fixture of the club calendar across the last 36 years. Bringing together runners from far and wide, members of the club ran, marshalled, and delivered a standout race, yet again! It is a special race that shares the magic of North Herts Road Runners with the community.
The race was also the Hertfordshire County Championship for 10k:
It is hard to capture in words the magic of the Standalone, but what better way to get a feel for it than the words of some of those squirrels who flew round the course. Katie Harbon was full of praise “ The race that tests my ability to have a manic weekend helping set up and a (really) early morning and then try and run a 10k with as little prep as possible. I tend to say it’s a case of survival and a lot hope! The women’s and men’s team run Standalone to represent the club but really it’s the Marshalls, race committee and event support who make the race what it is and the success it continues to be. I’ll forever be appreciative of the opportunity to represent North Herts Road Runners but must thank everyone else behind the scenes for a FAB weekend! Wear the vest with pride!”
Whilst Shahab ran as part of the winning men’s team loved the support “Privileged to be asked to run Standalone today. Amazing support on the course from the fantastic marshalls and locals. Not exactly a 'fast flat' course but managed a nearly 30 second PB, drawing off a combination of adrenaline and club support.”
Lindsay Cook got her first taste of racing Standalone after years of support the organisation of the event ‘After around 20 years of helping out at Standalone 10k, I was lucky enough to have the chance to run this year. I have had a horrible cold recently so it was never going to be a great time for me today, but it wasn't about that! It was amazing to see the race from a different angle, to be cheered on by all the marshals (although that meant there was nowhere to hide lol) and to experience the lovely atmosphere on the course. I felt very proud and lucky to be able to take part in this special event and even though I found the undulations and the warm temperatures pretty challenging, I enjoyed it too. Thanks to everyone who makes Standalone 10k such an amazing day!”
Elsewhere a bevvy of squirrels were out at a variety of Parkrun events on Saturday morning. Sheila Leavy completed her first sub 40 minute walking parkrun time at Stevenage yesterday in 39:29. Perfect conditions with no wind off the lake – congratulations Sheila.
Whilst slightly further afield Lindsey Lucas took on the Sydney event and bumped into a familiar face:
“Having spent 4 days on a train going from west to east we found ourselves full of food and drink and feeling rather sluggish in Sydney. Come Saturday it was time to find a Parkrun. Centennial Park run in Centennial Park was our nearest with a 7am start. As it was a bit far to run to the start we treated ourselves to a taxi. Viv and Bev Rimmer identified each other at the start thanks to the NHRR t-shirts. I didn’t realise there was another club member there until Bev called out “come on North Herts” as we did a short out and back at about 1km. I was left thinking who knows where I’m from? It was lovely to be cheered over the finish line and then we had the opportunity to catch up on where we had been travelling and running over the last month in Australia. Appropriate that Bev spotted our Standalone t-shirts on Standalone weekend.”
Perhaps we’ll get some Aussies at next year’s Standalone after the promo…
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