On the last day of the year a scurry of squirrels took on the undulating 10 mile course at the Buntingford 10. There were no signs of Christmas excess with some excellent performances and fast finish times despite windy conditions. First home for the club in 5th place and 2nd V40 was Ed Price in 57:26. Linda Aird was also among the prize winners finishing 3rd FV55 in 1:25:11. There were PB’s from John Auld 18th 1:01:45, Matt Sayers 20th 1:02:25 and Stewart Overton 26th 1:03:16. Paula Holm made an impressive debut over the distance to finish 107th in 1:14:51.
Other finishers included Darren Sunter 11th 59:20, Vincent Wright 52nd 1:07:30, Matthew Davies 62nd 1:08:45, Steve Tracey 71st 1:10:24, Martyn Annetts 81st 1:12:05, Sarah Mitcherson 128th 1:16:52, Chris Poole 164th 1:20:44, Claire O’Sullivan 195th 1:23:49 and Naomi Parkinson 245th 1:26:32.
Sue Foot took on day two of the Great Barrow Xmas Triple Tipple, a multi terrain marathon challenge. Conditions were cold and icy with sleet and rain showers for most of the first half then strong winds picking up for the second half. ‘This was a marathon that you just had to grit your teeth and finish’ said Foot. ‘I indulged in some of the tipple of the Xmas triple with a mixture of Amaretto and Coca Cola and that got me nicely through to the finish’. The tipple did the trick and Foot finished in 4.33 to complete her 118th marathon.
Steve Lummis completed his 50th Parkrun at Tring in 29:54 with fellow squirrels Phil Hunt 26:41, Chris Poole 27:44, and Paula Holm 32:38. Other Parkrun results included Wimpole Matthew Davies 26:41, Stevenage Helen Cairns 23:29, Kettering Steve Williamson 21:08, Cambridge Brian Judkins 33.25, St Albans David Weston 22:09 and Preston Lindsay Cook 32:59.
As might be expected at this time of year it was a quiet week for team NHRR. Steve Lummis completed his 49th park run on his 24th different course at the muddy, slightly hilly but very scenic Westmill parkrun near Ware. Steve said “Given my preparation and the mud, this was never going to be a quick one.” He finished in 16th place in a time of 26:06 and is now looking forward to the milestone of his 50th, continuing “My 50th parkrun will take place back in my old home town of Tring next week where I ran my first one just over 3 years ago”.
Several other Squirrels also took part in Festive Parkruns. In Bromley, Matthew Davies finished 15th (19:19). In Preston, Lindsay Cook was 210th (31:22). Ellie Scott was 113th at Norwich (23:47) while at Kettering Steve Williamson was 19th (21:04). Chris Poole finished 102nd at Worsley Woods (24:35). At Stevenage a small Squirrel squad complete the course: first home for tech club was Ollie Garbas in 19th place (20:34), followed closely by John Cooper, 22nd (20:52), Phil Hunt, 37th (22:17), Claire O’Sullivan, 75th (24:37), Carina Quayle, 140th (29:59) and in 225th place Johanne Kenlin (43:07).
Sunday saw the Three Counties Cross Country League home race for NHRR at Standalone Farm. In bitter cold conditions that brought both mud and ice in places on the course a total of 36 squirrels scurried around the course with many others giving up their spare time to marshall and provide support. With several of NHRR's runners missing due to injury or marshalling duties the pressure was on those who were able to run to bring in a good result in the home race.
Amongst a total 321 runners on the day NHRR excelled once again with the combined team coming out top on the day. The scoring team for the men were Jim McConnel, Darren Sunter, John Auld, Matt Sayers, Ryan Smith, Stewart Overton, Dan Hills and Vincent Wright. For the ladies' team the scorers were Katie Harbon, Jane Clarke, Tash Pitman and Sarah Mitcherson. There is everything to run for at the last race in the New Year as NHRR are currently top of the league but with only a small margin it's not over yet.
Due to the cold conditions this weekend many local parkruns were cancelled for safety reasons. Those who managed to find a parkrun to race were Steve Lummis (Milton Keynes) 23:28; Phil Hunt (Cambridge) 22:31; Matthew Davies (Wimpole) 25:45 and Chris Poole (Castle Park) 23:14
John Auld headed north to race the Silkstone Shuffle, a seasonal 4.5-mile multi terrain race organised by Barnsley Harriers with a very brutal 2-mile uphill start.
Auld started off chasing the race leader but quickly eased off the pace as he realised he was probably going faster than he wanted. Focusing then on holding second place he pushed on up the hill. ‘I’d forgotten just how hard this hill is, it just keeps going, and going... Twists and turns and surface changes, it’s really tough. It does level off near the top however, the flat section is where conditions were icy, and it was rather dangerous. I had a couple of little slips and decided to slow down a touch. This is when I got overtaken’ said Auld. Holding on Auld finished in 3rd place overall, with a new PB of 27:24.
This is the 11th time Auld has run the race, and he’s worked himself up from outside the top 20, to podium finishes.
Chris Poole who has run 185 Parkruns was doing a bit of Parkrun tourism in Poland at the weekend completing the alphabet challenge. The challenge consists of running a Parkrun which begins with every letter of the alphabet (excluding X, as there isn’t one yet). On his fourth international Parkrun Poole completed his challenge at Jablonna.
Other squirrels braving the cold at Parkruns this weekend included Claire O’Sullivan finishing in 23:49 at Strathclyde parkrun, Phil Hunt 23:11 at Ally Pally and closer to home at Stevenage John Cooper 21:05, Adam Wilson 24:28 and Paul Bowal 25:01.
The last ‘First Saturday of the Month’ NHRR race around Norton common is billed as the ‘Santa Canter’ and saw a record breaking 293 finishers. The emphasis of this race is not really on the times but on the sheer fun of being out early and running with other people, Oh and of course, dressing up! There were more Santas, Elves, Fairies (good and bad), Snowmen, Wise Men, Reindeer, Turkeys, Christmas puddings, Christmas Trees and Christmas jumpers than you could shake a stick at, with one person breaking the mould in a full Bah Humbug outfit.
It was a great atmosphere on a day which was warmer and drier than might have been expected, although it was a little slick under foot in paces. During the run one of the marshals combined his roll with serenading the runners with Christmas tunes on his Trumpet, and a group of Singing Snowman were singing all the way around the 5K route. The finishers were rewarded with medals and refreshed with (non-alcoholic) Mulled Wine and mince pies. With over £700 raised for the MS Therapy Centre into the bargain.
The flat running race was won by NHRR’s John Auld in 18 mins and 16 seconds with Jane Clarke, again of NHRR, the first lady home in 21:43. The winners of the awards for costumes went to Shani Fielding dressed as a Christmas tree with Spencer Bevan and his two children winning the best dressed family, with a couple of matching Santa outfits and a human Christmas tree/elf on the shoulders.
With the Santa Canta being such a popular event with there were only a few NHRR runners running in other events Patrick Norris ran the Parkrun in Bury St Edmunds in 34:51, Helen Nuttall ran in the one in Stevenage in 33:04 and Chris Poole might be forgiven for missing the Santa Canta as he ran the Amager Strandpark Parkrun in Denmark! Finishing in 23:27
Over a longer distance Martyn Annetts (1:33:49) and Suzy Trott (1:40:02) found that some recent hard training sessions paid off on the undulating Bedford Half Marathon course, both of them improving on their finishing times from their last outing at this distance.
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