Sixty two hardy Squirrels battled the M25, road closures and rush hour traffic to defend their lead in the 3rd round of the Midweek League in Epping Forest. Their efforts were not in vain. Stewart Overton describing the ‘First Class’ commitment of club members commented “the men’s team have won all 3 rounds and currently hold maximum points going into the last round. Seeing 8 squirrels in the top 13 showed how dominant we have been at the sharp end with Tom Webb taking a well deserved win.” All eyes are now on the fourth and final race at Trent Park next week.
The Road Runners were out in force to take on the Hitchin Hard Half on Sunday. Linda Aird speaking after the race said she was very pleased to finish in 1:58:55 – “my best time on this course and first time I've run it in under 2 hours since then as well! I always enjoy this one, despite the challenging hills, and it is often quite warm - today was no exception”. Hitchin Hard Half results: Natalie Lawrence 1:27:13 Brent Lloyd 1:38:32 James Dalton 1:42:22 Chris Stokes 1:46:37 Caroline Thrussell 1:46:49 Rachel Arnott 01:49:28 Dan Martin 1:51:36 Steven Peel 1:58:34 Linda Aird 1:58:55 Adam Wilson 1:59:17 Lucy O'Connor 2:02:56 Alice Noakes 2:12:33 Alan Hazlehurst 2:16:57 Vanessa Rolfe 2:34:10
Hitchin Hard 10K results: Helen Cromack 1:09:49 Anna Greetham 1:09:52
Despite racing success during the week, less than 48 hours later, 20 club runners took part in the annual Greensands Ridge Relay Event consisting of 46 teams of 6 runners competing over 35 miles. The first of the NHRR teams narrowly missed first place by just 35 seconds. Team Member Alan Hazelhurst blamed his slower than anticipated time on the hot conditions, hills, a detour and his inability to run in straight lines!
Six squirrels travelled down the A1M to compete in the Welwyn 10K. The hills, including one at the end named ‘The Stinger’ did not prove a problem for Nick Malpeli who was 2nd V50 (Veteran, 50 or over runner) in both the main race and in the County Championships and to Andrew Porter 3rd V70 in both! Kat Gourd enjoyed the scenic course, despite the hills, and as the only female Road Runner was delighted to take the place of first lady home for the club in 0:52:24. David Weston struggled with the hills, lacking energy and dehydrated, but “drew on the power of his inner squirrel” for a strong finish in 0:43:53. Other finishers included;Christian ALLEN 0:50:17 Christopher POOLE 0:51:21 Ian SUTCLIFFE 1:00:09.
John Auld was pleased to finish 5th in the 4.6 mile Silkestone Shuffle, tackling high grass and stiles along the way and attributed his return to running fitness to his training partners and coaches at North Herts Road Runners.
The North Herts Road Runners’ Parkrun results for Saturday 22nd June: Letchworth – James DALTON 21:35 Glyn BLAKEY 23:10 Katherine GOURD 25:29 Damon CLEVELLY 25:43 Jillian BOYS 25:58 Jegan SIMON 26:05 Dave Braybrook 27:00 Jennie FRASER 27:11 Philip Flack 29:28 Carl GOODRUM 32:17
Stevenage –Dervla DOWNING 22:36 Mike MORALEE 27:38 Helen GIFFIN 31:28 Patrick NORRIS 35:24 Jane CLARKE 36:23 Ruth HICKS 36:40
Holkham – Matthew SAYERS 18:03
Marston Vale – Chris POOLE 24:09
Conkers -Naomi PARKINSON 24:11
Ruimsig, South Africa - Rhiannon BOTHA 24:01
Sunday saw North Herts Road Runners organising Letchworth’s Run Round the Garden - three running events in one day in the world’s first garden city: a 5k race, a 1-mile race & a free-to-enter kids' fun run. The sun shone in patches across the centre of the town as 500 runners took to the tree-lined streets for the 5K and 1 mile races. In the 5K men’s race NHRR’s Tom Webb stormed to victory with an impressive 16:10. In 2nd place, in a time of 16:53 was James Fox (Reading AC) and in 3rd place Dan McAlpine (Fairlands Valley Spartans) in 17:15. For the ladies Rebecca Newstead (Bedford and County) won the race (17:43), followed by two Bedford Harriers runners, Kirstie Sharman (18:55) and Stephanie MacLeod (20:49). In the men’s mile race James Fox was first in 4:53, followed by NHRR’s Ed price (4:56) and Hitchin Running Club’s Stuart Hansell (4”57). In the ladies’ mile race, Kirstie Sharman won in 5:47. In 2nd place was Bedford and County’s Maddison Webb (5:56) and in 3rd was Stevenage and North Herts AC’s Imogen Rose in 6:23.
Other finishers for the Squirrels were Lee Hayes (19:05), David Weston, who set an unexpected PB of 19:07. Dave said “I hadn’t prepared much due to a change in job limiting the amount of running and training I could do. However, I decided to go out hard and see if I could maintain the pace. It was a fast race and everyone had the same thought when the rain came down and we were all tip toeing round the 180 turns. Having the last KM downhill allowed for a final push and I was happy to knock 10 seconds off my PB and 26 seconds off this course from last year finishing in 19:06. Great support all the way round and a great race as always from the amazing team at NHRR”, Adrian Sherwood (19:39), Brent Lloyd (19:57), Ian Datlen (20:10), James Dalton (20:11), Stuart Cocks (21:14), Helen Nuttall (21:38), Liam Jones (21:43), Chrstian Allen (22:16), Andrew Robson (22:36), Andrew Coates (22:56), Chris Poole (22:57), Lucy O’Connor (23:41), Harry Agius (24:26), Andrew Cooper (24:32), Angeliki Shearstone-Stathopoulou (24:44), Alice Noakes (24:49), Linda Aird (25:13), Dave Braybrook (25:30), Alan Hazlehurst (25:35), Sue Vaughan (26:08), Mike Jones (26:32), Sherryl Chatfield (27:05), Elwyn Howell (27:09), Gladys Cheng (27:38), Jeanette Everitt (27:54), Philip Flack (27:58), Andrew Porter (28:01), Mike Hennessy (29:01), Helen Marson-Smith (a PB of 29:16), Hailey Batson also ran a PB. She said “I didn't expect much from myself as I haven't been training as much recently but got a new PB of 28.57. It was a lovely event, well organised and with great support!“. Helen Wilson (29:19), Natalie Williams (29:07 ,a new PB, and her first sub-30 minute 5k race), Naomi Parkinson (30:15), Joy Stroud (32:09), Hayley Cocks, 32:27 knocked 6 minutes off her time from last year and loved the support from her family, Shani Fielding (32:51), Glyn Blakey (33:05), Davinder Shekhon (33:44).
In the mile race, other Squirrel finishers were John Rayner (5:02), Stuart Cocks (5:56), Chrstian Allen (6:18), James Dalton (6:39), Chris Poole (6:46), Andrew Robson (6:57), Naomi Parkinson (6:57), Alice Noakes (7:13), Geoff Murray-Rochard (7:16), Harry Agius (7:23), Alan Hazlehurst (7:52), Helen Nuttall (8:05), Natalie Williams (8:54), Elwyn Howell (9:37), Gladys Cheng (10:29) and, on her return to running after a 9 month injury break, Sheila Leavy (13:59).
Three squirrels trekked over to North Wale to run the Coed-y-Brenin trail half marathon. Caroline Thrussell said “The race was everything I love about running. A great atmosphere and really well organised. After recent racing I went at a fairly relaxed pace. It was a challenging route through the forest park with muddy ups that meant one step forward and one slide back, rocky downs where your body goes too fast for your legs and you're not sure where your feet are landing. Lovely friends to support and stunning scenery.” Caroline was first V50 lady, finishing in 2:11. Adam Wilson finished in 2:29 and Paul Bowal in 2:45.
Pat Norris ran the Suffolk Trail Festival 24hr ultra over two days (Saturday and Sunday). Pat said “I managed to get my nutrition right this time but I got caught by not having the right clothing for the drop in temperature overnight and had to stop between 3.30 and 4.30 to wait for sun up before I carried on. The course was mostly on grass trail, which managed to wreck my right calf which eventually slowed me down.” Pat said he found running at night “quite different but rather relaxing” though he now has a lot of sleep to catch up on.
Quite a different experience running in the night but rather relaxing (just have to make up for the loss of sleep now). Talking about ultras he said “an ultra is all about one’s personal battle with the distance and terrain. There were teams entered for the event but I finished as a solo runner far from last place. I managed to complete 10 of the 20, 5-mile loops, giving me a 50-mile total in 22 hours. I was actually aiming for 60 miles but my leg prevented this (last year’s winner managed 85 miles) , but I'm still very happy with my result although my toes have never looked so bad as they are at the moment!”
Stewart Overton led the field at a very muddy the Letchworth Parkrun on Saturday, finishing 1st in 18:25. Oliver Brady was 3rd in 19:50. Other finishers for the Squirrels were James Dalton (21:27), Chris Stokes (24:40) Jennie Fraser (a course PB of 24:46), Ian Datlen (24:46), Ellie Scott (26:28), Carl Goodrum (29:09), Naomi Parkinson (30:56), Carol Goodrum (37:06). In other parkruns, Chris Poole ran Ellen Brook Fields in 24:42. At Wimpole Estate Vince Wright finished in 22:16, Jillian Boys in 25:24. Glyn Blakey ran Tees Barrage in 30:32. Helen Giffin ran Stevenage in 31:20. Brian Judkins ran Cambridge in 36:40 and Jane Clarke ran Moors Valley in 23:20.
‘Rain, wind and cold’ plus 44 stiles in the first half of the race alone were just a few of the challenges overcome by Jo Summers on her way to winning the Farthingstone Foot Fest off-road marathon in Northamptonshire on Saturday.
The North Herts Road Runners member and long-distance specialist said she ‘was so cold that I did consider stopping’ at the half-way checkpoint, but ‘knowing how cross I would be with myself I set off again before I could change my mind’.
Summers exchanged places with another runner twice in the last three miles, but her customary strong finish saw her hold the lead all the way to the line, where she recorded a time of 5 hours and 40 seconds.
Much warmer conditions on Sunday meant ice lollies were the well-deserved reward for Ali Mottram and Helen Govey after a ‘hot and hilly’ St Albans Half-marathon.
The two North Herts Road Runners athletes were both delighted with their finishing times, in Mottram’s case because her 2.32.37 clocking was a new personal best and in Govey’s because it was the first time she had run more than seven miles since being laid low by ‘a nasty virus’ at the end of February.
Reflecting on her result, Govey said ‘considering the circumstances I am pleased with it. Not every run is a race and today I learnt that not every race is a race either. Sometimes it is so much more than that.’
Vanessa Rolfe also tackled the 13.1 mile distance in the Jersey Half-marathon and said she would ‘definitely recommend the lovely course’ and the liquid refreshments and food at the finish. She celebrated her 2.25.39 finish with ‘white wine and tuna sandwiches’ courtesy of the race organisers.
Despite blisters from new insoles, Lorna Chambers said she was ‘glad to take part’ in the Milton Keynes Race for Life 10k. She ‘limped home’ in 1.03.36.
North Herts had three finishers in the top ten at Letchworth Parkrun, with Stewart Overton first across the line in 18.31, Matt Sayers fourth in 19.09 and Oliver Brady seventh in 19.30. Other NHRR finishers at Letchworth were Ian Datlen (21.41), James Dalton (21.58), Alex Jegan (27.17), Philip Flack (29.33), Steve Brenton (29.51) and Glyn Blakey (35.01).
Nick Malpeli led a four-strong contingent of Squirrels home at Stevenage Parkrun with a time of 19.12, followed by Dervla Downing (22.57), Jane Clarke (31.26) and Pat Norris (33.24).
Other NHRR Parkrunners were Chris Poole at Walthamstow (24.27), Peter Clarke at Ellenbrook Fields (18.10), Darren Matussa at Roding Valley (19.13) and Naomi Parkinson at Forest of Marston Vale (24.26).
“Such a stunning course with fun and friendly marshals, and plenty of countryside,” was Naomi Parkinson’s verdict of the inaugural Great Hertfordshire AONB Marathon which started at Offley. Naomi was pleased to finish the challenging course as 6th lady in 4:51.30. “From a runner’s perspective it was really enjoyable and well organised,” said Naomi. “I’d definitely recommend it for next year!” Also running the marathon was Alan Hazlehurst, who said: “I'm going to claim that it was looking at the views and watching the magnificent red kites that made me finish in 5:39:17.” Naomi and Alan were joined in the marathon by Sue Foot (5.25.32), Miranda Morgan (5.36.16) and Niccolo Bassani, who finished 10th overall in 04:04:34.
They weren’t the only Squirrels to take part in one of the event’s three races. Adam Wilson ran in the half marathon. “I think this could become a regular,” said Adam, who was delighted to finish his first attempt at a trail half marathon in 2.12.33. Jillian Boys and her running buddy Lulu (a choccy labrador) completed the half marathon in 2:11 and thoroughly enjoyed the “beautiful course and amazing atmosphere”.
Hailey Batson ran the 10km race in 1:08, citing the heat and the hills as reasons why it was one of the hardest races she had done in a while. Elwyn Howell also ran the 10km race, and finished in 58:28, coming first in in 60+ age category and 36th overall. Elwyn’s result was particularly impressive as he had also run the Stevenage parkrun the day before, finishing in 26:18.
Jillian Boys had also taken part in the Vitality London 10,000m on Monday 27 May in a time of 47.52. Before the race started it was perfect running conditions,” said Jillian, “not too warm and with a nice cool breeze. But whilst we were all waiting to start in our wave pens the clouds parted and the sun came out and it was suddenly very warm! Not quite a PB, but was 2 mins quicker than last year so I was pleased with that!”
This week’s parkrun results:
Tamar Trails parkrun: 25 Steve BRENTON 00:24:15
Stevenage parkrun: 49 Jillian BOYS 00:23:51; 109 Elwyn HOWELL 00:26:24; 124 Mike MORALEE 00:26:57; 286 Hayley COCKS 00:33:22
Wimpole Estate parkrun: 99 Naomi PARKINSON 00:25:18
Delamere parkrun: 9 Nick MALPELI 00:19:21
Brandon Country Park parkrun: 68 Sam BARRY 00:29:46
Ellenbrook Fields parkrun: 9 9 Ian DATLEN 00:19:39
Letchworth parkrun: 28 Glyn BLAKEY 00:24:36; 32 Jegan SIMON 00:25:10; 39 Angeliki SHEARSTONE STATHOPOULOU 00:25:51
There were a number of significant sporting achievements for North Herts Road Runners this week with one squirrel donning an England Masters Vest. These vests are awarded to athletes who compete and achieve a qualifying time at a number of qualifying races. They are difficult to earn and a huge honour to wear. The honour this week went to Linda Aird who qualified for the Female over 60 category England vest at a qualifying race in December. The race Linda qualified for was the Simply Health Birmingham Great 10k.
Linda remarked, ‘Although I'd trained quite well for this over the last few weeks, on the day there wasn't much glory for my lovely new England vest as I've struggled with a cold, cough and being generally unwell for the last few days. I knew I wouldn't be able to achieve the result I'd hoped for, but I gave it my best shot anyway.’ Linda headed out ahead of the mass start with the other Masters athletes but due to her ill health soon dropped off the pace. However, Linda still finished in an excellent 52:48 and can be proud of her achievement and vest.
Sophie Thrussell and Caroline Thrussell both trained hard over the past months targeting Edinburgh Marathon. Both suffered setbacks along the way with injuries and illness but with the support of one another and their clubmates they both arrived on the start line ready to race. The weather on the other hand had different ideas. Having been warned of ‘Adverse’ weather conditions the Thrussells turned up wearing the not so uncommon sight of dustbin liners and braced themselves as the rain blew sideways and the wind whipped round them. However, after 5 gentle downhill miles the sun came out as they hit the coast. It was at mile 18 that Caroline started to struggle, ‘That was the low point for me - slightly undulating, relentless head wind and oh so tired legs’. At mile 24 Caroline was passed by her niece who powered on to finish in 3:32:40 - a remarkable achievement for her marathon debut. Caroline finished just behind Sophie in 3:33:58 and had her struggles rewarded with not only a 13 minute PB but also becoming the new owner of the Club Female Vet 55 age category. In fact Caroline was the 3rd FV55 in the marathon.
During the week no less than 83 club members turned out to run in the first midweek league 10km race of the summer along with many supporters. The race hosted by St Albans Striders was a fast one and everyone set out hard and fast. The straight flat course can be a struggle at times but everyone’s superb efforts resulted in the club taking first place in the men’s category, third place in the women’s category with the same results in the Vet category resulting in NHRR holding second place after the first race. Tom Webb finished first for the club in a speedy 33:46 with Patrick Norris bringing in the rear in a superb time of 1:12.
The weekend was rounded off nicely for Ed Price who took part in the Vitality Westminster Mile running in the British Masters Championships Wave finishing in a rapid 4:51. Ed said, ‘ It was a strong field of vets, along a scenic course, with loads of support from start to finish. Great to take part in an event that celebrates the iconic mile, definitely recommended!’
Squirrels were out in force this weekend competing for England places in Devon, tackling mountains in Snowdonia, battling heat in Finland and scampering around neighbouring Hitchin.
Mark Vaughan and Jim McConnel travelled down to Plymouth this weekend for the Ocean City Half Marathon. This race was an opportunity to qualify for an England Masters vest, with runners being selected to run for England. Vaughan commented “Plymouth is not known for being flat and so the race proved to be a bit of a rollercoaster ride, but an early start meant the conditions were favourable, with things warming up towards the finish.” Vaughan finished 6th, 1st Male Vet (MV) 45 in 1:14:07 and McConnel 10th, 2nd MV45, 1:15:29 putting them both in line for England selection.
Thirteen Squirrels scampered over to the Hitchin Hares’ 10km to take on the mostly flat course in great race conditions and six of them walked away with Personal Bests (PBs) for the distance! Niccolo Bassani was first home for the club in 41:43 with his best time in nearly 6 years, closely followed by Stuart Cocks (43:30 PB) and Andrew Underhill (43:38 PB). Harry and Lewina Agius ( 50:29 and 53:19 respectively) were “astonished to hit new PBs – the great training from the club has certainly helped”. Helen Marson-Smith secured a PB of 1:03:12 and Hayley Cocks took 8 minutes off her previous time for the distance, finishing in 1:04:29.
Others competing were as follows; James Drew (46:45), John Russell (47:41), Adam Wilson (50:03), Lucy O’Connor (50:46), Matt Ankers (52:42), Jo Kenlin (1:14:58).
Jennie Fraser journeyed to Helsinki to attempt a personal best marathon time. Frustratingly, an unseasonal heat wave scuppered Fraser’s chances of a PB. She pushed through, despite extreme sickness, to get her medal and still enjoyed running in her favourite country with the “fabulously Finnish support”.
Jo, Helen and Katie Harbon travelled to Snowdonia to compete one of the toughest half marathon routes in the UK. Katie was 4th lady and Jo and Helen completed the course in an impressive 2:10:00
Three of the club’s female veteran Squirrels journeyed to the Midlands to compete in the British Masters Athletic Federation road relays at Sutton Park. Lucy O'Connor ran the first leg in 24:51, Linda Aird, who described the course as “an undulating 5k around the park”, ran leg 2 in 26:04 and Karen Dodsworth completed the team results with 27:18. The team maintained their 8th place position throughout the whole race despite fierce competition.
Sue Foot completed the Guernsey Ultra 36 in an incredible 8:35:00 despite the first 16 miles being cliff paths with every uphill and downhill involving steps. Foot said “the second 20 mile section was on the coastal path and was slightly undulating but straight forward and I managed to do this section faster than the first”.
On Saturday Jillian Boys took on the gruelling Paras 10 in Colchester with her (canine) running buddy Lulu – an undulating 10 mile course that included river crossings, trudging through swamps and running through military display gunfire and smoke grenades. Speaking after the race Boys said “It was so much fun and Lulu was in her element the entire way. We finished in a very respectable 1:22:00 and we had a fantastic time!”
Viv and Lindsey Lucas and Jo Sopala all completed the Wimpole 10km Hoohah race. Lindsey commended the lovely route, said they were all pleased with their times and enjoyed the home made flapjack at the finish! Viv Lucas 51:55 Jo Sopala 1:12:59 Lindsey Lucas 1:13:43
The North Herts Road Runners’ parkrun results for Saturday 18th May: Letchworth parkrun Stewart OVERTON 18:16 Oliver BRADY 19:19 Ian DATLEN 00:21:03 James DALTON 00:21:25 Eva MCCABE 23:59 Rhiannon BOTHA 24:26 Ellie SCOTT 25:07 Glyn BLAKEY 25:53 Carl GOODRUM 28:51 Natalie WILLIAMS 30:29 Helen CROMACK 33:10 Panshanger parkrun Angeliki SHEARSTONE STATHOPOULOU 25:58 Stevenage parkrun Matt ANKERS 24:23 Philip FLACK 26:59 Patrick NORRIS 34:12
Wimpole Estate parkrun Vincent WRIGHT 22:52 Pont y Bala parkrun Chris POOLE 23:27
NHRR's very own Greenway challenge was on Sunday and race director Karen Dodsworth proclaimed afterwards “as always, its was an amazing team effort and I was blessed with so much awesome support”. The greenway is home to many black squirrels and 25 NHRR squirrels raced round the self guided event in the sunshine.
For Lorna Chambers this was her first half marathon. Afterwards she reflected that she has come from “a wheezing asthmatic on the couch to a half marathon inside a year and a half”. Also running their first half marathon, “in a time way better than they'd hoped for” was Harry and Lewina Agius. Afterwards they described the race as a tough course, but had amazing encouragement from all the marshals, public, and other runners really helped spur them both on.
On Bank holiday Monday, John Rayner ran the Breckland 10km in Norfolk. Realising in the last quarter of a mile that he was on for a personal best, John thought back to his training and treated the last 400m as a lap of the track. John was “overjoyed” to finish in 5th place with a time of 35:10.
Vanessa Rolfe made her annual pilgrimage up north to run in her home town at the Leeds half marathon. Vanessa said afterwards that the course doesn't get any flatter and this year was under very hot conditions. She finished in 2:25:56.
On a “beautiful day to run a marathon”, Jo Summers ran her favourite course at Halstead in Essex. She described it as one of the prettiest and best organised runs she's ever done. Jo was very pleased to finish in 3:52 considering recent training.
Also on Bank holiday Monday, several members of the Harbon clang ran at the Kimpton 9.5km. They described it as a lovely run with great community spirit. Katie was first home in 38:44. Followed by Richard in 40:40. Matt Ankers finished in 48:24 followed by Jo Harbon in 49:41.
Paula Holm made her debut at Triathlon in the sprint distance HSV Triathlon in Hatfield. Recovering from a car crash in the Autumn, Paula Holm decided that this was an opportunity to move outside of her comfort zone and take on a new challenge. Delighted afterwards, Paula summed up the experience by saying “I survived the swim, enjoyed the bike and surprisingly felt comfortable on the pretty run”. She was also overjoyed to beat her target time of sub 1:25:00 by getting 1:14:41.
Greenway Challenge NHRR results are as follows: Dan Martin (1:32:45), Lee Hayes (1:32:46), James Keogh (1:33:17), Chris Stokes (1:34:03), Ian Datlen (1:34:31), James Datlan (1:36:40), Caroline Thrussell (1:37:47), Brent Lloyd (1:40:48), Stuart Cocks (1:42:46), Dervla Downing (1:44:24), Steven Peel (1:46:05), Andrew Underhill (1:46:55), Liam Jones (1:48:57), Steve Brenton (1:49:10), Katherine Gourd (1:54:12), Jillian Boys (1:54:33), Matt Ankers (1:56:02), Lucy O'Connor (1:57:35), Richard Weber (1:57:40), Harry Agius (1:58:43), Lewina Agius (2:05:12), Allison Blunt (2:08:15), Lorna Chambers (2:17:24), Naomi Parkinson (2:20:27), Hayley Cocks (2:35:09)
Completing Parkruns this week, NHRR squirrels appeared at:
St Albans: Chris Poole (23:38)
Bedford: Rachel Annetts (27:16)
Milton Keynes: Naomi Parkinson (24:27)
Stevenage: Dave Braybrook (25:38), Jane Clarke (27:50), Patrick Norris (34:33)
Dulwich: Georgina Quayle (26:29)
Wimpole: Katherine Gourd (26:26), Brian Judkins (35:57)
Bideford: Brian Bailey (27:40)
Letchworth: Oliver Brady (19:18), Steve McKeown (19:50), Ian Datlen (24:31), Jillian Boys (24:53), Jennie Fraser (25:51), Jegan Simon (26:12), Rhia Botha (26:51), Steve Brenton (27:35), Glyn Blakey (28:44), Philip Flack (28:58), Carl Goodrum (31:07), Carol Goodrum (35:40)
Great Denham: Richard Harbon (20:02), Lindsay Cook (28:36)
In his 1st race back after injury, Andrew Leach finished 4th in the Grand East Anglian Run 10K, smashing the previous club V55 record set in 2003 by Derek Myall. Myall's record was 39.17 but Andrew ran an incredible 33.41 to break the record by 5 mins 36 seconds!
5 members of North Herts Road Runners travelled to the race, looking for some quick times before the RunHerts midweek league kicks off later in May. It was a flat course, with a few twists and turns as it snakes in and around the beautiful town of Kings Lynn. Mark Vaughan, one of the other NHRR runners said, “It was bitterly cold before the start, and a bit windy, but once we got going things warmed up. Conditions were perfect until about the 7K point where there was a strong headwind which slowed things down a bit, and then again just before the finish.” All 5 Squirrels had great runs: Andrew Leach 4th (33:41); Mark Vaughan 8th (34:05); Pete Sibbett 65th (39:42) (including toilet stop, which cost him over a minute!); Sue Vaughan 931st (53:39); Karen Dodsworth 980th (54:28). Mark continued “This is a great, well organised race with around 3000 runners, with some faster guys at the front end to provide some good racing and Kings Lynn is quite a nice place for a post-race shopping spree - what's not to like!”
At the 5k distance, Hayley Cocks continued her impressive form, running at the First Saturday of the Month at 9am on Norton Common in Letchworth. Turning up dressed for summer in a vest and star-spangled leggings, Hayley was taken aback by the bitter cold wind. She said, “I started off and felt pretty slow, but actually I wasn’t! I overtook about 5 people on the second hill of the first lap, which felt awesome. Training on that very hill on Tuesday had helped!” She managed to settle in after a tough 1.5 km and finished strongly, clocking up a new 30-second PB of 31.43. Hayley was elated. “Maybe the new running leggings helped!?”
Andy and Michelle Grudzinski entered two trail events on consecutive days. On Saturday they travelled to mid-Wales where they competed in the Red Kite Challenge. Michelle quipped, “As is usual for a Welsh race it started uphill, finished uphill and was longer than 13.1 miles. However, it was also stunning, beautiful and contained insane uphill sections! We both loved the event save for the strange part where we had already clocked over 13.1 miles and were then sent up and down a hill rather than to the finish line.” They finished the race in 2:49. On Sunday they headed to Winchcombe in the Cotswolds for the Winchcombe cross. Michelle continued, “Andy was doing very well but it soon turned into another photo running adventure with an ice lolly stop. We decided to stop at 13.2 miles and hit the cake shop!”
Clare Hooley and James Keogh were away visiting family over the bank holiday and of course that meant taking on the local parkrun (Lyme Park). Clare said “This is in fact one of the hilliest courses in the country and to boot the surface isn’t the easiest with uneven cobble tracks, woods and bogs. The positive is that you see all the major sights of the country park and have great views over Manchester.” James finished in 21:01 and was slightly disconcerted by the herd of red deer, “definitely more imposing than the deer you get in Norton Common!”. Clare continued, “The weather can have a huge effect on the course; last time it was winter and we ran round together and a very helpful marshal warned us of a slippy bog up ahead, only for me to go sploosh a few seconds later. This time the marshals warned us not to worry about the highland cattle - they were very friendly really and if they got too close they would move them on!” Clare finished in 39:04, 10 mins faster she had done it before.
On a day that will be long-remembered by the North Herts Road Runners, the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon saw no fewer than 16 Squirrels taking part, eight of whom completed the race in under three hours, helping to raise thousands of pounds for charity.
First home for the club was Adam Bowller, who saw the culmination of months of hard training come to fruition and produced an incredible performance to finish the race in 2:32:57 - the fastest time a North Herts Road Runner has ever run a marathon, beating a record which has stood since Paul Pearce, a GB paralympian, ran 2:34:34 in 2005.
Having taken the club record, an emotional Adam described himself as “humbled and honoured” and was quick to congratulate his teammates, many of whom also gained PBs. These included Darren Sunter, who finished second for the club in 2:39:09 and was eager to acknowledge the cheers he received from members of NHRR as well as other local running clubs. “Apart from seeing all the fabulous Squirrels on the course, all the running community from different clubs in Herts were all amazing and it was great to hear their support.”
Another runner to come away with a PB on the day was Matt Sayers (2:41:18), who raised money for the local charity TRACKS Autism. “They have been a great support to my family and do amazing work with young children with autism,” said Matt. “I’m pleased with all the donations - every pound makes a real difference to keeping TRACKS going.” Matt wasn’t the only runner from North Herts to raise money for TRACKS. Niccolo Bassani, who was the recipient of a club place in the marathon, also raised money for the Stevenage-based charity. Niccolo had run the Brighton marathon only two weeks before, and was pleased to finish at London in an almost identical time of 3:29:50.
Still more Squirrels finished the grueling 26-mile distance in under three hours. Nathan Pask was the club’s fourth finisher in 2:41:21. Not far behind was Rob Harris, whose time of 2:44:10 was also a personal best. After the race, he said, “I got to 30km and told myself it was time to properly knuckle down. I cramped up at Embankment and the Mall, as usual, but finished with an 11-second PB and a negative split (faster second half) overall.” Guy Jones ran 2:52:46, followed closely by Nick Malpeli (2:53:44) and Stewart
Overton, who ran a PB of 2:54:40.
There were plenty more successful races (and PBs) for the Squirrels, including Vince Wright (3:27:01), Hailey Batson, who finished close to her target time and was delighted to have doubled her initial sponsorship target for the mental health charity Mind. There was even another club record, as Andrew Porter got the club's over-70 marathon record. After the race, he said: “What an amazing day, the atmosphere, the encouragement from the crowds all helped me to keep going and achieving a time of 4 hours 49.”
Here’s the full list of Squirrels who ran the Virgin Money London Marathon, and their finishing times:
Bowller, Adam 2:32:57
Sunter, Darren 2:39:09
Sayers, Matthew 2:41:18
Pask, Nathan 2:41:21
Harris, Robert 2:44:10
Jones, Guy 2:52:46
Malpeli, Nick 2:53:44
Overton, Stewart 2:54:40
Wright, Vincent 3:27:01
Bassani, Niccolo 3:29:50
Sherwood, Adrian 3:43:35
Barry, Sam 3:57:56
Harding, Laura 4:10:16
Allen, Christian 4:45:26
Porter, Andrew 4:49:54
Batson, Hailey 4:55:02
London wasn’t the only major city to host a marathon at the weekend. Sue Foot ran the Düsseldorf Marathon. Although there were slightly fewer runners than at the London Marathon (around 5000), Sue enjoyed the route, which took the runners twice over the River Rhine. “I finished in 4.13.16,” said Sue. “This was my 21st road marathon and am now at 130 in total!”
In other news, Kat Gourd ran the Runthrough “Chase the Sun” Hyde Park 10k on Wednesday evening. “It was a bit repetitive,” said Kat, “but weather conditions were good and I got a new post-knee surgery PB of 51:41.”
David Annetts competed at the RWA National 10k Race Walking Championship at Warwick University. He finished 4th overall (3rd in the Senior men's race) in a time of 49:56, and said: “I’m happy to get a medal and a time just under 50 mins.”
The North Herts Road Runners’ parkrun results for Saturday 27th April:
Letchworth parkrun 7 Ian DATLEN 00:21:21 9 James DALTON 00:21:44 41 Katherine GOURD 00:26:07 46 Jennie FRASER 00:26:46 51 David WESTON 00:27:06
Great Denham parkrun 6 John AULD 00:19:38 15 Peter SIBBETT 00:21:06 44 Angeliki SHEARSTONE STATHOPOULOU 00:25:18 52 Karen DODSWORTH 00:26:43
Jersey Farm parkrun 2 Mark VAUGHAN 00:17:48 90 Sue VAUGHAN 00:27:56
Millom parkrun3 Glyn BLAKEY 00:23:59
Stevenage parkrun 43 Dervla DOWNING 00:22:55 46 Jane CLARKE 00:22:59 150 Bob DAVIS 00:28:05 252 Patrick NORRIS 00:34:41
Tees Barrage parkrun 200 Brian JUDKINS 00:30:50
Wimpole Estate parkrun 111 Lucy O'CONNOR 00:26:18
Sixfields Upton parkrun 29 Chris POOLE 00:24:37
The Easter weekend brought a break in racing but there was plenty of Parkrun activity for North Herts Road Runners.
Tom Webb ran the fastest Parkrun in Exmouth amongst a speedy field finishing 3rd with a parkrun (and 5k) PB of 15:47. John Rayner ran the Dartford parkrun and finished 2nd in 18:06, two seconds off his course PB. Rayner was pleased saying ‘having picked up a few injuries last year I feel like I am on my way back to full speed.’ Paul Jackson won Letchworth Parkrun also in a time of 18.06. Further afield at the Keswick Parkrun Richard Harbon, Matt Ankers and Helen Harbon mixed it with fell runners and holiday makers over the surprisingly hilly but very scenic disused railway line finishing in 21:19, 24:34 and 24:44 respectively.
Race walker David Annetts had a successful week winning Vets AC 5 mile Race Walk at Battersea Park on Tuesday in a personal best time of 38:47. Then in very warm condition on Saturday at the Picketts Lock Track in Lee Valley he won the Enfield League 5000m Race Walk in another PB of 23:24.
Full Parkrun Results: Milton Keynes parkrun Naomi PARKINSON 23:14, Kettering parkrun Steve WILLIAMSON 21:44, Bury St Edmunds parkrun Patrick NORRIS 33:52, Walsall Arboretum parkrun Chris POOLE 23:39, Stevenage parkrun Chris STOKES 21:08, Dervla DOWNING 22:48, Bob DAVIS 28:50, Carl GOODRUM 29:41, Jane CLARKE 32:36, Carol GOODRUM 34:02, Tees Barrage parkrun Lindsay COOK 33:06, Darlington South Park parkrun Brian JUDKINS 31:34, Sheringham parkrun Nick MALPELI 19:41, Wimpole Estate parkrun Vincent WRIGHT 21:15, Chloe LUCAS 23:07, Jillian BOYS 23:42, Steve BRENTON 24:02, Lucy O'CONNOR 26:05, Skipton parkrun Ellie SCOTT 24:40, Keswick parkrun Richard HARBON 21:19, Matt ANKERS 24:34, Helen HARBON 24:44, Dartford parkrun John RAYNER 18:06, Exmouth parkrun Tom WEBB 15:48, Eleanor BIGGS 25:16, Letchworth parkrun Paul JACKSON 18:06, Daniel MALLETT 22:57, Glyn BLAKEY 23:14, James DREW 24:29, James WALSH 24:33, Richard MALLETT 28:31, Brian BAILEY 28:58, James DALTON 31:05, Coldham’s Common parkrun an DATLEN 20:00.
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