Stewart Overton took a trip to the seaside to race the Worthing Half Marathon as part of his training for the Rotterdam Marathon in April. The flat course produced some fast times and training obviously paid off as Overton finished 25th with a new PB of 80:05. Overton said ‘I was really pleased as I felt strong throughout but I am disappointed to have missed out on sub 80’.
Naomi Parkinson and Lucy Hurley travelled to Stamford for the St. Valentines 30k. It was the 25th year of the event organised by Stamford Striders. Mixed weather conditions meant they ran through sunshine, wind and hail. The hills made for a challenging but scenic course and provided no protection from the bitter wind. However, they finished strongly in 3:16:48. What better way can there be to show your love of running than to run 18 miles through Lincolnshire and Rutland on a freezing February morning?
Seven squirrels opted for a shorter race at the Love Welwyn Garden City 10k. First in for the club was Dervla Downing in 52:29, followed by Hannah Keeble in 53:07. Sam Martin in her first race since joining the club finished in a new PB by more than 3 minutes of 56:19. Other finishes included Chris Poole 1:00:21, Jennie Andrews 1:04:14, Linsey Ashley 1:04:14 and Monica Cullin who finished 2nd FV70 in 1:33.03.
A few took part in Parkruns: At Letchworth finishing 11th was Matthew Davies in 22:47, 67th Sarah Millhouse 28:55, 109th Joy Stroud 33:59 and 128th Lindsey Lucas 39:24. At Stevenage Parkrun Joseph Sherry was 104th in 27:47 and Helen Giffin finished 124th in 28:36. Chris Poole was at Ellenbrook Fields and finished 54th in 25:39.
Two NHRR members, John Rayner and John Auld travelled to London to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park First Saturday of the Month 10K. Both had a fantastic race with Rayner finishing in fifth position in a new PB of 35:24 and Auld in sixth. Auld said after the event "I finished 6th in 35:54, 8 seconds over my PB, but I was 11th with 2km to go. I was very happy to give the guys in front of me a lesson in finishing strongly"
Three squirrels travelled to Watford to run the rather hilly Half Marathon. Niccolo Bassani finished in 1:35:06, Tom Brownlee in 1:58:19 and Vanessa Rolfe in 2:34:12.
Closer to home the club held their own First Saturday of the Month event as usual at Norton Common. The popular 5K run had 87 people running the full event with one junior taking the option of one lap instead of both laps. It was won by Darren Purchase who finished in 20:01. First lady to finish was squirrel Paula Holm in 21:45. The next free event will be on Saturday 3rd March at 9am and is open to everyone.
Parkruns were run by Helen Cairns (Stevenage) first lady finisher, 22:35; Steve Williamson (Kettering) 20:50; Chris Poole (Barking) 22:31 and Lewis Green (Letchworth) 25:08.
Pat Norris competed in the Harpenden 10k race on Sunday. Pat was running with his eldest son who had bought entry to the race as a Christmas present and finished in 77 minutes, 6 minutes after his son. He said,“This was a four lap course on a very damp, hilly and muddy park which I found quite difficult!”
North Herts Road Runners were out in force at Parkruns across the South-East of England this week, with 26 Squirrels taking to the green and pleasant spaces that this amazing movement seems to have opened up for many.
Amongst the results were 3 first places, with Andrew Leech finishing first in the Bedford Parkrun (17:11), Jane Clarke finishing first lady in Stevenage (21:05) and Eva McCabe first lady (23:43) at the inaugural Letchworth Parkrun. The club has been a big supporter of the new Letchworth Parkrun; 17 other Squirrels took to the muddy course to complete its first running which took place at the Grange Recreation Ground. Rob Milburn (24:32); James Walsh (24:42); Matthew Davies (24:43); Naomi Parkinson (25:53); Lewis Green (26:42); Christian Allen (27:19); Lucy Hurley (28:15); Linda Aird (28:50); Paul Bowal (30:48); Paul Phasey (31:50); Helen Giffin (32:48); Ellie Scott (32:58); Jon Stow (32:59); Hannah Keeble (33:17); Sheila Leavy (33:56); Helen Cromack (34:11) and Joy Stroud (36:31)
In other locations, Darren Matussa was 21st (18:22) at Hackney Marshes, James Laing was 104th (22:59) at Brockwell Park, Phil Hunt was also 104th (23:15) at St. Albans, Steve Williamson was 11th (21:05) at Kettering and Chris Poole was 88th (21:43) at Burgess Parkrun.
Squirrels Andy Grudzinski and Paul Bowal probably had the toughest event of the weekend as they took part in Buff Winter Trail Half Marathon, for the fourth time. That’s 13.2 miles with an impressive 608 m height gain in the hills and woodlands of Coed Y Brenin about one hour south of Mount Snowdon. The theme appears to have lots of mud as well as lots of hills. Running, fueled by plentiful Welsh Rabbit the day before, the going was tough to start with until the 680 runners spread out, and continued to be tough with the sleet turning to snow and the final Sting of a 100m climb up a mud and rock trail over a horizontal distance of 0.6 miles just after the 11-mile marker. Paul ran home in 02:40:58 in 363rd place pipping Andy who had still managed to achieve a personal best time of 02:41:47 in 372nd place.
Seven squirrels made it to St Albans for the Fred Hughes 10miler huddling around the start line in the driving snow. The course was undulating which meant there were loads of hills that no one mentioned, with a healthy number of puddles to be negotiated. Nonetheless our runners thought it was a great race with 759 runners and marshals with drums and tambourines. The after-race cups of water were topped up and decorate with more snow
135 Chris Stokes 01:09:54, 254 David Weston 01:17:14.,374 Naomi Parkinson 01:24:59, 380 Caroline Thrussell 01:25:18, 513 Tom Brownlee 01:32:26, 603 Paul Phasey 01:39:12, 681 Lindsay Cook 01:48:31
David Annetts went to the QE2 Track In Enfield on Saturday morning for the Enfield Race Walking League 5 mile race. He had a good race with no warnings for technique, working his way through a competitive field and taking the lead in the last 1/2 mile. Coming home first in a personal best time of 40:34.
Letchworth Parkrun test event saw a number of Squirrels taking to a muddy course at the Grange to help test the setup of the newest park run in the area.
In Parkruns elsewhere. At Luton Wardown Park Phil Hunt came in 20th in 23:19. Roding Valley, Redbridge saw Darren Matussa come a very creditable second in 21 mins dead. Rickmansworth saw Chris Pooke come in 41st (37th male) home. The Stevenage event was the most popular established race with Eva McCabe the first Squirrel and first woman home in 26th place overall in just 21:57. Lewis Green was 20 places behind in 23:48 but still with Eva as the only female finisher at that stage. The third squirrel home was Helen Griffin in 30:01. Wimple Estate Parkrun saw Vincent Wright running and finishing in 11th place in 20:54
Sunday was the 5th and final race in the Three Counties XC league. Going into the last race, NHRR had some great positions to hold onto - leading the combined, 2nd in the mens and 3rd in the ladies. The combined competition was tight at the top and there was effectively a last race shoot out for the title.
With great spirit and confidence, a scurry of 49 heroic squirrels made the trip to Bedford to battle it out in the mud for the league title. Other squirrels turned out in support too. The course had been shortened earlier in the week due to part of Priory County Park being under water with all the recent rain. Although the weather was mild on the day, the terrain was flat and there was no wind, it was slippy in the mud and tufty grass. There was a few large puddles to get through and indeed a lovely ford to negotiate too. Everybody got wet feet. Being shorter too it meant the pace was higher. Every squirrel gave it their all. Coach Karen gave out some last minute advise on the start line - “its not where you are after mile one, its where you are at the finish line that counts!”.
The scoring team of 8 men all came in the first 22 of the race, giving their lowest score this season. The ladies did fantastic too, producing their 2nd best score this season. The produced NHRR's best combined score this season and also produced a combined team victory. The men also won on the day and the ladies were 2nd.
This maintained the status quo. NHRR Squirrels came home grinning from ear to ear with the combined team league title - NHRR are the league Champions! Runners up in the men and 3rd in the ladies. This is the first time NHRR have won the combined title in 6 years.
Scoring for the men were Jim McConnell (5th), Ed Price (9th), Darren Sunter (10th), Adam Bowller (14th), John Rayner (15th), John Auld (16th), Matt Sayers (20th) and Ryan Smith (22nd).
Scoring for the ladies was Katie Harbon (1st), Jane Clarke (8th), Helen Nuttall (10th) and Astrid Mckeown (14th).
NHRR also won some individual trophies. Jim McConnell won the over V35 category. Ed Price won the over V40 category. Ed said afterwards “Going into the last race, the title was wide open. We still had everything to lose, but everyone turned up and gave it their all. Cross country is a team sport, and running together is what brought us the win today”.
Pictured from left to right is the ladies team captain, Katie Harbon with the ladies team 3rd trophy. The XC secretary, John Auld, with the combined team trophy. The men's team captain, Pete Sibbet, with the men's 2nd place trophy. Photo by James Walsh.
The full turnout of squirrels in the results is given below;
Jim McConnell (5th), Ed Price (9th), Darren Sunter (10th), Adam Bowller (14th), John Rayner (15th), John Auld (16th), Matt Sayers (20th), Ryan Smith (22nd), Mark Vaughan (28th), Stewart Overton (39th), Dan Hills (42nd), Vincent Wright (50th), Andy Green (52nd), Katie Harbon (56th) Dan Martin (59th), Nick Malpeli (68th), James Keogh (70th), James Walsh (74th), Adrian Sherwood (81st), Jane Clarke (122nd), Helen Nuttall (127th), David Watson (128th), Steve Harris (141st), Astrid Mckeown (144th), Marcus Farnfield (150th), Sarah Mitcherson (164th), David Frampton (184th), Paula Adams (189th), Johnny Spinks (195th), Naomi Parkinson (227th), Paul Bowall (252nd), Linda Aird (259th), Matt Ankers (262nd), Caroline Thrussell (268th), Niamh Barry (271st), Lucy O'Connor (274th), Adam Wilson (295th), Lucy Hurley (313rd), Hannah Keeble (332nd), Claire O'Sullivan (333rd), Karen Dodsworth (339th), Brian Baily (342nd), Andrew Porter (346th), Christine Sharpe (365th), Carina Quayle (372nd), Helen Cromack (378th), Jane Tyler (381st), Lindsay Cook (388th) and Joy Stroud (390th).
Andy Grudzinski travelled to Gothenburg in Sweden for the Sandsjobacka Trail of 44.6km in Scandinavian mud and 730m of hills. Andy completed the race in -4 degrees Celsius in a time of 7:02. When asked was it worth it, Andy said yes, with mud splattered from head to toe, bruised legs/arms/knees, having met all sorts of runners and gained the smallest of medals: what a great way to spend a Saturday in January.
Squirrels appeared in Parkruns this week at Stevenage, Ally Pally and Barclay. Rob Milburn, Chris Poole, Steve Lummis and Lewis Green ran Stevenage. Phil Hunt ran at Ally Pally and Paul Phasey ran at Barclay.
Jane Clarke and Jim McConnel both won selection to represent Hertfordshire with impressive performances in the County Cross-country Championships.
The pair were the stand-out performers for North Herts Road Runners on an undulating course at Cassiobury Park, Watford and both received letters from the Hertfordshire selectors at the finish line, inviting them to race at the Inter-counties Cross-country Championships at Loughborough in March.
Clarke admitted to being ‘emotional’ at securing her first opportunity to wear a Hertfordshire vest. ‘I thought I was going to shed a tear’, she said after a superb 14th place finish. McConnel took eighth place in the men’s race and said he was ‘elated to be selected to run for the county’.
Other finishers for the Squirrels in the County Championships: Ladies (8k) Linda Aird, 53rd; Jo Harbon, 57th, Christine Sharp, 86th. Men (12k) Darren Sunter, 16th; Matt Sayers, 37th; John Auld, 43rd; Dan Hills, 47th; Dan Martin, 68th; James Walsh, 77th; James Keogh, 91st; Johnny Spinks, 124th.
Lewis Cromack finished 21st in the under-11s race and Charlotte Spinks was 13th in the under-17s .
The NHRR men’s team took bronze medals for placing third in the team competition.
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.
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