North Herts Road Runners bring a festival of running to Letchworth Garden City.
Father’s Day saw the streets of Letchworth Garden City teeming with runners of all stripes, thanks to the return of Run Round the Garden. Organised by North Herts Road Runners, the day was a great success, with 213 people finishing the 5k race, 48 runners taking part in the 1-mile race, and over a hundred children participating in the fun run. The 5k race was won by North Herts Road Runner Ed Price in a time of 17:01. “It was great race,” said Price, “and the fact that there was fun run afterwards meant that my eight-year-old son could take part as well. There was such a good atmosphere, it made it a Father’s Day to remember.” In second place was Charlie Grayson of Stevenage & North Herts (17:58) and in third was North Herts’ Adrian Sherwood, who finished in 18:16.
The first woman in the 5k race was Bedford Harrier Kirstie Sharman (19:00), who then went on to repeat the feat by running 05:48 to finish as the first female in the mile. The winner of the men’s mile was Hitchin Running Club’s Stuart Hansell, who ran 05:06, followed closely by North Herts’ Darren Matussa in 05:11, who along with other clubmates had taken on pacing duties in the earlier 5k race.
Filling out the top three in the women’s 5k were Sarah Mitcherson and Helen Cairns of North Herts Road Runners, whose placings and times (19:59 and 20:40 respectively) were especially impressive given that only the day before they had both been part of the North Herts women’s team that not only won the Greensands Ridge Relay Ladies’ Trophy, but took the course record for a women’s team. This hotly contested regional event is a handicap relay race for teams of six people, running from Waterside Park, Leighton Buzzard along the Greensands Ridge pathway to the church in Northill, Bedfordshire. Joining Mitcherson and Cairns in the successful ‘NHRR Flying Squirrels’ team were Jane Clarke (who also raced on Sunday), Katie Harbon, Sophie Thrussell and Paula Adams. They ran the course in a combined time of 4 hours and 15 minutes – three minutes faster than the previous best time. Two other teams from North Herts also took part in the event: another women’s team, who ran the course in 5 hours 33, and a mixed team, whose time was 4 hours 30.
Plenty more Squirrels were in action over the weekend. Hot on the heels of a successful Riga Marathon, Stewart Overton brought his impressive form to bear on the “quick and flat course” at Bedford 10k. Overton finished the race in 35:40, a minute and 40 seconds faster than this previous best time, and came away full of praise for the event: “Some good support from 8k in gets you moving those legs and a quick finish home.” Julia Callan was also at Bedford, running her first ever 10k in a time of 1 hour 8 minutes.
Elsewhere, David Annetts travelled to Bolton to take part in the BMAF 5k Road Walk Championships. His third place in (an unofficial) 26:08 was enough to win Gold in the V50. On the evening of Friday 15th, Jo Kenlin completed the Stowe 12k run, which she described as a “really beautiful place to run with some stunning views and a few hills.”
The Artic capital of Tromśo in Norway hosted the Midnight Sun Marathon, which North Herts Road Runner Jennie Fraser completed in 4:37.33. Speaking of her incredible experience, Fraser said “It was more like the Midnight Wind and Rain Marathon but when the sun broket through the cloud it was highly dramatic as all the permafrost on the mountains light up like diamonds.”
Closer to home, Jo Summers ran the Baslow Boot Bash, a self-guided 26 mile trail race in Derbyshire, in 5 hours 9 minutes – in eighth place out of 150 finishers. John Auld continued his quest to win South Yorkshire’s Silkstone Shuffle series of races. Saturday’s was the second race of the series, and Auld finished in 5th position. “I started the day in 2nd [overall], 99 seconds down and finished the day in 2nd, 50 seconds down. So, from that perspective it’s a good result,” said Auld.
The week before, three hardy squirrels had travelled to Wales to take part in the Salomon Trail Marathon, a race in the hills of south Snowdonia, 26.4 miles with 1100m height gain. Michelle Grudzinski ran 6:28.28 (“Not a pb for the course but that's not always what it's about...”), Andy Grudzinski ran 5:47.43 and Paul Bowell ran the Half Marathon in 2:31.50.
There’s plenty more to look forward to from North Herts Road Runners, with a very special First Saturday of the Month planned for July. This ever-popular timed 5k race around Letchworth’s Norton Common is to be run at both dawn (9am) and dusk (7.30pm) on Saturday 7th July, with the dusk runners encouraged to bring family, friends, food and drink. With free entry, the Dawn & Dusk Double 5k is another example of North Herts Road Runners’ popular social running events, and promises to be a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the best that midsummer has to offer in a picturesque setting. Find out more at www.firstsaturday5km.org.uk
Last week the big outing for NHRR was the Mid Week League race at Trent Park. 54 squirrels took part in the race with a good number of supporting cast. The first Squirrel home was Mark Vaughan in 13th place in just 37:09 with Katie Harbon the first female home in 39:30 in an excellent 41st place overall. After 3 races in the series the Men are in 3rd place in the League and the Ladies 2nd with the overall club position showing a strong 4th well clear of the 5th placed club.
Following the competitive Mid Week race there was a bit of a pace change on the Saturday with the annual ‘Bird Run’ which combines a bit of a run with a bird watch and breakfast. Binoculars and ears at the ready being lead by an expert bird lover the group witnessed Whitethroat, Swallows, House Martins, Red Kite, Blackcap and glimpsed a typically elusive Reed Warbler. Plus they heard Great Spotted Woodpecker and Garden Warbler. They also saw a fine display of Marsh Orchids.
Running is not just a social event, its not just a way of keeping fit, this proves that it is a great way of getting out in the great outdoors and experiencing the world around you. Summer club training runs often come with the added bonus of a spectacular Sunset.
More individual performances this week included Jo S taking part in the Farthingstone Foot Fest. The race is a minimum (!!!) of 26 miles when advertised and ran to 27.3 this year taking an off road route, but it is was a sociable outing apart from the stinging nettles which were totally anti-social.
A last minute decision for Jilian Boys to run in the Stotfold 5K Challenge paid off as she came in the first lady to finish in 22 mins. She was one of 6 Squirrels taking park with Ian Sutcliffe finishing in 26:13, Claire O coming in third lady in 24:12, Helen M-S finishing in 32mins and Andrew P in 28:15. The main feature of the ran that they all remember is running through lots and lots of long grass.
Sue F ran the Redway festival of Running Maraton, having battled to be fit for the race after a lengthy layoff with a foot injury she felt a little underprepared but previous conditioning and great metal attitude kicked in and finished happy in just 4 hours 28 minutes.
Michelle was at the end of a fairly major flight plan to run the Green Half Marathon in Lefkada, part of the Greek Ionian Islands. Finishing in under 2 hours 5 the run was around the bay as the sunset. Running shoes are an essential part of a squirrels awaydays packing!!!!
Nicolo took part in the St Albans half Marathon, trying to keep up with the 1:40 pacers proved only just a little bit much with a finishing time of 1:41. The highlight of the race though was a lady at mile 7 with a moral boosting sign saying 'You're running better than Thameslink'
Shani Fielding, Jo K, Halyley Crocks and Stuart Crocks took part in the Marston Mortain 5K which was a mostly flat but a little slippery underfoot. Stuart managed a 5K PB in 21:22 and Shani a PB of 32:45. Hayley was less happy with her time but it just proves even squirrels suffer when full of cold – but they are still running.
With the huge variety of one off races and after the mid week league there were only a few running at Park Runs this week. Darren Matussa ran in Roding Vally finishing 51st out of 151 in 24:03, In Bracknell Steven Lummis was 50th out of 349 runners in 24:39. In Stevenage Nick Malpeli was in 4th place out of 330 runners in 19:18, followed by Chris Stokes (20:15), Richard Harbon (21:24), Chris Poole (23:04) and Joseph Sherry coming in last of the Squirrels but only in 147th place in 27:45. Jillian Boys ran the Wimpole estate in 23:24 finishing 69th out of 335 runninger. Helen Giffin was another squirrel travelling with her running shoes as she took part in Keswick finishing in 30:30. James Dalton was the only Squirrel running in the Letchworth event finishing 7th out of the 114 runners in 22:05.
This July, the First Saturday of the Month will be held at both dawn (9am) and dusk (7.30pm), with the dusk runners encouraged to bring family, friends, food and drink.
Run hard in the morning and unwind with a social run in the evening, or use the morning's run as a warm up, and blast the 5k at sundown, or you could even just do one and not the other. Whichever you choose, it's a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the best that midsummer has to offer in the picturesque setting of Norton Common.
Bring the kids, or make it a date night – the Midsummer Dawn & Dusk Double 5k is another example of NHRR's well-loved social events. Free entry. All welcome. Sign up on our First Saturday of the Month page
Saturday saw the 7th anniversary of Letchworth’s First Saturday of the Month 5k race. This free event is run once a month by volunteers from North Herts Road Runners and takes in two laps of the beautiful Norton Common. With barcode timing and free tea and coffee, the race has gone from strength to strength over its 7 year history. To celebrate the birthday, this week, cake was added to the post-finish rewards with the chocolate-covered flapjacks earning particular praise! 93 runners finished the course, with NHRR’s Paul Jackson leading the field home in 18:04, and former Squirrel Emily Hutchinson leading the ladies home in 18:38, magnificent times from both runners. Other Squirrels chasing the cake home were: 6th - James Keogh (19:30); 9th - Lee Hayes (19:59); 11th - David Weston (20:19); 15th Steven Peel (22:17); 16th - James Walsh (22:19); 19th - Richard Harbon (22:43); 23rd - Stuart Cocks (23:17); 25th - Jane Clarke (23:59); 28th - Sam Barry (24:10); 29th - Drew Norton (24:30); 32nd - Andrew Robson (24:55); 39th - Cooper (25:36) - 41st - Richard Weber (26:09); 47th - Paula Holm (27:13); 50th - Linda Aird (27:37); 54th Allison Blunt (27:54); 66th Gladys Cheng (30:21), 67th - Sheila Leavy (30:24); 78th - Dawn Power (32:58); 85th - Helen Marson-Smith (34:15); 89th - Kelly Hanlon (35:25) and 90th Clare Hooley (37:31). Linsey Ashley said “Thanks for a great FSOM. My daughter had a great time and can't wait to do it again next month, and the Run Around the Garden (on 17th June). Future Squirrel!! Everyone was so encouraging with her as ever.”
Further afield, Eleanor Williams travelled to Ireland to run the Cork half-marathon. After the race she said “it was crazily humid and hillier than I was expecting. The crowd was amazing and there was plenty of water, cold wet sponges and lucozade to keep everyone going.” The race didn’t go exactly to plan, however. “The day didn’t get off to the best start as I had a sickness bug but it managed to hold off during the race. I managed 2hrs 26 - my second best half marathon time. Absolutely loved the race itself, the scenery, the crowd and my play list. It was by far one of the best organised events I’ve been part of. I’d highly recommend it to anyone.”
Elsewhere,. Matt Davies and Jodie Brumhead competed in the Mountain Yomp Challenge in Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria. Matt commented “We did the Half Yomp, so 11.5 miles with ~1850ft elevation gain. Rain all day on Saturday meant it was about 90% humidity and the path turned to knee high bog in parts. The weather cleared for the race, however, to give us some great views and it was a lovely day with most of the locals out on the hills.” Matt finished 6th in 1hr 48:15 and Jodie was 39th in 2hrs 27:31.
Hayley Cocks and her daughter Abbi took part in a Cancer Research UK “Pretty Muddy” 5k in Stanborough Park, Welwyn Garden City, which, apart from lots of mud, included a number of uphill and downhill slops and a shallow river. Hayley said “I’d never imagined so much mud!”.
There were a posse of Squirrels travelling to various Parkruns. Ellie Scott ran in Norwich, finishing 102nd lady (30:54). Also in Norfolk, Jillian Boys finished 7th lady in Kings Lynn (23:43). Rachel Annetts ran in Bedford, finishing 20th lady (26:35). In Leamington John Russell finished 81st (22:53). Three Squirrels ran in Stevenage, with Naomi Parkinson leading them home as 7th lady (24:05). Bob Davis was 131st (27:05) and Pat Norris 252nd (33:39). At Mount Edgcumbe, Simon Poole finished 4th (21:28) and at Erddig Chris Poole was 53rd (25:06)
This week saw a scurry of 72 Squirrels take on the 2nd Midweek League Division 1 race at Highfield Park St Albans. Overall NHRR finished 4th with the men 4th, the women 2nd whilst the Vet man and women finished 2nd and 1st respectively. After two races NHRR are now 4th in the league, a single point behind 3rd and everything to play for in the remaining two races.
Squirrels running were Darren Sunter (34:10), Edward Price (34:18), Mark Vaughan (34:57), Matthew Sayers (35:30), John Rayner (36:29), Andy Mutton (36:54), John Auld (37:29), Darren Matussa (37:48), Katie Harbon (38:04), Adrian Sherwood (38:04), Oliver Brady (38:23), Steve McKeown (38:31), James Walsh (38:59), Lee Hayes (39:53), James Keogh (40:05), Astrid McKeown (40:53), David Weston (41:16), Matt Davies (41:35), Paula Adams 41:39), Sarah Mitcherson (42:12), Richard Foster (42:59), David Frampton (43:40), Helen Cairns (43:45), Kat Burr (44:16), Stuart Cocks (44:39), Phil Hunt (44:54), Marcus Farnfield (45:34), Sophie Thrussell (45:44), Sam Barry (46:00), Daniel Mallett (46:40), Chris Poole (46:56), Steve Lummis (47:17), Naomi Parkinson (47:39), Jane Clarke (47:50), Niamh Barry (48:31), Jillian Boys (48:58), Alice Noakes (48:58), Colin Calcutt (49:13), Lucy Hurley (49:39), Andrew Robson (49:40), Paul Bowal (49:57), Claire O'Sullivan (50:09), Ellie Scott (50:20), Helen Harbon (50:41), Adam Wilson (50:55), Hannah Keeble (50:57), Angeliki Shearstone (50:58), Linda Aird (51:59), Lucy O'Connor (52:07), Jason Davis (53:07), Andrew Cooper (53:25), Jodie Brumhead (53:52), Jo Harbon (54:40), Jenny Andrews (54:44), Ian Sutcliffe (54:52), Sue Vaughan (55:10), Brian Bailey (55:35), Karen Dodsworth (55:57), Matt Ankers (56:08), Helen Govey (56:41), Cara Sutton (56:44), Johnny Spinks (57:17), Geoff Murray-Rochard (58:30), Shiela Leavy (59:33), Christine Sharp (1:01:20), Lindsay Cook (1:04:02), Helen Cromack (1:04:06), Eleanor Williams (1:05:24), Brian Judkins (1:06:19), Shani Fielding (1:08:42), Hayley Cocks (1:13:10).
A couple of squirrels ran the Hatfield Broad Oak 10k. Ryan Smith ran a new PB of 37:02 and Sarah Mitcherson finished 3rd V40 in 42:47. Ryan said that he must have been the only one hoping that the sun stayed behind the clouds on the bank holiday, but was was delighted with a PB considering the weather forecast.
Andy and Michelle Grudzinski travelled to Canada for a couple of races. The first race was Woody's RV World Trial Marathon which had wildlife warnings about bears and aggressive beavers. A week later they ran the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon to which Andy completed the marathon in 5:19 and Michelle completed the 50km Ultra in 5:49.
Others running were Chris Poole who ran the London 10,000 in a time of 46:03 and Miranda Morgan who ran the Edinburgh marathon in 4:54.
Several Squirrels ran Parkruns. Ed Price ran 17:29 at Basingstoke. Steve Williamson ran 21:11 at Kettering. Seven finishers at Stevenage include Chris Stokes (21:36), Chris Poole (23:00), Steve Lummis (23:14), Sam Berry (26:21), Helen Giffin (30:49), Simon Poole (32:27) and Patrick Norris (34:11). Brian Judkins ran 33:27 at Wimpole Estate. Vincent Wright (21:46), James Dalton (22:45), Jullian Boys (24:39) and Bob Davis (29:17) all ran at Letchworth.
If at first you don’t succeed…
North Herts Road Runner Stewart Overton set a new Personal Best whilst representing the club in the Riga Marathon this weekend. A special and personal achievement made all the more significant as he suffered a loss in the family the Tuesday prior. Having trained all winter to run the Rotterdam Marathon and missing out on a personal target of finishing it in under 3 hours, it was the personal messages and support of his club mates, both in person through Dan Martin and through messages from the club, that enabled him to channel his emotion into running his first sub 3 hour marathon finishing in 2 hours and 59 minutes. Stewart said it was a difficult race with plenty of mental and physical challenges but felt truly emotional as he crossed the finish line.
Elsewhere Darren Matussa, who continues to go from strength to strength, recovered from winning the Watford Open 800 metres in a time of 2 min 24 seconds to run the Hackney Half Marathon alongside fellow squirrels Chris Poole, Steve Foster and Jillian Boys. On a beautiful warm day both Chris and Steve finished in 1hr 45 minutes followed by Jillian’s new PB of 1hr 49 whilst Darren missed out on his own personal target but was more than happy with his time of 1hr 26 minutes. On crossing the finish line Darren bumped into Steve who appeared to have blood running down his face so it is fair to say that new member Steve has represented the club through ‘Blood, sweat and tears’.
Lindsey Lucas couldn’t be happier having completed her first 10k at the Wimpole Hoohah. Having felt a cold coming on earlier in the week but not finding the excuses she needed via a quick google search it was time to get it over with. Running alongside her husband Viv and son George, Lindsey raised valuable funds for Addenbrookes Charitable Trust as a special thank you for the invaluable cancer treatment and care Viv received two years ago. Lindsey said, ‘It was lovely to be cheered over the finish line 1hr 20 later’ appreciating the increasingly familiar sight of the NHRR running vest and the support that comes with it when she spotted Brian Judkins and Lucy O’Connor finishing in 1 hr 7 minutes and 52 minutes respectively.
Jo Kenlin and Monica Cullin ran the Colchester Zoo 10k starting next to the elephant enclosure. A reversal of a traditional stampede if ever there was one, whilst Nick Malpeli ran the Greater Manchester Half-Marathon finishing in 23rd place with an excellent time of 1hr 21 minutes. Nick remarked that the, ‘Afternoon was very pleasant watching Tirunesh Dibaba, Mo Farah and most importantly my youngest Will Noble complete in the 10k’.
Rachel Annetts travelled to the Bedford Triathlon along with Andrew Robson. Andrew knocked 5 minutes of his PB due to the excellent training at North Herts whilst Rachel finished the winner of the V55 category stating, ‘Not only did I beat my time of 4 years ago by 3 minutes, I was first V55+ finishing in 1:32:27.’
Finally, Michelle and Andy Grudzinski eschewed the opportunities to take part in any local races and opted to fly out to Alberta, Canada to run the Red Deer Trail Marathon. Michelle commented, ‘ A great run, on a lovely 26.2 mile route in the parks of Red Deer city, in crazily warm weather, with excellent fellow runners, and the most amazing volunteers (not least because Andy joked about a cold beer at 27km and they handed Andy a Mimosa).’
Great to see North Herts Road Runners putting Letchworth and the surrounding areas on the international sports map once again.
58 Squirrels began North Herts Road Runners campaign in Division One of the Midweek League by battling rush hour traffic, steep hills and escaped bulls to compete in the picturesque Epping Forest in the first of four races of the Summer season. Some standout individual performances and superb team efforts meant that NHRR finished in second position overall. The men's team was led by Jim McConnell who finished in 2nd position and Katie Harbon was first female squirrel home, also in 2nd position. Darren Matussa commented that it was a "Fantastic evening. The team spirit was great!"
Sarah Mitcherson ran in Hitchin's inaugural 10km race and finished with a podium placing as 3rd lady (43:29) she described her experience as "a well organised, great 10km race around my home town". She was closely followed by Helen Cairns 1st FV35 (44:29). Other squirrels racing were Sonja Grbavac (52:13) and perfectly paced for a sub hour were Linsey Ashley and Jennie Andrews (58:58), Helen Ferguson (59:14) and finishing with a PB of 1:19 was Jo Kenlin.
There were perfect running conditions in Letchworth for NHRR's annual Greenway Challenge on Sunday, with record entrants and finishers, PBs a plenty and 31 squirrels representing the club. Jim McConnell was first in for the club in 75:58 and the first lady was NHRR’s Katie Harbon in 88:53. The Challenge also saw several squirrels complete their debut half-marathon, with Cara Sutton, Dervla Downing, Gladys Cheng and Geoff Murray-Rochard all joining the 13.1-mile club.
Jillian Boys travelled into Bedfordshire for the 36th annual Stevington 12km race "unexpectedly warm and there was literally not one flat part to the course!" Despite these challenges she was rewarded with 8th lady in a fantastic 59:18.
NHRR's youngest squirrel travelled to Lllanelli in South Wales to complete her first Youth Super Series Triathlon. 15 year old Eva McCabe endured a chilly 400m sea swim, followed by a 12km cycle and finished with a 2.5km coastal run.
Searing heat made for tough conditions for the few squirrels that took the short trip north for the Milton Keynes Marathon Weekend. Naomi Parkinson and Lucy Hurley took on the full 26.2 miles through Milton Keynes and the surrounding countryside. They set off in 23-degree temperatures that quickly climbed into the high twenties but thanks to the locals who turned out to support the runners with hoses and super soakers making the heat that bit more bearable. With more runners walking more than running the valiant squirrels scurried on to the finish. Naomi Parkinson finished in 4:30 and Lucy Hurley in 4:54.
Helen Govey, Brian Bailey, Jim and Melissa Marvell took the more sensible option of the MK Marathon Relay finishing in 4:54. Matt Davies and Michelle Grudzinski went for the half marathon option with Davies taking it easy in the heat to finish in 1:38 and Grudzinski doing well to finish in 1.59 which was only her third time under 2 hours.
Andrew Leach was running for the ‘England Masters’ vs the ‘Celtic Nations’ as part of The Great Birmingham 10k on Sunday. Selection for the England team was based on 2017 performances due to qualifying races being cancelled because of the Beast from the East. In a field of over 8,000 Leach finished 1st MV50 and was 22nd overall in 33.34. Leach admitted, ‘the second 5k was much slower than the first thanks to the heat and the last mile being uphill’.
Jim McConnel travelled to the very beautiful Carding Mill Valley in Shropshire to race an off-road half marathon called ‘Revenge of the Fifth’. Organised by How Hard Could it Be Events, the race involved over 800 metres of ascent with two steep downhills. McConnel won the race in 1:38:32 and was over 9 minutes ahead of the second-place runner. McConnel said, ‘it was a very enjoyable day in the sun and good preparation for the Snowdonia Trail Marathon in July’.
Jo Summers having completed over 200 marathons was at it again in an out and back course along the Flitch Way where she was the first marathoner to finish in 3 hours and 58 minutes.
Simon Poole headed to the Clumber Park Duathlon (5k run, 20k bike, 2.5k run) on Saturday which was also a qualifier for the 2019 European Championships. Coming back from a foot injury he had set his targets low and went out conservatively on the first run. The bike went well and put him in a great position for the final run. Poole finished 1st in his age category which secured him a place at the Euros
Monday night was the Pednor 5 which incorporated the Herts County Vets Championships. Mark Vaughan took gold in the MV40 category and Linda Aird was 3rd FV55. The bank holiday heat wave was still an issue at 7pm when the race started. Aird said, ‘it was still too warm to be racing! And it's a hilly one, so even tougher in the heat’.
David Annetts continued his race walk campaign by winning the Herts County Vets 3000m championships at Ridlins in Stevenage finishing in 14:51.
Norton Common was bathed in sunshine for the First Saturday of the Month 5k which was enjoyed by 105 runners. First to finish was North Herts Road Runner Paul Jackson in 18:19 followed by Oliver Brady who was 2nd in 19:05 and Steve Mckeown finished 4th in 19:24. First lady finisher was North Herts Road Runner Sarah Mitcherson in 22:00. The next race will be Saturday 2nd June.
Parkrun result; Finsbury Park, David Weston 33rd 20:06, Westmill, John Russell 9th 23:34, Fulham Palace, Georgina Quayle 420th 33:59, Hereford, Linda Aird 54th 26:16, Tring, Stephen Lummis 48th 25:02 and Letchworth, Chris Poole 23rd 24:47.
Nine athletes from North Herts Road Runners made the journey to Sutton Park, near Birmingham, to take part in the prestigious British Masters National Road Relay Championships. The Letchworth-based club fielded teams in the men’s M35+ and M45+ categories, and came away with an impressive set of results, including a top ten finish, showing the club can more than hold its own on the national stage.
In the M35+ race, a team of six North Herts runners were led by Jim McConnel, who ran the first 3-mile leg in 16:35, putting the team in eighth position. He was followed by Ed Price, Ryan Smith, Stewart Overton and Darren Matussa, who were each able to run good times and, more importantly, hold position. Adam Bowller, who had taken the club’s V35 marathon record with a time of 2:38:07 in Rotterdam just three weeks earlier, ran a solid final leg bringing the team home in eighth place overall with a combined time of 1:46:30.
“There were some very strong teams from some big clubs out there today,” said Bowller. “To finish in the top ten at a national event gives us a lot of confidence ahead of the summer season.”
Due to a last-minute injury, the M45+ athletes were unable to field a full four-man team, but Nick Malpeli – who had also achieved significant marathon success three weeks before, running 2:44:24 at Manchester – gamely ran both the first and fourth legs. In between were Andrew Leach and James Walsh, who ran their legs in times of 16:44 and 19:44 respectively.
The following day saw Darren Matussa back in action along with 31 other North Herts Road Runners at the Flitwick 10k. Despite cold conditions and an undulating course, the Squirrels enjoyed considerable success, with Darren finishing as the first North Herts athlete in 38:56. Sarah Mitcherson (43:15), Suzy Trott (44:20) and Caroline Thrussell (47:10) were the second female team, with Caroline also finishing as the second Women’s V55. Andrew Porter was the first male V70, running an impressive 56:15, while Joy Stroud’s time of 1:02:25 is a new Women’s V70 club record.
There were also significant personal bests for Oliver Brady (39:08), David Weston (42:53), Lucy O’Connor (48:08), Naomi Parkinson (50:00), and Hayley Cocks (1:16:06) who took a full five minutes off her previous 10k PB set at the Standalone 10k in 2017. Alan Hazlehurst was another Squirrel with reason to be pleased with his performance. His time of 53:27 was a full seven minutes quicker than when he last ran the Flitwick 10k before he joined North Herts Road Runners, “which just goes to show that training with a great club and great people does pay off,” said Alan.
In race walking news, David Annetts finished fourth at the London Inter Club Challenge 5000m at Picketts Lock track in a time of 25:45.
Nine athletes from North Herts Road Runners tackled the hottest London Marathon in history and all came away with war stories about the impact of the conditions.
John Auld secured an impressive new personal best of 2.50.48 after a sensible mid-race change to his original plan for an even faster pace. 'It was just too hot to get my time' said Auld. 'I was already thinking about adjusting my plan before halfway.’ Reflecting on a demanding training programme since New Year he joked ‘I wish I’d had the 16-week weather forecast – I’d have had a relaxing winter!’
Darren Sunter described it as 'a day for survival, not for best times’ after nearly abandoning his race. 'I was sitting by the side of the road at 15 miles - I nearly binned it' he admitted. Sunter got himself moving again and still clocked an excellent 3.05.35.
Kat Burr was the Squirrels’ first lady finisher in the London field this year. After battling the heat she reported she was ‘super proud’ to finish in 3.45.23 in the ‘crazy hot’ weather.
Adrian Sherwood and John Rayner both felt the effects of the warm conditions, with Sherwood slowing in the second half of the race to finish in a still creditable 3.31.50 and Rayner pulling out at 18 miles after a visit to the medical tent.
Jen Naisbitt showed great determination to finish in 5.57.32. Despite being sick at miles 20 and 22 she said she ‘carried on regardless’. Mark Edmondson-Jones finished in 3.19.29, Chris Poole in 4.18.40 and Paul Bowal crossed the line in 5.12.42.
Angeliki Stathopoulou found an even hotter challenge in the form of the Athens Poseidon half-marathon. Despite running the second half of the race ‘with completely numb legs from the knee down’ after problems with her calf-sleeves, Stathopoulou was pleased to finish as 34th lady in 1.53.29.
Serial marathoner Jo Summers took a more rural approach to the discipline by completing the Breckland Trail Marathon in Thetford Forest. Starting and finishing at the HQ of the British Trust for Ornithology, Summers slowed her pace in the heat (‘I just slow down and enjoy it’) but still finished third lady in 4.21. Her personal highlight for the day was hearing two Cuckoos: ‘I can’t remember when I last heard one, so to hear two in one morning was brilliant’.
Closer to home, Alan Hazelhurst completed his first ever Parkrun, recording 27.59 on the Letchworth course.
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