Every spring, the North Herts Road Runners hold an awards evening where the club comes together to celebrate the achievements of its members over the previous 12 months. This year was no different, as despite having to cancel the planned party due to COVID-19, the club swiftly made arrangements to alter its plans, and instead held a virtual awards evening on Facebook. Using the social media channel’s Watch Party feature, the club’s chair, Astrid McKeown, presented all of this year’s prizes from her kitchen, looking resplendent in formal evening attire, while the members logged on to watch, comment and celebrate what had been a remarkable year of running together.
“Our social team had put so much effort into organising what would have been a fantastic awards night, so it was a real shame we couldn’t gather in person,” said Astrid McKeown. “We’ll certainly do something together when this is all over, but in the meantime, there was no way COVID-19 was going to stop us celebrating our members’ efforts and successes.”
There was certainly plenty to celebrate. In front of a large online audience, and ably assisted by her husband Steve (in black tie, of course, and debonair as ever), Astrid presented virtual awards to members who had either excelled in races or shown themselves to be supportive and inspirational club members, and in many cases, both! The awards for the best club runners, which are selected by age-grading and performances for the club, were Caroline Thrussell and Mark Vaughan. The most improved runners were Dervla Downing and Pete Sibbert. The short course champions were Astrid McKeown and Andrew Leach, while Caroline Thrussell and Darren Sunter were the long course winners. The athletes who turned out for the club most often during the year were Lucy O’Connor for the women, while the men’s prize was shared by John Auld, Ian Datlen and Pete Sibbert. The awards chosen by the coaches for the most outstanding contributions from the athletes in their groups went to Helen Marson Smith, Andrew Porter, James Dalton, Dervla Downing, Katie Harbon and Vince Wright. The final two awards of the evening were selected by the club’s membership. The winner of the 101% Award went to coach Brian Bailey, and the Personality of the Year was Ian Datlen.
The response to the online broadcast was overwhelmingly positive, with club members commenting enthusiastically about the online broadcast. Head Coach Karen Dodsworth recorded her own video message in response, saying to the club’s members: “We are missing you all, and are so looking forward to the time we can train together again. In the meantime: stay safe; know that we all still share our love of running, and are thinking of each other. Happy running Team NHRR!”
This evening the UK government advised everyone to avoid non-essential social contact and gatherings in order to slow the spread of Covid-19.
As our club meetings are non-essential (as much as we like to think they are), NHRR will be doing their part to slow the spread and we are cancelling ALL organised session (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays) until further notice.
We appreciate that this is disappointing.
Please stay healthy in these very unprecedented time.
We will keep you updated via email, forum and social media.
Several North Herts Road Runners travelled to Milton Keynes for the hugely popular running festival on Sunday, where there was a number of events taking place including a 5k, 10k, half marathon and 20 mile.
Fourteen friendly squirrels took part in the varying distances with Mark Vaughan finishing 3rd overall in the 20 mile in a time of 2:00:07, even though ‘It was a last minute entry into the race and it was a nice way to finish off an 85 mile training week!’. Wow! Alongside Mark were five other North Herts Road Runners who did fantastically well in the challenging conditions, including Adrian Sherwood 2:23:33, Sophie Thrussell 2:25:43, Caroline Thrussell 2:35:02, Lucy O’Connor 3:18:18 and Vanessa Rolfe 3:44:57.
The 10k saw Dervla Downing lead North Herts Road Runners home in a time of 46:48. Kat Gourd and Andrew Coates finished together in a time of 48:45 even though Kat had a bit of a bumpy start with an ‘embarrassing’ trip in the car park before the race had even started, which meant running round with bloody knees and a grazed elbow! Nothing will stop these hardy squirrels!
Other finishers include Tim Banting 53:53, Sue Vaughan 57:22 and Ali Blunt 59:06 in the 10k, and Dave Frampton 1:32:04 and Katrina Dixon 2:20:23 in the half marathon.
Even though both Kat and Mark commented on the ‘nightmare hill at the end’, it does seem like a good event to put in the diary for next year as I heard it was well organised with a decent medal. Who doesn’t love a good medal!
Elsewhere saw John Auld complete his 20th, yep 20th, Silkstone Shuffle- an achievement itself I say. John finished 4th and received the first senior man outside the top 3, winning a bottle of wine. It wasn’t an easy race this time though with John describing it as a great race which was well fought. John told us that there was plenty of water and mud on the course which was very strength sapping (coaches take note- strength work required!), and that whilst the top 3 ran off the battle for 4th was a good one that lasted the whole race, with John out-sprinting his competition in the last 500m.
Dan Mallett attended the Beowulf 10k at West Stow Country park in Bury St Edmunds. Out of 315 runners Dan came 88th in a time of 55:59. Dan described the course as a trail run going through the park and back with a mixture of dry mud, sand and logs among the natural obstacles. And, with no hills and a couple of nice downhill sections combined with sunny(ish) weather, it made for an enjoyable experience with a cracking medal at the end. Another race to enter just for the medal!
James Dalton 20:54
Matt Roberts 24:00
Steve Brenton 24:25
Carl Goodrum 29:04
Philip Flack 30:11
Siobhan Walsh 33:24
Chris Stokes 20:48
Ian Datlen 21:57
Rhia Botha 23:2
Kat Gourd 26:59
Andrew Coates 26:59
Jane Clarke 35:23
Naomi Parkinson 49:43
Carl Haskell 44:26
Abbie Haskell 44:28
Vicky Haskell 44:29
Steve Williamson- 21:55
Chris Poole 24:07
Will Harrison 19:08
Jillian Boys 27:28
As you know, the latest situation and advice from the UK government as well as England Athletics on the Covid 19 pandemic is being updated on a daily basis. We have been following all of the advice and while not yet implemented by the authorities, as a club we will always put the health and safety of our runners and coaches first. We have therefore made the following decisions to minimise the risk caused from gatherings of people.
Regrettably we have decided to cancel this year’s award night. We apologise to those who made extra efforts to be able to attend and to our social team who has been working so hard to organise one of the clubs highlights of the year.
But because we don’t want to take anything away from what you have achieved this year, the award winners will still be announced on the night via forum and email. Therefore, have a glass of bubbles near-by and celebrate our winners virtually. The winners will be contacted after the event to arrange how they can receive their trophies.
We now need some time to look at the options for a summer/autumn event instead
We will offer you a full refund, just bear with us whilst we sort out how to do that.
The AGM will be held virtually. You will receive a link that will allow you to attend via computer or mobile. You will be muted during the meeting but this virtual meeting will allow you to vote for the committee members, president and constitution changes via voting buttons. A questions field to type any questions will also be available.
Note that the vote for the charity of the year will be prior to the AGM, but we will reveal the winner at the AGM.
Recognising that some individuals may face short term financial changes, we will are also looking membership renewal delay. We hope to share more details at the AGM.
Until further notice we will NOT be meeting at the Spirella building for announcements, starting Tuesday 17th March. If you want to take part in our coached group training, please check the weekly training post on the forum that will indicate the separate meeting points for blue, green, yellow and purple. Groups might be combined or self-guided. Alternatively use your whatsapp group to arrange your own sessions.
Please minimise the items you would bring to training and usually leave at Spirella. The coaches will aim to bring a bag for your clothes/car keys.
If you wish, you can still use the Spirella car park and run to your session from there, but please do your post run stretching/hydration at home.
Obviously, if you are not feeling well, please don’t come to the sessions.
We will review our training arrangements regularly and will communicate when we will resume notices. Please check forum/email for any updates.
While we all have been told that elderly people, people with underlying conditions, and people who have to take immune suppressants are at higher risk, please note that training, especially hard training in preparation for a race, can compromise your immune system. As a result you are likely at higher risk of infection and if you get infected, you are at a higher risk for a worse course of the infections. Hence, please consider if reducing the intensity of your training is something you might want to do.
Thank you for your understanding in this very unusual situation.
If you have any further question and concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.
11 North Herts Road Runners travelled up the Cambridge Road to run the hugely popular Cambridge Half Marathon. The sun finally put its hat on and made a rare appearance but did little to take the edge off the wind freezing everyone at the start. Has there ever been a time in Cambridge when there is no wind? Kat Gourd remarked upon the, ‘Fabulous flat course, taking us through the wonderful city centre of Cambridge (even running through the infamous King's College!) and looping out to the very picturesque Grantchester village.’ Despite the beautiful scenery and the temptation to slow down and admire the views (maybe even pick up a degree) the appearance of the sun after 2 years in hiding had a startling effect on the runners resulting in a number of Personal Bests being achieved.
Kat Gourd was really pleased to finish in a new post-knee surgery PB of 1:47:38 whilst Dave Braybrook also beat his target, breaking the 2 hour barrier to gain a new PB of 1:59:04 smashing his previous PB of 2:06:52 by nearly 8 minutes. Angeliki Shearstone beat her best time by 2 minutes finishing in 1:51:52 and Elwyn Howell beat his PB by 7 minutes in 2:03:49. Sounds like some quality coaching has been taking place.
The other runners times were Tom Webb 1:11:42, James Dalton 1:28:10, Chris Poole 1:40:09, Ian Harvey 1:46:22, Jennie Fraser 1:48:51, Dan Mallett 1:49:58 and Andrew Robson 1:53:37
Ian Datlen shunned the limelight and the conversation of his clubmates and instead set off for the Roding Valley Half where he finished 33rd and set a new PB of 1:34:52 (there were no squirrels to verify this).
The PB’s don’t stop there! Katie Harbon set a new half marathon PB in an absolutely superb time of 1:22:45 at the Surrey Half Marathon and was the first lady home - an outstanding run. Darren Sunter also represented the club finishing 71st in a rapid 71:41. Clearly there was something in the water this weekend.
Sue Foot decided to run a long race for a change and completed the Amersham Ultra for charity. Sue finished first in the F60+ category after wading through 30 miles of mud and puddles in the Chilterns in a time of 6:59.
Rob Harris ran the HIllingdon 20 which involved 4 laps of a 5 mile course. Rob finished 7th overall and 1st MV40 in an excellent time of 2:04:13.
Elsewhere XC races were still taking place. The Herts Vets XC took place on a three and half lap course surrounding Stanborough Lakes in Welwyn. The results were Andrew Porter 48.12, Ian Sutcliffe 48.58, Lorna Chambers 50.21, Hannah Keeble 51.29 and Brian Judkins 55.36.
A special mention goes to Ed Price who was selected to run for Hertfordshire in the British XC series at Prestwold Hall in Loughborough. Despite the attritional course sucking the energy (and shoes) off the competitors Ed finished 6th for Hertfordshire and scored points for his County. An excellent achievement and honour for the club - well done Ed.
Squirrel quintet ran the Big Half through the roads of London. Kenenisa Bekele won the race but the Squirrels weren't far behind. Matt Sayers dipped just under championship qualification time for the first time in 74:58 and a new personal best by 75 seconds. Stewart Overton finished in 76:42. John Rayner finished in 80:17. Vincent Wright finished in 82:35 and a new personal best by 58 seconds. David Weston finished in 94:25. Matt said afterwards that he really enjoyed the day and with no rain, sunshine, only 14mph winds, plenty of music and a friendly atmosphere on the course - all contributed to good spirits. John was running for local Hitchin children charity Phase, raising over £1000. He ran his best half marathon time since October 2017.
Susan Mansfield and Lucy O'Connor ran a 10 mile event taking in the beautiful countryside just north of Milton Keynes. Named “Cattle Creep...A Little Further”, the route takes in many of the sites of the traditional route but take the run a little further. However, after several motorway diversions they arrived to find that the course had been changed from a 10 mile loop to two 5 mile loops instead due to localised flooding. Lucy crossed the finish line victorious as first place in FV50 category in 1.26.21. Susan crossed the line in 1:29:36 despite a rogue shoelace and insole malfunction half a mile from the end.
Lucy Hurley travelled to the vale of Belvoir in Leicestershire to take on the 30th Belvoir Challenge where the course changes every year. Lucy finished the already challenging marathon course in under 7 hours. The route took in many ridges and hills and provided many amazing views of the vale. The weather definitely made it a challenge with the hail, wind, snow and rain. The ground underfoot was also ankle deep in mud or water for about half the course.
Despite heavy rain and puddles the size of the lakes, Darren Matussa ran the Serpentine last Friday of the Month 5km around Hyde Park. With the weather meaning there were fewer tourists to dodge, Darren was pleased to cross the line in under 19 mins, finishing in 18:56.
Andrew Porter and Sue Foot completed 28 miles on the Hannington Hike challenge which started and finished in Wellingborough and included ankle deep puddles, sludge and mud. Equipped with a detailed route description and three very well stocked check points, they completed the course in 7:26.
David Annetts took place in the England Athletics 10km Race Walk Championshsips in Warwick University, Coventry - he finished 7th in 49:32.
Valentines: Carl Haskell (23:20), Abbie Haskell (50:17), Vicky Haskell (50:18)
Stevenage: Dervla Downing (22:29), Jennie Fraser (23:31), Adam Wilson (23:49), Andrew Coates (24:09), Dave Braybrook (24:20), Tim Banting (25:44)
Panshanger: Chris Poole (26:24)
Letchworth: James Dalton (21:46), Ian Datlen (23:19), Matt Roberts (25:11), Glyn Blakey (25:17), Carl Goodrum (30:03), Philip Flack (32:14), Brian Judkins (35:33)
Crewe: Naomi Parkinson (24:10)
‘The weather gods were certainly having fun up there’ was Kat Gourd’s summary of conditions at the Baldock Beast Half-marathon, with ‘driving stinging rain’ and ‘horrendous headwinds that nearly finished me off’.
Despite the conditions – also described by fellow North Herts Road Runner Susan Mansfield as more wind, more rain and even hailstones at one point’, the Squirrels took top spots in both the ladies’ and men’s team competitions.
Gourd (finish time 1.52.11) teamed up with Caroline Thrussell (1.42.59) and Suzy Trott (1.45.03) to take the ladies team title, while Tom Webb (second in the race with 1.18.59), Darren Sunter (3rd in 1.19.15), Rob Harris (6th in 1.23.20) and Darren Bonham (16th in 1.32.38) took the men's prize.
The popular local race attracted a strong turnout from the Letchworth-based club with the Squirrels’ ladies' B team of Rhia Botha, Lucy O’Connor and Grace Cleary also taking third spot in the team standings and Brent Lloyd, James Dalton, William Harrison and Chris Stokes following suit for the men.
Hailey Batson managed to knock a remarkable 7 minutes off her time in last year’s race with a 2.17. 40 clocking – a fine performance in the testing conditions.
In the age categories, Caroline Thrussell took first place in the ladies 55-plus group, Suzy Trott second in the 45-plus and Rob Harris was first in the men’s 40-plus category .
Full NHRR Baldock Beast results:
Tom Webb, 1:18:59; Darren Sunter, 1:19:15; Rob Harris, 1:23:20; Darren Bonham, 1:32:38; Brent Lloyd, 1:34:15; James Dalton, 1:35:11; William Harrison, 1:36:17; Chris Stokes, 1:36:21; Ian Datlen, 1:36:38; David Weston, 1:37:38; John Auld, 1:38:31; Andrew Underhill, 1:42:34; Caroline Thrussell, 1:42:59; Mike Bullock, 1:44:58; Suzy Trott, 1:45:03; Stuart Cocks, 1:46:10; Kat Gourd, 1:52:11; Andrew Coates, 1:53:20; Matt Roberts, 1:54:40; Dan Mallett, 1:55:33; Rhia Botha, 1:55:55; Lucy O’Connor, 1:57:24; Christian Allen, 1:57:33; Liam Jones, 1:58:05; Andrew Robson, 1:58:18; Grace Cleary, 1:58:20; Carl Haskell, 1:58:12; Chris Poole, 1:58:12; Alice Noakes, 1:59:49; Susan Mansfield, 2:00:11; Steve Brenton, 2:01:32; Ellie Scott, 2:02:46; Matt Ankers, 2:03:07; Jennie Fraser, 2:03:08; Georgina Quayle, 2:03:42; Sue Foot, 2:08:02; Andrew Porter, 2:10:24; Colin Calcutt, 2:15:26; Alan Hazlehurst, 2:17:08; Hailey Batson, 2:17:40; Carina Quayle, 2:23:18; James Poulton, 2:24:14; Anna Greetham, 2:26:09; Ali Mottram , 2:33:00; Hayley Cocks (tail runner), 2.49.
Brighton was Dervla Downing’s choice for a half-marathon and the wind made its presence felt there as well. Although she had ‘never run in such intense and strong wind’, Downing was pleased with her finish time of 1.44.21.
Vanessa Rolfe found much more pleasant conditions at the Naples Half-marathon in Italy, where she completed the course in 2.23.49.
William Harrison, 21.07, Ellie Scott, 25.41.
Naomi Parkinson, 25.09; Jillian Boys, 31.09
Glyn Blakey, 24.09
Chris Poole, 25.32
Adam Wilson, 25.59; Helen Wilson, 33.39
Stewart Overton, 19.53; James Dalton, 22.19; Richard Harbon, 24.57; Carl Goodrum, 31.41; Philip Flack, 35.01; Steve Brenton, 44.10
Carl Haskell, 22.31; Abbie Haskell, 39.34; Vicky Haskell, 39.36
North Herts Road Runners gave strong performances in the Barcelona half marathon and closer to home in the Milton Keynes Winter Warmer 10K,
As the UK suffered another wet and wild weekend being battered by Storm Dennis, and countless races and Parkruns were again called off due to the extreme weather, two squirrels wisely escaped to run in sunnier climes. Michelle and Andy Grudzinski jumped on a plane to Barcelona to run the Barcelona Half Marathon as part of their training for the forthcoming Paris Marathon, and to support a friend doing her first half marathon. Michelle admitted that “three days of walking and sightseeing is probably not the best half marathon preparation” but they also took advantage of the abundance of tapas and paella offered by the Catalonian city. “Loaded up with seafood and injuries”, they embarked on the 21km course, sticking together for the first 13km, and finishing in an excellent 2:15:57 (Michelle) and 2:23:23 (Andy).
Back home in the UK, the furies of Storm Dennis didn’t quite manage to cancel all the scheduled races. Four hardy squirrels braved the elements and headed to Milton Keynes to take part in the "questionably named" (according to Matt Roberts) 10k Winter Warmer. Determined performances all round saw Julie Toland finish in 53:22, Tim Banting in 53:22, Saab Bharaj in 1:06:18, and Matt Roberts in a new personal best of 49:58. Although several local Parkruns were cancelled, club members did venture out to some events on Saturday, with James Fox coming first at Stevenage.
Stevenage: James FOX 16:47, Nick MALPELI 19:23, William HARRISON 19:24, Naomi PARKINSON 23:17, Andrew COATES 23:40, Matt ROBERTS 24:39, Philip FLACK 27:09, Glyn BLAKEY 28:07, Abbie HASKELL 29:01, Carl HASKELL 29:01, Patrick NORRIS 36:59.
Lowestoft: James POULTON 26:16.
Ellenbrook Fields: Jillian BOYS 27:34.
Crewe: Chris POOLE 22:59.
With Storm Ciara closing in on the UK, many of Sundays’ races were cancelled for the health and safety of all runners and marshals, though many Squirrels managed their weekly Saturday Parkrun ahead of high winds and rains while two members tackled an Ultra.
Two hardy squirrels, Mike Bullock and Susan Mansfield, undeterred by severe weather warnings, ventured to the barren North on Saturday to compete in the Leicester Round Ultra - a 100 mile trail route round the villages and hamlets of Leicester, split into 3 races; this was the third event , distance 58km
Mike commented after the race “Let’s just say it was 58km of pure muddy torment...big hills and constant never-ending mud, so we were filthy and soaking wet from start to finish.
I will be grateful never to run across another ploughed field in my life, one farmer was actually ploughing his field as we ran across it, just to torture us, and some of the hills were so muddy we actually went up on our hands and knees.”
They claimed that navigation isn’t one of their strengths and struggled with some of the course marking, but luckily didn’t take too many wrong turns, and managed to find the finish line, Mike in 8hrs 5 minutes , Susan in 8 hrs 16 minutes. They are looking forward to the Amersham Ultra in just a few weeks!
Kettering: Steve WILLIAMSON 22:36 Stevenage: Dan MALLETT 23:39, Kat GOURD 24:26, Glyn BLAKEY 24:27, Dave BRAYBROOK 24:45, Julie TOLAND 24:58, Chris POOLE 26:08, Georgina Quayle 26:38, Helen Giffin 31:18, Patrick NORRIS 36:07, Jane CLARKE 36:59 Wimpole: Jillian BOYS 30:17 Conwy: Jo SOPALA 35:44 Crissy Field (San Francisco): Natasha PITMAN 21:07 Letchworth: Matt ROBERTS 25:18, Philip FLACK 29:42, Carl GOODRUN 29:54, Carina QUAYLE 31:36, John O’GORMAN 40:18 Wendover Woods: Abbie HASKELL 31:41, Carl HASKELL 31:42 Coldham’s Common: Naomi PARKINSON 24:46
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