Hertfordshire County Cross Country Championships
The clubs cross country representative and men's team captain John Auld described Sunday as a great day for cross country and a brilliant day out for North Herts Road Runners. A scurry of nine squirrels and a fantastic support team headed over to Stanborough lakes, Welwyn Garden City. The clubs gazebo looked superb in the glorious sunshine by the lake and provided an excellent headquarters for the team.
Although the weather was very kind - the course was not so kind. It was various number of laps depending on the competition of a muddy loop and a nasty hill at the end of each. The ladies and under 20’s men had four laps and the senior men had five.
There were some fabulous squirrel performances. The senior men's team finished 5th overall behind St Albans Striders, Watford Joggers, Barnet & District and Dacorum.
Lindsay Cook was first squirrel home for the ladies - all be it the only sow (female squirrel) in the race. But you have to be in it to win it. She finished 68th overall.
Matthew Ronayne competed at 17 in the under 20’s men race. Beautifully paced - he finished 7th overall and was handed an invitation to represent the county at the inter county completion later in the year.
Seven boars (male squirrels) competed in the men's senior race. James Fox was first home for the club finishing in 4th overall, closely followed by Tom Webb in 5th. Stewart Overton was 18th and Matt Sayers was in 29th. Completing the team of 6 were Mike Banister in 50th and John Auld in 70th. James Walsh provided solid back up to the scoring team finishing shortly after in 80th.
Walsh was delighted to be part of the NHRR contingent - commenting afterwards that on arrival he thought the course looked quite benign as far as cross country goes. However after the first lap coming to 1.6 miles, he realised that four more laps would be close to 8 miles! Realising there was no way out of it now, James got on with it and in the end quite enjoyed it. Afterwards his Garmin running watch came to the verdict of ‘overreaching’ - which he concurred was a good summary!
Stewart Overton added that it was very much a hard graft but very enjoyable and a pleasure to represent the club in a county level event. The fabulous support from fellow squirrels was uplifting at more or less every corner.
Bedfordshire County Cross Country Championships
Adam Bowller ran in the combined Beds/Bucks county champs at Campbell Park, Milton Keynes. Adam described the course as very muddy and the course was also unexpectedly short. Competing in the Beds competition, Bowller finished 6th overall - just short of an automatic selection for the inter counties competition. Although he is still being considered for selection by the team manager.
Victoria Park Half Marathon
Gurbir Singh Parmar (Arnie) ran is first race of the year at Victoria Park Half Marathon. Arnie has now ran 9 marathons and half’s since joining the club in June.
Sue Foot ran the Stanstead Stagger - an off road marathon with a written route description. Sue described the course was extremely muddy as they staggered across numerous ploughed fields, slippery tracks and negotiated several stiles. The course was diverted due to the River Chelmer overflowing meaning the total distance was 27.2 miles.
Stevenage: Ben Sewell 1st, (18:04), Sophie Thrussell 1st lady (20:45), Jane Clarke (30:19)
Gunpowder: Darren Matussa 3rd (19:06)
Roodepoort: Rhia Botha 2nd lady (24:24)
Wimpole: Matt Roberts (27:04)
Holkham: Chloe Lucas 3rd lady (24:24), Lindsay Lucas (35:22)
Letchworth: Steve Brenton 9th (25:52)
Henlow Bridge Lakes: Carl Haskell (24:55), Rob Milburn (25:54), Jillian Boys (26:38), Rachel Annetts (29:44)
Storeys Field: Joseph Sherry (29:43)
Written by John Auld
Katie Harbon won the ladies race for the second week running and Tom Webb finished 2nd overall in a close battle.
The fog seriously impaired visibility at this morning’s cross country race at Fairlands Valley Park. Ladies team captain said ‘It added to the experience as you couldn’t get a good view of who was in front of you, or indeed where you were going!’ It didn’t seem to hold the squirrels back, particularly Rhia Botha who toed the line just weeks after giving birth to baby Kaia. She absolutely flew round and was an impressive third scorer for NHRR ladies team and said it was great to be back racing!
The ladies Scoring team was Katie Harbon, Natasha Pitman, Rhia Botha, Helen Ankers and Laura Fairbanks. The men's team was Tom Webb, Adam Bowller, Stewart Overton, Matt Sayers and Rob Harris.
Thank you and well done to the 33 super star squirrels ran at Stevenage today in the Sunday XC League and the fabulous support crew.
Last weeks result from Trent Park Sunday league Cross Country. The men's team finished 6th, Ladies 8th and 5th in the combined table.
Seventeen squirrels raced at the beautiful Trent Park in North London for the second fixture in the Cross Country League. Men’s Captain John Auld described the course as “really tough, a proper cross country. Recent rain ensured the fields were very muddy and it was hard going”. Ladies Club Captain Natasha Pitman commented on how incredibly slippery it was and entertained the spectators with a fall on a muddy bend! Both Club Captains praised the turnout, the performances of their teams and the wonderful support crew.
North Herts Road Runners were top of both the ladies’ and men’s podiums with Katie Harbon and James Fox taking the respective victories for the Squirrels.
Scoring for the Ladies were Katie HARBON (1), Natasha PITMAN (157), Chloe LUCAS (239), Helen ANKERS (259) and Lindsay COOK (336). Scoring for the Men were mostly James’, with James FOX (1), Andrew Leach (7), Mike ROBERTS (14), Vince WRIGHT (58), John AULD (65), James KEOGH (80), Ian DATLEN (111) and James WALSH (146).
Full results will be available later in the week.
Six squirrels sped up the M1 to race in the top quality Telford 10k on Sunday. Coach Karen described it as perfect weather conditions and a fast, slightly undulating course which saw some stunning performances from the squirrels.
Racing in wave 2 Tom Webb ran strongly throughout to finish an outstanding 3rd in a PB 32.02. Webb out sprinted GB international Samantha Harrison, who won the ladies elite race in a new course record of 32.05; in the final 100m. Also in wave 2 Stewart Overton finished within 10s of his lifetime PB clocking 34.29 whilst Matt Sayers set a new PB of 34.56. Returning from injury Rob Harris was delighted to record 36.42. Running in wave 3 Pete Sibbett smashed his 43 minute target stopping the clock at 40.56 whilst Karen Dodsworth ran 56.25.
Dervla Downing, Michelle and Andy Grudzinski headed to Milton Keynes for the Winter Half Marathon. Dervla, in her first race post injury, described it as a lovely, flat course and very well organised and was delighted to be back out running and appreciated it after a long absence. She finished the course in a superb 1:52:11, Michelle 2:11:27 and Andy in 2:15:09.
Despite many of our members racing on Sunday, North Herts Road Runners were still represented at a number of local Parkruns;
LETCHWORTH – James DALTON 21:48, Ian HARVEY 24:24, Dan MALLETT 24:47, Steve BRENTON 25:48 Hayley COCKS 39:29, HENLOW BRIDGE LAKES – Rob MILBURN 25:36, WIMPOLE ESTATE – Jillian BOYS 24:48, PANSHANGER Matt ROBERTS 22:35, Andrew COATES 26:15, Mike BULLOCK 28:15, JUBILEE – Brian JUDKINS 35:54
Written by Paula Holme
Saturday 4th December saw the return of the sparkling Santa Canta on Norton Common. It is held annually on the first Saturday in December and is in aid of North Herts Road Runners club charity of the year which in 2021 is the Garden House Hospice. With slippy conditions and cold temperatures, it was fabulous to see nearly every single runner turn out in their best fancy dress, from Father Christmas and Elves to Crackers and Presents.
2021 was also the first year of the Children’s Santa Canta which saw over 60 children take part. Following the main event they took on the, even-muddier-than-before, 1km course with true determination, and all completed the course with a fabulous festive spirit!
Both before and after tackling the two lap course people filled donation tins and very generously gave what they could to this amazing charity, with over £1200 donated and counting. Mince Pies and hot drinks made for a welcomed finish to the tough course, and it was fantastic to see local people coming together to support The Garden House Hospice who provide free, compassionate end of life care and support patients and their families in Letchworth and surrounding areas through incredibly difficult times.
Event Organiser Richard Harbon said: ‘A really big thank you to you all. The Santa Canta was just brilliant.’
Paula Holm who took part dressed as an elf with friends exclaimed that the event was, ‘The most amount of fun. Friends, Fancy dress for a FANTASTIC cause!’. This is exactly what the event is about.
Elsewhere, Sophie Thrussell and Ben Sewell headed to London for the RunThroughUK 10k and half marathon through Victoria Park. The 10k consisted of 2 laps whilst the half marathon saw Ben complete just over 4 laps. Sophie beat the 41 minute mark and came away with a smashing PB of 40 minutes 49 seconds, and Ben finished in 1hr 18minutes, beating his aim of finishing under 1hr 20 minutes.
Hinchingbrooke also had their own Christmas Canter which saw five squirrels take part. The idea of this race is to complete as many laps of the 5k course as you can between 9am and 4pm. Lucy O’Connor explained that the course is slightly undulating and scenic but very muddy in places which made it quite hard going. The sun did make appearance a few times but luckily the weather seemed to hold up nicely throughout the day. Brian Judkins completed two laps, Sue Foot did six laps and Anna Gibson, Richard Weber and Lucy completed 8 laps which resulted in them completing a full marathon.
Park Run was quieter this week with most of North Herts Road Runners busy at the Santa Canta, but we did have a few squirrels out and about representing the club. Julie Toland headed to Stevenage where she completed the course in 23:48. Lindsey Lucas was in lovely Norfolk where she took on the Holkham park run and finished in 36 minutes. And, Tom Webb took on the notoriously flat course of Great Denham where he finished in 16:14.
Written by Katie Harbon.
North Herts Road Runners’ Tom Webb was crowned Herts county 5 mile champ on Sunday at the Hatfield 5 with ladies captain Tash Pitman also enjoying a cracking race to shave just 1s off the club V45 record with her 32.44 clocking.
Despite the biting cold temperatures, a team of 18 hardy squirrels ventured south down the A1 to compete in this fast, flat and scenic race. The bitter wind saw runners kitted out in hats, buffs and gloves but despite the extra layers some great running ensued with Tom Webb battling to the finish line in a sprint finish with Jed Noblett from Luton AC. Jed finishing 1st in 25:53 with Tom close behind in 26.03. With over 500 finishers several members were delighted to achieve notable age group placings: Mark Vaughan 27.46 1st V50, Tash Pitman 32.44 1st FV45, Matt Sayers, 28.00 2nd V40, Nick Malpeli 29.26 2nd V50, Lucy O’Connor 39.16 2nd FV60 and Elwyn Howell 35.51 3rd V60. With Ian Sutcliffe setting a new club record for the male veteran 75 age group of 48.25 the squirrels truly showed that running is an enjoyable sport for all ages,
Thomas Webb 26:03, Mark Vaughan 27:46, Matt Sayers 28:00, Nicholas Malpelli 29:26, John Auld 29:41, James Keogh 32:14, Ian Datlen 32:12, Tash Pitman 32:44, Shaun Allin 34:31, Dave Braybrook 35:01, Elwyn Howell 35:51, Lucy O'Connor 39:16, Karen Dodsworth 44:48, Philip Flack 47:00, Ian Sutcliffe 48:25, Hailey Batson 49:01, Jo Kenlin 1:17:09
Also competing over 5M was NHRR’s top V55 Andrew Leach who took on the challenge of the Wolverton 5 in Milton Keynes. Andrew ran 27.04 to equal his V55 club record and leap to the top of the age group national rankings.
Opting for the longer distance of 10M Anna Greetham, 76.21, Matt Roberts, 75.12, and Steve Brenton, 75.58, all recorded personal best times at the Bass Bell 10 in Bassingbourne.
Slightly further away and weathering possibly the coldest wind of the day Geoff Murray-Rochard clocked a bracing 63 minutes at the Southwold 10k.
There was also plenty of 5k action with Stewart Overton recording 16.49 when racing the Serpentine Last Friday of the Month 5k. John Auld went over to Stevenage Park Run on Saturday to meet one of his favourite running You Tubers, Fordy. John said, ‘I was intending to take it easy but got carried away in all the excitement and finished 2nd in 19.05!’ Also enjoying park runs were Darren Matussa, 3rd at GunPowder in 19.39, Paul Holm 24.07 at Hove promenade, Pete Sibbett 21.41 at Great Denham, Jillian Boys 26.52 at Henlow Lakes and at Letchworth James Dalton 21.41, Helen Anjers 24.29, Steve Brentom 24.54, Matt Ankers 25.00, Ian Harvey 25.03 and Chloe Lucas 25.13.
Jo Sopala and Lindsey Lucas, both graduated from the club's couch to 5 kilometre course 4 years ago. On Sunday they demonstrated what a fantastic platform this is, as they headed across the border to the Welsh North Coast to complete their first half marathon in Conwy, lured by the beauty of the course as voted one of the UK’s top five most scenic half marathons. It includes a two mile uphill climb of the Great Orme, but rewards runners with the most incredible views. Jo said "neither of us ever envisaged running 13.1 miles, let alone choosing to run a very hard course for fun!" so they were both delighted with their achievement.
North Herts Road Runners sent a squad of 4 men to compete at the prestigious Eastern Region Masters Cross Country Championships nestled in the rolling countryside at Horseheath, Cambridgeshire on Saturday. John Auld men’s team captain commented, “the organisers went to great lengths to make the course as challenging as possible”. The 3 lap course included a tough uphill section, before being sent straight back down it to confront a 30-metre stretch of freezing, knee high water 3 times. This was the most popular spectating spot, so the runners tried hard not to fall in! To add insult to injury they were directed straight back up the steep hill.
Tom Webb was first finisher for the club in 6th place, followed by Andrew Leach in 9th place, 1st in the veteran 55 age category and also 1st in the Eastern Masters Athletics Club (EMAC). Next was Adam Bowler in 12th place, and John Auld 24th and 1st finisher in the EMAC veteran 35 age group.
Left to right Tom Webb, Adam Bowler, Andrew Leach and John Auld
Mike Roberts fancied an even longer cross country course, so headed down to Epping Forest, Essex to run the legendary Orion 15 race (15 miles!) on Saturday. It’s renowned for being a tough cross country race and Mike justified this saying "there was plenty of mud, even more hills, fallen trees and hard to spot directions including patches of sawdust and spray painted arrows on the ground to make sure you were still actually on the course". Only the fittest, strongest athletes take on this beast of a race and Mike finished had a podium finish in 3rd place overall in 1hr 41mins.
Sue Foot stayed closer to home to complete the Shillington Shuffle, a local 26.8 mile off road course with a written route description, starting and finishing at Barton Village Hall. She covered the rolling hills of Barton Nature Reserve, Lilley, Great Offley, Pirton and then back via Holwell. A lovely run with three fully stocked checkpoints.
The always popular St Neots Half Marathon, marketed as a fast course encouraged 9 squirrels to head up the A1 and the course didn’t disappoint with lots of personal best (PB) times for the half marathon distance. Lucy O’Connor "enjoyed the blue skies and sunshine" and Richard Weber "found the biting cold wind on the last 3 mile stretch interesting". Vince Wright was first home for the club in 1:26:51, followed by Adrian Sherwood 1:29:13, Ian Harvey 1:35:04 (PB), Steve Brenton 1:41:43 (PB), Richard Weber 1:43:04 (PB), Lucy O’Connor 1:52:03, Russ Hagan 1:53:14 (PB), Charlotte Coles 1:59:09, Lorna Chambers 2:07:36. Lucy was also pleased to be presented with her Trophy for 1st FV60 from the Thorney 5 mile race, which took place back in September but the awards were not given out due to Covid restrictions at the time.
Even closer to home was the Stevenage Half Marathon, with the 2 lap course starting and finishing on the track of Ridlins Athletics Stadium. New club member Phil Hawkes laid down a very quick debut time of 1:32:52 and our experienced long distance club member Jane Chappell showed her pedigree in her first race in over six years completing the course 1:48:21 which she was chuffed to bits with!
25 Squirrels took part in parkruns in 9 different parks yesterday!
Letchworth parkrun: James Dalton 20:57, Chloe Lucas 25:26, Philip Flack 30:02, Steve Brenton 43:40
Stevenage parkrun: Ellie Scott 24:49, Jane Clarke 28:52, Kat Hinitt 35:20 (pacing her husband to his first ever 5km!)
Henlow Bridge Lakes parkrun: Dave Braybrook 22:34, Dervla Downing 25:32, Caroline Thrussell 25:35, Rob Milburn 26:01, Adam Wilson 27:10, Jennie Fraser 28:00, Michelle Grudzinski 30:22, Andrew Grudzinski 30:28, Paul Bowal 30:32
Wimpole Estate parkrun: Matt Roberts 23:00, Richard Harbon 23:27, Anna Greetham 23:56, Andrew Coates 24:44
Bury Field parkrun, Newport Pagnell, Milton Keynes: Carl Haskell 28:28
Wendover Woods parkrun: Tim Banting 26:44
Gunpowder parkrun: Darren Matussa 20:17
Cannon Hill parkrun, Birmingham: Eva McCabe 21:28
Keswick parkrun: Glyn Blakey 33:48
Written by Tash Pitman
It was a marathon with a difference for Michelle and Andy Grudzinski as they tackled the Marathon du Cognac and enjoyed all this region of western France has to offer along the way. Given Michelle is teetotal, it was left to Andy to sample the Cognac handed out at all the drinks stations while Michelle ‘tested the paté and cake options and had a dance with each of the bands!’.
Injury forced the duo to separate at the halfway mark, but Michelle reported that they ‘continued to make the most of the local offerings’, Michelle finishing in 4:52 and Andy ‘stumbling / hobbling’ across the line in 5:25. ‘Fortunately’, Michelle continued, ‘a bottle of Creme du Cognac was handed out with the medals to help ease the pain!’.
Closer to home, John Auld was pleased to maintain a ‘nice and consistent pace’ en route to an impressive 5th place and 37:48 clocking at the First Saturday of the Month 10k in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. This month the race was moved to a different date and a new course - ‘more twisty than usual and with a bit of wind’.
Even though he was ‘shattered at the end and had to go and sit down straight afterwards’, Auld said ‘it was great running in the Olympic Park around the stadium – it’s a fantastic venue’.
21 Squirrels completed Parkruns this weekend, with Kat Hinitt first female finisher at Letchworth in 24:40.
James Dalton 21:09, Steve Brenton 22:35, Ian Harvey 22:41, Matt Roberts 23:49, Stuart Cocks 24:17, Kat Hinitt, 24:40, Chloe Lucas 26:01, Carl Goodrum 28:41, Philip Flack 29:33
William Harrison 20:04, Andrew Underhill 22:40
Darren Matussa 19:47
Nick Malpeli 19:00
Cosford Fields Parkrun
Brian Judkins 34:22
Henlow Bridge Lakes Parkrun
Jillian Boys 24:31, Rob Milburn 25:33, Mike Bullock 27:03, Jane Clarke 27:05
Written by James Walsh.
It was a busy fireworks weekend for the North Herts Road Runners, with plenty of racing action on offer.
Several squirrels headed to Knebworth House in Stevenage on Sunday morning, under clear and sunny skies (although accompanied by a freezing brisk wind) to take part in the Herts half marathon and 10k races. Both races started in front of the iconic Knebworth House, and began with a loop around the impressive grounds of the estate before heading out into the surrounding undulating country roads. Despite a very cold and windy start, the squirrels soon warmed up and ran brilliantly with some very notable performances. In the half marathon, Ian Harvey was the first squirrel home in a superb personal best of 1:35:33, closely followed by Ben Ryan who also smashed a fantastic new personal best of 1:40:28. Dave Braybrook (1:41:37), Mark Bulley (1:42:03), Caroline Thrussell (01:47:32), and Ellie Scott (1:57:28) also achieved excellent times, while Carina Quayle nabbed a last-minute entry and completed the race in 2:20:17, just a week after running the Baldock Beast half marathon last Sunday. Gladys Cheng also managed to knocked 7 minutes off her Baldock Beast time finishing I 2:06:23. Kat Hinitt (1:48:13) found the hilly course rather challenging, probably partly because it was her third half marathon in a month, but was pleased to complete the race with a new personal best for the course. Kat crossed the finish line with fellow club member Jenny Wilkinson (1:48:26), who really enjoyed it “despite it being a bit windy”, and added “the course was lovely, with lots of animals to see on the way around – sheep, cows, dogs, dinosaurs and of course some NHRR squirrels!” Meanwhile, Elywn Howell and Russ Hagan both opted for the 10k race at Knebworth. Both runners achieved fantastic new personal bests, with Elwyn coming in at 44:38 and winning his age category, and Russ finishing in 51:06, adding that the goody bags for finishers were a highlight.
Over the border in Cambridgeshire, Richard Weber and Brian Judkins ran the appropriately-named Bonfire Burn 10k in Histon, Cambridge. Weber achieved a new course personal best of 46:44 (and his second every fastest 10K), and Judkins finished in 1:09:57. Meanwhile, Stewart Overton ventured to Reading to race in the half marathon there, which he completed in a superb 1:18:21.
Back on home turf, on Saturday the North Herts Road Runners hosted their popular monthly First Saturday of the Month free 5km race at Norton Common in Letchworth. There were an impressive 75 finishers, with Matt Sayers first over the line in an impressively speedy 18:39, closely followed by fellow squirrels Tom Webb (18:40) and Nick Malpeli (19:28). Tracey Pitcairn was first lady home in 21:09, with sisters Helen and Katie Harbon accompanied by Daisy the dog as second and third ladies (23:06 and 23:12, respectively). Lindsay Cook was proud to complete the event with her whole family for the first time. The family of five were the “first family” to finish, with son Matthew (aged 7) abandoning his mum at the finish line and storming to victory, beating her by a whole 32 seconds.
Written by Kat Hinitt.
North Herts Road Runners tackled what club member Richard Weber described as ‘horrible wind and rain’ at the Baldock Beast half-marathon, but still managed to come away with both ladies’ and men’s team and individual prizes.
The ‘Beast’ always serves up a notoriously demanding and hilly course across 13.1 miles of lanes between Baldock and Sandon, and this year’s event added gales and driving rain to the usual challenge.
A strong turnout of 33 Squirrels was rewarded with Tash Pitman, Anna Greetham and Kat Hinitt carrying off the female team prize and the quartet of Tom Webb, Matt Sayers, Stewart Overton and Ben Sewell taking the men’s honours.
Webb also won the individual race in a superb time of 1:20:55 and Pitman was first lady in 1:37:48.
Other notable performances from the Squirrels included Richard Weber’s ‘all-time second-best half-marathon’ of 1:51:40 and Andrew Coates clocking 2:00:02 despite the ‘horrible weather’.
Full list of North Herts finishers: Tom Webb 1:20:55, Matt Sayers 1:21:52, Stewart Overton 1:23:45, Ben Sewell, 1:25:45, Mark Bulley 1:29:02, Vince Wright 1:29:37, Nick Malpeli 1:32:23, David Burkhart 1:35:23, Adrian Sherwood 1:35:40, Ian Datlen 1:36:30, Tash Pitman 1:37:48, James Dalton 1:37:42, Anna Greetham 1:46:22, Matt Roberts 1:46:25, Richard Weber 1:51:40, David Weston 1:51:59, Kat Hinitt,1:53:08, Ian Harvey 1:55:48, Michael Over 1:56:53, Richard Thackeray 1:57:29, Jane Clarke 1:58:22, Lucy O’Connor 1:58:40, Andrew Coates 2:00:02, Philip Stapleton 2:02:09, Jodie Wilkes 2:04:45, Merrisa Peynado 2:04:56, Luke Callan 2:07:38, Lucy Hurley 2:11:42, Gladys Cheng 2:14:05, Mel Flynn 2:14:44, Hailey Batson 2:21:04, David Glennie 2:29:03, Carina Quayle 2:30:06, Vanessa Rolfe 2:47:52.
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