The South England Athletics Association held the Annual Cross Country Championships on Saturday. The Women had to run a gruelling 8k and the men 15k in very hilly and muddy conditions. The ladies representing NHRR were Katie Harbon (34:18), Paula Adams (39:17) and Jo Harbon (46:10). The men were Mark Vaughan, Vince Wright (1:03:50), James Keogh (1:05:33), Darren Sunter (56:48), Wayne Bell, John O’Gorman (1:04:55) and Johnny Spinks (1:17:43).
David Annetts travelled to Amsterdam for the De Lat Winterserie 10k Walk. He was very pleased to set a new PB on the sunny morning of 47:16. A challenging race where David only lost out to local walker Paul Jansen on the final lap of the 4 lap course.
Phillip Flack decided to rest his legs from churning through all the mud at his regular Letchworth Parkun and travelled to Bedford Parkrun for a change. This proved a good decision as he knocked 15 seconds off his personal best finishing in 26:15 and won his age group of over 65s.
Father and son Andrew and Matt Leech travelled to Texas USA to compete in the Houston Half Marathon and finished in 62:55 and 71:11 respectively. The pair were undertaking an official attempt to break the father-son half marathon combined time world record and did so by an amazing six and a half minutes.
A scurry of squirrels ran the Fred Hughes 10 mile race in St Albans – which incorporated the Herts County championships. Described as a very well organised race on an undulating course taking in some of the Hertfordshire countryside. Carl Haskell achieved a new personal best (PB) of 69:58. Lucy O'Connor finished in 1:25:05. David Weston was in familiar territory as the race HQ was his former school. David said that those near him in the race could often hear him shout out loud former teachers names in anger to help motivate himself. This clearly was affective as he finished with a new personal best of 68:32. Andrew Coates also ran a new PB with a time of 80:45. Others running were Kat Gourd (1:25:53), Matt Roberts (1:24:51), Ian Harvey (1:13:52) and Dervla Downing (1:17:23).
Four runners and a giant chocolate squirrel took the annual pilgrimage to the Buff Trail Half Marathon Wales. The event has been represented by NHRR at for the last 6 years, since its inception. Adam Wilson went up off the hill and wasn't seen again until it was time for the finish line mug of hot vegetable soup. His time was a fabulous 2.35.21. Paul Bowal and Andy Grudzinski were the next squirrels in having run much of the race together. This was unusual for Paul who has a reputation for finding young females to run with. That may explain why Andy beat him to the finish in a time of 2.47.29. Paul's no-female to chase time was 2.47.37. Michelle Grudzinski ran with an achillies problem which gave her pain and a finish time of 3:08:43. Michelle declared herself NHRR queen of the Sting, a separately timed very steep up hill section – whilst NHRR King of the Sting was Adam Wilson.
David Annetts started off his 2020 race season with the 5 mile Enfield event of the Race Walking league. Finishing in 1st place in a time of 38:00.
Vanessa Rolfie was the sole squirrel at the Folksworth 15. The last time she ran this race the weather was atrocious – this time the sun was out but there were still some hazardous black ice to look out for. Nessa was very pleased with her run and time.
Nick Malpeli ran close to where he grew up at the Essar Four Villages Half Marathon, finishing 111th with a time of 80:53. Although the temperature was still almost zero and foggy throughout - Nick was pleasantly surprised by the still and dry conditions amongst the recent rain and windy weather.
Luton Wardown: Andrew Coates 23:43, Dave Braybrook 25:45, Tim Banting 27:03
Ashton Court: Georgina Quayle 30:38
Milton Keynes: Jillian Boys 29:02
Westmill: Phillip Flack 28:50
Stevenage: Russell Hagen 26:18, Julie Toland 26:54, Jane Clarke 27:37, Patrick Norris 34:11
Linford Wood: Naomi Parkinson 24:51
Yeovil Montacute: Brian Judkins 35:04
Ellenbrook Fields: Siobhan Walsh 29:05
Letchworth: James Dalton 23:01, Ian Datlen 23:51, Ellie Scott 33:02
Drumpellier Country: Claire O'Sullivan 26:32
Fulbourn Hospital: Carl Haskell 20:34, Chris Poole 24:22, Abbie Haskell 32:31, Vicky Haskell 32:33.
North Herts Road Runners claimed the Three Counties Cross-Country league title for an unprecedented third time on Sunday as 41 Squirrels laboured to victory on the hilly, muddy Dunstable course. The club’s cross-country rep, John Auld, said “The mud made the already challenging hills even worse! I think I was just jogging on the spot a few times.” However, the conditions did not dampen the spirits of the plucky club runners. Knowing they needed to win the race to take the title, they dug deep. In a hard-fought contest, the ladies team won first place and the men’s team won second place, leading to a combined victory for the race and the overall league.
Reflecting on the victory, John said, “We won every race. We have the best team, with 65 club runners taking part this season. Everybody should be super proud of this. We have actually only failed to win one race in the combined category in the last 3 years.” In further impressive news, the ladies team captain, Katie Harbon, was crowned Ladies’ Open Champion, with Ed Price storming to second place in the Open Male competition.
It was not all about winning however. Lorna Chambers said, “A baptism of fire for my first ever XC race! Thanks so much to all who turned up to support in the chilling wind. I am so proud to have been part of the NHRR team - every little helps!”. Rhia Botha added “What a brilliant result. Well done everyone! I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to run for such a wonderful club in my debut XC season. I really thought I'd hate it, with all the mud, wind, rain and cold, not to mention the hills! But I must admit that it has been quite a special experience.”
Other impressive results from the league were as follows: Oliver Brady, 1st male U20, Stewart Overton, 1st male V35, John Auld, 2nd male V35, Wayne Bell, 2nd male V40, Mark Vaughan, 1st male V45, Paula Adams, 1st Ladies V50, Pete Sibbett 3rd male V55, Carina Quale, 2nd ladies V60 .
Elsewhere, two Squirrels took part in the very first Letchworth Ultra (Run the Sun in Weston). Mike Bullock and Susan Mansfield ran in what Mike described as a “Big muddy sludge-fest”, which involved running as far as you can in daylight hours (8 hours) on a 5 km lapped off-road (hilly-ish) course. Mike said, “The day started with foolish ambitions of a double marathon distance for our first ultra of the decade, but this lasted about 2 minutes until we arrived at the first bog-of-doom...then the second, then the third ...” As the day progressed, more and more runners disappeared down muddy holes, so by lunchtime half of the field had retired. Mike and Susan soldiered on to the end, and ended up tired but happy, coming 4th (57km in 7hrs 45) and 6th (57km in 8hrs 6 minutes) respectively.
A strong contingent of North Herts Road Runners delivered a series of good performances at the most popular event in the local racing scene’s Christmas calendar – the Buntingford 10.
Stewart Overton headed the 16-strong team of Squirrels, securing a podium finish with third place and a new best time of 56.11 over the 10-mile course. Looking to ‘push for a good time, Overton said he ‘started fast with the aim of settling in before the hills arrived and with a pack of 3 other runners we reached 5 miles in just under 28 minutes’. After dropping off the pack he managed to ‘move back in around 8 and a half miles’. With 300 metres to go and coach Karen Dodsworth ‘shouting advice’, he managed to ‘kick on for 3rd place’.
Matt Sayers (6th), Rob Harris (15th) and Vince Wright (24th) were not far behind, with Wright transferring his fine recent cross-country form to the roads to knock almost four minutes off his previous best time for the 10 mile distance with 1.03.46. Susan Mansfield recorded 1.26.43 in her debut over 10 miles.
Dave Braybrook just missed his 1.30 target with 1.31.58 and said he ‘would have been just under my target if it wasn’t for the last mile – my legs had nothing left to give’.
Full Buntingford 10 results:
Stewart Overton, 56:11; Matthew Sayers, 57:57; Rob Harris 01:01:12; Vincent Wright, 01:03:46; Peter Sibbett, 01:09:26; Ian Harvey, 1.11.42; Caroline Thrussell, 01:12:10; Stuart Cocks, 01:15:25; Mike Bullock, 1.17.17; Dervla Downing, 01:17:24; Chris Poole, 01:23:21; Lucy O’Connor, 01:24:39; Matt Roberts, 01:25:51; Susan Mansfield, 1.26.43; Helen Harbon, 01:26:54; Matt Ankers, 01:31:40; Dave Braybrook, 01:31:58; Andrew Porter, 1.34.20; Hailey Batson, 01:44:57; Brian Bailey, 01:46:49
Ian Sutcliffe took first prize in the 70-plus age group at the Cambridge 10k with an impressive 54.58, closely followed by Allison Blunt with a new personal best of 58.36 and Elwyn Howell in 55.07.
Ultra-distance specialist Sue Foot ticked off yet another marathon at the Great Barrow ‘Triple Tipple’. Foot admitted she ‘had been suffering with foot pain and not long ago had the flu, but still wanted to get one more marathon in before the end of the year’. She finished in ‘4.46 with lots of walking breaks!’.
The Serpentine 5k was also on the Christmas agenda for some London-based NHRR members, with Darren Matussa completing the 5k Hyde Park course in 18.58 to round off what he said had been ‘a quiet year for me racing-wise’. Team-mate Stewart Overton also took part, finishing in 16.19.
37 Squirrels flew the NHRR flag (or vest) at Parkruns across Britain and beyond over the festive weekend, with Rhia Botha first female at Alberts Farm, Johannesburg, in 23.40 and Sarah Millhouse and John Russell popping up at Parkruns in Australia and the USA respectively. Ed Price was first finisher at Tyne Green Parkrun in 17.06.
NHRR superheroes Susan Mansfiled and Mike Bullock tackled Stevenage Parkrun dressed as Batwoman and Spiderman respectively, with Susan reporting that ‘Mike needed to use all his Spider senses and help from BatWoman to navigate the course as his hero face mask reduced visibility down to zero’. They finished together in 28.26.
Full NHRR Parkrun results this week:
Peter Clarke, 22.24; James Dalton, 22.32; Ian Datlen, 23.20; Dave Braybrrok, 28.52; Angeliki Shearstone, 28.59; Adam Wilson, 29.48; James Poulton, 30.01; Philip Flack, 40.13, Steve Brenton, 54.40
Stuart Cocks, 24.05; Chris Poole, 25.44; Hayley Cocks, 34.32
Claire O’Sullivan, 25.39; Naomi Parkinson, 26.24; Jillian Boys, 26.58; Russell Hagan, 27.22; Susan Mansfield and Mike Bullock, 28.26Danielle Lister, 28.28; Helen Giffin, 28.46; Elwyn Howell, 29.04; Carina Quayle, 30.41; Glyn Blakey, 32.53
Ellie Scott, 24.46
Darren Matussa, 24.29
Brian Judkins, 34.27
Ed Price, 17.06
Carl Haskell, 22.45; Abbie Haskell, 35.25; Vicky Haskell, 35.29
Steve Williamson, 23.37
Bury St Edmunds
Pat Norris, 40.19
Andrew Robson, 24.01
Alberts Farm, South Africa
Rhia Botha, 23.40
Roosevelt Island, DC
John Russell, 26.16
Sarah Millhouse, 28.05
The 100th edition of the Letchworth Parkrun was the most popular place to be for North Herts Road Runners at the weekend, and their recent series of cross-country races proved to be ideal preparation.
12 squirrels tackled the famously demanding Letchworth course, which the organisers declared to be in its ‘muddiest ever’ state after recent downpours.
Stewart Overton found the slippery conditions much to his liking as he stormed through sections described by Parkrun volunteers as ‘the swamp’ and ‘a new sheep dip’ to cross the line first in an excellent 19 minutes and 15 seconds. Overton credited his mastery of the conditions partly to his ‘grippy’ footwear, but also to his determination to ‘just plough through the mud and puddles’. He hailed the ‘great support from the marshals and fellow runners as ever’ and saluted Letchworth Parkrun on being ‘100 not out’.
James Dalton was close behind as fourth finisher in 22.30 with Angeliki Shearstone sixth female in 28.44.
Two Squirrels encountered very different conditions as they took part in Parkruns in South Africa and Australia. Rhia Botha flew the NHRR flag at the Roodepoort Parkrun in Johannesburg, where she finished as second female in 24.10, and Sarah Millhouse clocked 28.18 at the Whitford Nodes Parkrun in Perth, Western Australia.
Full NHRR Parkrun results this week:
Stewart Overton, 19:15; James Dalton, 22.30; Steve Brenton, 26.03; Andrew Coates, 26.15; Angeliki Shearstone, 28.44; Lucy Hurley, 28.54; Naomi Parkinson, 28.54; Tim Banting, 29.26; Jennie Fraser, 31.38; Philip Flack, 32.37; Carl Goodrum, 35.48; Glyn Blakey, 41.07
Carl Haskell, 22.45; Abbie Haskell, 28.36
Helen Giffin, 28.44
Ellie Scott, 25.46, Jane Clarke, 25.51
Jillian Boys, 25.42
Chris Poole, 23.14
Brian Judkins, 33.11
Roodepoort, South Africa
Rhia Botha, 24.10
Whitford Nodes, Western Australia
Sarah Millhouse, 28.18
Sunday morning saw the 3XCX league return to the champions HQ of Standalone farm. A heavy dose of rain and misery had ensured prime cross country conditions were in place. Despite the look of terror on many a runner’s face there was a palpable sense of excitement at charging through the filth and battling carnage corner.
NHRR went into the race in first place but an outstanding effort from the Ampthill men and the Wellingborough ladies means it is all to run for in the final race of the league in Dunstable in the 12th. Currently the men are on level points with Ampthill and the women are 1 point behind Wellingborough. A total of 41 die hard squirrels ran the race with a special mention to Katie Harbon who has already won the individual women’s title by obtaining an unassailable points lead in the first 4 races.
Elsewhere, as sure as day follows night, John Auld ran the Silkstone Shuffle. It is a 4.5M multi- terrain race ran in each season and the aggregate time is the series time you are awarded. It’s 2M up hill followed by 2.5M down hill but over farmers fields separated by woods and stiles.
‘On the day I finished 1st! Meaning that I finished 4th in the series, but won the first senior man outside of the top 3.
It was a surprise to be leading as we belted out and I settled in 4th. I’d even given up on top 3 at this point. But when the real part of the hill started, I slowly moved from 4th up towards the guys, and then decided to push the pace and lead. I ended up leading still at the top of the hill, and from here I knew I had to go for the victory - so I pushed on!
It was so slippy and wet, windy and a bit of snow at the end - it was so much hard work. Stiles and wooden bridges to cross in the wet. This was my 19th event and this is the worst I’ve seen the course. I also ended up with a bunch of cuts on my legs and arms from brambles.
I got my head down and pushed on, All I could hear was the jingle bells attached to my vest, I couldn’t hear any other footsteps, but dare not look back. However towards the end, after a few little looks over my shoulder I realised nobody was with me.
I was absolutely delighted to win the race for only the 2nd time, especially in those conditions. The field was a little light, due to the conditions, I feel. So only the truly mad and GC contenders were on the start line. I fall into both categories, hence the win.’
As it stands no complaints have been upheld regarding John having bells attached to his vest during the race.
Northampton’s Delapre Park was the venue for the third fixture of this year’s Three Counties Cross-Country League, and the North Herts Road Runners were again victorious! Both the women’s and men’s teams took first place, ensuring that the Squirrels won the combined prize, as they have in each of the previous races, cementing their position at the top of the league.
“This is an amazing result that really sets us up for a great last couple of races,” said the club’s XC secretary John Auld. “There's a lot of work still to do in the remaining two events. But we do have the treble in sight.”
In total, twenty-four Squirrels took on the unforgiving terrain and strong winds to produce another dominant display. Leading from the front was women’s team captain Katie Harbon, who won the women’s race for the third time this season, heading a scoring team that also included Astrid McKeown (8th), Paula Adams (10th) and Lucy O’Connor (41st).
The star for the men’s team was young Oliver Brady, who showed great courage to bounce back from a tough first experience of the 3CXC league two weeks earlier. He produced an impressive run and finished strongly in 17th position, taking his place as one of the eight men in the NHRR scoring team, all of whom finished inside the top 20. The other scorers were Ed Price (2nd), Stewart Overton (6th), Mark Vaughan (9th), Wayne Bell (10th), Nathan Pask (11th), John Auld (14th) and John Rayner (19th).
The cross-country came just a day after the Santa Canta, the special Christmas edition of the NHRR-organised First Saturday of the Month at Letchworth’s Norton Common. Over 320 runners took part, almost all of them in fancy dress, helping to raise money for Garden House Hospice Care. The first festive finishers were Freedom Tri’s James Parsons (19:11) for the men and Hitchin Running Club’s Anna Bruce (22:38) for the women. North Herts Road Runners’ first finishers were James Dalton (21:09) and Katie Harbon (23:20).
On Sunday, Ali Mottram ran the MK Winter Half in a time of 2:29:27. “It was a really lovely route on footpaths along canals, round fishing lakes and through lovely green spaces,” said Ali. “Though the first mile or so was incredibly busy with little room to manoeuvre.”
The weekend’s parkrun results:
Stevenage parkrun 81 Russell HAGAN 25:39
Wimpole Estate parkrun 67 Naomi PARKINSON 25:14
Hillsborough parkrun 191 Jillian BOYS 28:52
Letchworth parkrun 37 Carl GOODRUM 31:25
Sunny Hill parkrun 15 Chris POOLE 24:49
Darren Sunter finished the Valencia Marathon with a new personal best time 2:35:21 and in 290th place overall. Pleased with his run, Darren said afterwards that it was a great course and really brilliant event. He enjoyed the superb course even though his hamstrings took a hammering on the flat.
Several squirrels ran the Bedford Half marathon. Described as a lovely undulating single lap course through rural Bedfordshire with a great down hill after mile 9. Ryan Nicholl (1:23:48) was the first squirrel home closely followed by Adrian Sherwood (1:29:22). Other squirrels running were Lucy O'Connor (1:55:41), Sue Foot (2:00:15), Andrew Porter (2:04:19), Tom Brownlee (2:05:24), David Braybrook (2:06:20), Miranda Morgan (2:14:46) and Vanessa Rolfe 2:23:55. Sue was 2nd in her age category. It was the first time running this race for Lucy and she really enjoyed it. Linda Aird and Kat Gourd were spectating on the 9 mile mark in Cranfield and reported how impressed they were with everybody looking strong. They were holding a big bowl of jelly babies for runners.
32 North Herts Road Runners put in some great performances in the second race of the Three Counties Cross-Country League on Sunday in Wing. The best performance, however, was that of the whole team, with the club sweeping the board with 1st place for the ladies‘ team, 1st for the men’s team and 1st overall, which leaves the club top of the leader board in all three categories with three races to go, extending their lead in the combined category. Mark Vaughan said “It was a great team performance by all today. Thanks to all the supporters and runners who helped to put us firmly in the driving seat in this year's 3CXC league.”
Ed Price was first home for the club, in 2nd position overall, closely followed by James Fox (5th), Adam Bowller (6th), Wayne Bell (9th), Mark Vaughan (11th), Matt Sayers (16th), Nathan Pask (17th) and John Auld (20th), who all scored for the team. In the ladies’ race, Squirrel Ladies captain Katie Harbon was the 1st lady across the line. Other scorers were Astrid McKeown (10th), Paula Adams (11th) and Rhia Botha (21st).
Other finishers for the club were Vincent Wright (37th), Steve Mckeown (40th), Peter Sibbett (51st), Ian Datlen (54th), David Weston (83rd), James Walsh (84th), Oliver Brady (129th), Andrew Coates (154th), Lucy O’Connor (44th), Jo Harbon (49th), James Poulton (193rd), Andrew Cooper (203rd), Geoff Murray-Rochard (204th), Karen Dodsworth (67th), Sue Vaughan (78th), Georgina Quayle (84th), Brian Bailey(223rd), Carina Quayle (101st), Helen Govey (106th) and Brian Judkins (230th).
At almost the same time, 10 Squirrels ran in the Hatfield 5m Road Race, which incorporated the Veterans’ Hertfordshire 5 Mile Championships. Clare Holley said, “this is a nice flat course - the antithesis of XC! It’s also super well marshalled.” There were many notable results amongst the team. Adam Wilson ran a PB in 39:26. Elwyn Howell claimed a 41:10 PB, having completed the Stevenage Parkrun the day before. Abbie Haskell finished in 43:19. Ian Sutcliffe finished in 43:36 and was 2nd V70 in the Veterans’ Championships. Lorna Chambers notched up a 46:48 PB, Hailey Batson secured another PB, finishing in 47:50, and Lindsay Lucas powered to a 57:08 PB. Clare Hooley finished in 55:56, 2 minutes faster than her time on the course last year. First home for the club was Carol Haskell in 32:57. While not PB-ing, Vanessa Rolfe finished in 50:41 and Natalie Williams crossed the line in 51:23.
There were several parkruns on Saturday. Chris Poole travelled to Darlington South, finishing in 23:35 while John Russell finished in 33:24 in Leamington Spa. The Haskell family ran at Salcey Forest, where Carl finished in 23:23, Abbie in 56:01 and Vicky in 56:02. Closer to home, there were 12 Squirrels at the Stevenage parkrun: Ian Harvey finished in 18th place, Dervla Downing was 35th (3rd lady), Andrew Coates was 48th, with other finishers including Darren Matussa (75th), Naomi Parkinson (84th), Elwyn Howell (115th), Claire O’Sullivan (123rd), Philip Flack (134th), Georgina Quayle (178th), Carina Quayle (208th), Helen Giffin (227th) and Pat Norris (284th). In Letchworth there were 8 Squirrel runners. James Dalton was first home for the club in 3rd place, followed by Ian Datlen (10th), Steve Brenton (12th), Christian Allen (37th), Lucy Hurley, storming home in 51st place, Angeliki Shearstone-Strathopoulous (52nd), Jennie Fraser (54th) and Glyn Blakey (109th).
Sunday saw 38 squirrels travel north to Wellingborough for the start of the Three Counties Cross Country League. As defending champions North Herts Road Runners were hoping for a strong start to this year’s campaign and they weren’t disappointed.
A strong team performance saw six squirrels finish in the first twelve with both the men’s and ladies’ teams finishing 2nd in their respective competitions. The combined result put North Herts Road Runners on top spot after the first race in the league. The scoring teams were Jim McConnell, Wayne Bell, Ed Price, Adam Bowller, Stewart Overton, Matt Sayers, Mark Vaughan, John Auld, Katie Harbon, Paula Adams, Rhia Botha and Kat Gourd.
Not a fan of cross-country Clare Hooley decided to race the Bonfire Burn 10k in Cambridgeshire instead. She finished the multi terrain course in 1:12:17. Richard Webber was also running and was very happy to finish with a new 10k PB of 49.41, over a minute faster than his previous effort over the same course.
Caroline Thrussell enjoyed perfect running conditions for the Harlow Half Marathon. Caroline described it as a ‘really hilly course everything is either up, very up or very down, but also really scenic.’ She knocked 2 minutes off her time from 3 years ago and was pleased to finish in 1:44:11.
David Annetts caught an early train with his bike south from Amsterdam to Rotterdam for the first of the Rotterdam Winterserie (winter series) hosted by the Rotterdamse Wandelsport Vereniging Club. A 10k racewalk which consisted of 10 laps around a park on a bright autumn morning. He finished 2nd with a new personal best of 47:51.
The First Saturday of the Month 5k started an hour earlier than usual due to the Rugby World Cup final. 56 runners took advantage of the early start. James Fox finished first in a time of 17:44 and Eva McCabe was first lady to finish in 21:44.
Norwich: Ellie Scott, 26:40. Eglinton: Christine Sharp, 32:26. Cannon Hill: Glyn Blakey, 29:48. Stevenage: Helen Giffin, 32:51, Patrick Norris, 34:14. des Dougnes, Cubnezais: Chris Poole, 22:43. Wimpole Estate: Ria Botha, 24:14, Naomi Parkinson, 26:12. Letchworth: Stewart Overton, 19:15, James Dalton, 22:09, Ian Harvey, 22:58. Frickley: Andrew Robson, 24:47.
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