North Herts Road Runners were formally announced as champions of the Mid Week League First Division on Thursday night in front of nearly 600 runners. Having been promoted from Division two in the summer of 2017, NHRR firmly established themselves as a team to reckon with when the club finished in second place in 2018. Once the annual league rolled round once more expectations were high in the club and the push was on to finish first. This would not be an easy task though. Running 10km at race pace once a fortnight is exhausting enough without having the quality competition of Trent Park Running Club and St Albans Striders pushing hard themselves to win the league. Nonetheless, due to an outstanding team effort and some quality individual performances the North Herts Road Runners were crowned champions for the first time in their history. A remarkable achievement and one which firmly puts NHRR on the running map as a team leading the field.
The trophies were awarded after the celebratory ‘Mob Match’ where all 12 teams from Division 1 and Division 2 pounded the streets and underpasses of Welwyn Garden City. The men's team were undefeated over the four races with the 12 scoring team members finishing in the top 22 places in the final league race at Trent Park to scoop the cup with maximum points. Not to be outdone the male vets team, over 40, also claimed top spot overall. With Tom Webb taking the individual title, Mark Vaughan 1st V40, Jim McConnell 2nd V40 and Matthew Sayers 3rd V40 there was plenty to cheer about.
The women's team also ran superbly in order for the club to be crowned overall champions. They finished as runners-up to Trent Park with ladies team captain Katie Harbon leading from the front to finish 2nd in the individual title race. Astrid McKeown won the V45 category and Paula Adams was 3rd in the same category.
With success comes renewed pressure and already the club is aware of the renewed appetite of Trent Park to reclaim the trophy next year. Something coach Karen Dodsworth is more than willing to contend with.
Elsewhere the MWL was paying dividends for Kat Gourd who ran another 10k (because 4 is not enough) of her own accord at Regent’s Park establishing a new post-knee surgery personal best of 50:38 coming 20th out of 200 women. Sue Foot continued to knock out the marathons with the routine efficiency of a weekly parkrun by taking part in the ‘Roding around Marathon’ alongside Jo Summers and Andrew Porter. This was a circumnavigation of the nine noted villages named Roding in the beautiful Essex countryside of the Roding Valley. It was a self-navigated course with a written route description. The course was difficult at times with plenty of places to trip, get stung by stinging nettles and scratched by the overgrown tracks, but that didn’t stop them enjoying the very picturesque route. Both Sue and Andrew finished in 6hrs and 6 minutes whilst Jo finished in an excellent 4hrs 57 minutes but claimed, ‘I did actually finish before a lot of people who I am sure were well ahead of me at one point so I think quite a few 'diversions' were taken!’
Michelle Grudzinski put her fate in the hands of the Gods when she decided to run the Olympus Faethon Marathon. A simple little 44km race including a 3410m ascent of Mount Olympus. This firmly puts the Charlton to Preston hill into perspective. Zeus was not pleased with his home being treated in such a manner so unleashed thunderstorms and lightning in order to reduce the race distance to 30km. Lured by the thought of a soft drink and a slice of cake, Michelle managed to finish the race despite the never ending uphill nature of the course:
‘We started on the road before very quickly heading onto the mountain path... uphill... very uphill... lots of uphill... did I mention the uphill? Even in the stunning valley it was uphill... I was soon overtaken by mountain goats (aka the front runners of the half marathon) and then pretty much everyone else. It was still going uphill... the first 3 aid stations were shared by the marathon and half marathon and they were all UPHILL!!!’
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