Squirrels have taken advantage of the festive period to enjoy extra racing opportunities both locally and while away.
Sunday saw 17 squirrels race the County Champs at Stevenage, competing in the U17 ladies, U20 men and both senior ladies and men. Flying the flag for our younger members, Eva McCabe placed a fantastic 5th in the Ladies under 17s and James Fox was a superb 6th in the Men’s Under20s competition. The senior men had two teams out, the A team (Andrew Leach, Ed Price, Darren Sunter, Stewart Overton, Mark Vaughan and Nathan Pask) finished 3rd behind St Albans and Watford. The B team came 12th. Cross Country representative John Auld commented “The course was flat, but super muddy in places. The sprint finish was really muddy and we had to do that bit 5 times! It was so strength sapping, it took me the whole of the rest of the lap to recover from it - and then you had it again. I attempted a bit of a sprint finish at the end, but I was literally stuck in the mud!” The Ladies were led home by Astrid McKeown and were followed by Georgina Quayle and Carina Quayle.
Ben Sewell joined Sophie Thrussell at the Run Through, Victoria Park Half Marathon for his debut race in a Squirrel vest. Sophie claims that they have “continued training throughout the holidays- including speedwork on Christmas Eve morning and minimal mince pies!” Ben went out quicker than target pace for the first few miles and decided to hold on - finishing in an impressive new PB of 1:15:47- over a 3 minute PB and a fifth place finish! Sophie reports that she started at target pace and tried to keep it consistent, which proved to be quite difficult, saying it felt uncomfortable throughout. Ben ran beside her to the finish line, resulting in a PB of an incredible 1:29:04 and a Championship Start Qualification for the Virgin London Marathon in April.
Making the most of being retired, Coach Karen Dodsworth drove up to Ferry Meadows, Peterborough, to take part in the New Year’s Eve 10km. With the original course flooded in 2 parts the organisers used their Winter 10km course and apologised to runners for the muddy conditions. Whilst there were some slippery corners and muddy paths Karen was intent on pushing on having trained hard for this race. Reaching half way in 25.16 Karen realised that a fast time was possible and kept pushing to the line to finish in a chip time of 50:50, 3 1/2 mins faster than her previous best 10km of 2019 and her fastest time for 9 years.
Kat Gourd was the only squirrel to travel slightly further East to take part in the Ely NYE 10k on New Year’s Eve. In her first race back after injury and having been hit by the dreaded winter lurgy, Kat was pleased to get round in a respectable 53:54 pleased, helped by the perfect running conditions and the jolly bagpiper at the 8.5k mark!
Further afield, Astrid and Steve McKeown took advantage of the New Years Eve 5k race in Bonn, Germany whilst visiting family. Astrid finished the chilly run beside the Rhein in 21:04 which placed her 5th overall woman (2nd F45), whilst Steve won his age group (17th overall) in 18:53.
Saturday saw the First Saturday of the Month for this year with 86 hardy runners taking part in the picturesque 5km run around Norton Common. First Male home for the club was James Dalton in 21:00 and Rhia Botha took the position of First Lady in 23:10.
Not only did squirrels take part in the additional Parkruns that took place on New Years Day, several members clocked up their Parkrun milestones this week with Brian Judkins reaching his 250th. His long journey to hit this target has taken him around the UK, as far as Inverness, over the past 10 years, but was completed this Saturday at the local Letchworth Parkrun. Pat Norris completed his 100th Parkrun this Saturday choosing the slightly less muddy Stevenage course!
Stevenage: Jane CLARKE 22:47 James POULTON 24:54, Danielle LISTER 30:09, Glyn BLAKEY 31:06, Barbara SAYERS 33:40, Patrick NORRIS, 35:40 Letchworth: Siobhan WALSH, 32:08, Mike Bullock 37:26, Brian Judkins 38:26, Allison Blunt, 38:28 Cara Sutton, 38:29 Kettering: Steve WILLIAMSON, 22:50 Wimpole Jillian BOYS, 25:34 Southwark: Chris Poole: 26:24 Fulbourn Hospital: 23:21
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