12 squirrels were thrilled to be pounding the streets of London as the iconic London Marathon returned after a 2 ½ year absence due to Covid. Off the championship start Matt Sayers set a new V45 club record of 2.39.24 finishing just 4 seconds ahead of V50 clubmate Mark Vaughan. Sayers said, “It’s fantastic to be back at London, the atmosphere was electric and the support from clubmates around the course amazing. Running a PB and automatic qualifying time for next year was the icing on the cake.”
Vaughan’s debut marathon was simply sensational and resulted in a 9th place finish in the World Masters V50 competition with yet another club record. Completing the hat trick of club records was V55 Nick Mapeli who stormed across the line in 2.55.33 closely followed by Stewart Overton, 2.57.21. A cracking run from Natalie Lawrence saw her record an amazing 3.01.59 with Sophie Thrussell delighted with her 3.17.27 PB. Anna Gibson was thrilled to finish in 4.06.46 and Steve Brenton bravely battled with cramps in the last 10 miles to run 4.24 and raise an incredible £1362 for Headway Herts, NHRR’s charity of the year in 2020.
Despite the temperature rising during the morning members starting off from later waves also ran superbly and recorded impressive tines: Sue Foot 4.39.30, Julie Toland 4.43.45, Lindsay Cook 4.59.43 and Andrew Porter, 5.20.06. No less impressive were their fund arising efforts with driving instructor Julie raising over a thousand pounds for BRAKE, the road safety charity, and Lindsay Cook and Andrew Porter both supporting the Garden House Hospice Care, NHRR’s current club charity. Lindsay was ecstatic to finish in under 5 hours and record her fastest marathon since 2008. Arnie Parmar finished in 5.07.04 raising money for Leonard Cheshire.
At another iconic venue, Dorney Lake, the setting for the 2012 Olympic rowing, 3 squirrels also undertook the marathon distance. Despite the side winds making conditions challenging strong running saw Dave Braybrook finish in 3.51.49 followed by Cara Sutton, 4.26.52, and Saab Bharaj 5.14.25.
Vanessa Rolfe also mastered the 26.2 miles of the marathon with a 5.47.06 clocking in Belfast whilst Ali Mottram showed incredible determination to complete London virtually in 6.35.28.
On Saturday Dan Mallett took part in the Para10 at the Colchester Garrison. With all entrants having to carry a 15kg rucksack Dan ran strongly to finish in 1.28.38.
Also on Saturday, North Herts Road Runners’ First Saturday of the Month 5km took place on Norton Common. Matthew Ronayne scored a spectacular win in 19.06 whilst Katie Harbon was 1st lady across the line with her dog, Daisy. Road Runners also organised a children’s fun run with all participants receiving a lovely wooden medal from the super squirrel at the finish.
This Sunday morning saw the popular annual Standalone 10km race finally return to Letchworth after a 1-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The race also served as the Herts Veterans County Championships, which saw the county’s best veteran runners toe the line.
Fortunately, the weather gods were smiling down on Standalone farm for the long-awaited return of the North Herts Road Runners’ flagship event, which took place on a perfect autumn morning with ideal running conditions. As in previous years, the race started on Wilbury Road outside Standalone farm and headed out into a 10km loop through the closed roads of Letchworth, Norton, and Stotfold, before passing the Fairfield estate and finishing back at the farm itself, where a cheering crowd, Samba band, and delicious local catering facilities awaited. Almost 800 runners completed the race, and were treated to cheers of encouragement around the course from enthusiastic volunteers from the North Herts Road Runners, with over 90 marshals positioned around the 10 km route. Due to the ongoing uncertainties with the COVID-19 pandemic, the race committee pulled out all the stops, only having 3 months to organise the event compared to the usual 9 months!
Both the men’s and ladies teams from the North Herts Road Runners won the team prizes. James Fox was the first squirrel home in a stunning 33:28 taking 2nd place overall, after a hard-fought battle with first placed Stephen Buckle from local rivals St Albans Striders. He was joined in the men’s winning team by Andrew Leach 34:20, Eliot Buckner 35:18, Steward Overton 35:27, Ed Price 36:10, Peter Clarke 37:07, Rob Harris 37:55 and Vince Wright 39:12. Andrew won the Herts County Veterans 50-59 category, with Steward winning the 40-49 age group. The winning ladies team was led home by Katie Harbon in 38:00, who is having her best season to date and an impressive second place, behind the very experienced Herts Phoenix athlete Lizzie Janes who has dominated the ladies field in the last decade having won six of the seven Standalone 10k races she has entered. Katie was backed up by her teammates Tash Pitman 42:00, Astrid McKeown 43:54, Paula Holm 45:10 and Lucy O’Connor 50:26, who finished an impressive fourth place in the over-55s age category.
Every finisher received a Standalone t-shirt as a memento; the colour of these highly sought-after and collectible shirts changes each year, and this year the colour scheme was white and red to reflect team GB’s success at the Olympics.
Meanwhile, squirrel David Glennie decided to venture a little further afield and ran the Great Manchester Half marathon in a new personal best of 2:31:44. He was delighted with his time which was 20 minutes quicker than his previous half marathon, and commented that the race had “perfect weather and a great atmosphere.”
Three North Herts Road Runners ventured to Brighton to take part in their first ever marathons on Sunday 12th September, 17 months after the 2020 edition was cancelled due to Covid-19.
The weather was wonderful for the group of club mates who headed to the seaside to cheer the runners on, but at 24 degrees by midday it was arguably a little warm to take on the marathon distance of 26.2 miles! However, the runners were delighted there was virtually no wind, which can make seaside marathons a real slog. The surprise of the day was the course was 568m too long, so they certainly got more running than anticipated! First home for the Squirrels was Ian Datlen in 3:17.09, Shaun Allin 3:41.52 and Helen Cromack in 5:17.24. Shaun showed his mental fortitude to battle through leg cramp to bring it home, and Helen crossed the finish line with a big smile, having not only completed her first marathon but also raising over £400 for Phase Hitchin.
Closer to home a scurry of six Squirrels ran the well organised Stevenage Striders 10 km and were treated to a delicious selection of cakes at the end! The course started in Hampson Park, one of the highest points in Stevenage which they then had to climb back up to finish. The return leg is an uphill slog, but at least conditions were perfect this year. Lucy O’Connor reclaimed 1st in the veteran female 55 category from 2019, while also posting her best time on this course of 51:08. Elwyn Howell ran his fastest ever 10km in an impressive 44:15 finishing 4th in the male veteran 60 category. Other North Herts Road Runners competing were James Dalton, the fastest squirrel home in an impressive 42:13 with Richard Weber achieving his second-best time at this distance of 46:58. Dervla Downing ran alongside Lucy and posted 51:03 and Rachel Downing comfortably came in under the hour in 57:47.
All the best, Tash Pitman
A stampede of Squirrels representing North Herts Road Runners, based in Letchworth, enjoyed a short run over to Hitchin to run the 5km race hosted by their friends the Hitchin Hares. The runners all thoroughly enjoyed the course with superb support from their friends and family in Hitchin's historic market square, with the two-lap course allowing spectators at least 6 sightings of competitors as the runners never ventured too far from the square. Tash Pitman and Tracy Pitcairn repeated their podium first and second positions from the May 10km race in 20:07 and 20:53 respectively, followed by Sue Vaughan in 28:05, Hayley Cocks 34:16, Jo Kenlin 43:47 and Monica Cullin 49:03. Tash was massively appreciative of David Weston, the Squirrels first male finisher, who provided a great pace to try and keep up with. David commented “I set off like a bull in a China shop, weaving left, right everywhere. Immediately I realised I was going too fast” despite this, he was delighted to get a sub 20 minute time, 19:51, especially impressive after a fast London Vitality Half Marathon just seven days prior and his fastest time since his second son was born. James Dalton was the club's second male in 20:19, impressive after tackling the fabulous Letchworth Park Run the day before. Stuart Cocks followed in 22:42, with Casey Walker 24:42 and then Geoff Pettengell in 33:51. Most of the runners were comparing notes at the end for the popular First Saturday of the Month at 9am on Saturday 4th September, hoping to be able to improve on today's times.
With Parkruns back for their 6th week, squirrels were out in force and using their holiday destinations as an opportunity to be Parkrun tourists!
LETCHWORTH – Peter CLARKE 19:08, Philip HAWKES 20:56, James DALTON 21:26, Andrew UNDERHILL 21:59, Jillian BOYS 26:24, Bob DAVIS 27:19, Philip FLACK 28:53, Andrew ROBSON 29:15, Anna PRIESTLY 30:13 JESMOND DENE – Joseph SHERRY 31:30; WATERMEADOWS - Carl HASKELL 23:36; EXETER – Dave BRAYBROOK 20:36; CLUMBER PARK – Brian JUDKINS 35:07; WIMPOLE – Vincent WRIGHT 21:41, Tim BANTING 25:37, Georgina Quayle 30:39, Carina QUAYLE 34:53; YORK - Jennie FRASER 25:47; STEVENAGE - Ian DATLEN 20:51, Rhia BOTHA 23:32, Kat GOURD 25:22, Andrew COATES 26:00, Jane CLARKE 45:45
Saturday 14th August saw six squirrels completing the Sheepy Shuffle Half Marathon to raise money for the Mirkwood Rest Home for Retired Sheep. A virtual event meant that the group decided to enjoy a circular route around Grafham Water to complete their challenge. Despite the surprisingly undulating route and warn sunshine Mike Bullock, Lorna Chambers Brian Judkins, Susan Mansfield, Lucy O’Connor and Richard Weber thoroughly enjoyed their run.
Running in event hotter temperatures whilst on holiday on Majorca Elwyn Howell completed a 10k in 53.57 for the fourth virtual midweek league race.
Pregnancy and pre-race accidents could not stop North Herts Road Runners from making a clean sweep of the ladies’ podium places at the Baldock Rat Run – an event raising vital funds for Garden House Hospice Care.
Despite falling over and arriving at the start line bleeding, Tracy Pitcairn stormed around the 5k route to set a new course record time of 20:36. Paula Holm followed her with 21:38 and 35-weeks pregnant Rhia Botha completed the trio of podium-topping Squirrels with 22:04.
North Herts’ men also showed great form over the multi-terrain course around Ivel Springs and the Greenway, with Tom Webb winning the race in 16:50 and John Auld, who said he had ‘done my due diligence by practising the two sets of steps at speed’, taking second place in 18:34. ‘It was a good blast’, said a ‘very pleased’ Auld.
Kat Hinitt, Dave Braybrook and Andrew Coates made the long journey to Newcastle to take part in the postponed 40th edition of the iconic Great North Run. After a night out carb-loading in ‘the toon’ (an ‘eye-opening experience in itself!’ according to Hinitt) and a rather unique hotel experience in which they were the only guests in a hotel opened just for them, the three Squirrels had to tackle an ‘unplanned morning lock-in’ at their accommodation but arrived at the start line raring to go.
The usual Great North Run route had been altered due to Covid, so the famous finish by the beach at South Shields was replaced by an out-and-back undulating route along a closed dual carriageway through the ‘scenic’ industrial outskirts of Newcastle.
The three Squirrels gave it their very best, with Dave smashing his previous personal best in 1:38:57, Kat finishing in 1:53:35, and Andrew comfortably beating his target time with 1:59:53. Kat reported ‘an amazing atmosphere, with a huge amount of support and entertainment throughout the course to boost/distract the runners’. All three agreed that it was a fantastic experience to run this legendary race with more than 50,000 other runners of all abilities, and they had a wonderful weekend embracing northern culture.
Paul O’Sullivan modestly reported he ‘managed to win’ his age group at St Neots Tri, describing his category as 'old blokes who should know better!'. Finishing 14th overall out of 100 starters, he clocked 45 minutes for the 10k run and is ’really hoping NHRR sessions can improve that significantly and get me back near 40 mins for first time in a few years’.
Anna Gibson (53:28), Lucy O’Connor (55:29) and Brian Judkins ((1:13:49) ran the inaugural Heritage Shuttleworth 10k Hoohaah. Lucy described the ‘friendly, well-organised’ race as ‘a very scenic, quite hilly trail run within the lovely Shuttleworth Estate’. Lucy was first in her age category (F60) and Anna second in hers (F35).
North Herts Road Runners very own First Saturday of the Month 5km was back for the September event. It was another fantastic Saturday morning and the weather was beautiful. There were 58 runners round Norton Common in Letchworth. NHRR secured the podium of James Fox, Adrian Sherwood and John Auld finishing in 17:09, 19:55 and 20:06 respectively. 20 squirrels ran in total.
Others finishing were James Dalton (20:58), Mike Over (21:36), Ian Datlen (22:18), Anna Greetham (22:50), Paula Holm (22:51), Kat Hinitt (23:58), Rhia Botha (24:49), Helen Cains (24:52), Jillian Tooley-Boys (26:14), Caroline Thrussel (26:39), Ellie Scott (26:48), Georgina Quayle (27:04), Andrew Coates (28:11), Gladys Cheng (28:19), Anna Priestley (29:35), Philip Flack (29:53), Dawn Power (31:45), Carina Quayle (31:57), Tracy Pitcairn (33:21) and Geoff Pettengell (33:38)
A scurry of squirrels took part in one or more events in the Bedford Festival of running. The event had a 5km, 10km, two half marathons and 20 mile distances to run across Saturday and Sunday.
Katie Harbon won the ladies Twilight 10k finishing in 37:20. The half marathon was won by Mike Roberts with a new personal best time 75:35.
Running in his first race since early 2019 Ben Ryan also ran in the half marathon. Mike passed him during a loop section and exchanged words of encouragement which spurred Ben to keep going and finish in 1:47:34 - which knocked 2 mins off his previous personal best. Ben said that there was a great atmosphere at the event and it felt awesome to be racing again.
Elwyn Howell spent the weekend at the festival competing in the 10km on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday. Elwyn finished 3rd in his age category with 48:19 in the 10km and 4th in category with 2:01:34 for the half marathon. He proclaimed that it was a great event and well organised all weekend.
Richard Webber did the 20 mile race at the festival, finishing close to his personal best time for the distance in 3:03:52. Lucy O'Connor achieved a new personal best of 3:05:48 and finished 1st in her age category. Anna Gibson also ran a great time of 3:12:01. Brian Judkins did the 10km event and finished with a great time of 1:04. Richard said afterwards that it was a warm day which didn't help him and he didn't mind admitting that he struggled in the last 4 miles and had to resort to walking on occasion. He was relieved to finish.
Dan Mallett also spend the weekend at the festival. He ran the 5km on Saturday morning in 26:10 and then went back in the evening to run the 10km in 51:33. He then returned again on Sunday morning to run the half marathon in 2:07:26. He was very happy with the results considering the heat and the multiple races entered.
James Keogh took part in the multisport aquathon event named the Duck N Dash at Letchworth Open Pool in Norton Common. James finished the 400m and 5km run in a total time of 32:40 and was 17th.
11 squirrels ran at 8 different Parkkruns across the country. Charlotte Hannah Coles ran 25:19 at Bedford. Steve Williamson ran 22:55 at Kettering. Vincent Wright and Jane Clarke ran 19:30 and 22:28 respectively at Stevenage. Jennie Fraser ran 27:42 at Ayr. Glyn Blakey ran 22:03 at Keswick. William Harrison ran 20:12 at Mersea Island. Phillip Hawkes (20:53) and Lucy Hurley (26:42) ran at Letchworth and Mark and Sue Vaughan ran at Rothay in 18:18 and 29:45 respectively.
Pictures by BedfordRunFest
Pictures by BedfordRunFest
This weekend saw a flurry of squirrels take part in many different races, varying in distance and undulation, with PB’s flying everywhere!
The Great Hertfordshire Area of Natural Beauty Run which is a charity event organised by the 2021 club charity, The Garden House Hospice, saw North Herts Road Runners compete in both the 10k and Marathon. Jillian Tooley-Boys and Elwyn Howell took part in the 10k where Jillian finished 1st lady in a superb time of (58:22), and Elwyn in (52:50). Jillian was hoping for sub 60 and was ‘chuffed to bits with result’. In the marathon, Sue Foot and Andrew Porter may have had to do a bit more navigation than expected, with a couple of misleading arrows along the way causing slight confusion with the route, but they enjoyed the fantastic Herts and Beds countryside and finished in a time of 06:08:00.
Elsewhere, the Thorney 5 miler which is described as a ‘Pancake flat out and back road race’, saw three North Herts Road Runners finish the presumably PB course. Richard Weber, Lucy O’Connor and Brian Judkins all headed to Bedford and did NHRR very proud. Richard Weber finished in a time of 36:56 which was a fantastic PB. Similarly, Lucy O’Connor also smashed her PB and finished 1st in her age category.
Meanwhile in the city, four North Herts Road Runners headed to compete in the London Big Half Marathon, which although saw less crowds and less atmosphere, was still a fantastic race to compete in. Ironically, in his last major race before covid and first major race post lockdown, David Weston felt empowered by his fellow North Herts Road Runners and flew round the course in a phenomenal time of 98 minutes. Also taking part was Matt Sayers, Shaun Allin and Dave Edwards, who finished in 1:18:50, 1:36:00 and 1:34:43 respectively. Matt explained, ‘although I was disappointed with my time, I’m grateful to be running races again and it was a good dress rehearsal for my return trip to London on 3rd October’.
Helen Cromack took part in the Oundle 20 miler as part of her training for the Brighton marathon. Helen described the course as undulating and finished in a time of 03:45:48. A great time considering it is the furthest Helen has ever run!
Vince Wright headed to Kings Lynn and competed in the GEAR 10k. Considering Vince is returning from injury he ran a smashing time of 38:41, matching his personal best.
The virtual midweek league continued this week with 17 squirrels submitting a time for the final race. The final result saw both our women’s and men’s team come 4th, which put us in 4th place overall, and 2nd in the masters, ladies’ and men’s. Next year when we get back to racing properly we will be defending out division 1 title, so we’re looking forward to seeing record turn outs and great racing.
Parkrun was again a very popular option for many North Herts Road Runners with members venturing near and far. Martyn and Rachel Annetts competed at Bedford in (21:27) and (28:01) respectively. Steve Williamson was the only NHRR representative at Kettering in a great time of (25:11). More locally, seven North Herts Road Runners headed to Stevenage where Ellie Scott lead the group home in 23:54. Followed by Paul Bowal (25:12), Anna Greetham (25:52), Andrew Coates (25:52), Sue Vaughan (27:55), Philip Flack (28:03) and Jane Clarke (42:05). Across the border in Cambridgeshire, Brian Judkins ran at the popular Wimpole Estate event, finishing in (37:33). Meanwhile, Helen Cairns competed at Folkstone in a time of (23:47). Further afield in beautiful Norfolk, Andrew Underhill dipped well below the 30 minute mark, completing the run in (28:44). At home in sunny (sometimes!) Letchworth, ten runners stormed the undulating course. Adrian Sherwood finished first NHRR in a time of (20:24), closely followed by James Dalton (20:39), Philip Hawkes (21:37), James Poulton (23:53), Ian Datlen (23:55), Charlotte Hannah Coles (26:48), Georgina Quayle (27:08), Carl Goodrum (27:11), Bob Davis (28:22) and Carina Quayle (34:36).
Three squirrels headed to Highfield Park on a very damp Sunday morning to take part in St Albans Summer 10km hosted by Active Training World. The race started in a time trial format, with the fastest predicted time athletes setting off in wave 1 at 9am, followed by a second wave at 10am. This allowed for social distancing and the starting pen resembled a Formula 1 grid! Team captains John Auld and Tash Pitman started in the 9am wave heading out towards Hatfield along the flat, tree lined former railway line, Alban Way before looping back to St Albans. John finished in 39:16, 5th in the 30-39 age category and 18th male finisher. Tash finished in 42:22, 3rd in her age category, just 15 seconds short of the 2nd place and 6th female overall.
Russ Hagan cheered on his team mates in wave 1, before lining up for the wave 2 start at 10am. The rain had cleared at this point, which saw favourable race conditions help him to a fantastic personal best time of 51:40, achieving 6th place in his age category, a whole 3 minutes ahead of 7th place! Great racing from the squirrels. Russ Hagan said "It was so good to be back in a race again, I ran the St. Albans 10K for the first time a couple of years ago and got a PB so was hopeful I could better it. “
Saturday saw our First Saturday of the month 5k race take place on Norton Common. Fifty-Two runners took part with Peter Clarke coming in first with a time of 18:40 and the first lady, finishing in 8th place was Tracy Pitcairn with a time of 21:25. Three buggy runners took on the bumpy terrain of Norton Common, Tom Webb and daughter Olivia led the pack finishing 2nd overall (19:03). Second place was Dave Braybrook with Leo (24:41) and third was Jillian Boys with Mable (30:41). This monthly event is open to all runners and is totally free. See our website to register.
The Squirrel Cup concluded at the end of July it was very tight at the top of the leaderboard with Team ‘Rock cake’ made up of Chris Stokes, Susan Mansfield and Caroline Thrussell taking the top spot with a time of 01:05:08. They were closely followed by Team ‘Cream Horn’ who took the Silver medal and Team ‘Battenburg’ in Bronze position. This fabulous competition ran through the month of July and was expertly organised by Mike Bullock.
Sunday 26th September will see the return of the Standalone 10K. There are still places available and members are asked to volunteer for marshalling.
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