This week saw two Squirrels hitting major parkrun milestones. Ellie Scott chose the Stevenage course to run her 200th parkrun. Reflecting on her parkrun memories she reminisced about running her first ever parkrun at Norwich in an “exhausting 26:39, and I was hooked straight away”. Since that day she has run 24 different courses and has got her personal best (PB) down to 22:18. For Ellie it hasn’t just been about running the Parkruns herself, but encouraging her family to get involved. Ellie’s Dad is now a Run Director for Norwich, Ellie’s Mum has beaten her by achieving her 250th milestone t-shirt and even her sister who refused to run outside has earned her 100 milestone t-shirt! Ellie’s parkun highlight was marshalling at the Norwich Christmas Day Event where they had 1100 runners and some of the most fantastic costumes! Ellie credits parkrun entirely for getting her into running and it was the need to get a faster parkrun time that led her to join North Herts Road Runners!
Jennie Fraser celebrated the 50th time she had remembered her barcode this week at Letchworth Parkrun, finishing as 2nd Lady! Describing her parkrun journey Jennie said “I love how friendly and versatile parkrun is, whichever one you go to you meet lots of smiley faces. Everyone is there to run their own way: be it for speed work, parkrun tourism or for a social chatty run.” Her most memorable one was in Inverness the day before the Loch Ness Marathon as it was full of International runners all using it as shake out run! Jennie particularly enjoys there being a course in Letchworth so she can build parkrun into her long run either to end it with a strong finish or in the middle and run there and back. Particularly as it’s a cross country course, so it means that she gets to run through all the deep puddles and splash everyone who is trying to avoid them!
Kat Gourd took part in the Remembrance Run Essex 10k race in Saffron Walden on Saturday. It was a fairly flat 2-lap course around the former Debden Airfield, which is now used as a British Army base. The chilly morning spurred Kat on to run her fastest 10k in a new PB of 47:24.
Elwyn Howell travelled to Walton on the Thames to complete the Poppy Day half marathon, taking 7 minutes off his previous time, finishing in 2:03:24.
Jim McConnel went west to a very soggy Cirencester Cross Duathlon on Remembrance Sunday. McConnel raced the technical off road course of run (2 miles), bike (10 miles), run (2 miles) and managed to pull away to take the victory by over 30 seconds in a time of 1:07:00. He described the day as “a short but super hard day out, testing every undertrained core muscle I possess.”
PARKRUN RESULTS: Stevenage: Naomi PARKINSON, 25:09, Ellie SCOTT, 25:10, Jane CLARKE,35:14, Sarah MITCHERSON, 38:38 Letchworth: Matthew SAYERS, 21:41, James DALTON, 22:39, Ian HARVEY, 23:34, Rhia BOTHA, 25:42, Jennie FRASER, 26:15, Philip FLACK, 29:20, Carl GOODRUM, 30:16, Alan HAZLEHURST, 30:26, Carol GOODRUM, 35:25, Glyn BLAKEY, 36:05 Upton Court: Brian JUDKINS 35:31 Clare Castle: Patrick NORRIS, 33:28, Steve BRENTON 2:25 Exeter Riverside: Andrew COATES 21:58 (PB) Panshanger: Chris POOLE, 27:48 Great Denham: Vincent WRIGHT, 19:20 Dunstable Downs: Helen GIFFIN, 32:10 Irchester Country: Carl HASKELL, 23:41
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.
Several Squirrels throughout the weekend commented on how beautiful Sunday morning was with the crisp Autumn sunshine compared to the rain of Saturday. Leeds was among them. There were three personal bests ran at the famously stacked field of Leeds Abby Dash. Tom Webb was first squirrel home finishing in 31:55. He was closely followed by Andrew Leach who narrowly missed the British V55 record by 2 seconds, finished in 32:04. Mark Vaughan was next squirrel over the line. With a diving finish, he crossed the line in 32:40, a new PB and a bloody knee. Sue Vaughan finished in 55:04, 51 seconds quicker than last time on the same course. Andrew was 1st V55 on the day and Mark was 2nd V45.
Two squirrels ran the Snowdonia Marathon. Rob Harris finished 15th in 2:56:31 and Adam Wilson finished in 5:05:02. The incredibly scenic and hilly/mountainous course was very wet underfoot. The rain mostly stayed away for the race its self. Rob crossed the finish line slightly slower than he’d hoped, a bit bloody, quite muddy but smiling!
Three squirrels ran Stort 30, a 30 mile ultra marathon race along the river Stort toe path. Angeliki described the course as very muddy, but absolutely beautiful. Stopping on the way to eat at the check points, Jennie Fraser, Angeliki Shearstone and Dan Mallet finished in 5:41:40, 6:00:30 and 6:16:36 respectively. Jennie said the event was extremely well organised and great for a natter with a lovely finishers medal.
Five squirrels ran the Ricky Road run, a 10 mile race around Rickmandsworth and Chorleywood. Dervla Downing was first squirrel home in 1:18:54, followed by Andrew Coates in 1:21:07, Kat Gourd in 1:21:17, Lucy O'Connor in 1:26:09 and Alison Blunt in 1:41:44. Despite fears about the infamously hilly course with two particularly challenging hills – they really enjoyed the event. For Andrew, this was his first 10 mile race. Dervla ran a course PB. Lucy was 2nd V55 and was frankly amazed with her time. Kat achieved a new 10M Personal Best after a park run PB (23:05) from the day before at Great Denham.
Dave Braybrook ran the undulating course at Love Luton 10km. Dave was really pleased with the result as he ran a new Personal best, finishing in 50:27. The only scenic part of the course was interrupted by a dog that gave its owner the slip and proceeded to chase Dave through Wardown Park.
Several Squirrels ran the Bedford Autodrome 10km. Laura Preston ran her first 10km in other 12 months. However she finished with a new personal best in a time of 1:05:10. Elwyn Howell finished in 55:04. Vincent Wright finished in 38:39, 8th overall and 2nd in the V40 category. It was also a personal best by 42 seconds.
Lucy Hurley ran the Worksop Half Marathon through Clumber Park. Lucy was pleased with her result given not much training and finished in 2:01.
Very envious of the Snowdonia Marathon, Jo Summers settled with the Bury St Edmunds Marathon. Jo finished 1st lady in 3:51.
The leaves have turned golden, the smell of wood fires fill the air and the gentle knocking sound of runner’s knees waiting in the cold can only mean one thing...the XC season is upon us. There is no better way to welcome this season then to head over to Ampthill and run the Ampthill Trophy. A full 10k course without a single blade of grass that isn’t pointing downhill at 45 degrees or uphill at 45 degrees. Many a runner has been taken hostage by this course. Not for the fainthearted or sensible of mind - nonetheless the course was visited by a number of squirrels. Oliver Brady stormed into 1st place in the Men’s Under 20 category with a time of 41.11 which also placed him 9th Overall. Not to be outdone Andrew Porter also won his age category of V70 in a time of 62.59. Also running were the President (of the club) Dickie Harbon in 47.11, Miranda Morgan in 66.19, Hannah Keeble in 70.12 and Brian Judkins in 75.13.
Adam Bowller sought a different challenge to the Ampthill Trophy and decided to represent the East of England XC team in Bury St Edmunds racing against Cambridge Uni and the RAF who put up a tough flight but ran out of fuel towards the end. Adam finished the 6 mile course in 30th place in a time of 35:25.
John Rayner continued his fine form by beating 19,923 people to finish 77th in the Great South Run. A race close to John’s heart as Portsmouth was where his grandparents lived as well as being the city where he went to uni and where he met his wife. The city obviously remembered John as the weather played nice and offered a tail wind for the final 2 miles of this 10 mile course enabling John to set a new PB of 58.13. A superb time. Sheryl Chatfield also ran the race and finished in a fine 1:30:42.
Stewart Overton and Darren Sunter continued their targeting of the marathon distance by running the Yorkshire Marathon. Stewart was aiming to finish in 2hrs 45 mins. Stewart finished in 2hrs and 45 mins...which I guess means the training plan worked… This was a new PB for Stewart and as all runners know he enjoyed this achievement for 20 minutes before setting himself a new target for his next marathon. Darren Sunter used this a training run(!) for the Valencia marathon and finished in 2:53:25. Jim Marvell was pleased to set a new post-injury PB in this race as well with a time of 5:07:58. In other marathon news Jo Summers ran the Chelmsford marathon in an excellent 3hrs 46mins. This is only the 50th time Jo has run a marathon in under 4 hours. A brilliant achievement considering the ridiculous amount of Gummi bears she consumed on her way round.
Clare Hooley and James Drew ran the Cambridge Town and Gown 10k. Clare was pleased to be able to take part having missed out on the race last year due to injury. Clare finished in 1:10:09 having enjoyed the beautiful scenery running alongside the river Cam past King’s College.
130 9 Rhiannon BOTHA North Herts RRC 00:21:33
25 22 Darren MATUSSA North Herts RRC 00:23:54
31 28 Steve WILLIAMSON North Herts RRC 00:22:01
37 5 Paula HOLM North Herts RRC 00:22:24
45 7 Dervla DOWNING North Herts RRC 00:22:52
99 14 Sarah MILLHOUSE North Herts RRC 00:25:12
146 117 Philip FLACK North Herts RRC 00:27:30
195 51 Sarah MITCHERSON North Herts RRC 00:30:22
199 55 Helen GIFFIN North Herts RRC 00:30:36
265 95 Jane CLARKE North Herts RRC 00:34:49
269 173 Brian JUDKINS North Herts RRC 00:34:55
On a weekend in which the world was amazed by the record-breaking achievements of Brigid Kosgei and Eliud Kipchoge, the Squirrels took note, laced up their running shoes, and produced some inspirational performances of their own. Dave Braybrook for one, was taking part in his first ever half marathon at Oxford. “The weather was far from ideal with torrential rain for the first 10k,” said Dave. “The race was going well up until the 9-mile marker but then I just ran out of legs.” In the end, Dave was pleased with his effort and very glad to finish in a time of 2.07:54. Kat Gourd was in the same race, and also commented on the ‘ridiculous’ weather, but added: “despite the conditions and dodging puddles, rivers, lakes, and oceans, and simultaneously dealing with a slight wardrobe malfunction (note to self: buy some better shorts that don’t threaten to fall down when they get wet!) – I was very pleased to get a new post-injury PB of 1:49:13.”
On Saturday morning, while the running world watched intently as Eliud Kipchoge ran the marathon distance in under 2 hours, at the Great Denham parkrun, Sue Vaughan was attempting to break her own club age group record of 27:56 at the parkrun distance. Paced round the fast flat course, in perfect running conditions by an England International athlete (her husband Mark), Sue started off well inside her target pace, slowed a bit in the middle of the race, but then with some fairly vocal encouragement from her pacer, rallied in the final mile to finish in a new Personal Best, and new club record of 25:35, which placed her first in her age group.
Unlike Kipchoge’s run, Sue’s time is an officially recognised record and when interviewed after the race, Sue commented “No Human Is Limited”, before retreating to the local café for a celebratory breakfast. Stuart Cocks was similarly inspired and ran the 3-lap course at Haverhill parkrun in 22.19. He finished in 7th place and he first in his age category, describing himself as ‘very pleased’. See below for all parkrun results.
The previous week, NHRR’s leading race walker, David Annetts, had taken part in a 20k race walk in Tilburg in the Netherlands – 12 and a bit laps of a cycle track on a very wet afternoon. A mix up from the officials’ lap counting meant David was asked to race an extra lap, but he continued and saw his time adjusted afterwards, finally finishing second in the men’s race in a new PB of 1:43:34. And the following week, David was back in action closer to home, when he raced at the Enfield Race Walking League 5 Miles event. After a close race with a competitor who got away over the last half-mile, David finished 2nd in 38:20.
Having run Warsaw Marathon only two weeks previously in very warm conditions, Nessa Rolfe was racing again at the weekend, this time at the Sofia Half Marathon in Bulgaria, also in glorious sunshine. The temperature reached 25/26 degrees for the run but the route was ‘kind’, and Nessa was happy to finish in 2.24.36. Dani Lister was another Squirrel to take on the half marathon distance at the weekend. She completed the Royal Parks Half Marathon today in 2.22 – a PB! “Great support around the course,” said Dani. “Even Extinction Rebellion stopped their protesting to give us all a great big cheer!”
Amy Murch took her club vest on its first outing today to run in her first 10k race at Victoria Park in London. “I was aiming to get under an hour and ended up finishing in 57.04 mins,” said Amy. “I’m happy with that! It was nice and flat and the rain eased off after the first 3k.”
This weekend’s parkrun results in full:
Letchworth parkrun : 3 John O'GORMAN 20:12, 4 James DALTON 21:21, 5 Richard HARBON 21:44, 14 Rhiannon BOTHA 24:06, 15 Ian DATLEN 24:08, 18 Jillian BOYS 24:31, 27 Richard WEBER 25:25, 52 Carl GOODRUM 28:16, 63 Amy JONES 29:24, 65 Philip FLACK 29:31, 66 Siobhan WALSH 29:32, 93 Lucy HURLEY 32:38, 112 Glyn BLAKEY 34:42, 116 Laura PRESTON 34:57
Stevenage parkrun: 45 Dervla DOWNING 23:13, 52 Andrew COATES 23:32, 58 Katherine GOURD 23:45, 62 Lucy O'CONNOR 24:02, 206 Helen GIFFIN 31:44, 232 Patrick NORRIS 33:22,.
Great Denham parkrun: 76 Sue VAUGHAN 25:35,
Haverhill parkrun: 7 Stuart COCKS 22:19, 13 Chris POOLE 24:43
Kettering parkrun: 40 Steve WILLIAMSON 22:29
Roding Valley parkrun: 4 Darren MATUSSA 19:50
Norwich parkrun: 61 Helen CAIRNS 22:19
Plean parkrun: 39 Brian JUDKINS 34:52
Undeterred by weather forecasts of torrential rain, record numbers took part in the North Herts Road Runners-organised Standalone 10K, and as always, the event saw some incredible performances from local runners.
In the women's race, Lizzy Janes of Herts Phoenix took her 6th Standalone victory, with Rebecca Newstead of Beds & County taking second place. Katie Harbon (3rd) 38:05 was the first female North Herts Road Runner to finish, also taking the bronze in the County Champs and led the NHRR ladies team home to silver county medal position. Caroline Thrussell (11th) 44:02 described her nerves before the race but said they soon turned to excitement. Despite a tricky 5th mile, she still managed a PB, and won the Over 55s (open race and county). She was also delighted to be awarded a county team medal along with her niece Sophie Thrussell (20th) 44:49 who completed the team.
The male Squirrels were led to victory by Andrew Leach who finished first overall in a time of 33:14. He was closely followed by Tom Webb (2nd) 33:32, Mark Vaughan (4th) 33:56 and Stewart Overton (6th) 34:19 to make up the winning men’s team for both the race and the County Champs. Second in the men’s team competition were Darren Sunter (7th) 34:25, Nathan Pask (8th) 34:32, Jim McConnel (9th) 34:39 and Matt Sayers (12th) 35:22.
As always, Standalone Eve saw the First Saturday of the Month – perfect for those looking to loosen the legs ahead of Sunday’s event or for those club members who would be busy marshalling the 10K. The event saw 49 runners enjoying Norton Common with NHRR’s own John Auld coming in 1st position with 18:47. The field included another 14 Squirrels James Keogh (3rd) 19:56, James Dalton (4th) 20:18, Paula Holm (8th) 22:49, Kat Gourd (13th) 23:48, Alice Bates (16th) 25:26, Adam Wilson (18th) 26:25, Carl Goodrum (20th) 26:51, Chris Stokes (26th) 27:59, Gladys Cheng (30th) 28:23, Phil Flack (35th) 29:00, Dawn Power (40th) 31:18, Helen Giffin (41st) 32:08, Clare Hooley (46th) 37:18, Lorna Chambers (47th) 37:18.
Jillian Boys travelled to Wales to compete in the first ever Canicross Long Distance event – the Red Kite Cani Trail. Boys described the day as “amazing and the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Twenty-two miles of the most challenging trails across the Welsh mountains, taking in bogs, streams, fallen trees and angry cows and some of the steepest ascents I have even seen”. She paid tribute to her running partner Lulu who “took the whole thing in her stride and is the best teammate anyone could ask for”.
Closer to home, Elwyn Howell took on the Willow 10K at Hatfield House and was pleased to finish in 54:40 while raising money for such a worthwhile cause.
Vanessa Rolfe journeyed to Poland to participate in the Warsaw Marathon. Rolfe enjoyed the route, the plentiful toilets, well stocked drink/feed stations and the local bands playing along the course. She completed the course in 5:14.
Sue Foot competed in the Great Barrow Challenge marathon, taking in four laps of 6.55 undulating miles of road and trail with a fantastic finishing time of 4:43.
Wednesday night saw the conclusion of the Hatfield 5K series with twenty-two squirrels scurrying down the A1M to compete in the third and final race. Mark Vaughan was first home for the club in 4th place in a time of 16:41 with Rhia Botha leading the ladies home in 21:16. Trophies were awarded for the overall series with Caroline Thrussell winning the V55 category and Dervla Downing and Pete Sibbett both coming third in their respective age groups.
Also running in Hatfield were:
John Auld, 18:11; Peter Sibbett, 18:43; Adrian Sherwood, 19:19; James Keogh, 19:22; Ian Datlen, 20:09; Neil Jefferson, 21:14; Kevin Browne, 21:17; Caroline Thrussell, 21:46; Chris Poole, 22:01; Dervla Downing, 22:34; Kat Gourd, 22:40 (PB); Harry Agius, 24:21; Geoff Murray-Rochard, 24:37; Lewina Agius, 25:39; Sue Vaughan, Andrew Porter, 27:35; Hannah Keeble, 27:17; Carina Quayle, 29:48; Clare Hooley, 35:06 and Ian Sutcliffe, 38:02.
Ed Price, Nathan Pask and Stewart Overton travelled to Sandy for the Biggleswade AC open meet and their last track race of the year. They shared the workload on a windy day, before breaking away to secure a North Herts 1, 2, 3 in the 5000m. Nathan Pask, 16:32; Ed Price, 16:37; Stewart Overton, 16:45.
Eighteen Squirrels supported the Hitchin Town Centre 5KM with many taking away silverware, Jo Harbon and Ian Sutcliffe both won their age categories with Natalie Lawrence and Lucy O’Connor coming second in theirs and Christian Allen and Richard Harbon, third. Sutcliffe (1st V70), was grateful that the rain stopped before the race, to enable him to enjoy this two lap course. Thankfully Sutcliffe remembered that this was a two lap course, having inadvertently added on a third lap to Wednesday night’s Hatfield 5K, which he blames on feeling good and having a senior moment!
Full Hitchin Results;
Natalie Lawrence, 19:28; James Dalton, 20:30; David Weston, 20:55; Richard Harbon, 20:59; Christian Allen 21:05; Andrew Underhill, 21:28; Stuart Cocks, 22:32; Katherine Gourd, 23:05; Jo Harbon, 24:37; Lucy O’Connor, 24:52; Russell Hagan, 26:47; Sue Vaughan, 27:31; Ian Sutcliffe, 27:36; Philip Flack, 27:42; Hailey Batson, 30:37; Brian Judkins 32:32; Geoff Pettengell, 34:59, Sheila Leavy, 42:24.
Helen Harbon and Matt Ankers chose the more rural based Clifton Farm Run 5K. It was very wet and windy, but they enjoyed it nonetheless and Matt completed the run in 24:28 and Helen finished just behind him in 25:20.
Niccolò Bassani flew to Germany to compete in the BMW Berlin Marathon. The conditions saw gusts of wind and relentless rain for the last 11 miles which meant a slower last 3 miles as Bassani negotiated puddles! Despite such conditions and limited training, Bassani completed the course in 03:31:44.
Jo Summers ran the Ely Tri Runfest Marathon, describing it as “a lovely, flat, out and back run, vaguely following the river Ouse”. She suffered the headwind on the way out and enjoyed the tailwind on the return. Summers finished in a fantastic 3.51 and was 4th lady overall.
Andrew Robson competed in the third and last of the year, Bedford Tri-Crazy series. Despite the wet and windy weather conditions not being conducive to a record time, Robson achieved 6th overall for the series in his age group
In race-walking news, David Annetts competed in the Enfield League One Hour Race Walk. Thankful for the wet weather providing cool conditions, Annetts was second in the race with a new pb of covering 12489m in the hour.
As always, NHRR were strongly represented in the local Parkruns;
James DALTON, 21:58; 22.15; Steve BRENTON, 23:45; Andrew COATES, 24:22; Katherine GOURD, 24:33; Dave BRAYBROOK 26:54; Carl GOODRUM, 28:02; Brian BAILEY, 30:37; Carol GOODRUM, 35:14
Darren MATUSSA, 19:38; Andrew UNDEHILL, 21:55; Chris POOLE, 23:02; Lucy O’CONNOR, 24:01; Elwyn HOWELL, 27:22; Helen GIFFEN, 32:22; Jane CLARKE, 32:24; Patrick NORRIS, 33:26; Sarah MITCHERSON, 36:52.
Ian DATLEN, 19:52
Ellie SCOTT, 26:49
Jillian BOYS, 24:36; Lucy HURLEY 28:08; Naomi PARKINSON, 28:08
Brian JUDKINS, 35:35
North Herts Road Runners sent two teams to the SEAA road relays at Crystal Palace. The relays are a prestigious event that provide road runners from across the South of England a great opportunity to race alongside some of the country's best. Once again, NHRR equipped themselves well and produced creditable performances all round. Jim McConnel (19:02), Matt Sayers (19:05), Ed Price (19:05) and Mark Vaughan (19:25) ran the M40 race and finished as 4th M40 team overall. Steve McKeown (20:35), Adrian Sherwood (21:30), Richard Harbon (23:37) and Pete Sibbett (22:06) ran the M50 race, finishing in 11th place.
On Wednesday 18th September NHRR fielded a team in the Ridlins 5000m Challenge in Stevenage. The Squirrels finished in 3rd place. Nathan Pask won the race in 16:18, John Auld finished in 18:10, Adrian Sherwood in 18:32, Darren Matussa in 18:42 74.8% and Rhia Botha in a new PB of 20:55.
At the Millenium Arena in Battersea Park, Stuart Overton took part in the VAC 10,000 metre championships. This was his first time taking part in this distance on the track. Stuart said “front-running a pack for 18 laps certainly cost me places in the later stages but I finished in a time of 34:45 which I was pleased with.” He should have been, as this was enough to rank as the 3rd V35 and the 1st Eastern Masters V35.
Jo Summers ran the Great Barrow Challenge which, according to Jo “has ventured into the murky world of laps… of 6.55 miles, with added interest by running loops 1 and 3 clockwise and loops 2 and 4 anti-clockwise.” She continued “Suffolk is not flat. Neither clockwise nor anti-clockwise. I admit to struggling with some of the hills”. Jo finished in 4.06, first lady and took 42 minutes off the female course record which was set the previous day.
Jennie Fraser ran the Norfolk Coastal marathon, which she described as “a beautiful race taking in the coastline from Holme-Next-the-Sea to Morston Quay”. It was a hot day for marathon running, but with an unrelenting headwind the temperature seemed cooler but the distance longer! The route took in soft deep sand for a couple miles in Holkham, navigating marsh mud and beach-worn shingle paths. Jennie finished in 4:59:34 and would highly recommend the route!
Two squirrels ran the Welwyn Garden City half-marathon. Vanessa Rolfe finished in 2:27:26. Having enjoyed the same race last year she said she “found it particularly tough this time”. She was 4th in her age group, just missing out on a medal. “I must try harder! She said. Helen Marson-Smith ran too, in her first half-marathon, another of the last couch to 5k group the club coached to tackle the distance. She finished in a very creditable 2:35:53.
International Squirrel Michelle Grudzinski has been living in Greece recently and finally got her trainers on and took part in the Ioannina Lake Run 30km. Michelle telegraphed that “it was an opportunity to visit a different town in Greece and to kick myself back into action!” She continued “30km was perhaps 20km too far, but I managed it in a time that would make a tortoise cry (3:51)” Michelle is now looking forward to thinking about training, before returning to blighty in November.
Clare Hooley and James Keogh joined Vince Wright at the last minute for the “Steeple Chase 10k”. This low-key event is a trail run through countryside around Steeple Morden with proceeds going to the local primary school. The route, gave beautiful views across the fields, skirted the former airfield and included a long straight stretch of the Icknield Way trail. There were also cross-country elements around field edges and a short distance across a ploughed field. James told us that “the weather was good, if a little warm, and the threatened thunderstorms didn’t materialise.” Vince and James finished second and third respectively in under 43 mins. Clare was pleased to finish in just under 1hr 24mins, following couple of months off through injury.
Jo Harbon, Andrew Porter and Matt Ankers ran the St Paul’s Walden Burt 10K race. Matt commented that it was an “incredibly hard run. The heat mixed with never-ending ups and downs meant we were all a bit slower than usual! Lovely views though as usual, and lovely ground too!” Matt finished in 55:39, Jo in 58:54 and Andrew in 1:01:55.
17 Squirrels ran in weekend parkruns. At Stevenage Ellie Scott finished in 25:20, Russell Hagan in 26:45, Pat Norris in 33:33 and Jane Clarke in 34:39. Jillian Boys finished Wimpole Estate in 35:19. Rebecca Nicholl travelled to Cleethorpes and finished in 32:18. Chris Poole took on Ellenbrook Fields and finished in 23:35. Naomi Parkinson went to Crewe and finished in 25:34. Finally, at Letchworth there were 9 NHRR finishers. John O’Gorman was first home for the club in 19:06, followed by Ian Datlen in 20:43. Other finishers were Rhia Botha (22:42), Steve Brenton (24:06) Kat Gourd (24:12), Alan Hazlehurst (27:50), Amy Murch (29:16), Glyn Blakey (29:55) and Carol Goodrum (33:35)
Tough running in the heat’ was Lucy O’Connor’s verdict on a week of testing but successful local racing for North Herts Road Runners at the Hatfield 5k and inaugural Stevenage 10k.
The flat course and midweek evening format of the Hatfield event make it a popular race for runners across Hertfordshire and a strong turnout from 23 Squirrels saw the Letchworth-based club put in a series of impressive performances.
The event also served as the Hertfordshire Veterans championships and NHRR Chairperson Astrid McKeown led the way by taking the silver medal in the female 45-plus category in a time of 19.24. Matt Sayers replicated the feat with 16.47 for second place in the male 40-plus group.
Fellow Squirrel Andrew Porter was delighted to record a new best time of 26.53 over the 5k distance and Hayley Cocks said she was ‘absolutely over the moon’ with her first-ever sub-30 minutes 5k clocking. Cocks crossed the line in 29.49 and was delighted when a fellow athlete from Stevenage-based Fairlands Valley Spartans admitted she had been using her as a pacer; ‘Me, a pacer – wow!’ was the post-race comment from Cocks.
Also running at Hatfield were:
John Auld, 18:35; Peter Sibbett, 18:35; Adrian Sherwood, 18:44; Ian Datlen, 19:09 (PB); Charlie Grayson, 19:16; Stuart Cocks, 20:26 (PB); Richard Harbon, 20:38; Neil Jefferson, 21:09; Rhia Botha, 21:28; Caroline Thrussell, 21:34; Chris Poole, 22:08 58; Dervla Downing ,22:35; Kat Gourd, 22:57 (PB); Lucy O’Connor, 23:23; Richard Weber, 23:31 (PB); Harry Agius, 23:48 (PB); Geoff Murray-Rochard, 23:50 (PB); Lewina Agius, 25:10 (PB); Ian Sutcliffe, 27:26; Hannah Keeble, 27:28; Carina Quayle, 28:31
Conditions had warmed up further by the time of Sunday’s first-ever Stevenage 10k, but Lucy O’Connor found the heat to her liking as she won the 55-plus age group with a time of 52.04 and Dervla Downing took silver in the 35-plus category with 48.14.
Fellow Squirrel Kat Gourd admitted she had ‘never been so glad to run downhill into one of Stevenage's oh-so-glamorous -but gloriously-shady underpasses’, although each descent was matched with ‘trepidation about the inevitable uphill slog (often in full sun) that would follow!’. Gourd battled her way to a new best time of 48.57 and was delighted to finish first in the senior female category.
Also running at Stevenage were:
Chris Poole, 46:59; Stuart Cocks, 47:13; Steve Brenton, 48:30; Andrew Coates, 48:38; Christian Allen, 50:35; Dave Braybrook, 53:38; Allison Blunt, 59:22; Jennifer Naisbitt, 1:05:02; Anna Greetham, 1:07:06; Hayley Cocks, 1:10:54.
Long-distance specialists Sue Foot and Jo Summers completed another new event – the Five Rivers Challenge Marathon, covering five loops all starting and finishing in Ware. Sue described the whole route as ‘very picturesque and perfect trail running’. She finished in ‘around 5 hours 25’, with Jo ‘well in front of me!’.
As ever, NHRR were strongly represented at Parkruns near and far:
Andrew Coates, 22.20; Kat Gourd, 23.29; Dave Braybrook, 24.19; Sarah Millhouse, 24.57; Jane Clarke, 28.33; Pat Norris, 32.40; Sarah Mitcherson, 36.55.
Paul Jackson, 18.33.
Lucy Hurley, 26.39
Chris Poole, 23.25
James Keogh, 20.58; Clare Hooley, 37.34
James Dalton, 20.59; Andrew Underhill, 22.15; Rhia Botha, 22.29; Damon Cleveley, 22.59; Sherryl Chatfield, 27.12; Carl Goodrum, 27.12; Adam Wilson, 27.56; Alan Hazlehurst, 27.58; Philip Flack, 28.08; Ellie Scott, 28.30; Rebecca Nicholl, 33.53; Carol Goodrum, 34.28
Brian Judkins, 36.32
Nant y Pandy
Glyn Blakey, 31.27
North Herts Road Runner, Rhia Botha, finished as first lady at the Baldock Rat Run in a time of 21:26. Not far behind was Paula Holm, who finished third in 21:58. In total, fourteen Squirrels took part in the second running of Sunday’s 5km race through the streets of Baldock. Speaking after the event, Richard Harbon (21:03) said it was: “A beautiful day and a great course. There were some outstanding results, and all proceeds went to Garden House Hospice Care.” Lucy O’Connor agreed, describing the conditions as “perfect running weather,” and ran 24:21. Helen Marson-Smith was pleased with her time of 29:51, her second fastest 5k time. See below for all NHRR Baldock Rat Run results.
Naomi Parkinson ran the Thames Path Challenge 100k, fundraising for Mind. “A 100k is not for the faint hearted,” said Naomi, “and having 9 months of training under my belt I’m really pleased to say I finished in 14 hours 57 minutes, 25th lady and 123rd overall. The support from well stocked rest stops, family and friends made all the difference - and a special thanks to all the Squirrels that have trained with me!”
On Saturday, John Auld was in his native Yorkshire to take part in the third of the four-race Silkstone Shuffle series. “It was a lovely morning actually. Lovely sunshine and a dry course,” said John. “Going into this race I was seventh in the series by a single second, so I planned to be at sixth after this race.” John was delighted to finish the race in seventh position, which means he is currently in fourth position overall. “Fourth is currently the first senior man outside the top 3, so in December I have a seven-second lead over fifth to defend - should be a good race - just how I like it!”
John wasn’t the only Squirrel to head north at the weekend. Pete Sibbett travelled to Salford Quays to run the UKFast Salford 10km. “This was an England Masters qualifying race,” said Pete. “I was racing to see where I need to get to in order to qualify in my age category; the answer was over 2 minutes faster!” However, Pete ran a season’s best 38.30, and achieved the 39min qualifying time. He was 4th in his age group. “Lots of work needed without getting injured in the process” was Pete’s final assessment, adding: “It was good to see another distinctive NHRR vest as Chris Poole was also racing.” Chris finished the race in 46:04.
Pat Norris did the Iceni Festival half on Sunday. He described it as a tough run round the town then out and around an RAF base, which was an undulating track comprising Brekon's sandy and loamy soil. “This was fortunately booked for me by my son as a birthday present as,” said Pat. “If I had seen it myself, I would have gone for the full marathon option (there was also a 10k at the same time) and I may not have finished it! Fortunately because this turned into quite a tough run. Only the first 8 finishers managed to go under 2 hours with the winner coming in at 1:38. Considering the weather was almost perfect and there were virtually no hills then I can only put this down to the conditions underfoot. Even so, my slowest half time ever at 3:28.”
In what he has decided will be his last race, Oliver Saville ran the Great North Run in 1:16:55. “I’m just going to run for enjoyment now,” said a relieved Oliver. Also running was Jim Marvell, who finished in finished in 2:20:21 - a post injury PB by just under 11 minutes.
Vanessa Rolfe took on the Draycote Water 20-mile race on Sunday. “Never done this one before,” she said after the event. “Although it was four times round the reservoir it wasn’t as boring as it sounds, and I was very happy to finish in 3:46:55.” Vanessa’s time was especially impressive as only the week before she had run the Bedford Half Marathon in 2:22:34.
In the NHRR-organised First Saturday of the Month 5k at Norton Common there were 64 runners. First home for the Squirrels were Matt Sayers, who ran 18:25 to finish in first position overall, and Caroline Thrussell, who was the first woman, and ran a time of 22:12. A Special ‘WELL DONE’ goes to to Fiona Oldham who completed her first 5k after doing the Couch-to-5k course.
Only the day before he took part in the Baldock Rat Run, Richard Harbon had run another 5k, this time at the Wetherby parkrun. The family were in the area for a wedding, and Katie Harbon finished as first lady in 19:45. See below for all NHRR parkrun results.
In race-walking news, David Annetts completed the last of the Tuesday night summer races at Woodford Green Open. In the 3000m Race Walk he finished 3rd in 13:47.
Baldock Rat Run results
Ian Datlen 5th 20:13
Richard Harbon 21:03
Rhia Botha First Lady 21:26
Paula Holm third lady 21:58
Andrew Coates 22:27
Steve Brenton 22:51
Lucy O’Connor 24:21
Andrew Cooper 25:27
Alan Hazelhurst 26:50
Sherryl Chatfield 27:20
Helen Marston Smith 29:56
Brian Justin’s 32:49
Helen Govey 34:36
25 Steve BRENTON 23:32
112 Sarah MILLHOUSE 25:19
313 Sarah MITCHERSON 33:53
349 Jane CLARKE 36:25
Roding Valley parkrun
9 Darren MATUSSA 19:24
494 Glyn BLAKEY 52:57
6 Katie HARBON (First Lady) 19:45
14 Richard HARBON 20:57
? James BERRY 24:11
40 Matt ANKERS 24:45
Exeter Riverside parkrun
149 Dave BRAYBROOK 24:22
23 Chris STOKES 20:33
48 Chris POOLE 24:48
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