As you know, the latest situation and advice from the UK government as well as England Athletics on the Covid 19 pandemic is being updated on a daily basis. We have been following all of the advice and while not yet implemented by the authorities, as a club we will always put the health and safety of our runners and coaches first. We have therefore made the following decisions to minimise the risk caused from gatherings of people.
Regrettably we have decided to cancel this year’s award night. We apologise to those who made extra efforts to be able to attend and to our social team who has been working so hard to organise one of the clubs highlights of the year.
But because we don’t want to take anything away from what you have achieved this year, the award winners will still be announced on the night via forum and email. Therefore, have a glass of bubbles near-by and celebrate our winners virtually. The winners will be contacted after the event to arrange how they can receive their trophies.
We now need some time to look at the options for a summer/autumn event instead
We will offer you a full refund, just bear with us whilst we sort out how to do that.
The AGM will be held virtually. You will receive a link that will allow you to attend via computer or mobile. You will be muted during the meeting but this virtual meeting will allow you to vote for the committee members, president and constitution changes via voting buttons. A questions field to type any questions will also be available.
Note that the vote for the charity of the year will be prior to the AGM, but we will reveal the winner at the AGM.
Recognising that some individuals may face short term financial changes, we will are also looking membership renewal delay. We hope to share more details at the AGM.
Until further notice we will NOT be meeting at the Spirella building for announcements, starting Tuesday 17th March. If you want to take part in our coached group training, please check the weekly training post on the forum that will indicate the separate meeting points for blue, green, yellow and purple. Groups might be combined or self-guided. Alternatively use your whatsapp group to arrange your own sessions.
Please minimise the items you would bring to training and usually leave at Spirella. The coaches will aim to bring a bag for your clothes/car keys.
If you wish, you can still use the Spirella car park and run to your session from there, but please do your post run stretching/hydration at home.
Obviously, if you are not feeling well, please don’t come to the sessions.
We will review our training arrangements regularly and will communicate when we will resume notices. Please check forum/email for any updates.
While we all have been told that elderly people, people with underlying conditions, and people who have to take immune suppressants are at higher risk, please note that training, especially hard training in preparation for a race, can compromise your immune system. As a result you are likely at higher risk of infection and if you get infected, you are at a higher risk for a worse course of the infections. Hence, please consider if reducing the intensity of your training is something you might want to do.
Thank you for your understanding in this very unusual situation.
If you have any further question and concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.
11 North Herts Road Runners travelled up the Cambridge Road to run the hugely popular Cambridge Half Marathon. The sun finally put its hat on and made a rare appearance but did little to take the edge off the wind freezing everyone at the start. Has there ever been a time in Cambridge when there is no wind? Kat Gourd remarked upon the, ‘Fabulous flat course, taking us through the wonderful city centre of Cambridge (even running through the infamous King's College!) and looping out to the very picturesque Grantchester village.’ Despite the beautiful scenery and the temptation to slow down and admire the views (maybe even pick up a degree) the appearance of the sun after 2 years in hiding had a startling effect on the runners resulting in a number of Personal Bests being achieved.
Kat Gourd was really pleased to finish in a new post-knee surgery PB of 1:47:38 whilst Dave Braybrook also beat his target, breaking the 2 hour barrier to gain a new PB of 1:59:04 smashing his previous PB of 2:06:52 by nearly 8 minutes. Angeliki Shearstone beat her best time by 2 minutes finishing in 1:51:52 and Elwyn Howell beat his PB by 7 minutes in 2:03:49. Sounds like some quality coaching has been taking place.
The other runners times were Tom Webb 1:11:42, James Dalton 1:28:10, Chris Poole 1:40:09, Ian Harvey 1:46:22, Jennie Fraser 1:48:51, Dan Mallett 1:49:58 and Andrew Robson 1:53:37
Ian Datlen shunned the limelight and the conversation of his clubmates and instead set off for the Roding Valley Half where he finished 33rd and set a new PB of 1:34:52 (there were no squirrels to verify this).
The PB’s don’t stop there! Katie Harbon set a new half marathon PB in an absolutely superb time of 1:22:45 at the Surrey Half Marathon and was the first lady home - an outstanding run. Darren Sunter also represented the club finishing 71st in a rapid 71:41. Clearly there was something in the water this weekend.
Sue Foot decided to run a long race for a change and completed the Amersham Ultra for charity. Sue finished first in the F60+ category after wading through 30 miles of mud and puddles in the Chilterns in a time of 6:59.
Rob Harris ran the HIllingdon 20 which involved 4 laps of a 5 mile course. Rob finished 7th overall and 1st MV40 in an excellent time of 2:04:13.
Elsewhere XC races were still taking place. The Herts Vets XC took place on a three and half lap course surrounding Stanborough Lakes in Welwyn. The results were Andrew Porter 48.12, Ian Sutcliffe 48.58, Lorna Chambers 50.21, Hannah Keeble 51.29 and Brian Judkins 55.36.
A special mention goes to Ed Price who was selected to run for Hertfordshire in the British XC series at Prestwold Hall in Loughborough. Despite the attritional course sucking the energy (and shoes) off the competitors Ed finished 6th for Hertfordshire and scored points for his County. An excellent achievement and honour for the club - well done Ed.
Squirrel quintet ran the Big Half through the roads of London. Kenenisa Bekele won the race but the Squirrels weren't far behind. Matt Sayers dipped just under championship qualification time for the first time in 74:58 and a new personal best by 75 seconds. Stewart Overton finished in 76:42. John Rayner finished in 80:17. Vincent Wright finished in 82:35 and a new personal best by 58 seconds. David Weston finished in 94:25. Matt said afterwards that he really enjoyed the day and with no rain, sunshine, only 14mph winds, plenty of music and a friendly atmosphere on the course - all contributed to good spirits. John was running for local Hitchin children charity Phase, raising over £1000. He ran his best half marathon time since October 2017.
Susan Mansfield and Lucy O'Connor ran a 10 mile event taking in the beautiful countryside just north of Milton Keynes. Named “Cattle Creep...A Little Further”, the route takes in many of the sites of the traditional route but take the run a little further. However, after several motorway diversions they arrived to find that the course had been changed from a 10 mile loop to two 5 mile loops instead due to localised flooding. Lucy crossed the finish line victorious as first place in FV50 category in 1.26.21. Susan crossed the line in 1:29:36 despite a rogue shoelace and insole malfunction half a mile from the end.
Lucy Hurley travelled to the vale of Belvoir in Leicestershire to take on the 30th Belvoir Challenge where the course changes every year. Lucy finished the already challenging marathon course in under 7 hours. The route took in many ridges and hills and provided many amazing views of the vale. The weather definitely made it a challenge with the hail, wind, snow and rain. The ground underfoot was also ankle deep in mud or water for about half the course.
Despite heavy rain and puddles the size of the lakes, Darren Matussa ran the Serpentine last Friday of the Month 5km around Hyde Park. With the weather meaning there were fewer tourists to dodge, Darren was pleased to cross the line in under 19 mins, finishing in 18:56.
Andrew Porter and Sue Foot completed 28 miles on the Hannington Hike challenge which started and finished in Wellingborough and included ankle deep puddles, sludge and mud. Equipped with a detailed route description and three very well stocked check points, they completed the course in 7:26.
David Annetts took place in the England Athletics 10km Race Walk Championshsips in Warwick University, Coventry - he finished 7th in 49:32.
Valentines: Carl Haskell (23:20), Abbie Haskell (50:17), Vicky Haskell (50:18)
Stevenage: Dervla Downing (22:29), Jennie Fraser (23:31), Adam Wilson (23:49), Andrew Coates (24:09), Dave Braybrook (24:20), Tim Banting (25:44)
Panshanger: Chris Poole (26:24)
Letchworth: James Dalton (21:46), Ian Datlen (23:19), Matt Roberts (25:11), Glyn Blakey (25:17), Carl Goodrum (30:03), Philip Flack (32:14), Brian Judkins (35:33)
Crewe: Naomi Parkinson (24:10)
‘The weather gods were certainly having fun up there’ was Kat Gourd’s summary of conditions at the Baldock Beast Half-marathon, with ‘driving stinging rain’ and ‘horrendous headwinds that nearly finished me off’.
Despite the conditions – also described by fellow North Herts Road Runner Susan Mansfield as more wind, more rain and even hailstones at one point’, the Squirrels took top spots in both the ladies’ and men’s team competitions.
Gourd (finish time 1.52.11) teamed up with Caroline Thrussell (1.42.59) and Suzy Trott (1.45.03) to take the ladies team title, while Tom Webb (second in the race with 1.18.59), Darren Sunter (3rd in 1.19.15), Rob Harris (6th in 1.23.20) and Darren Bonham (16th in 1.32.38) took the men's prize.
The popular local race attracted a strong turnout from the Letchworth-based club with the Squirrels’ ladies' B team of Rhia Botha, Lucy O’Connor and Grace Cleary also taking third spot in the team standings and Brent Lloyd, James Dalton, William Harrison and Chris Stokes following suit for the men.
Hailey Batson managed to knock a remarkable 7 minutes off her time in last year’s race with a 2.17. 40 clocking – a fine performance in the testing conditions.
In the age categories, Caroline Thrussell took first place in the ladies 55-plus group, Suzy Trott second in the 45-plus and Rob Harris was first in the men’s 40-plus category .
Full NHRR Baldock Beast results:
Tom Webb, 1:18:59; Darren Sunter, 1:19:15; Rob Harris, 1:23:20; Darren Bonham, 1:32:38; Brent Lloyd, 1:34:15; James Dalton, 1:35:11; William Harrison, 1:36:17; Chris Stokes, 1:36:21; Ian Datlen, 1:36:38; David Weston, 1:37:38; John Auld, 1:38:31; Andrew Underhill, 1:42:34; Caroline Thrussell, 1:42:59; Mike Bullock, 1:44:58; Suzy Trott, 1:45:03; Stuart Cocks, 1:46:10; Kat Gourd, 1:52:11; Andrew Coates, 1:53:20; Matt Roberts, 1:54:40; Dan Mallett, 1:55:33; Rhia Botha, 1:55:55; Lucy O’Connor, 1:57:24; Christian Allen, 1:57:33; Liam Jones, 1:58:05; Andrew Robson, 1:58:18; Grace Cleary, 1:58:20; Carl Haskell, 1:58:12; Chris Poole, 1:58:12; Alice Noakes, 1:59:49; Susan Mansfield, 2:00:11; Steve Brenton, 2:01:32; Ellie Scott, 2:02:46; Matt Ankers, 2:03:07; Jennie Fraser, 2:03:08; Georgina Quayle, 2:03:42; Sue Foot, 2:08:02; Andrew Porter, 2:10:24; Colin Calcutt, 2:15:26; Alan Hazlehurst, 2:17:08; Hailey Batson, 2:17:40; Carina Quayle, 2:23:18; James Poulton, 2:24:14; Anna Greetham, 2:26:09; Ali Mottram , 2:33:00; Hayley Cocks (tail runner), 2.49.
Brighton was Dervla Downing’s choice for a half-marathon and the wind made its presence felt there as well. Although she had ‘never run in such intense and strong wind’, Downing was pleased with her finish time of 1.44.21.
Vanessa Rolfe found much more pleasant conditions at the Naples Half-marathon in Italy, where she completed the course in 2.23.49.
William Harrison, 21.07, Ellie Scott, 25.41.
Naomi Parkinson, 25.09; Jillian Boys, 31.09
Glyn Blakey, 24.09
Chris Poole, 25.32
Adam Wilson, 25.59; Helen Wilson, 33.39
Stewart Overton, 19.53; James Dalton, 22.19; Richard Harbon, 24.57; Carl Goodrum, 31.41; Philip Flack, 35.01; Steve Brenton, 44.10
Carl Haskell, 22.31; Abbie Haskell, 39.34; Vicky Haskell, 39.36
North Herts Road Runners gave strong performances in the Barcelona half marathon and closer to home in the Milton Keynes Winter Warmer 10K,
As the UK suffered another wet and wild weekend being battered by Storm Dennis, and countless races and Parkruns were again called off due to the extreme weather, two squirrels wisely escaped to run in sunnier climes. Michelle and Andy Grudzinski jumped on a plane to Barcelona to run the Barcelona Half Marathon as part of their training for the forthcoming Paris Marathon, and to support a friend doing her first half marathon. Michelle admitted that “three days of walking and sightseeing is probably not the best half marathon preparation” but they also took advantage of the abundance of tapas and paella offered by the Catalonian city. “Loaded up with seafood and injuries”, they embarked on the 21km course, sticking together for the first 13km, and finishing in an excellent 2:15:57 (Michelle) and 2:23:23 (Andy).
Back home in the UK, the furies of Storm Dennis didn’t quite manage to cancel all the scheduled races. Four hardy squirrels braved the elements and headed to Milton Keynes to take part in the "questionably named" (according to Matt Roberts) 10k Winter Warmer. Determined performances all round saw Julie Toland finish in 53:22, Tim Banting in 53:22, Saab Bharaj in 1:06:18, and Matt Roberts in a new personal best of 49:58. Although several local Parkruns were cancelled, club members did venture out to some events on Saturday, with James Fox coming first at Stevenage.
Stevenage: James FOX 16:47, Nick MALPELI 19:23, William HARRISON 19:24, Naomi PARKINSON 23:17, Andrew COATES 23:40, Matt ROBERTS 24:39, Philip FLACK 27:09, Glyn BLAKEY 28:07, Abbie HASKELL 29:01, Carl HASKELL 29:01, Patrick NORRIS 36:59.
Lowestoft: James POULTON 26:16.
Ellenbrook Fields: Jillian BOYS 27:34.
Crewe: Chris POOLE 22:59.
With Storm Ciara closing in on the UK, many of Sundays’ races were cancelled for the health and safety of all runners and marshals, though many Squirrels managed their weekly Saturday Parkrun ahead of high winds and rains while two members tackled an Ultra.
Two hardy squirrels, Mike Bullock and Susan Mansfield, undeterred by severe weather warnings, ventured to the barren North on Saturday to compete in the Leicester Round Ultra - a 100 mile trail route round the villages and hamlets of Leicester, split into 3 races; this was the third event , distance 58km
Mike commented after the race “Let’s just say it was 58km of pure muddy torment...big hills and constant never-ending mud, so we were filthy and soaking wet from start to finish.
I will be grateful never to run across another ploughed field in my life, one farmer was actually ploughing his field as we ran across it, just to torture us, and some of the hills were so muddy we actually went up on our hands and knees.”
They claimed that navigation isn’t one of their strengths and struggled with some of the course marking, but luckily didn’t take too many wrong turns, and managed to find the finish line, Mike in 8hrs 5 minutes , Susan in 8 hrs 16 minutes. They are looking forward to the Amersham Ultra in just a few weeks!
Kettering: Steve WILLIAMSON 22:36 Stevenage: Dan MALLETT 23:39, Kat GOURD 24:26, Glyn BLAKEY 24:27, Dave BRAYBROOK 24:45, Julie TOLAND 24:58, Chris POOLE 26:08, Georgina Quayle 26:38, Helen Giffin 31:18, Patrick NORRIS 36:07, Jane CLARKE 36:59 Wimpole: Jillian BOYS 30:17 Conwy: Jo SOPALA 35:44 Crissy Field (San Francisco): Natasha PITMAN 21:07 Letchworth: Matt ROBERTS 25:18, Philip FLACK 29:42, Carl GOODRUN 29:54, Carina QUAYLE 31:36, John O’GORMAN 40:18 Wendover Woods: Abbie HASKELL 31:41, Carl HASKELL 31:42 Coldham’s Common: Naomi PARKINSON 24:46
Six Squirrels headed west on Sunday for the Watford Half Marathon, an iconic event that the Watford Harriers have been proudly hosting for over 50 years. First home for the club was Matt Sayers, who ran 1:16:17. ‘This was my debut half marathon in 2004 (1:45:34) so a special event for me personally,’ said Matt. ‘It's put on by runners for runners. Lots of enthusiastic marshals, locals come out to cheer along the way, occasion music blasting out en-route.’ Although just outside his PB, Matt was delighted to get 2nd V40 overall and V40-49 Half Marathon Herts County Champion. Also running were Grace Cleary (1:52:03) and Siobhan Walsh (2:17:20), and Ian Harvey (1:43:04), Chris Poole (1:47:07) and Richard Weber (1:58:56). ‘It was great to see the Squirrels putting in impressive personal performances,’ said Matt.
Andrew Porter, Lucy O'Connor and Ian Sutcliffe ran the RSPB Race for Wildlife 10k at Sandy on Sunday. Ian, who finished in 63 minutes, described it as a ‘lovely course and not too muddy,’ adding that it includes two steep hills ‘which we have to run up TWICE!’ ‘It was a real treat to run on an off-road multi- terrain course,’ said Lucy O’Connor, who finished in 54:07, four minutes quicker than the last time she ran this race.
The weekend began with the First Saturday of the Month, North Herts Road Runners’ popular timed 5k run round Letchworth’s Norton Common. As ever, the event was only possible thanks to all the marshals and helpers. Although a bit muddy in places, the conditions weren't too bad - good enough for NHRR’s Tom Webb to fly around in 17:55, nearly 2 minutes ahead of second place. Eva McCabe provided the other standout performance: the junior athlete was the second female, and finished in 23:06. In total, seventy people ran (see the forum for full results).
In parkrun news, Elwyn Howell completed the Teignmouth Park run in a PB time of 24.20 on a beautiful day in Devon. This week’s full parkrun results:
Albert parkrun, Melbourne
335 Anna PRIESTLEY 30:26
479 Abbie HASKELL 01:01:41
480 Carl HASKELL 01:01:42
Milton Keynes parkrun
75 Naomi PARKINSON 22:57
47 Steve WILLIAMSON 22:22
129 Chris POOLE 25:36
168 Georgina QUAYLE 26:53
436 Jane CLARKE 37:45
1 James DALTON 21:51
10 Daniel MALLETT 25:07
15 Steve BRENTON 26:09
43 Elwyn HOWELL 24:20
233 Lindsey LUCAS 36:06
Fulbourn Hospital parkrun
116 Brian JUDKINS 34:09
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.
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