Nine athletes from North Herts Road Runners made the journey to Sutton Park, near Birmingham, to take part in the prestigious British Masters National Road Relay Championships. The Letchworth-based club fielded teams in the men’s M35+ and M45+ categories, and came away with an impressive set of results, including a top ten finish, showing the club can more than hold its own on the national stage.
In the M35+ race, a team of six North Herts runners were led by Jim McConnel, who ran the first 3-mile leg in 16:35, putting the team in eighth position. He was followed by Ed Price, Ryan Smith, Stewart Overton and Darren Matussa, who were each able to run good times and, more importantly, hold position. Adam Bowller, who had taken the club’s V35 marathon record with a time of 2:38:07 in Rotterdam just three weeks earlier, ran a solid final leg bringing the team home in eighth place overall with a combined time of 1:46:30.
“There were some very strong teams from some big clubs out there today,” said Bowller. “To finish in the top ten at a national event gives us a lot of confidence ahead of the summer season.”
Due to a last-minute injury, the M45+ athletes were unable to field a full four-man team, but Nick Malpeli – who had also achieved significant marathon success three weeks before, running 2:44:24 at Manchester – gamely ran both the first and fourth legs. In between were Andrew Leach and James Walsh, who ran their legs in times of 16:44 and 19:44 respectively.
The following day saw Darren Matussa back in action along with 31 other North Herts Road Runners at the Flitwick 10k. Despite cold conditions and an undulating course, the Squirrels enjoyed considerable success, with Darren finishing as the first North Herts athlete in 38:56. Sarah Mitcherson (43:15), Suzy Trott (44:20) and Caroline Thrussell (47:10) were the second female team, with Caroline also finishing as the second Women’s V55. Andrew Porter was the first male V70, running an impressive 56:15, while Joy Stroud’s time of 1:02:25 is a new Women’s V70 club record.
There were also significant personal bests for Oliver Brady (39:08), David Weston (42:53), Lucy O’Connor (48:08), Naomi Parkinson (50:00), and Hayley Cocks (1:16:06) who took a full five minutes off her previous 10k PB set at the Standalone 10k in 2017. Alan Hazlehurst was another Squirrel with reason to be pleased with his performance. His time of 53:27 was a full seven minutes quicker than when he last ran the Flitwick 10k before he joined North Herts Road Runners, “which just goes to show that training with a great club and great people does pay off,” said Alan.
In race walking news, David Annetts finished fourth at the London Inter Club Challenge 5000m at Picketts Lock track in a time of 25:45.
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