With COVID-19 restrictions gradually being eased, several of the North Herts Road Runners embraced the opportunity to finally take part in racing events again – and where better to start than a marathon, or perhaps even a 50km ultra?
Never ones to do things by halves, Mike Bullock and Susan Mansfield kicked off the month of May with the North Downs Ridge 50k ultra. The route started from Box Hill, before leading around the Denbie’s Wine Estate and along the North Downs Way. Mike described the race as “one of the most beautiful and hilly ultras we’ve done” (and these two have certainly done a few!), with the route heading uphill from the start and even finishing on a hill. The hardy squirrels claim that they took it “steady” as this is just the first of three ultras they are doing this month, with their next being the ominously-named “Last Man Standing Backyard Ultra” in Derbyshire next Saturday.
Also keen to notch up some racing miles were Andy Grudzinski, Michelle Grudzinksi and Jo Summers, who took on the Wickhambrook marathon in Suffolk. The 27.1 mile mixed road and trail route was longer than the 26.2 mile marathon distance but despite this, all three recorded excellent marathon times. Jo finished in 4:09 (despite taking a 1 mile detour to catch a friend who had taken a wrong turn), while Andy and Michelle finished together in 4:49, with Andy smashing his personal best for a marathon despite still suffering some side-effects from his COVID-19 vaccine.
The marathon action did not stop there! Four more squirrels ran the ever-popular Great Barrow marathon, also in Suffolk. This was Sue’s 150th marathon and Lucy’s first. The route, which looped through country lanes, had “plenty of hills”, although this was compensated for by some stunning scenery. Of the 27 marathon runners, Yuko Gordon came in 5th in a time of 4:07:58, Lucy O’Connor 7th in 4:21:13, Sue Foot 13th in 4:53:57, and Andrew Porter 19th in 5:14:32. This was Sue’s 150th marathon and Lucy’s first, and Andrew completed the race despite having a hairline rib fracture that he sustained just a week ago.
Meanwhile, John Auld and John Rayner journeyed down to London for the first Saturday of the month 10km race at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The “very well organised” event was also very enthusiastically supported (apparently the marshals had missed racing almost as much as the athletes!) It was a superb start back to racing for the duo, with both recording excellent times in perfect conditions: John Rayner finished 11th in 36:57 and John Auld came in 23rd with a time of 37:31.
Closer to home and on a beautiful Saturday morning under brilliant blue skies, a total of 27 squirrels took part in the 13th virtual edition of NHRR’s First Saturday of the Month 5km, with 16 also logging times for the virtual Fly 5km – the 50th edition of a superbly organised virtual event that has been taking place throughout the pandemic. Four squirrels recorded personal bests in the Fly 5km (Dave Braybrook, John Auld, Paula Holm, and Mike Over), with the team coming sixth place in the inter-club competition.
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