Every spring, the North Herts Road Runners hold an awards evening where the club comes together to celebrate the achievements of its members over the previous 12 months. This year was no different, as despite having to cancel the planned party due to COVID-19, the club swiftly made arrangements to alter its plans, and instead held a virtual awards evening on Facebook. Using the social media channel’s Watch Party feature, the club’s chair, Astrid McKeown, presented all of this year’s prizes from her kitchen, looking resplendent in formal evening attire, while the members logged on to watch, comment and celebrate what had been a remarkable year of running together.
“Our social team had put so much effort into organising what would have been a fantastic awards night, so it was a real shame we couldn’t gather in person,” said Astrid McKeown. “We’ll certainly do something together when this is all over, but in the meantime, there was no way COVID-19 was going to stop us celebrating our members’ efforts and successes.”
There was certainly plenty to celebrate. In front of a large online audience, and ably assisted by her husband Steve (in black tie, of course, and debonair as ever), Astrid presented virtual awards to members who had either excelled in races or shown themselves to be supportive and inspirational club members, and in many cases, both! The awards for the best club runners, which are selected by age-grading and performances for the club, were Caroline Thrussell and Mark Vaughan. The most improved runners were Dervla Downing and Pete Sibbert. The short course champions were Astrid McKeown and Andrew Leach, while Caroline Thrussell and Darren Sunter were the long course winners. The athletes who turned out for the club most often during the year were Lucy O’Connor for the women, while the men’s prize was shared by John Auld, Ian Datlen and Pete Sibbert. The awards chosen by the coaches for the most outstanding contributions from the athletes in their groups went to Helen Marson Smith, Andrew Porter, James Dalton, Dervla Downing, Katie Harbon and Vince Wright. The final two awards of the evening were selected by the club’s membership. The winner of the 101% Award went to coach Brian Bailey, and the Personality of the Year was Ian Datlen.
The response to the online broadcast was overwhelmingly positive, with club members commenting enthusiastically about the online broadcast. Head Coach Karen Dodsworth recorded her own video message in response, saying to the club’s members: “We are missing you all, and are so looking forward to the time we can train together again. In the meantime: stay safe; know that we all still share our love of running, and are thinking of each other. Happy running Team NHRR!”
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