Bowler Bags Another Target for Merlin as Vince scores 500

September has been a fairly quiet month for Gade Valley Harriers as it seems that most of the members are enjoying a bit of a break from racing before the autumn marathon season and the cross country seasons begin in October.

Back on Thursday 8th September 19 Gade Valley Runners got together to contest the final round of the Summer Handicap series. There seemed to be less general malcontentment at the handicap decisions, but that could just be because consistent malcontents James Birnie and Kim Morgan weren’t taking part. 

Organiser Helen Terry only received compliments for the handicap calculations with Robert Bowler commenting, “Well done to the handicapper! 13 out of 20 finishers completed the course within 60 seconds or so”. Very nice sentiments but questionable number skills, Robert, as only 19 took part. 16 of those 19 were within just over a minute and a half of each other, though. So hats off to Helen.

As with the July handicap race, the final race of the series was won by one of the recent Learn 2 Run Graduates. This time it was Anita Fenoughty who took the honours, completing the course just 7 seconds ahead of Roger Le Febvre, overhauling a 10 minute handicap difference within sight of the finish line. A minute further back was Helen Cook in third place with last month’s winner, Alison Scott, taking 30 seconds off her July time to finish a strong 5th despite a more severe handicap. Dan Green rounded off the top 5 just seconds ahead of June’s winner, Roland Kendall, who was over a minute faster than he was in June.

Nobody moaning here

Antony Beamish was next, leading home a tight group of 8 runners just 25 seconds apart. He was 3 seconds ahead of Mike Linden and 5 seconds ahead of Matt Ashby (who recorded the fastest time “on the road” of the day). Paul Williams, Bill Hawes, Andy Bishop, Matt Watt and Vince Ellerby complete the group of 8.

Next over the line was Andy Watt, winning a tight battle of the Andys, only 1 second ahead of Andy Wells and 8 seconds ahead of Andy Cook. Isobel Wilson was only a few seconds further back and Mary McCluskey, running her first handicap race since giving birth a few months ago (and perhaps paying for over-honesty being allocated a fairly harsh looking handicap) completed the field.

As ever, and despite the barbs flying towards the bandits, the handicap series remains a highlight of the summer for many Gade Valley runners. The club remains in the debt of Helen Terry for her superb management of all the calculations and all the moaners (I accept there is a large finger pointing straight at me here). As Angeline put it after the last race, “Enormous thanks to superstar Helen Terry for all your hard work and organising of this every month. We are all so grateful as we LOVE the handicap!” Hear, hear!

11th September was notable for the latest running of the Great North Run. The exact numbers may be disputed but what is not in dispute is that the GNR is the biggest mass participation running race in the World. According to its own website, the race boasts “60,000 dedicated runners” (and no doubt some that aren’t necessarily dedicated!) The blurb continues that it is “famous for its warm North East welcome, unbeatable atmosphere and the millions raised for good causes”. Personally, I had to re-read that sentence because I’d misread “welcome” as “weather”.

Whether there were 60,000 or slightly fewer and whether the welcome, or the weather, was warm, was of no consequence to Mel Hardy, Sam Richards and Phil Mercer who made the long trip up north to take part. Mel travelled with her partner Sam and they were both raising money for FOP Friends, a charity for research into treatments for Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva, a rare genetic disorder. Mel said, “Sam and I both took on the GNR – I got 1:47 and Sam Richards 1:35, happy with the times!” 

Mel (2nd right) and Sam (far left) up north

Phil, however, did manage a PB, but apparently was disturbed towards the end by another runner, presumably running for a tomato based charity. He commented, “1:31:09 & a new PB for me, got overtaken at around 12 miles (and beaten) by a fella dressed as a ketchup bottle.” I didn’t have time to ask how he knew that the person inside the ketchup bottle costume was a man or a woman but perhaps Phil could let us know.

On 18th September Anita Fenoughty was in action again, this time taking on her first triathlon in the Hemel Triathlon. This event is organised by Everyone Active from the local Hemel Hempstead Sports Centre and is designed to be a triathlon for people who have never previously experienced a triathlon. The format is a 400 metre swim (16 lengths of the pool), followed by a cycle ride of 8.5k (super sprint) or 17k (sprint) and a 5k run.

Let me see if I can trick the results…

Anita enjoyed the day, commenting afterwards, “I did it! Managed my first Triathlon. Only did the super sprint to experience it. Think I might be hooked though! Loved it. 400m swim, 8k cycle and 5k run in 1.08.07.” After some initial confusion which had Anita in the results for the sprint triathlon in first position, the organisers adjusted their website and Anita finished 3rd in her category, an excellent result for her first triathlon.

The Leighton 10 is an old favourite race for Gade Valley. It is a challenging 10 mile single lap route in the countryside around Leighton Buzzard. Robert Bowler saw it as an opportunity to claim another V60 record in his quest to dominate the world (well, Merlin’s world, anyway). The record wasn’t vacant but was considered well within the reach of Robert and Merlin so it was only a matter of time before one of them took it. And so it proved as Robert finished 3rd in his category, 46th overall, in a new club V60 record of 1:14:38. For those that are keeping count, let’s face it, all of us, Robert and Merlin are now the only names on the V60 records page, Robert holding 2 records but Merlin being the England to Robert’s Germany on 4.

Chasing an entirely different type of accolade was Matt Ashby. He has been improving his already superb times all year and, since his discovery of Nike Super-Dooper Mega Shoes back in the summer, has broken almost all of his PBs. He broke another of his personal marks yesterday, finishing the 10 mile course in 2nd place overall, beating his previous best race finish of 3rd, set just 3 weeks ago in the Bovingdon 10k. His time was a suitably impressive 1:01:13. Matt’s partner Jenny Stubberfield also ran strongly, continuing her improvement, finishing 4th in her category in 1:26:15. New member Pippa Martin also had a good race, ducking under the 90 minute mark to finish in 1:29:34.

Meanwhile, in Berlin, while Eliud Kipchoge was taking another chunk out of the Marathon World Record, lowering his own mark by another 30 seconds, Dave Goodman was finally following advice given to him by everybody in the club to whom he has spoken (and some he hasn’t) to try running a marathon “without having run 3 already that month, so see what time you might do!”. Dave takes up the story, “It’s amazing what you can do when you don’t run a marathon every weekend. My official time is 3:18:04, a new PB by 10 minutes!” Not something Eliud Kipchoge will ever say! Also running in Berlin was Priscilla Prathak, she also enjoyed a successful day, comfortably coming inside her 5 hour target to finish the race in 4:49:08.

Proper preparation leads to proper performance

Also chasing a time in a Marathon, in slightly less celebrated surroundings, was Maria Lawler. She had let it slip last week that she was taking part in the Goodwood Marathon on Sunday. This is part of the Goodwood running festival which takes place on part of the motor racing circuit, as opposed to the horse racing track. Maria had told her close friends that she “would be happy with anything under 4 hours”, which, while a fair way behind her best ever times, is extremely respectable, especially given her recent injury troubles. She outperformed that target comfortably, finishing the 19 lap course (worse than a 20 mile race!) in 3:41, a time that should be fast enough to gain her a Good for Age entry into the London Marathon in 2023.

After 39 laps, Maria looks justifiably tired and bored

Trumping everybody, at least in distance run, was Gareth Tucker who was taking on his first ultra marathon, in the XNRG Tring Ultra. The organisers say, “Come join us for a scenic 50km run through the Chilterns starting and finishing in Tring. The beautiful route takes in parts of the Ashridge Estate and Chiltern Ridgeway.” Gareth finished 22nd out of 85 finishers in an impressive 5:25:11. Gareth was characteristically talkative about his achievement, commenting “Thanks all” in response to the many messages of support.

No comment

The biggest event of the weekend took place at Black Park Parkrun near Slough. Black Park is one of the older Parkruns out of the more than 600 now taking place weekly in the UK, its first running having taken place in July 2009. Vince Ellerby first ran at Black Park in August 2009, finishing the 5k course in 9th place in 19:01. On Saturday 24th September he ran at Black Park for the 421st time, a quite mind boggling 500th parkrun at all locations. Vince finished in 27th position in a time of 21:10.

Vince’s crew and one imposter

There were 25 Harriers in total at Black Park to help Vince celebrate the milestone. Jon Roberts was first home for GVH, in 2nd overall position, in 18:54 (a course record for him), Stu Gallagher was 4th overall, only 7 seconds behind. Kim Morgan was the first female Harrier to finish, in 27:11, while Vince Ellerby, Andy Cook and Merlin Allan all achieved impressive age grading scores of over 70%.

Full September Handicap Results

Name Watch time Handicap Actual time
Anita Fenoughty 00:48:13 00:10:00 38m 13s
Roger Le Febvre 00:48:20 00:00:00 48m 20s
Helen Cook 00:49:21 00:13:00 36m 21s
Alison Scott 00:49:31 00:01:15 48m 16s
Dan Green 00:49:46 00:19:30 30m 16s
Roland Kendall 00:49:57 00:18:15 31m 42s
Anthony Beamish 00:50:05 00:24:30 25m 35s
Mike Linden 00:50:08 00:25:00 25m 8s
Matt Ashby 00:50:10 00:26:15 23m 55s
Paul Williams 00:50:13 00:19:00 31m 13s
Billy Hawes 00:50:18 00:20:15 30m 3s
Andy Bishop 00:50:20 00:20:15 30m 5s
Matt Watt 00:50:26 00:26:00 24m 26s
Vince Ellerby 00:50:30 00:22:00 28m 30s
Andy Watt 00:50:41 00:20:15 30m 26s
Andy Wells 00:50:42 00:24:30 26m 12s
Andy Cook 00:50:49 00:21:30 29m 19s
Isobel Wilson 00:50:56 00:16:15 34m 41s
Mary McCluskey 00:53:52 00:06:45 47m 7s

Full Results from Black Park

2 Jonathan ROBERTS Male VM50-54 18:54
4 Stuart GALLAGHER Male VM45-49 19:01
18 Lewis ELLERBY Male SM30-34 20:16
19 Antony BEAMISH Male VM40-44 20:16
24 Edward PRICE Male VM45-49 20:43
27 Vince ELLERBY Male VM55-59 21:10
38 Dylan WENDLEKEN Male VM50-54 21:41
40 Guy WOOLLETT Male VM50-54 21:44
43 Andy COOK Male VM55-59 21:52
51 Andrew WATT Male VM50-54 22:45
53 Merlin ALLAN Male VM60-64 22:49
109 Anthony WILLCOX Male VM40-44 25:05
164 Kim MORGAN Female VW40-44 27:11
165 William TERRY Male JM11-14 27:14
168 Helen TERRY Female VW40-44 27:18
172 Helen COOK Female VW55-59 27:23
187 Karis THOMAS Female SW30-34 27:57
209 Martin STORRIE Male VM60-64 28:37
240 Mary MCCLUSKEY Female SW30-34 29:43
241 James BIRNIE Male VM45-49 29:44
349 Neil HARPER Male VM40-44 34:31
393 Jessica TERRY Female JW10 38:34
394 Andrew TERRY Male VM40-44 38:34
420 Helen HEATHCOTE Female VW50-54 43:10
422 Ines TRENT Female VW35-39 43:11