Busy Post Marathon Ultras, Parkruns and Pednor

As happens every year, there is something of a break in competitive running after the London Marathon. Except I don’t really think that is ever the case. I just think that happens because I can’t move for several weeks and my running shoes gather dust. Apparently though, people do run just after they’ve done a marathon.

The last Thursday of each month through the summer is usually the club handicap. As always Helen Terry has kindly agreed to organise the handicap  series and absorb the torrent of complaints that accompany the system of assigning the handicaps. As I wasn’t taking part and had to look after Will, I don’t know how many people did actually complain, but the chances are it was non-zero.

The great thing about the handicap is that it offers the chance of crossing the line first to everybody in the club, including those that wouldn’t normally be in that position. That is to say everybody who isn’t called Matt Ashby. This time it was Millie Grundy who bagged maximum points (and will see her handicap cut for race 2) by winning the race. She said afterwards (while posing for a photo), “I had to get photo evidence as I don’t think I will be holding the number 1 card again!”

Sorry Millie, no matter how hard you grip it, you have to give it back

There were a few club members in action on Saturday April 27th as the latest Parkrun tour visited a very soggy Milton Keynes. There are a few Parkruns in and around Milton Keynes and this one takes place in the rather familiar surroundings of Willen Lake, where the MK Winter Half starts and finishes and where several other races pass through. 6 Harriers made the trip, 4 for the first time. Nick Crowther was quickest, finishing 8th in 18:54 while Ines Trent was the fastest of the 3 women. Susie Ivin and Helen Heathcote, seasoned Parkrun tourists, were the two making a return visit to this Parkrun.

Vince always looks ecstatic in these team photos

Also on Saturday 27th April was the Chiltern Ridge 50k ultra. This is a popular race for those dipping their toes into ultra waters for the first time and Jack Boughton was one such person. He was taking the rather unusual route of taking part in his first ultra marathon before completing a marathon. Angeline Cottril was there doing something of a roving reporter job, she said that, “Jack had never run beyond 20 miles before today and he’s gone straight into an ultra and had a cracking finish time.” Jack finished 110th overall, just ducking under the 6 hour mark in 5:59:02.

Marathons 0, Ultras 1

Darren Burke is a veteran of many ultra marathons and it was good to see that he made it to the start line. It was unclear, when my source spoke to him on Thursday, whether he actually knew when the race was, answering “maybe” when asked, “isn’t the Chiltern Ridge Ultra this Saturday?” Clearly he was up for it when he got there, finishing in 94th a few minutes ahead of Jack, in 5:52:10. Kirstie Hardiman is also a veteran of the ultra circuit and is, judging by her post race comment, building towards a 100k race as she said, “I just have to learn how to double the distance now!”. Her finish time was 6:20:26.

Unusual to see Roly and Kim racing again

After the Paris Marathon in early April, the Shakespeare Marathon on April 21st and the Chiltern Ultra on April 27th, Roland Kendall and Kim Morgan were completing the last part of a fairly busy April. Rumour has it that they tried to contact Dave Goodman to see if he had a two person version of his marathon banana suit but had to settle for plodding the Chiltern Hills in normal running gear as Dave was washing his suit (and his hair). They were probably pretty tired after over 130km of racing in a little over 3 weeks, but they still finished the 50k in a hugely respectable 6:06:59 (Roly) and 6:07:00 (Kim). 

The week before the London Marathon Rob Deane, chairman of Dacorum AC and a well known and well respected figure in the local running community, had died suddenly and tragically. Dacorum AC invited the membership of GVH to remember Rob at Oxhey Parkrun, where Rob was a regular organiser. A healthy contingent of around 25 GVH runners joined the Dacorum runners in remembering Rob with Simon Morris and Kim Morgan posting the fastest men’s and women’s times respectively.

Remembering Rob Deane

On the morning of the bank holiday was the “Milton Keynes Marathon Weekend” marathon and half marathon races. 5 Harriers took on the half marathon, 3 of whom were using it as part of their preparation for the Edinburgh Marathon, later this month. Phil Mercer was first to finish, in 1:45:52, while Laura Johnson was pacing a friend to a PB (I don’t know if it was successful), and completed the distance in just under 3 hours.

Ines Trent, Holly Beckett and Mary McCluskey are deep into their Edinburgh marathon preparations. Ines, perhaps dialling down on the pace with just a few weeks left in her training, decided to leave the PB bell at home on this occasion, finishing just outside her PB, in 2:05:34. Holly completed the 13.1 miles just over 30 seconds later than Ines while Mary battled through some early shin pains and some stiff legs to finish the race in 2:17:34.

She said she’d kill me if I posted the other picture of her

The group had also come to Milton Keynes to watch their friend Gemma Tucker compete in the full marathon. Gemma has been training hard all year and took the unusual step of changing from a vegetarian diet to a full on red meat for breakfast, lunch and dinner (twice) diet in an effort to build strength for the marathon. Something must have worked as she smashed her PB, taking over 15 minutes from her previous best, finishing in 4:35:03. Simon Morris was undertaking pacing duties for a friend, presumably with a sub 5 hour target, and he paced his friend home in 4:55:53.

Meat-fuelled Marathon

The bank holiday weekend was rounded out on Monday evening with the Pednor 5. This is a pleasant 5 mile circuit around country roads on the outskirts of Chesham, starting and finishing at Chesham Tennis Club. There was a healthy turnout of 15 Harriers, swelled by the race’s inclusion in this year’s club league.

It is well known in these parts that Ines has recently been carrying her own PB to every race she enters. I’ve also noticed that Matt Ashby is now being accompanied to every race by an official photographer, a portable podium and some smart clothes, just in case he wins, which he seems to do with increasing regularity (he often borrows Ines’s bell as well). At the Pednor 5 he needed the full array of support gear as he finished first by 27:08, 19 seconds ahead of his nearest rival.

They wouldn’t let the portable podium in the clubhouse

In addition to Matt’s glory, there were also a number of awards to celebrate as the race was doubling as the Hertfordshire Vets 5 mile championship. Captain Kim summarised the Herts Championships achievements with, “Well done to everyone who ran on a wet Bank Holiday Monday evening. Special mentions for: Naomi Iles for 1st FV35, Myself for 1st FV45, Jon Roberts for 3rd MV50, Martin Alexander for 2nd MV60; Naomi Iles, Angeline Cottrill and I for 1st Women’s Team; Jon Roberts, Stephen Newing, Roland Kendall and Martin Alexander for 3rd Men’s Team. And thanks to Angeline for the photos.”

Matt generously allowed the others to share his official photographer

There were also plenty of PBs to celebrate as there generally is with 5 mile races, since we run them so rarely (I have still never run a 5 mile race in my life!) Unfortunately, I don’t have access to the PBs form for the club league, but I do know that Roly Kendall posted a new PB and I’m fairly confident that Jack Boughton’s time must be a PB. Also Naomi and Kim must have been pretty near to PB if they didn’t break them. I also strongly suspect that Peter Green may have been running his first 5 mile race and thus recorded a new PB. Apologies to anybody that I may have missed at Pednor or in any of the outings in the past couple of weeks.

Some people about to win stuff