On saturday 29th October Gade Valley Harriers continued their Parkrun tour by visiting the Houghton Hall Parkrun in Houghton Regis near Luton. Head Coach Ed Price nominates the venue for the club monthly Parkrun tour and a quick look at Ed’s Parkrun stats reveal that Houghton Hall (with 9 visits) sits second overall on Ed’s list of most frequently visited Parkruns. One can only assume that nominating his most visited location might have been considered too obvious.
The Harriers turned out in numbers at Houghton Hall with around 25 GVH members and their children making the trip to Houghton Regis. As is often the case, Matt Ashby led the Harriers home, this time finishing in first overall position in a time of 18:40. In what looks like something of a blanket finish, Michael Linden finished only 15 seconds behind Matt in 4th position, with four other Harriers finishing inside the first 10 finishers.
Vince Ellerby opted to show off his new Parkrun 500 t-shirt at Houghton Hall, demonstrating to the world outside the club his membership of that very exclusive club, rather than travelling to his usual Saturday morning haunt at Black Park. He clocked 21:34 for the 5k distance for an age graded score of over 73%. Sue Crowther again showed her class, finishing in 25:13 to be the first woman home for the Harriers and finish 2nd in her age category.
Elsewhere on Saturday morning, Merlin Allan and Anthony Fogden clearly didn’t get the memo about Houghton Hall as they were the club’s only two runners at the local Gadebridge Parkrun. Merlin finished 9th overall, first in his age category in 23:46 while Anthony Fogden was performing tail walking duties to support the local run.
On Sunday 30th October the Hertfordshire Half Marathon and 10k took place on the country roads around the Knebworth Park estate near Stevenage. Starting and finishing in the grounds of Knebworth House the two races first took in a lap of the park before venturing outside on to the hilly local country lanes which were all closed to traffic for the duration of both races. The half marathon race started at 9:00AM and the 10k race started half an hour later with the courses sharing the last mile or so of road, ensuring that the watching crowds back at the finish saw the finishers for both races.
Martin Storrie was the sole Harrier to take on the 10k distance (unknown to any of the GVH runners in the Half Marathon) and he was happy with his finish time of 59:01, 8th out of 16 in his age category. Martin stayed at the venue long enough to see most of the half marathon runners finishing the race and to confuse James Birnie and Roland Kendall who had variously heard the shouts (James) and “thought I spotted Martin” (Roland) without being quite sure. By the time the pair went to investigate Martin had left, presumably because by that stage the constant rain and low temperatures had made any further loitering hazardous to one’s health.
James had decided to take on the race as his partner Mary McCluskey had entered a couple of months earlier to take on her first half marathon since their son William was born a year ago. As the organisers had indicated that the course was suitable for “wheelchairs and buggies”, he decided to run the distance with the baby in the buggie. Mary was aiming for a target time of 2:30:00 and she smashed that, completing the 13.1 mile distance in 2:25:21.
James had no idea what a “good” time with a buggy would be but having run some training runs with it thought that a time of 1:45 was “probably achievable”. After the race he said: “I thought that with a buggie I was supposed to start at the back. But nobody policed it and I found it really hard in the first couple of miles before it thinned out. I then spent the rest of the race overtaking people. Comments ranged from ‘wow, good work’, to ‘that’s just showing off’ and ‘Oh my god, I’ve been overtaken by the buggie man!’” Whatever the comments directed at him he was extremely pleased to finish the distance in 1:39:43, 108th out of 903 overall and 15th in his age category.
Simon Wheeler and Darren Burke were the next over the line for the Harriers. Simon finished the course in 1:45:04 and Darren finished hot on his heels, clocking 1:45:19. After the race Darren was asked what his PB for the half marathon is and responded with “I’m not sure what it was, but I’m pretty sure that was my PB today”. Well done Darren, congratulations on smashing your old PB.
Roland Kendall was also hoping to cap his recent improvements (and his capture of the club handicap award for 2022) with a new PB. Sadly for Roland, there is no subjective handicap element to manipulate in a half marathon race so he had to settle for a time that was just 25 seconds outside his existing PB. A time of 1:46:21 was still extremely respectable in the cold, wet and hilly conditions on the day.
Katie Ellis, running her first official race for the Harriers was the first female Harrier home, finishing the course under the two hour mark, in 1:57:44, asked if that was a PB she said, “I’ve run Ealing a couple of mins faster, but that was in 2014 and pre baby.” So a post-baby PB then. Sam Raffety, easing her way back from injury, was next for the Harriers, completing the distance in 1:58:51.
Angeline Cottrill was the next finisher for the Harriers, and is also feeling her way back from long term injury. Despite being well down on her best times, she was happy to finish in 2:16:30. Ines Trent completed her first marathon only two weeks ago and was clearly still suffering from the effects. She said afterwards that “I felt fine until about halfway round then I had nothing left. I don’t know what happened!” I think the answer to that, Ines, is that a marathon happened. Congratulations on finding it in yourself to make it all the way to the end in 2:39:36.