Good Friday for Harriers

I’m not an expert on the origins of Easter but any religious festival with lightly toasted and heavily buttered sweet bakery products from the friday (and on through the long weekend) and various chocolate products from the Sunday, all within a four day weekend, is up there on my list of great religious festivals. Unlike Christmas, there is the added bonus of some great racing action as well, with a load of GVH taking part in the St Albans Easter 10k on Good Friday (29th March) and at least one GVHer taking on Easter Sunday, 31st March.

Goodman, Kendall, take note. He isn’t winning after 1k.

The St Albans Easter 10k starts and finishes in Highfield Park before joining the Alban Way  towards Hatfield and looping back around via a stretch of pavement on the A414 and the A1(M), just for a bit of aesthetic appeal and air quality, obviously. After retracing one’s steps on the Alban Way the finish is back in Highfield Park. Normally this is a very quick course, but the recent heavy rain ensured that the first and last few hundred metres were similar in character (possibly not quite as bad) as the cross country race in Oxford back in February. Perhaps this explains the trickle of PBs on the day, rather than the floods of previous Good Fridays.

Not many takers for the pre-race shot

It was, nonetheless, a great day for Matt Ashby and, therefore, a peaceful and happy post Easter week for Jenny as not only did Matt score a new PB (33:58), he won the race. Matt seemed slightly disappointed that the prize was nothing more than a slightly bigger, and more metallic looking, medal than everybody else got. He cheered up a bit when it was pointed out that he’ll still have that medal in 10 years’ time, whereas if he’d won a £50 voucher for a local sports shop it would be a pain to travel to St Albans to spend it and whatever he bought wouldn’t be around for too long.

And Jenny will have a happy week

The next Harrier to finish was Andy Law. His time was 36:57. I did ask if this was a PB to which he replied, “I ran quicker when I was about 16 so don’t think I can claim it unfortunately. But it is my PB as a ‘senior’ if that counts for anything.” Sorry Andy, it doesn’t, any more than I claim a “PB” because it was the fastest 10k I’ve ever done in March (fun fact, I’ve done 32 10k races including this one, and this is the first one I’ve done in the first quarter of the year).

PB for Q1

The next two GVH runners across the line were Tom Evans and Lewis Ellerby. They both managed new PBs, with Lewis breaking 40 minutes for the first time. I didn’t get a chance to talk to Tom afterwards so I have no idea if this was his first time under 40. They clocked 38:56 and 39:57, respectively. Rob Hawkes was next, in 58th position in 41:10, just 15 seconds ahead of Guy Wollett, who seems to be quietly racking up points in the club league with his regular attendance.

Racking up the points

James Birnie was next to finish, in 42:20, just 6 seconds and 2 places ahead of Simon Morris. Vince Ellerby and Gary Kingsley were also close by, finishing in 43:38 and 44:03. The latter scoring a new PB as he continues to look stronger and stronger. Robert Bowler was next, looking strong for his upcoming marathon, just a few seconds (on chip time) ahead of Jack Boughton, who managed a new PB of 46:27.

Jenny Stubberfield was the first GVH woman to finish, but was a few minutes too late to see Matt on the podium, finishing her race in 46:59. Naomi Carey was just a few seconds behind Jenny, managing a new PB of 47:08. She also scored the highest age graded score, 67.2% of the Harrier women on the day. Phil Bowers was next, again signalling his intention by wearing his vest with “PB” printed on it (we love his confidence) and duly delivering a new PB, in 47:50.

But he was winning when it mattered

Ashleigh Taylor and Molly Rice were the next to finish for GVH, just ahead of Jane Phillipson, Roland Kendall and Kim Morgan. Jane said afterwards, “Big shout out too to kim and Roland for pacing me today  x”, in response to the standard PB enquiry, she replied, “No, it wasn’t a PB, all my PBs are from years ago!” Perhaps she should catch up with Andy Law and discuss how to synthesise some kind of PB or other.

No PBs here.

Gemma Tucker did manage a genuine PB but suffered from a bit of Fogdenitis as her chip time was a full minute ahead of Jane, Roly and Kim and also quicker than Molly, who was 38 places ahead at the finish. Jade Evans was next to finish and joined her husband Tom in achieving a new PB. She clocked 57:42. Mary McCluskey also broke the hour mark, finishing in 57:53. I think she said it was her second quickest 10k since her PB if you only count Fridays in March, or something like that. I got confused during the telling.

PBs everywhere

Claire Bowers was next to finish, just breaking the hour and scoring a new PB of 59:11. Her PB of course meant that she and Phil were the second GVH married couple to both achieve a PB on the day. I have no means to investigate if that has ever happened before, and as far as I know Andy Newing still has a job and a life so I’m going to stick my neck on the line and say that this has “probably” never happened before, but I can’t confirm, and probably never will be able to confirm, if this is true.

Millie’s first medal

Ines Trent was treating the race as a gentle jog, preparing as she was for the Paris Marathon only 9 days hence. Holly Beckett has a reputation for jumping on every opportunity to claim that she, “isn’t feeling it today”, and, “I just fancy a jog”, so it wasn’t a great surprise (at least to Mary when she told me later) that Holly accompanied Ines on her gentle jog. Millie Grundy definitely wasn’t having a gentle jog as she scored a new PB, in 62:46. She finished just ahead of Peter Green and Kim Yeates, who rounded off the list of GVH PBs, stopping the clock at 65:07.

Mary wanted some reflected glory from Matt

While the rest of the world was wondering if it is possible to eat any more chocolate or hot cross buns, Anita Fenoughty was flying a solo mission at Kew Gardens. She takes up the story herself, “I ran my first half marathon yesterday. It was the Kew Gardens half and was a beautiful route taking in all the sites in the gardens and then venturing out on the Thames path through Richmond and looping back at Petersham. I was running for Alzheimer’s Society and raised £565, very happy with that.” Congratulations to Anita who has made remarkable progress since completing the Learn to Run course less than 2 years ago.

NOT her first medal, but her first Half Marathon medal