Hairy Outing for Fred Hughes

The early months of the year follow a fairly predictable pattern for many local runners as marathon training kicks in for some and the pattern of popular local races attracts both marathon and non marathon runners alike. After round 4 of the Chiltern League last weekend, another local race, the ever popular Fred Hughes 10 (mile) saw a large number of GVH runners gather at St Columba’s College in St Albans on Sunday, January 21st.

Well, at least we thought that there was a large number of Gade Valley Harriers assembling in the sports hall to collect their numbers and get ready to race. Closer examination of the labels on the envelopes, however, revealed that most of us (41 out of 44 entries) were running for a club called “Gade Valley Hairiers”. 

I once got suspended from school because of an incident in this sports hall…

There are competing theories as to how this came about. The boring theory is that an early entrant (no way of knowing who) misspelt the club name, which then appeared in the drop down list for subsequent entrants. More likely, most felt, was that Steve Newing, finally snapping after 14 years of Wookiee jokes from Dylan, and taking advantage of his position on the committee, had decided to unilaterally change the club name. Club secretary Helen Cook wasn’t available for comment, and I haven’t yet rooted Cook Hall’s servers, so I don’t know if Andy and Helen are involved in the plot.

The alleged name change plotter

The course this year was the “traditional” single lap route, most recently used in 2022. The single lap course takes in a loop around Chiswell Green followed by a loop under the M1 up to Bedmond and then back to St Albans over the M1 before returning to King Harry Lane. By general consent this course is slightly more difficult than the two lap version (generally used after heavy rains as the Bedmond loop is prone to flooding), which takes in 2 slightly different loops of Chiswell Green with the same start and finish. Strava data backs up this belief, showing that this year’s course has around 180m of climb against 140m for the two lap version.

When the racing started the early finishers for the club had a familiar, yet slightly unshaven, look about them. First home for the Hairiers was Matt Ashby. He completed the course in 56:41, shaving yet more time from yet another of his PBs. He finished 12th overall. Andy Law was next home for the club, also looking hairy, just outside the hour in 1:00:25, 40th overall. This was Andy’s first ever 10 mile race so counts as a PB for him. He did tell me afterwards that his target had been to get in under the hour, so he was slightly disappointed. Michael Linden also finished in the top 50, in 46th position, clocking 1:01:47 and scoring the highest age graded result (78.01%) of all the Harriers and Hairers on the day.

Best looking thing in the club. And the bloke wearing them isn’t bad either…

Before the race had started Stu Gallagher had been involved in a conversation about race shoes. Both he and Roland Kendall were observed wearing the new Adidas shoe, which many runners seem to be turning to. Both raved about the shoe with Roly crediting it with his recent improvement on the roads, including a recent 10 mile PB. He also informed me that he was “only about 30 seconds behind [me]” at last week’s cross country. I wasn’t sure how a road shoe related to that fact when it was offered.

Just checking where Roly is? Is he close???

The shoes seemed to do a good job for Stu, who set out to run a negative split, aiming for around 6:30 per mile for the first half before picking up the pace. He was certainly going pretty quickly when he overtook me after about 6 miles and he finished in 1:04:14 in 78th place. Gareth Tucker and Tom Evans also finished in the top 100, with Tom the first runner home for Gade Valley Harriers, clearly having shaved on the day. This was Tom’s first 10 mile race so he recorded a PB.

Where’s Birnie? I’m sure he should be around here somewhere?

Next home was James Birnie, performing better than last week’s cross country and just outside the top 100 in 1:06:41. Steve Newing, the Hairiers spiritual leader, was next, just ahead of Guy Wollett. Roland finished in 1:11:19 (a new PB by over a minute, 5 minutes quicker than last year’s Fred Hughes, but just a little more than 30 seconds behind my time). Kim Morgan was next across the line, representing the Hairiers and also wearing Adidas shoes, in 1:13:33. She was 33rd overall female finisher, 11th in her age category.

He’s gone that way Roland, about 5 minutes ago.

Patrick Carey was next home for the Harriers, fairly isolated, over a minute behind Kim and over a minute ahead of Andy Cook who led a group of 4 Hairers in what looked like a fairly spectacular blanket finish. Andy, Simon Wheeler, Andy Bishop and Dan Green all finished within 8 seconds of each other in 204th, 205th, 206th and 208th places respectively. Dan recorded a new PB, saying, “I took over a minute off last year’s effort.”

All by himself

Jack Boughton was next to finish for the club, in a new PB of 1:16:23. Dylan Wendleken and James Felstead weren’t far behind Jack. Naomi Carey was the second Hairer lady to finish on the day. She was also running her first 10 mile race so banked a PB. Andrew Watt, Phil Mercer and Nick Joseph were the next home with Nick recording a new PB.

Club legends Claire McDonnell and Vicky Crawley Wise were next over the line, just ahead of Sue Crowther, who was 13th in her age category. Sam Sparks was next to finish and she continued her recent speedy form by claiming a new PB in 1:26:00. Jenny Stubberfield was next in 1:27:12. I haven’t asked but given that Matt ran a PB, it is reasonable to assume she’s had a peaceful week this week. 

Ashleigh Taylor was the next finisher on the road, just over a minute ahead of Sarah Shillabeer. Given that Sarah’s chip time was 50 seconds quicker than Ashleigh’s we can conclude that either Ashleigh is a ridiculous optimist in the start funnel or Sarah is overly critical of her own abilities. A similar story happened with the next finishers, Kirstie Hardiman and Anthony Fogden, with Kirstie being the optimist and Anthony the one needing to look in the mirror and reconsider his start funnel strategy.

Gemma Tucker also managed a new PB. She has recently changed everything about her fitness regime, including her diet, taking the extraordinary step of giving up her vegetarianism in the interests of attempting to get faster. I’m glad it is paying off! Natalie Wheeler was running her first 10 mile race, so gained an automatic PB just ahead of Chrissie Mooney, Holly Beckett and Jane Percival who all managed to duck under 1:40:00 at the finish.

All that meat…

Priscilla Pathak was next finisher for the club, surprisingly for one so experienced this was her first 10 mile race. She finished just ahead of Mary McCluskey who was well pleased with her time, it being quicker per mile than last week’s cross country race over a much shorter distance. Anita Fenoughty, Jenny Brown, Kimberley Yeates and Peter Green were all running their first 10 mile races so all took home a shiny new PB. Jenny Brown also had the distinction of being the first female Gade Valley Harrier to finish, whilst Peter Green was third overall finisher for the Harriers.

First female for the Harriers

Overall it was a great day for the club with many PBs and some great performances all round. Next weekend will be a bit quieter but the full winter marathon prep schedule continues on February 4th with the Watford Half Marathon and February 10th with the last round of the Chiltern League Cross Country in Oxford.

Full Results from Fred Hughes for Harriers and Hairiers

Finish Pos Gun Time Chip Time Cat Pos Team Age Graded PB
12 Matt ASHBY 00:56:45 00:56:41 11 Gade Valley Hairiers 77.09 X
40 Andy LAW 01:00:28 01:00:25 25 Gade Valley Hairiers 72.34 First time
46 Michael LINDEN 01:01:53 01:01:47 17 Gade Valley Hairiers 78.01
78 Stuart GALLAGHER 01:04:25 01:04:14 30 Gade Valley Hairiers 73.68
87 Gareth TUCKER 01:05:28 01:05:16 34 Gade Valley Hairiers 72.51
100 Tom EVANS 01:06:30 01:06:17 40 Gade Valley Harriers 68.52 First Time
102 James BIRNIE 01:06:47 01:06:41 41 Gade Valley Hairiers 72.90
118 Stephen NEWING 01:08:23 01:08:12 45 Gade Valley Hairiers 67.73
155 Guy WOOLLETT 01:10:43 01:10:28 18 Gade Valley Hairiers 71.92
170 Roland KENDALL 01:11:39 01:11:19 21 Gade Valley Hairiers 68.53 X
210 Kim MORGAN 01:13:52 01:13:33 11 Gade Valley Hairiers 71.30
226 Patrick CAREY 01:14:45 01:14:25 80 Gade Valley Hairiers 65.13
248 Andy COOK 01:16:06 01:15:20 41 Gade Valley Hairiers 69.30
250 Simon WHEELER 01:16:11 01:15:20 42 Gade Valley Hairiers 64.45
252 Andrew BISHOP 01:16:17 01:15:24 84 Gade Valley Hairiers 60.71
255 Daniel GREEN 01:16:25 01:15:28 78 Gade Valley Hairiers 58.10 X
272 Jack BOUGHTON 01:17:17 01:16:23 81 Gade Valley Hairiers 56.61 X
281 Dylan WENDLEKEN 01:17:54 01:17:09 52 Gade Valley Hairiers 63.58
288 James FELSTEAD 01:18:14 01:17:53 54 Gade Valley Hairiers 66.19
296 Naomi CAREY 01:18:24 01:17:27 18 Gade Valley Hairiers 69.19 First Time
327 Andrew WATT 01:19:56 01:19:00 62 Gade Valley Hairiers 63.06
377 Phil MERCER 01:22:15 01:21:13 114 Gade Valley Hairiers 58.20
390 Nick JOSEPH 01:22:49 01:21:51 72 Gade Valley Hairiers 64.28 X
402 Claire MCDONNELL 01:23:15 01:22:07 36 Gade Valley Hairiers 69.90
425 Victoria CRAWLEY-WISE 01:24:52 01:23:42 28 Gade Valley Hairiers 61.51
454 Susannah CROWTHER 01:25:58 01:24:29 13 Gade Valley Hairiers 71.15
476 Sam SPARKS 01:27:05 01:26:00 41 Gade Valley Hairiers 58.63 X
544 Jenny STUBBERFIELD 01:30:12 01:27:12 41 Gade Valley Hairiers 54.32
560 Ashleigh TAYLOR 01:31:25 01:30:20 43 Gade Valley Hairiers 54.03
581 Sarah SHILLABEER 01:32:29 01:29:30 56 Gade Valley Hairiers 55.99
619 Helen COOK 01:33:56 01:31:56 24 Gade Valley Hairiers 65.11
631 Kirstie HARDIMAN 01:34:34 01:32:35 62 Gade Valley Hairiers 53.65
647 Anthony FOGDEN 01:35:28 01:31:48 30 Gade Valley Hairiers 57.37
718 Gemma TUCKER 01:39:06 01:36:06 75 Gade Valley Hairiers 50.63 X
737 Natalie WHEELER 01:40:09 01:36:51 95 Gade Valley Hairiers 53.07 First Time
763 Chris MOONEY 01:41:19 01:38:19 105 Gade Valley Hairiers 52.46
769 Holly BECKETT 01:41:31 01:38:31 81 Gade Valley Hairiers 49.97
790 Jane PERCIVAL 01:42:35 01:39:35 47 Gade Valley Hairiers 59.62
821 Priscilla PATHAK 01:44:40 01:41:53 5 Gade Valley Hairiers 65.09 First Time
825 Mary MCCLUSKEY 01:44:52 01:41:20 93 Gade Valley Hairiers 47.42
867 Anita FENOUGHTY 01:48:41 01:45:05 61 Gade Valley Hairiers 56.27 First Time
868 Jenny BROWN 01:48:41 01:45:06 133 Gade Valley Harriers 49.90 First Time
901 Kimberley YEATES 01:52:00 01:49:15 101 Gade Valley Hairiers 45.58 First Time
903 Peter GREEN 01:52:17 01:48:52 174 Gade Valley Harriers 41.58 First Time