Holiday Time for Harriers

There is no “running season” but people do like to go on holiday occasionally. This, and the fact that it gets hot in summer, makes running fast difficult and reduces the frequency and interest in races. It also reduces the time available to write about what people did at the weekend, leading to a massive backlog of writing to do once everybody gets back from holiday and catches up with work.

So it comes to pass that a lightning round up of recent weeks is required, starting with the July handicap. This race, which took place on Thursday, 28th July, was unusual in that nobody was accused of being a bandit. Various people were coming back from injury but didn’t perform too strongly, nobody managed to get an outrageous lie through the handicap committee and several of the recent Learn to Run graduates took part, marking their induction as true members of the club.

Despite finishing over 3 minutes ahead of the field, and outperforming her handicap, recent L2R participant Alison Scott deservedly took first place in the handicap but was denied the normal pleasure of absorbing the accusations of horse rustling and mask wearing. Congratulations go to Alison for a superb effort on her first competitive run and a promise from this writer to carry out the full photoshop experience on any future handicap successes.

Shortly after the July handicap, GVH athlete Rob Humphreys, who recently moved away from the area, took part in the truly epic Lakeland 100 race over the weekend of July 31st / August 1st. Head coach Ed Price said, “Huge congratulations to Rob Humphreys who completed the Lakeland 100, considered one of the two toughest 100 mile races in the UK, in the early hours of this morning. Rob completed it in just over 35 hours, which as far I know is the longest continuous effort ever from a GVH athlete. A stunning achievement.” I’m no expert but surely “tough” (or toughest) and “100 mile race” in the same sentence would constitute a tautology?

Why would you look happy while running 100 miles?

Ed continued, “This is also my chance to say goodbye and thanks to Rob as he starts his new adventure in Greystoke, Cumbria. Rob has given so much to GVH in races, as one of our burgeoning Ultra running crew.” In response, Rob commented, “Thank you very much to everyone at GVH, I have loved running with the club. I still have a GVH club London marathon place for April so will need a space on the bus please.”

On 7th August a small group of 4 Gade Valley athletes took on the Bearbrook 10k. This is hosted by the Bearbrook running club from Aylesbury and follows a fast course near the village of Weston Turville. The Harriers were led home by Matt Ashby who finished a magnificent 5th overall. Martin Storrie was spectating and said, “Well done to everyone who did the Bearbrook 10k today in very hot conditions. Great 5th place for Matt Ashby, and very strong runs from Anthony Willcox, Andrew Bishop and Susie Ivin. Great running all.”

Lovely day for it

There are three 10k races in the race calendar every year on very similar routes. The Easter 10k is usually run on Good Friday, the Summer Solstice 10k is usually run on the evening of the Summer Solstice on a course looking very similar to the Easter race and the Summer 10k (St Albans Striders must have been running out of ideas) is run in the summer on a course that looks EXACTLY the same as the Easter race. 

3 Harriers elected for a kind of Strava Dejas Vu experience with Anthony Willcox leading the way in 43:59. Merlin Allan and Robert Bowler continued their rivalry as Robert could be forgiven for thinking that he’d love to see the back of Merlin if it wasn’t for the fact that he only ever seems to see the back of him. Merlin again finished ahead of Robert in 44:56 with Robert close behind in 45:28.

Last weekend, August 20th and 21st, started with the latest instalment of the GVH Parkrun tour. This time 16 Harriers made the trip to Jersey Farm Parkrun near Sandridge. Screened from the surrounding roads and housing by woodland, Jersey Farm Park is something of a hidden gem and a pleasant time was had by all. Stu Gallagher continued his return to fitness, clocking an impressive 18:58 for the 5k while Tracey Cotton was the quickest for the GVH women and Sue Crowther scored the highest age graded time.

Typical Andy Cook, always keeping Helen in his shadow…

On Sunday 6 GVH men returned to the Isle of Wight in an attempt to repeat their victory in the team event of the Isle of Wight Half Marathon. Local hosts, Ryde Harriers, were obviously keen not to let the prize return to the mainland for a second year as their athletes finished first and third, with the winning time an incredibly quick 1:10:35. Club Chairman Andy Cook was one of the Gade Valley raiding party, he said: “I think they put a call out for their fastest runners to turn out in force – the winner did it in an incredible 1:10! – it’s a really tough course, with off-road and hills.”

Elite raiding party

Despite not scooping the spoils, the Gade Valley runners put in a more than solid performance. Michael Linden led the way, finishing 10th overall and 2nd in his age category, in 1:24:07. Stu Gallagher was just 3 places and a minute further back while Nick Crowther also broke the 90 minute mark. Antony Beamish wasn’t far behind, finishing in 1:31:28, Andy Cook completed the course in 1:36:28 (3rd in his age category) and Phil Mercer completed an impressive showing for the club with all 6 runners finishing in the top 40.