Keeping the Trail Warm

There were a few races on the weekend of 7th / 8th October as the autumn season seemingly got into full swing. On Saturday morning a fair few Harriers took on various local parkruns. At Rickmansworth, Gareth Tucker and Steve Newing ran under 20 minutes for the men while Mary McCluskey was first GVH lady over the line with her best time since the Spring. A large cohort of Harriers stayed local at Gadebridge Park, with Bill Hawes first home, just ahead of Andy Bishop. Kim Morgan was the first lady home. Many Harriers seemed to be keeping their powder dry for Sunday’s races with Roland Kendall, in particular, running much slower than we’ve come to expect.

On Sunday there were at least 5 races featuring Gade Valley Harriers, or at least, 5 that the Results Fairy was aware of. There was a marathon and half marathon at Dorney Lake on Sunday morning which Gemma Tucker and Teresa Reason had signed up to. Gemma took perhaps the wise course of choosing to support husband Gareth in the Ridgeway Run whilst Teresa took on the soulless and soul-destroying surrounds of the olympic rowing lake. Teresa was certainly happy with the result as she finished 35th overall out of 273 finishers, 7th female and 1st in her age category. She took over 5 minutes off her PB to boot, finishing in 1:29:24. She said afterwards, “Flat running is hard work, back to the trails!”

At least they let people watch!

Slightly further afield but sticking with the half marathon distance, a small group of Harriers took on the Royal Parks Half Marathon in London. The Royal Parks route starts and finishes in Hyde Park and visits Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square, Marble Arch, Admiralty Arch, the Mall, the Wellington Arch, Kensington Palace and the Royal Albert Hall by way of Green Park and St James’ Park, allowing arguably even more sight seeing than the iconic London Marathon, but without having to pledge thousands of pounds to charity or enter a ballot with very little chance of success or get up at 5:00AM on the day.

Four GVH runners took on the Royal Parks Half. Sarah Shillabeer was the first to finish the course, crossing the line in just over 2 hours, in 2:00:55. She finished 247th, out of 1121 (very big race!) in her age category. Jane Phillipson was next to finish. She clocked 2:12:12, placing her 103rd out of 380 in her category. Next home was Ines Trent, she recorded yet another PB, which she seems to do every time she gets her running shoes on at the moment, finishing just below the halfway stage of all female finishers in 2:25:05. Not far behind Ines was Kim Yeates who completed the course in 2:26:00.

Mice bling. Good job.

Further afield still, and doubling the distance was Priscilla Pathak, who was running in the Chicago Marathon. Priscilla is an experienced marathon runner and has run many marathons all over the world. The Chicago Marathon is one of the world’s biggest and this year there were around 48,500 finishers. Priscilla finished a creditable 37,058th overall place, and a highly respectable 118th in her age category.

Another marathon done!

Back in the UK, but extending the distance still further, Patrick Carey and Simon Wheeler took on their first ultra marathons at the North Chilterns 50k race. Simon and Patrick ran together for the 50k with Simon’s official time 2 seconds quicker than Patrick’s. Patrick’s wife Naomi provided the quote to the press: “I meant to share this earlier but Simon and Patrick both did the North Chilterns 50k on Sunday in 6 hours 20. Their first ultra. ‘It was very hot’, they said.” No problem Naomi, it wasn’t too late to miss the report this week. Busy week at work…

This is the REAL Patrick Carey

Finally, also on Sunday morning, there was a large group of Harriers at the Ridgeway Run. This is a popular race, starting near some posh houses in Tring, before heading up through the trails to Ashridge, past the Monument, through the trees and out to Pitstone Hill before returning via the trails to Tring and finishing on the outfield of Tring Park Cricket Club. The race is about 9.5 miles in length mainly on trails.

Only Sam got Ed’s memo, and Bowler just went off-piste

Those that have taken on the Ridgeway Run in the past were expecting the route to climb straight up and over Pitstone Hill, but, apparently because of a request from the National Trust, the route bypassed the hill, using the path to the side. This made the route slightly longer but a lot easier. What didn’t help was the unseasonably hot and sultry early October weather with the mercury climbing to somewhere around 25 as the last people were finishing the race.

First home again, furious

As I’m sure everybody is getting sick of hearing, and I’m certainly getting a little bit bored of writing, Matt Ashby led the way for the Harriers. He finished 9th overall in a time of 1:01:07 but let it slip immediately afterwards that he was “really annoyed” as he was “hoping to go under the hour”. Those close to Matt (mentioning no names but my informant wears a grey mullet) later told us that “when Matt is in a bad mood after a race, it really affects the whole of the next week.”

It will be a miserable week…

Trailing in a distant 6 minutes behind Matt was James Birnie in 22nd position, my comment at the end was simply, “that was very hard and very hot”. I did discover that there was a tent full of homemade (Google just autocorrected this to one word, no hyphen, not sure I agree) cake near the pavilion though and I can confirm that the coffee and walnut cake was magnificent. Andy Wells was just behind me, by 14 seconds and 2 places. We later discovered that Matt, myself and Wellsey picked up 3rd place in the team event. Well done all.

The finger of God pushing Sam along

Steve Newing, Gareth Tucker, Dan Green, Roly Kendall, Rob Bowler (4th in his age category) and Ed Price all finished within a couple of minutes of each other, all managing to complete the course in under 80 minutes. I can confirm that they all looked very sweaty at the end. Nick Joseph was next home, finishing in 1:23:23. Not far behind Nick was Jenny Stubberfield, first lady home for GVH and looking forward to Matt’s foul mood.

The man himself and his inimitable style

Kirstie Hardiman and Molly Rice, running her first race for GVH for some time, were next, both clocking just under 1:40. Club captain Kim Morgan and Sam Raffety were next back, having run the whole distance together. Kim outsprinted Sam to the line although they were credited with the same chip time. 

Neil’s Back

Performance of the weekend goes to Helen Pollard, a recent L2R graduate as she bravely took on what is a very challenging race for many more experienced runners. It was her first race and her longest single run to date. She was running with Laura Johnson and the two received a mighty ovation from the GVH crowd as they entered the final 50 metres. Neil Harper was the final Gade Valley finisher, just behind Helen and Laura, having escorted his partner around the route.

Amazing running, Helen!

Well done to everybody who took part in any of these events, particularly Helen. No doubt we will see you again in many more races over the coming months and years.