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Getting your fill from Gade Valley Harriers

Welcome to the latest and greatest Gade Valley Harriers has to offer. We have a few different types of update that get posted on this page.

Here you can find the latest news, Member of The Month, latest club results, club awards and social updates.

New Updates

Typical Midsummer!

Typical Midsummer!

The week to 26th June was something of a back to front affair for Gade Valley Harriers as it started on Tuesday June 21st with 40 Harriers taking part in the annual Summer Solstice 10k race in St Albans and finished with a similar number of Harriers getting drunk at...

Ultra Madness for Harriers

Ultra Madness for Harriers

The weekend of 18th and 19th June was fairly quiet but a number of Harriers took part in the weekly Parkruns. Jono Marval continued his excellent recent form, being the first Harrier to finish at Gadebridge Parkrun, while Anthony Fogden managed a new personal best, of...

Woman v Horse for Gade Valley Harriers

Woman v Horse for Gade Valley Harriers

After a couple of quiet weeks for Gade Valley Harriers the return of a local and much loved event to its normal slot in the calendar, without any lingering Covid restrictions, was a great way for a large number of the club’s runners to spend their weekend. Before the...

Member of The Month

Existing and past member of the month awards. Congratulations to all those nominated.

August 2021 – Nicki McDermott

August 2021 – Nicki McDermott

Apologies for holding up the Member of the Month, I know that James’s member was ready to go (every pun intended, sorry) last week so I can only say sorry. What with sorting out the trophies for the AGM, and organising a friend’s birthday party, and travelling down to...

August 2021: Nick Crowther

August 2021: Nick Crowther

August saw a lot of events coming back on to the calendar and therefore a lot more competitive action than we’ve become accustomed to, culminating last week when Harriers combined to compete in no less than 10 different races over the weekend. The increase in the...

Latest Results

Typical Midsummer!

The week to 26th June was something of a back to front affair for Gade Valley Harriers as it started on Tuesday June 21st with 40 Harriers taking part in the annual Summer Solstice 10k race in St Albans and finished with a similar number of Harriers getting drunk at the annual summer party on Saturday evening. Needless to say there was little in the way of competitive racing on Sunday.

The Summer Solstice run is a fast 10k race that starts and finishes in Highfield Park in St Albans before heading out towards Hatfield on the Alban Way, an old railway repurposed as a walking and cycling path (and hence very flat), a quick loop around a housing estate before returning on the Alban Way to Highfield Park. The race starts at 8:00PM on the evening of the summer solstice so can either provide some very fast times, if the weather is benign, or some slightly more challenging conditions if the weather is hot (as it was this year) or wet (as it was last year). 

Where are all the others hiding?

On balance most people agreed that last year’s wet conditions (which makes the start and finish in the park difficult) are preferable to this year’s hot conditions (which makes everything hard work). Nonetheless there were still some exceptionally fast times from the 40 Harriers who took part. Leading home the GVH runners, as is so often the case, was Matt Ashby. He continued his excellent improvements by scoring a new Personal Best and finishing 7th overall in 35:51. Michael Linden was the other Harrier to break the 40 minute barrier on the day, finishing 16th overall and 5th in his age category, in 38:42.

Not even breaking sweat…

Not far behind the leading pair were a couple of GVH men who have suffered recently from long term injuries. Stu Gallagher has suffered from a knee issue for almost a year now. Running last year’s London Marathon before it fully healed probably didn’t do it any favours, but he is now feeling fully un-injured (if not fully fit) and managed a more than respectable 40:00. Anthony Willcox has been injured in various different ways since before the pandemic started (although the two events aren’t related) so it is great to see him completing a 10k race at all, never mind in 41:30. Head coach Ed Price, club captain Andy Wells and Gwyn Pritchard all completed the race under 43 minutes. 

Looking good

Next over the line for the Harriers was Merlin Allan. In recent months Merlin and Robert Bowler have been locked in battle to claim (and then break) the club’s V60 records. As it stood before Monday, Merlin held 3 records, Robert held 2 and Anthony Fogden’s 10 mile mark seems to be in grave jeopardy. Despite the rivalry between the two, the Solstice was the first race that saw the pair head to head. Merlin came out on top finishing in 42:56, scoring a mighty 78.22 (out of 100) age graded points, and taking the club 10k record from Robert who finished just outside his existing record a few places back in 44:38. Merlin was seen leaving the race in Robert’s car and is rumoured not to have been seen since.

Have you seen this man?

Phil Mercer, Andy Cook and Skip Phillips finished in between Merlin and Robert with Skip bagging a new PB and a sub 45 minute time of 44:24. Tom Perry finished 5 places and 19 seconds behind Robert but, perhaps showing his inexperience in races, only 1 second behind him on chip time. Tom had the considerable consolation of also achieving a new PB, however, of 44:39 as he continued his improvement since joining the club to finish a 10k race under 45 minutes for the first time.

Be careful who you finish ahead of Skip!

Charlie Cadogan, Simon Wheeler and Andy Bishop were next to finish for GVH before the first of the Harriers’ women, Vicky Crawley Wise finished 21st overall and 7th in her age category, in 47:41. Paul Williams, Darren Burke, Jenny Stubberfield and Tracey Cotton were next, all finishing under 50 minutes. Jack Boughton also finished under 50 minutes, completing the 10k in 49:28. This was his first race for the Harriers and a new PB, beating his previous best 10k time by just over 3 minutes as he clocked 49:28.

Looking strong

Sue Crowther and Isabel Wilson were the most impressive of the female Harriers on the day. Sue finished 40th overall and 2nd in her age category, in a time of 50:42 while Isabel finished 60th overall and 1st in her age category. She also achieved the highest age graded score of the women with 76.54.

Impressive again.

Rachel Haffenden, Helen Cook and Angeline Cottrill all ran strongly to finish within a minute of each other, closely followed by Chrissie Mooney who completed the course in 56:00, beating her previous best time for the distance. Kelly Cox finished the course in 56:52 just ahead of Kim Rodwell who was the last of the Harriers to claim a new PB on the day.

I can throw this, it weighs less than all my medals!

Ashley Owen, Jane Percival, Martin Storrie and Susie Ivin all broke the hour mark with Jane scoring a very respectable 61.26 age graded performance. Mark Whittle finished just ahead of Chris Howe, long term friends Karis Thomas and Helen Terry ran the course together, finishing in just over 65 minutes while Anita Berwick, returning from a long lay off (and looking suspiciously like Ines Trent in the group photo – but nobody told me until after I published the first draft), finished just under 70 minutes and club president Andy Newing rounded out the Gade Valley finishers.

Still got it

The Parkruns took place as usual on Saturday morning and it was a special day for Jo Kidd as she completed her 50th Parkrun at Cassiobury Park. Club chairman Andy Cook was also at Cassiobury Park and he posted afterwards, “Congratulations Joanna Kidd for running her 50th parkrun at Cassiobury, supported by hubby Deano today”.

Parkrun…? It looks like a beach!

Saturday was a busy day for many people as the club had its annual sports day at Jarman Park followed by the Summer barbecue in the evening. The sports day includes track and field events for all the family as well as the Magic Mile, a rare opportunity for GVH athletes to run a timed race on the track as GVH is primarily a road running (and trail and ultra marathon) club. 

Come on lads, look at the oppo, we have to win the team prize today!!

5 Harriers took on the Magic Mile with the standout performances coming from Chris Dowling and Jon Roberts. Chris won the race in a superb time of 5:11 although coach Ed Price said afterwards that, “he was disappointed with that” while Jon Roberts crossed the line in 5:29, breaking the club V50 mile record in the process. Andy Wells clocked 5:38 while Anthony Willcox managed 6:06 and Dan Green completed his first Magic Mile in 6:32.

Disappointing long jump, no doubt.

With Dave Goodman having left the club, it has been left to club legends Helen and Andy Terry to carry the competitive baton on quiet weekends. They did so with aplomb as they took on the Round Sheffield Run. According to its own somewhat hubristic website, this “unique creative format” of “11 timed stages” through “20km of superb trails and parkland across Sheffield” is “the most fun I’ve had running since I was a kid!”

Need to try harder to make the route look like a Strava fish.

Helen and Andy certainly agreed, to an extent, with the organisers, as Helen said before the race, “All ready at the Round Sheffield Run – nice way to spend our wedding anniversary. Fingers crossed we are still married at the end!” They were competing as a mixed pair so they wore the same number and, as Helen explained “he had to stay within arms length of me – no escape”. As far as this reporter knows, their marriage remains intact.

Still married at this point, at least.

As nobody seemed to be racing, or doing all that much, on Sunday, the club’s weekend ended with the annual summer party and barbecue. In true British Summer style, the event saw all 4 seasons as it started slightly overcast, had periods of bright sunshine, was windy almost throughout and finished with some spectacular rain. Michelle Wells summed up the general mood of the club when she posted on Sunday morning, “Just wanted to say a big thank you to Edward Price for an amazing family sports day. So lovely to see so many children. Also a big thank you to everyone at GVH especially Mary McCluskey for the BBQ! Shame about the rain but lovely to catch up with everyone.”

Full Results from the Summer Solstice 10k

Finish Position Gun Time Chip Time Cat Position Gender Position Age Grading PB
7 Matt ASHBY 00:35:53 00:35:51 5 7 73.54 X
16 Michael LINDEN 00:38:46 00:38:42 5 16 74.11
25 Stuart GALLAGHER 00:40:03 00:40:00 10 25 70.58
40 Anthony WILLCOX 00:41:36 00:41:30 16 40 66.37
42 Edward PRICE 00:41:48 00:41:43 17 41 68.73
54 Andrew WELLS 00:42:33 00:42:31 21 52 65.39
55 Gwyn PRITCHARD 00:42:41 00:42:36 22 53 64.17
64 Merlin ALLAN 00:43:04 00:42:56 3 61 78.22 X
70 Phil MERCER 00:43:49 00:43:43 26 65 65.57
75 Andy COOK 00:44:01 00:43:48 11 70 71.08
85 Richard PHILLIPS 00:44:41 00:44:24 28 78 60.87 X
86 Robert BOWLER 00:44:42 00:44:38 4 79 72.56
91 Tom PERRY 00:45:01 00:44:39 29 83 58.63 X
100 Charlie CADOGAN 00:45:44 00:45:36 34 88 63.88
107 Simon WHEELER 00:46:15 00:46:08 36 93 63.17
125 Andrew BISHOP 00:47:15 00:46:57 42 107 58.9
136 Victoria CRAWLEY-WISE 00:47:56 00:47:41 7 21 65.25
143 Paul WILLIAMS 00:48:17 00:47:59 25 119 63.11
154 Darren BURKE 00:49:15 00:48:30 49 126 58.83
159 Jenny STUBBERFIELD 00:49:23 00:48:59 15 30 60.18
161 Tracey COTTON 00:49:42 00:49:27 12 32 63.89
171 Jack BOUGHTON 00:50:20 00:49:28 42 135 52.43 x
180 Susannah CROWTHER 00:51:03 00:50:42 2 40 71.63
230 Isabel WILSON 00:54:26 00:53:36 1 60 76.54
236 Rachel HAFFENDEN 00:54:58 00:54:19 16 63 59.34
247 Helen COOK 00:55:40 00:55:02 4 71 64.88
256 Angeline COTTRILL 00:56:00 00:55:11 19 77 58.25
261 Christeena MOONEY 00:56:52 00:56:00 20 78 56.32 X
280 Kelly COX 00:57:45 00:56:52 34 92 52.63
289 Kim RODWELL 00:58:16 00:57:32 27 99 51.01 X
290 Ashley OWEN 00:58:19 00:57:34 51 191 45.53
303 Jane PERCIVAL 00:58:58 00:58:06 12 108 61.26
310 Martin STORRIE 00:59:24 00:58:41 12 198 55.12
320 Susie IVIN 01:00:19 00:59:56 41 117 52.24
352 Mark WHITTLE 01:02:52 01:02:02 74 211 46.47
361 Chris HOWE 01:03:22 01:02:39 75 212 45.73
390 Karis THOMAS 01:05:55 01:05:14 38 172 45.33
391 Helen TERRY 01:05:55 01:05:16 55 173 46.84
428 Anita BERWICK 01:10:11 01:09:27 64 203 47.46
447 Andy NEWING 01:14:17 01:13:31 72 230 42.12

Ultra Madness for Harriers

The weekend of 18th and 19th June was fairly quiet but a number of Harriers took part in the weekly Parkruns. Jono Marval continued his excellent recent form, being the first Harrier to finish at Gadebridge Parkrun, while Anthony Fogden managed a new personal best, of 25:46 for the hilly 5k. Kim Morgan was the only female Harrier at Gadebridge.

Eight Harriers made the short trip to Watford to run Cassiobury Parkrun. Antony Beamish was the first to finish, crossing the line in exactly 20 minutes, with Andy Cook next home just under two minutes later. Sue Crowther was the first of 5 Harrier women to finish, followed by Helen Cook, Karis Thomas, Jo Kidd and Caron Williams.

Continuing the Harriers burgeoning reputation as a destination for Ultra runners (and perhaps ultra cyclists) was the order of the weekend outside of Parkruns. On Saturday, Phil Robbins led a group of runners on one of his trademark epic runs across London, Guy Woollett and Jon Roberts started the Arts and Science 600k Audax (which lasted into Sunday) and Sam Sparks and Martin Pike took part in the Lea Valley Ultra.

Why is a pretzel the symbol of Staffordshire?

First up, starting just after 7:00AM were Guy and Jon. According to an Audax is “…a type of long-distance road cycling event in which participants must navigate a route within a specified period of time.” You learn something new every day. They started near King’s Cross Station before heading west through central London and then northwest through Wembley before following a route to the west of Birmingham and the Black Country as far north as Telford in Shropshire.

Look at me, I can do a selfie while riding my bike!

Guy and Jon then turned to the east to head approximately 150km due east before turning south about 40km northwest of Peterborough. They passed to the west of Peterborough before going through Huntingdon, Cambridge and Hertford before returning to Central London via Barnet. The whole adventure took just under 35 hours, so effectively all weekend. It made me tired just typing the last two paragraphs so I can’t imagine how Guy and Jon felt. Normally I’d make up a quote at this point but I think I respect the achievement too much to do that on this occasion.

Too much respect to make up a quote for this map.

Starting slightly later than Guy and Jon, Sam Sparks, who was on the panel at the GVH ultra running symposium last week, and Martin Pike took on the Lea Valley Ultra 50k, from 8:00AM on Saturday. According to its own website, the Lea Valley Ultra “…starts from Welwyn Garden City and takes you all the way to Hackney Wick. Following the scenic Cole Green Way and Lea Valley path from Hertfordshire to London.” Martin finished in 35th overall position, 30th male and 14th in his age category, in 4:48:15 while Sam did even better, finishing 12th female and 6th in her age category in 5:42:39.

Only 50k? What were you thinking?

Later still on Saturday morning, kicking off at the positively lazy start time of just after 9:00AM Phil Robbins led a group of 4 on one of his personally designed RIBIT runs. RIBIT stands for “Run it because it is there” and is a club founded by Phil who loves to take on challenging runs in unusual locations, always exceeding marathon distance (26.2 miles, 42.2k) in length. Over the past 7 or so years, Phil has led groups on themed runs around landmarks in London, long countryside routes celebrating parts of local history and several times following the whole route of one of the London Underground lines. 

There’s only one club in Hemel!

This Saturday the route was the Piccadilly Line. Phil led a group of 4, including GVH runners Phil Mercer and Nick Crowther as well as Dacorum AC’s Kate Rennie. They started at Cockfosters Station, the north easter terminus of the Piccadilly Line and followed the route through central London, along the river through Hammersmith and Turnham Green before following the North Western branch to finish at Uxbridge. Pendants may point out (and I’m definitely one of those, so I will) that this wasn’t the entirety of the Piccadilly Line and may wonder why the group didn’t then proceed south to Heathrow before following that branch back into the fork at Acton Town. Maybe consider the WHOLE line next time Phil?

Phil shows that high brow humour is beyond nobody

Woman v Horse for Gade Valley Harriers

After a couple of quiet weeks for Gade Valley Harriers the return of a local and much loved event to its normal slot in the calendar, without any lingering Covid restrictions, was a great way for a large number of the club’s runners to spend their weekend.

Before the weekend Gade Valley built on its reputation as the premier destination club for ultra marathon runners by hosting its first Ultra Marathon Running Workshop. The panel discussion was hosted by head coach Ed Price with experienced ultra runners, Chris Dowling and Phil Robbins, who is a veteran of the famous African 7 day ultra Marathon des Sables, joined by recent ultra converts Sam Sparks and Nick Crowther.

Three wise men and a wise woman

Head Coach Ed Price said afterwards, “​​We had insightful and inspiring contributions from our esteemed panel, Chris Dowling, Sam Sparks, Nicholas Crowther and Philip Robbins as well as many interesting questions from the floor. We will share some links to podcasts and other resources very soon, and if anyone would like to join the Ultra Talk WhatsApp group which lots of members are already on, please contact Chris. Anybody interested in training with like minded people for ultra marathons should contact the club through its website,

The bar’s open!

The Marston Forest 5k race took place on the evening of Friday, June 10th. According to the website of the Ampthill and Flitwick Flyers, “The Marston Forest 5k chip timed race takes place every summer, it  is popular with both experienced athletes and those runners looking to do their first official 5k race. It is a fast, flat course in the beautiful Marston Vale country park with lots of PB potential!” Tracey Cotton was the sole Harrier in action and she said after the race, “My best 5k time this year so far. Very pleased with my placing of 4th in my age category and 14th female out of 154. My chip time was 23:21.”

Saturday morning saw the usual Parkrun activity with about 20 Harriers taking on the 5k runs. There were notable performances from Anthony Fogden and Rachel Haffenden who were the first male and female Harriers to finish at Gadebridge, Matt Watt who clocked an impressive 18:08 at Cassiobury Park and Helen Cook, who led the Harriers ladies home at Cassiobury Park.

On Sunday morning, 32 Gade Valley Harriers raced the challenging, hilly route of the St Albans Half Marathon. The June heat can sometimes prove challenging in this race but competitors know that they get an ice lolly at the end which can prove a motivating factor for many. Michael Linden was the first Harrier to enjoy a lolly, completing the 13.1 miles in 1:25:44. Gareth Tucker also ran well, crossing the line in 1:28:07. Stu Gallagher, fighting his way back from recent injuries, managed a superb 1:29:08, while Andy Wells was the last of the Harriers to duck under the 90 minute mark.

Who stole my basketball?!?

Antony Beamish completed the course in just over 90 minutes, ahead of Dave Goodman (1:32:13) competing for the Harriers for the last time before moving away from the area, he will be missed by all. Andy Cook, Sam Richards and Lewis Saville were next before Robert Bowler (1:38:03) won the latest instalment of Bowler v Allan, finishing 22 seconds ahead of Merlin Allan, though neither was threatening the club V60 record, currently held by Merlin.

I was ahead of Wallis at one point!

Anthony Willcox, another Harrier recovering from long term injury, was next in a very respectable 1:39:17, followed by Simon Wallis, Trevor Normoyle and Tom Perry. Andy Watt was next in 1:49:37, ahead of Phil Mercer who finished 48 seconds ahead of Deon Percival, but with a slower chip time. Deon, in turn, was about a minute ahead of Andy Bishop who was running this distance for the first time in several years.

Everybody is level before the start

Michelle Wells was the first female Harrier to finish, clocking 1:52:55 and finishing just outside the top 100 women. She was closely followed by Mel Hardy, Naomi Carey and Sue Crowther. Naomi Carey banked a new Personal Best time for the Half Marathon distance, saying afterwards that it was, “…by virtue of it being my first.” As we’ve said in these pages before, that is most definitely a PB and something to be proud of. Dan Green, returning to action after a long lay off, was the last GVH athlete to finish under 2 hours, while Helen Cook and Holly Beckett crossed the finish line with almost identical chip times but Helen was a couple of minutes ahead as Holly had started further back in the field. Kelly Cox, Molly Rice, Nicki Jackson, Rich Peters, Kim Rodwell (recovering from her recent first marathon) and Ines Trent all put in strong performances in the heat.

It isn’t supposed to be that much fun!

Also on Sunday morning, Vicky Crawley-Wise, Teresa Reason and Claire McDonell had planned to take on the Man v Horse race in Llanwrtyd Wells in Wales. According to the Green Events website the unique event “began in June 1980 following a chat over a pint (or three) in the back bar of the Neuadd Arms Hotel. The then Landlord, Gordon Green, overheard two men discussing the relative merits of men and horses running over mountainous terrain. The enterprising Gordon, never one to miss an opportunity to promote Llanwrtyd Wells and improve business at his hotel, decided to put it to the test. And so began the now internationally acclaimed event, Man v Horse.”

The Gade Valley trio had originally entered the 2020 edition of the famous race in 2019 but the pandemic ensured the race wasn’t held in 2020 or 2021. So after a three year wait the GVH women were looking forward, finally, to going head to head with around 600 competitors, 36 of them riding horses. The plan had been to enter the relay event but unfortunately the pandemic reared its ugly head once again as Claire tested positive for Covid leaving the team one woman down and forcing Vicky and Teresa to run the whole, approximately 23 mile, distance as individual entries.

Looking forward to taking on those horses!

Vicky shared her experience after the race: “Yes I know it’s 2022 but the medal says 2020. After entering the race in 2019 and it being postponed twice we finally got to do it. Was meant to be the relay but being a woman down we decided to throw it all in & do the full whack. Thank goodness for the 50k training in my legs as I was able to get in under the 4 hour mark, before all the horses finished! If that wasn’t exciting enough, Ricky Lightfoot became only the 3rd person in 42 years to beat all the horses!” The race offers a £500 jackpot for finishing ahead of all the horses and had rolled over several times meaning that Lightfoot, from Cumbria, pocketed a £3,500 bonus. The three year wait was clearly worth it for some.

Horses, runners, but no bandits in sight!

Full Results from St Albans Half Marathon

Pos Name Gun Time Chip Time Age Category Cat pos Gender Pos PB
44 Michael LINDEN 01:25:52 01:25:44 Ages 40 – 49 11 41
68 Gareth TUCKER 01:28:14 01:28:07 Ages 40 – 49 20 64
79 Stuart GALLAGHER 01:29:16 01:29:08 Ages 40 – 49 24 75
83 Andrew WELLS 01:29:37 01:29:37 Ages 40 – 49 26 79
92 Antony BEAMISH 01:30:29 01:30:21 Ages 40 – 49 30 87
117 David GOODMAN 01:32:33 01:32:13 Ages 40 – 49 34 112
165 Andy COOK 01:36:03 01:35:22 Ages 50 – 59 23 157
194 Sam RICHARDS 01:37:47 01:37:17 Ages 20 – 39 96 185
196 Lewis SAVILLE 01:37:49 01:37:40 Ages 40 – 49 58 187
208 Robert BOWLER 01:38:22 01:38:03 Ages 60 – 69 4 197
227 Merlin ALLAN 01:39:05 01:38:25 Ages 60 – 69 6 214
258 Anthony WILLCOX 01:40:08 01:39:17 Ages 40 – 49 73 240
282 Simon WALLIS 01:41:34 01:41:15 Ages 40 – 49 79 259
414 Trevor NORMOYLE 01:47:35 01:46:42 Ages 40 – 49 121 363
441 Tom PERRY 01:48:25 01:47:24 Ages 20 – 39 167 384
507 Andrew WATT 01:50:38 01:49:37 Ages 50 – 59 74 433
513 Phil MERCER 01:50:54 01:50:44 Ages 40 – 49 149 438
536 Deon PERCIVAL 01:51:42 01:50:23 Ages 40 – 49 157 451
551 Andrew BISHOP 01:52:18 01:51:39 Ages 40 – 49 164 463
603 Michelle WELLS 01:54:23 01:52:55 Ages 40 – 49 38 103
612 Mel HARDY 01:54:34 01:53:26 Ages 20 – 39 43 105
650 Naomi CAREY 01:55:54 01:54:25 Ages 40 – 49 43 115 PB
719 Susannah CROWTHER 01:58:00 01:56:32 Ages 50 – 59 24 133
727 Daniel GREEN 01:58:20 01:57:20 Ages 20 – 39 225 591
991 Helen COOK 02:07:46 02:06:17 Ages 50 – 59 41 221
1029 Holly BECKETT 02:09:28 02:06:18 Ages 20 – 39 103 236
1157 Kelly COX 02:15:26 02:12:15 Ages 20 – 39 123 285
1194 Molly RICE 02:17:12 02:14:01 Ages 20 – 39 132 301
1230 Nicki JACKSON 02:19:36 02:16:23 Ages 40 – 49 109 318
1315 Rich PETERS 02:24:30 02:20:34 Ages 40 – 49 327 954
1338 Kim RODWELL 02:25:49 02:22:21 Ages 20 – 39 162 374
1575 Ines TRENT 03:05:08 03:00:57 Ages 20 – 39 202 504

Magic Merlin and a Milestone for Mary

Perhaps not surprisingly there wasn’t much racing action over the Jubilee weekend. The Parkruns still went ahead in most locations, however, and there was a middle distance triathlon for one intrepid Harrier on Jubilee Sunday.

Saturday morning saw 5 Harriers dodge the crowds in Gadebridge Park as the town prepared for the Jubilee Party in the Park, while 4 GVH athletes made the short trip to St Albans. The most notable individual performance, however, came at the beautiful Fountains Abbey Parkrun, where Merlin Allan broke his own V60 club Parkrun record by stopping the clock at 21:36 for the 5k distance. 

The view from Merlin’s latest record

Merlin clearly enjoyed his outing, saying afterwards, “I managed to do the Fountains Abbey Parkrun on Saturday in 21:36. I did my warm up sprints in the 300ft-long nave of the Cistercian Monastery, built in 1170AD. Surreal! Waiting at the start line I ended up chatting to a lady who was completing her 50th Parkrun for Ripon Runners. After the race I discovered she was actually the Bishop of Ripon. Maybe she’d put in a good word for me to get a PB!”

The Reverend Helen-Ann Hartley, Bishop of Ripon and Merlin’s conduit to the almighty V60 records

The majority of the Harriers that ran on Saturday morning made their way to the beautiful Aldenham Country Park for Aldenham Parkrun which was the nominated venue for the latest edition of the club’s Parkrun tour. Michael Linden led the way for the Harriers having a close race for the entire two laps, eventually finishing in second place in 19:13, just 4 seconds behind the first place finisher.

GVH at Aldenham before it rained

Not far behind Michael, club head coach Ed Price led home a group of 5 Harriers who finished in consecutive places. Ed was 8th in 20:43, followed by Lewis Ellerby, Vince Ellerby, Andy Cook and Guy Woollett in 12th, who was only 38 seconds behind Ed.

Tracey Cotton was the first Harrier woman over the line, and second woman overall, in 33rd place. Helen Cook and Susie Ivin weren’t far behind finishing together in 50th and 51st positions. Neil Harper was next for the Harriers finishing just ahead of Mary McCluskey who was celebrating her 100th Parkrun and the first Parkrun that her baby son Will had taken part in, albeit being pushed by his Dad. Ines Trent and Helen Heathcote weren’t far behind Mary while Clementine Birnie and James Birnie, pushing baby Will in the pushchair, brought up the rear.

Baby Will shows how interested he was in his Mum’s 100th Parkrun

Ashleigh Taylor had been training hard for several months for the Grafman Triathlon which takes place at Grafham Water near Huntingdon. According to, “Ironman is a brand, but other independent companies put on iron distance (or full distance) events”. Similarly events that are popularly known as “Half Ironman” triathlons would also be breaking trademark laws. So to avoid upsetting the, no doubt voraciously litigious, American lawyers, we have to describe the Grafman Triathlon as a “middle distance triathlon” whilst quietly acknowledging that “we saw what you did there” with the name of the race.

Underused and underloved on Sunday

Ironically (you see, we can all do it), the wet weather ruined any possibility of further trademark infringements by forcing the organisers to reduce by half the length of the cycle ride thus changing the race to some weird hybrid of middle distance and Olympic distance. Ashleigh still enjoyed the experience, saying afterwards, “I enjoyed the event, wet as it was. The last 4 miles on the run were hard. I hate out-and-backs and circles. But it was the right call by the race directors, there were some pretty bad crashes on the bike.” Other distances are available as required, we just don’t know what we are allowed to call them.

Can’t use the name, definitely can’t use the picture

M60 for Dave Goodman as Honesty Infiltrates GVH Handicap

After the first handicap of the year in April resembled an audition for the new Ennio Morricone & Sergio Leone collaboration, “For a few Bandits more”, it was perhaps not too much of a surprise to see fewer horse rustling antics for the second handicap of the summer. Admittedly, the existence of the times from the first race shine a metaphorical closed circuit camera on the paddock gates, it was nonetheless surprising to see a relative attack of honesty by even those taking part in their first handicap of the season.

Don’t fear the mask

After a relatively slow 4 miles in the first race, Charlie Cadogan started 2 minutes earlier than he had a month ago. He also ran the course just over a minute faster to finish the race over 3 minutes earlier this time out, jumping from 36th (of 37 runners) in April to 1st in May.

Charlie pictured just before the April handicap

Dan Green was immune from accusations of banditry in April by virtue of being unavailable to race but donned his mask in May as he successfully remained under the radar and managed to grab second place with a solid time of 30:28 for the four miles against a very slightly generous handicap of 10:30. It should be noted, however, that despite finishing second on the day, applying the same formula as last week, Dan would only have achieved the 3 bandit mask rating.

Dan Green slips under the radar to bag a good finish

It was a testament to the excellent organisation shown by Helen Terry that only 3 athletes earned as many as 3 masks this time out. The third to earn this accolade was Isobel Wilson, who finished third. Isobel had seen her start time delayed by a minute from the previous week but had improved her time on the road by just over a minute to see her finishing place jump from 13th to third.

Isobel Guevara crossing the finish line

Jenny Stubberfield also had a superb run. She saw 30 seconds added to her start time but was able to outperform her April time by just over 40 seconds to boost her finish position from 19th to 4th. Jenny’s superb finish time of 31:22 was the quickest of all the women in the race.

Nothing to see here

The winner of the first handicap, Kitty Cole, suffered a brutal 3 minute hit to her start time but she managed to improve her time on the road by 30 seconds and that, combined with the adjustments for all the runners who took part last time out, meant that she was able to finish as high as 6th. With a 1st place and 6th place finish in the bag, Kitty has to be considered the favourite after 2 races.

Kept the kit from the first outing

Steve Newing, competing in his first handicap of the season, finished 5th overall and led home a group of 18 athletes who finished only 63 seconds apart. The handicaps have rarely worked out so well: the gap from Charlie Cadogan in 1st place to Mary McCluskey in 24th place was only 2 minutes and 19 seconds. As this month’s results show, any improvement in anybody’s finishing time could see them shooting up to the top of the list for the June race.

On Sunday, the RideLondon Classique returned after being absent due to Covid in 2020 and 2021. Rebranded and reformatted, the event is a 3 day stage race for professional riders and offers the choice of 30 mile, 60 mile or 100 miles on the Sunday for amateur riders. GVH athletes Kitty Cole (electing to ride a bicycle as horses aren’t allowed) and Kelly Cox took on the 100 mile option. Kelly, riding in her first such event, completed the 100 miles in just under 9 hours, according to her own timings, with an official time of just over 9:34:02.

Kitty saddles up again

Kitty had an eventful ride, saying on Monday morning, “Yesterday’s ride London!! Well, it started off fun. I did my best to enjoy it despite not actually crossing the line until 9:00 and stressing about the cut offs. It was all going pretty well until about 62 miles where I fell. No way was I stopping but 40 miles of pain was no easy ride. I tried to enjoy the views, Essex is pretty! It’s done now and NEVER again! Currently sat in A&E!” Unfortunately, Kitty later reported that she has broken her collarbone and her shoulder as well as collecting various cuts and bruises. We all wish her a speedy recovery and hope she will be back in all types of saddles as soon as possible.

Also on Sunday was the Edinburgh Marathon. Kim Rodwell was running her first ever marathon and was very happy to finish the race in 5:24:31. Kim’s partner Tom Perry was also competing and he managed to score a new PB, and break 4 hours for the first time, finishing in 3:58:00. James Felstead was also representing the club in Edinburgh, clocking a superb time of 3:31:35. 

Finally, Dave Goodman, never knowingly under-marathoned, also took to the streets of the Scottish capital. This was a landmark race for Dave as it was the 60th marathon of his life. Dave said, “My legs weren’t fully recovered from my last adventure on the North Downs Way so I wasn’t going for a time. Mixed crowd points kept me going and I finally finished in 03:45:21. Not bad for a recovery run.” Dave says he is now taking a break to prepare for the Berlin Marathon in September. Given that he has been “recovering” from a marathon almost every week for the past 3 years, it will be interesting to see how fast Dave can complete a marathon with a more gentle build up.

Dave Goodman, M60

Full May Handicap Results

Name Watch Time Handicap Actual Time Mask Rating Sandbags
1 Charlie Cadogan 0:40:52 0:11:30 0:29:22 Loads
2 Dan Green 0:40:58 0:10:30 0:30:28
3 Isabel Wilson 0:41:00 0:07:45 0:33:15
4 Jenny Stubberfield 0:41:22 0:10:00 0:31:22
5 Steve Newing 0:41:35 0:14:00 0:27:35
6 Kitty Cole 0:41:38 0:08:30 0:33:08
7 Andy Cook 0:41:45 0:13:15 0:28:30
8 Vince Ellerby 0:41:46 0:13:45 0:28:01
9 Lewis Saville 0:41:51 0:14:45 0:27:06
10 Phil Mercer 0:41:53 0:13:00 0:28:53
11 Andy Bishop 0:41:54 0:12:30 0:29:24
12 Molly Rice 0:41:57 0:06:45 0:35:12
13 Andy Watt 0:42:00 0:11:30 0:30:30
14 Michael Linden 0:42:01 0:17:15 0:24:46
15 Naomi Carey 0:42:04 0:10:30 0:31:34
16 Andy Wells 0:42:19 0:16:45 0:25:34
17 Gareth Tucker 0:42:24 0:17:30 0:24:54
18 Gary Kingsley 0:42:28 0:10:30 0:31:58
19 Robert Bowler 0:42:31 0:13:30 0:29:01
20 Rachel Haffenden 0:42:35 0:07:30 0:35:05
21 Merlin Allan 0:42:37 0:13:30 0:29:07
22 Matt Ashby 0:42:38 0:19:00 0:23:38
23 Deon Percival 0:42:59 0:12:00 0:30:59
24 Mary McCluskey 0:43:11 0:00:00 0:43:11
25 Ines Trent 0:45:26 0:00:00 0:45:26
26 Helen Cook 0:45:27 0:08:00 0:37:27

Dave Downs an Ultra

It was a very quiet weekend for Gade Valley Harriers on 21st and 22nd May as only one runner took part in a race and only a handful of Harriers took part in Parkruns on Saturday.

The waterfall near Ambleside, on the shores of Lake Windermere

The weekend got under way at 8:00AM as Dave Goodman, often the sole Harrier taking part in some far flung race, undertook another solo mission at the North Downs Ultra Way 50 mile Race. This race starts at Farnham in Surrey and follows the North Downs Way, an ancient path, past Guildford, Box Hill, Reigate and Caterham before the finish at Knockholt Pound near Sevenoaks in Kent.

An oddly niche business in Windermere Village

Obviously, a 50 mile race takes some considerable time, so while Dave was still warming up on the North Downs Way, several Harriers took on the more modest (and some would say more sensible) distance of 5k at the weekly Park Runs. Lewis and Vince Ellerby enjoyed their usual outing to Black Park while Karis Thomas, Chris Howe and Jo Kidd enjoyed a trip to Verulam Park in St Albans.

A deer in a forest near Windermere

Six GVH runners ran at the local Gadebridge Parkrun where Merlin Allan showed his ageless class while Chrissie Mooney was first female Harrier to finish, just under the half hour mark. Peter and Nicole Tucker seem to have run every parkrun in Northern Ireland now, this time taking on Bangor while Helen and Andy Cook enjoyed a 5k run around Fell Foot Park at the Southern tip of Lake Windermere.

A view across Lake Windermere from my holiday in 2020

Meanwhile, while the Parkrunning Harriers were enjoying a coffee after their runs, Dave was just about completing the first 8 miles or so of his odyssey in the South of England. Dave himself takes up the story, “After recent storms the weather held out. It was a nice, somewhat warm, day. I set off around 8am with the goal of just finishing. This was by far the furthest distance I’ve ever run in one go. Some of the elevation gain, especially in the second half of the race, was very challenging.” Dave was up to the challenge as he finished the 50 mile course in 12:05:55.

Dave shows us his stuff yet again

Club Awards

Club awards 2020-21

Best male athleteMichael Linden
Most improved male athleteNick Crowther
Best new male athleteDan Green
Best female athleteTeresa Reason
Most improved female athleteInes Trent
Best new female athletePriscilla Pathak
Multi-sport awardDylan Wendleken
Club league maleN/A
Club league femaleN/A
Club league age-gradedN/A
Club handicapTracy Scollin
Committee awardEd Price
Club members awardEd Price

Club awards 2019-20

Best male athleteJon Roberts
Most improved male athleteGareth Tucker
Best new male athleteStuart Gallagher
Best female athleteTeresa Reason
Most improved female athleteKim Morgan
Best new female athleteSam Sparks
Multi-sport awardHeather Taylor
Club league maleDave Goodman
Club league femaleKim Morgan
Club league age-gradedIsabel Wilson
Club handicapNikki Tucker
Committee awardEd Price
Club members awardEd Price

Club awards 2018-19

Best male athleteRich Coles
Most improved male athletePhil Mercer
Best new male athleteMichael Linden
Best female athleteTeresa Reason
Most improved female athleteMary McCluskey
Best new female athleteIsabel Wilson
Multi-sport awardDean Kidd
Club league malePhil Mercer
Club league femaleHelen Heathcote
Club league age-gradedTeresa Reason
Club handicapMary McCluskey
Committee awardPaula Cook
Club members awardEd Price & Gemma Bitaraf

Club Social

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