According to Wikipedia, Bilbo Baggins, at the start of Lord of the Rings, travels to Rivendell and visits the dwarves of the Lonely Mountain before returning to retire at Rivendell and write books. One assumes that one day he would catch up with Frodo, after the latter’s adventures across three whole books, and catch up on what has been going on.
There was talk of a race involving an old friend, but Bilbo cut that one off with, “Tom Bombardill didn’t make it into the films, just because he still lurks on our Facebook page, we shouldn’t be elevating Dave to the hallowed pages of the weekly reports.” Quite right too, if you want to be featured in the Lord of the Runs, keep your membership going, make sure the results fairies are your friends and don’t go racing on a weekend preceding a week when my CTO makes one of his infrequent visits to the UK.
Apologies must also go to all the nameless Elves, Dwarves and Ents who gave their time and their lives to the great Parkrun battles of Hemel’s Deep over the past few weeks. Though you never got an acting credit, you still managed to get yourself in the foreground and even, if you were really lucky, managed to get the running equivalent of a Wilhelm Scream out there, especially Anthony Orcden who told his own story of 100 appearances at various Middle Earth 5k points of interest, and 100 actions at Hemel’s Deep alone.
Sometimes the results fairies (or Happenings Hobbits as they could be known) go on holiday for a couple of weeks and sometimes some things go on in the background. With all due respect to Phil Mercer, who valiantly took on the 50 mile ultra challenge in Wendover but, like Boromir, managed to last only into the second chapter, retiring after 3 of the 5 laps, we move on silently through the middle part, the Two Ultras, into the much more action packed “Return of the Cassiobury”.
And so to the main business of the weekend of 15th and 16th of July. Back on May 20th, many club members gathered for the Cardolan (look it up, it’s on that map at the start of the Hobbit) Parkrun for the baseline 5k run. The idea was that head coach, Elrond Price (this is getting worse) prepared an 8 week magic potion course, otherwise known as “training” to improve the speed of the club members over a 5k Parkun distance. The 8 weeks having concluded last week, the club returned to run the same Parkrun, to see who improved the most in that period.
When all the dead orcs, sorry, the results, were in, head coach Elrond calculated all the improvements and shared the data with the results fairies. Most of us were hoping for at least a bit of a shake up of the usual order and were therefore extremely pleased to see Jemma Jackson, a recent Learn to Rohan (we’re down in the depths now) graduate, at the head of the list. She completed the 5k in 34:23, nearly 5 minutes and over 12% quicker than her baseline run 8 weeks earlier.
Second on the list was James Birnie. Although he did say that the improvement was mainly down to not allowing himself to get stuck at the start with the hobbit buggy (“lost over a minute on the first km last time because I stupidly followed the etiquette and started at the back”). He was also very much helped by Watford Council (or the King of Gondor, not sure who maintains Cassiobury Park) relaying two thirds of the paths, making them significantly smoother and wider than in the earlier run. Whatever the reason, he managed to improve from 22:56 to 21:33, scoring a 6.03% improvement.
Helen Heathcote was the next highest improver as she continues to work her way back to full fitness. She took just over 2½ minutes off her original time to finish in 42:43, scoring 5.94%. Matt Ashby was the fastest from the club on the day. He had finished first overall in the baseline run in 17:54 and managed to improve an already superb time by over a minute, finishing first again in 16:51, a 5.87% improvement, new 5k PB and an entry on the coveted Sub17 Men page for Cassiobury Park.
Mary McCluskey also managed an improvement of over 5%. She has kept up her fitness after her Spring marathon by entering (and training for) an ultra marathon in the Autumn. Some who know her well may legitimately accuse her of cheating, or at least gamesmanship, as she elected to have an early night and drink no alcohol (well, only a glass or two of white) on Friday. She was extremely happy with her time, finishing in 26:42 and bagging a new PB for the Cassiobury course.
Lewis Ellerby has been improving quite rapidly over the past year or so and he continued his rise with another strong performance. His time of 18:33 was 38 seconds, 3.3%, quicker than in May. Amanda Barker managed nearly a 2% improvement, to 25:38, while next on the list was Ines Trent. She has been aiming to get her 5k time under the 30 minute mark for some time now and was disappointed to just miss out at the baseline run, clocking 30:02. She wasn’t disappointed this weekend, however, as she managed to achieve her ambition comfortably by crossing the line in 29:37, for a 1.39% improvement.
In terms of improvement, Jane Percival was not far behind Ines. She managed a 1.38% improvement, from 27:42 to 27:19. Steve Newing also improved, by 10 seconds, to 19:48, while Helen Cook and Nick Joseph were the last of the Harriers to improve on their earlier times, trimming 5 seconds and 4 seconds, respectively, from their earlier runs.
Gareth Tucker, Vince Ellerby, Andy Wells, Ed Roberts (running with coach Elrond as his dad Jon was feeling under the weather), Ange Cottrill, Kitty Cole, Kim Morgan and Andy Watt clearly found the humid conditions not to their liking as they all narrowly missed out on improving their times from 8 weeks ago. All, however, performed well enough to finish within 40 seconds of their first attempt.
Next week, stay tuned for some terrible puns on some other arbitrarily chosen film series. Suffice it to say the whole club is grateful, as ever, to the coaches who force us into the Mines of Moria to get fit. We look forward to seeing what Admiral Edbar (it’s a trap!), Ange Solo and Robert Fett have in store for us in the next training block.