Marathon Training, Marathon Prep, Marathons and Ultra Marathons

As ever the running weekend kicked off at 9:00AM on Saturday as about 20 Gade Valley Harriers took on various Parkruns around the country. Vince Ellerby made his weekly trip to Black Park (finishing 14th), 7 Harriers made the trip to Rickmansworth, most of them running the 12 miles or so from Hemel Hempstead as part of marathon training and several other GVH runners appeared in various other parkruns. Merlin Allan put in probably the performance of the day as he finished 14th overall at the rather wonderfully named “Tetbury Goods Shed Parkrun”, comfortably 1st in his age category.

Also on Saturday was the “Hundred Hills 50km” ultra marathon. It is unclear where the “Hundred Hills” are exactly on the course and it has been pointed out that if the course does indeed contain 100 hills, then each could only be 500m in duration, including the ascent and descent. The official site of the race failed to enlighten further, saying, “The Hundred Hills 50km is a beautiful 50km trail ultra through the heart of the Chiltern countryside. The race consists of two different 25km loops. It starts and finishes at 850 year old Stonor Park, providing a truly stunning backdrop to the event.” Perhaps the “hundred” is a reference to Centurion, the race organiser?

Whatever the reason for the name, GVH legend Teresa Reason wasn’t bothered. She ran strongly throughout the 50k race picking up places steadily to give a text book demonstration on how to run an ultra marathon. She was 47th overall at the first checkpoint, after about an hour, before moving up to 44th and 43rd in the next two, shorter, sections. By the 4th checkpoint she was in the top 40 before advancing further to 38th at the final checkpoint and finishing in 35th overall position. She was the 8th female finisher and she won her age group category. At the end she expressed her happiness, saying, “Lots of rain, mud, puddles and a few hills [though NOT 100 I’d guess]. Loved the course! Definitely one to try again in drier conditions.”

Again? No puns on her surname this time??

Jono Marval joined Teresa in the “beautiful Chiltern Countryside” (see above) and was a little more succinct in his assessment of the course and the conditions, merely commenting, “Tough squidgefest!” However tough and squidgy it was, he still performed admirably. He perhaps started a little too strongly, as he was in 70th overall position at the first checkpoint, only to fall back to 101st at the second timing point. After that though, he scythed through the field to finish in 59th overall position, 12th in the very competitive M50 category.

No photos of Jono on his own

On Sunday Priscilla Pathak took on the Rome Marathon. Priscilla is an experienced marathon runner and wasn’t at all worried by the conditions in Rome as the weather was fine but not too warm. The only problem in Rome seemed to be presented by the choice of road surfacing as Priscilla explained, “The time wasn’t great but proud to have endured the cobblestones, ouchh!” She completed the distance in just over 5 hours and then, judging by her social media posts, enjoyed a very nice break in the Eternal City for a few days.

Nice way to avoid marshalling! 🙂

Also on Sunday, Michael Linden continued his preparation for April’s London Marathon by taking on the Kingston 20 mile race. 20 mile races are never easy but the Kingston 20 at least appears to be a slightly more scenic route than that of the Hillingdon 20, the annual 4 lap purgatory endured by many preparing for Spring marathons. Kingston is a two lap affair, starting and finishing in Kingston itself and following a route around Bushey Park and Hampton Court Palace sticking largely to the banks of the Thames. Michael said afterwards, “Went too fast at times and paid for it in the last few miles. Decent outcome still, 2 min PB.” His PB time of 2:16:29 was good enough for him to finish 32nd overall out of 349 runners.

NOT such an enjoyable way to avoid marshalling

Most of the GVH membership spent their Sunday morning and early afternoon marshalling or otherwise helping with the Gade Valley Harriers Marathon Training Run. The second of two events held for runners preparing for marathons, the event is not a race, but is on a marshalled route with water stops and tea and cakes at the end. The events form the major part of GVH’s annual income, the surplus is donated to local charities and the club enjoys regular public acclaim for the organisation.

If Miyagi can catch a fly in chopsticks, I can get a runner in a plastic cup!

Local runner Jim King, who lives in Hemel Hempstead but competes for St Albans Striders, enjoyed the 20 mile route and said later, “Brilliantly organised, fantastic marathon training run as ever by GVH. Radio Dylan Wendleken kept me company most of the way round! Followed up with a lovely breakfast with Stephen Hosty.” Thank you, Jim, for the kind words, we look forward to hosting you in future.

Thanks Jim!