Michael Smashes Manchester

On the weekend of 2nd and 3rd April the Spring Marathon season got underway as there were more age group records broken and half marathon action for a handful of GVH runners.

Saturday morning saw an unusually low number (for no obvious reason) of Gade Valley runners taking on the local Parkruns. Vince and Lewis Ellerby took on Black Park while Andy Cook, Helen Cook and Paul Reilly made up the whole team at Rickmansworth. 6 Harriers took on Cassiobury Park with standout performances by Anthony Willcox and Sue Crowther, and around a dozen athletes took on various of the other 5k runs.

The most outstanding performance of Saturday’s parkruns came closest to home where 5 GVH runners tackled the local Gadebridge Parkrun. They were led home by Jono Marval who set a new PB, finishing in 21:05 in 6th overall position. The real fireworks, however, were from Merlin Allan. Robert Bowler had broken two club records last weekend at Gadebridge Parkrun, scooping the V60 records for Gadebridge Parkrun and Parkrun (any location). Merlin not only bettered Robert’s time but took over a minute off them as he set a new mark of 22:03. 2022 looks set to be a battle between Merlin and Robert to claim the club’s V60 records, 5 of which still remain unclaimed as the category was only recently inaugurated.

Merlin running. Just not this week. And not in a Parkrun.

On Sunday 3 Harriers took part in the Manchester Marathon, 3 took part in the London Landmarks Half Marathon and Dave Goodman ran a race, the Reading Half Marathon. He said, “I took part in the 40th Reading Half Marathon. A challenging course but one of my favourite events. It’s always well organised with a great atmosphere and you finish inside the Madejski stadium. I completed the course in 01:29:40.” As any regular runner will confirm, a time of under 90n minutes for a half marathon is extremely respectable and demonstrates just what is possible if you allow yourself more than 2 weeks to recover from your last marathon.

Please provide medal selfies. It makes writing this stuff easier.

The London Landmarks Half Marathon returned to its normal Spring slot in the calendar after not taking place at all in 2020 and being pushed into August in 2021. This is a hugely popular race that takes in more landmarks than the iconic London Marathon, but without the absurdly difficult entry conditions that restrict most runners’ ability to enter the more famous race.

Christeena Mooney, Molly Rice and Ines Trent all enjoyed their tour of Central London, starting on Pall Mall, near Nelson’s Column, and finishing on Whitehall near Downing Street. The race passed close to the London Eye, Somerset House, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Bank of England, Monument, various famous skyscrapers including the Shard, the Tower of London and Tower Bridge while never straying too far from the River Thames.

Honestly, nobody provided photos. I was desperate…

Ines Trent, having never taken on a half marathon before 2020 seems to have taken something of a liking to the distance. She ran strongly again to record a time of 2:44:47, finishing ahead of around 20% of the field. Chrissie Mooney also ran strongly, finishing the race in 2:11:08, in the top 35% of all female finishers. Molly Rice recorded the fastest time of the GVH team, finishing the race just under the two hour mark. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, problems with the timing system were still unresolved so there was no official time for Molly and she could neither confirm nor deny if she recorded a new PB, she said “I think my pb is 1:58 so not quite! Very annoying that it didn’t record!”

Celebrating under a statue of a bloke who has probably been cancelled

Residents of Manchester, and some runners, could be forgiven for thinking that the Manchester Marathon had only just taken place and wondering why the city centre appeared to be closed again for the same reason. This is because the Manchester Marathon has only recently taken place, less than 6 months ago, and this Sunday was returning to its accustomed early April slot in the calendar. While there was something of a crowd of GVH runners in Manchester last October, the race on April 3rd was only graced by Michael Linden, Gwyn Pritchard and Trevor Normoyle.

The official photo had copyright notices so I cropped it to the hat

The day started very cold, prompting Michael Linden to start the race wearing gloves and a woolly hat. He said “At the start, it was cold hence the hat and gloves, which were discarded.”, very quickly though, as the early morning frost was overpowered by warm sunshine, according to Michael, “It turned into a glorious day.  Perfect conditions.”

The hat was gone but not the copyright notice, cropped again

The conditions certainly seemed to Gwyn’s liking as he recorded a new PB of 3:25:33, he reacted with restrained modesty to his achievement, saying “I had a PB 3:25:33”. Trevor Normoyle put in yet another strong marathon performance, finishing the race in a highly respectable 3:38:20. 

A pair of legs from the Manchester Marathon

Michael Linden, voted GVH’s current GVH male athlete of the year, put in the strongest performance of the weekend. Having come close to breaking the 3 hour barrier for the marathon at the Manchester Marathon last autumn he was determined to finish the race the faster side of that mark. His training and recent results suggested he should be strong enough to achieve the ambition but marathons can be a capricious mate. It was therefore with a mixture of great pride and relief that he managed to finish the 26.1 miles in an official time of 2:59:30. Typically he downplayed the achievement, saying, “Pleased that’s done. I can run marathons a bit more carefree now, maybe!”

Michael with his school friend and his sub 3 in his back pocket