Midsummer Madness

Midsummer always seems to come a bit earlier than expected. It seems like the summer only started a couple of weeks ago and yet last Wednesday, 21st June, was the Summer Solstice 10k in St Albans. Given that (hopefully) summer should last until somewhere around early – mid September, it isn’t really midsummer at all. More like early summer Wednesday, long day, nice for an evening 10k, if it isn’t too hot, which it was, really.

Something that looks hot. Photo Fairy absent this week.

The Summer Solstice 10k, organised by the St Albans Striders running club starts and finishes in Highfield Park and is essentially an out and back race along the Alban Way, a disused railway track bed, complete with a reasonably intact platform and station. If this sounds vaguely familiar, that’s because it is. It is pretty much identical to the St Albans Easter 10k, on Good Friday each year, and is very similar, but run in the opposite direction, to the Hatfield 5 mile race, this year taking place in late November.

34 Gade Valley Harriers, and no doubt a few rogues whom the Magic Results Fairy was unaware of (the request for information has been on the club Facebook page since Thursday 22nd, no excuses, no edits), turned up in the mad midsummer heat to take on the 10k. Matt Ashby, who bagged a PB at the Easter 10k, clearly doesn’t mind running up and down the Alban Way. He finished first for GVH and lowered his PB again, ducking under 35 minutes for 10k for the first time. His finish time of 34:54 was good enough for 6th overall position.

This turned up when I searched Unsplash for “Personal Best”

Michael Linden and Jon Roberts were next home for the Harriers, with Jon achieving the highest age graded score for GVH on the day. Gareth Tucker finished next, banking a new 10k PB of 38:42, just under a minute ahead of Stu Gallagher who was the last of the GVH runners to complete the course in under 40 minutes.

Steve Newing, Sam Richards and Gwyn Pritchard all put in strong performances in the heat before the man previously known as Roland Kendall but choosing to now be known as Roland O’Kendall, perhaps channelling some previously known Irish bandit ancestry, scored a new PB, bettering 45 minutes for the first time in a 10k, finishing in 44:47. Roly was just 2 seconds ahead of Merlin Allan at the finish, but with an identical chip time.

A statue that looks like how I imagined Roland to look during the race

Daniel Green, Robert Bowler, Andrew Bishop, Gary Kingsley and Darren Burke finished next for the Harriers before Mel Hardy became the first GVH female finisher, in a superb 47:04. She was just ahead of Paul Williams and Naomi Carey, whose time of 47:59 was good enough for a new PB. 

Kim Morgan was the last Harrier to finish in under 50 minutes, ducking just under that mark in 49:57. Kim’s age category had somehow got confused, taking some years off her age. She was then pleased to see that, after informing the organisers of their mistake, that she was listed as having finished first in her age category, commenting, “They have changed it for me! Looks like I was first in my category.” Unfortunately, after a quick visual check, it was clear that the update to the age category wasn’t entirely effective as she actually finished 15th, in response to that news she said, “I was surprised (as it is 5 minutes slower than my PB)”. A great run in the heat nonetheless.

Don’t worry Andy and Helen (Cook)

Susie Ivin, Sam Raffety, Kitty Cole and Molly Rice finished in close order, separated by less than two minutes, all finishing under 55 minutes. Chrissie Mooney, Angeline Cottrill, Helen Terry,, Andrew Terry, Mary McCluskey and Isabel Wilson made up the cohort of runners to complete the course in under an hour with Mary expressing satisfaction that she had beaten the hour (and comfortably beaten the sunset, the advertised purpose of the race), and the heat.

Sam Sparks was the last (known to the Results Fairy) GVH runner to achieve a PB. A little birdie, or maybe it was a fairy, tells me that Sam could run a lot quicker but banked a PB anyway by virtue of never having previously run a 10k race. She finished just outside the hour mark, in 1:00:43. Holly Beckett, Gemma Cardy, Anita Fenoughty and Ines Trent all performed well in the heat to complete the Harriers team.

Unsplash photos are hi-res and royalty free

With the stifling heat and humidity it was not a day for mass PBs, as has happened on the Alban Way in the past, but there were still some superb performances (and a few PBs to celebrate) and there was also the barbecue to enjoy at the finish. No doubt large numbers of GVH runners will be back in Highfield Park (several times) next year.

So I won’t be landing us in court again

Jono Marval didn’t take part in the Summer Solstice race but he did take on something called the Hampshire Hoppit Trail Marathon last Sunday, June 18th. He wrote his own story, saying, “whilst I missed the ‘main event’ of the summer solstice, I did busy myself doing the Hampshire Hoppit trail marathon on Sunday. I’m having trouble getting the Strava link on here but here’s a snapshot for proof.” We believe you Jono. According to his Strava feed he finished the course in around 4:15:00, which is an extremely respectable time, especially for what I assume to have been a trail marathon given its name.

Not really flying, but a real photo of a GVH runner!

There wasn’t a great deal of racing over the weekend of 24th and 25th June, probably because so many people took part in the Solstice 10k, but there was still some GVH representation at an unusual event in Sheffield and at the rather more mundane Thame 10k.

In Sheffield, Andrew and Helen Terry took on the “Round Sheffield Run”. This offers the competitors, “A smörgåsbord of bite-sized stages, each raced and timed individually. Walk to recover, relax and regroup with friends between stages, ready for the next one. A time for each stage, and a time overall, received within seconds of finishing. Friendly competition options aplenty! Running solo or as a pair, the choice is yours.” From browsing the results it seems that Andrew and Helen ran as a pair (which as far as I can tell means they ran together, not in a husband and wife, take it turns to look after the kids, relay type affair). Calling themselves, with stunning imagination, the Terry Twosome, they finished a highly commendable 158th out of nearly 3000 teams and individuals to finish the course.

Not much running going on, but at least it is an actual photo

On Sunday morning in Thame 5 GVH runners took on the Thame 10k. Even though the race started as early as 9:00AM (take note St Albans Half Marathon!) the heat was already fierce  with just a light breeze and minimal shade to offer any relief. Lisa Newing was the first of the five to finish running as she realised early on that her recent injuries and the heat were going to get the better of her and wisely pulled out before the halfway point.

Mikey Ferris, making a rare racing appearance, was the first of the men to finish. He clocked 39:33 and finished 24th overall. James Birnie was next, finishing 33rd (40:32) followed by Stu Gallagher who was 42nd in 41:55 and Steve Newing in 45th place just 17 seconds further back. The course was very flat and straight, running for the second half almost entirely on a disused railway track bed, but the heat and lack of shade on the day made it extremely difficult for all the competitors. So for all 4 GVH men to finish in the top 50 out of 655 finishers has to count as something of an achievement.

Full Results from Summer Solstice 10k

Pos Time Cat Pos Gender pos Age Grade
6 Matt ASHBY 00:34:54 4 6 75.50% PB
16 Michael LINDEN 00:37:53 3 15 76.30%
19 Jonathan ROBERTS 00:38:02 3 18 78.56%
26 Gareth TUCKER 00:38:42 7 24 74.05% PB
32 Stuart GALLAGHER 00:39:35 9 28 71.84%
43 Stephen NEWING 00:41:17 13 36 67.26%
51 Sam RICHARDS 00:41:55 20 44 62.79%
64 Gwyn PRITCHARD 00:42:56 22 56 64.30%
95 Roland O KENDALL 00:44:47 34 83 65.38% PB
96 Merlin ALLAN 00:44:47 3 84 75.45%
105 Daniel GREEN 00:45:34 33 91 58.35%
109 Robert BOWLER 00:45:43 5 95 71.25%
110 Andrew BISHOP 00:45:41 40 96 61.02%
112 Gary KINGSLEY 00:46:00 34 98 58.42%
115 Darren BURKE 00:46:02 42 101 62.86%
129 Mel HARDY 00:47:04 9 20 62.82%
131 Paul WILLIAMS 00:47:06 19 110 64.84%
156 Naomi CAREY 00:47:59 6 26 67.32% PB
198 Kim MORGAN 00:49:57 15 41 62.99%
233 Susie IVIN 00:52:19 20 56 60.16%
251 Samantha RAFFETY 00:53:13 22 66 56.90%
257 Kitty COLE 00:53:24 23 68 56.20%
292 Molly RICE 00:54:58 28 85 53.38%
330 Christeena MOONEY 00:56:58 33 105 55.98%
340 Angeline COTTRILL 00:57:40 35 110 56.43%
358 Helen TERRY 00:58:42 39 124 52.43%
359 Andrew TERRY 00:58:41 85 235 47.33%
371 Mary MCCLUSKEY 00:59:08 42 135 50.26%
374 Isabel WILSON 00:59:18 3 138 70.35%
392 Sam SPARKS 01:00:43 46 152 50.24% PB
401 Holly BECKETT 01:01:23 51 161 49.40%
402 Gemma CARDY 01:01:22 52 162 49.14%
420 Anita FENOUGHTY 01:03:02 16 173 57.09%
442 Ines TRENT 01:04:53 65 192 46.57%

Photo Credits

Photo by Kent Pilcher on Unsplash

Photo by Brandon Nelson on Unsplash

Photo by Tim Wilson on Unsplash

Photo by Afif Ramdhasuma on Unsplash

Photo by Jakub Skafiriak on Unsplash