Pigs Fly before Bandits Relent

The GVH annual summer handicap series got underway belatedly on Thursday May 25th. The scheduled April race was cancelled because part of the route was flooded and the decision was taken not to reschedule that race so the handicap series has been reduced to only 4 rounds, making each round all the more important.

As usual there was a degree of horse trading, and some accusations of horse stealing, over the assigned handicaps. Mary McCluskey fell into the category of “honour” when she asked for a less generous handicap than that originally assigned. She thought her handicap of 3 minutes was too generous and was duly upped to 7½ minutes. This meant she finished 19th overall, instead of 1st by over a minute. No domestic pressure was applied on Mary to approach Helen for a handicap reassessment although (I heard) it was pointed out that “with that handicap you’ll win by miles!”

Far too honest

The person who did finish first, though not with an outrageous bandit rating, was club President Andy Newing. Andy has been recapturing his joy for running in recent months and has been sighted more and more frequently on club evenings and at Parkruns so nobody could begrudge him the honour of a first placed finish. It should be noted that applying the same bandit ratings as 2022 sees Andy earn “only” 4 bandit masks out of 5. Andy commented afterwards that, “the Bandit Police might be after me after tonight but my estimate was submitted in good faith”. Bandit police sirens have not sounded in Andy’s vicinity as far as can be established.

Look – no bandit mask!

Other than Andy, 6 competitors “earned” 4 bandit masks on the day. Kitty Cole should really be ashamed of herself (or she is amazing at sandbagging between September and April) as she is cited for horse rustling for a record 5th straight handicap race to earn the “biggest repeat offender” accolade. Matt Watt should probably consider him lucky, or extremely adept at pulling wool over eyes, as he achieved a 4 star bandit rating on a fairly severe expected time of 27:30.

A more likely sight than Kitty underperforming her handicap

Naomi Carey finished 7th with a rating of 4 masks and recorded the fastest run by any of the Harrier women on the night. Club captain Kim Morgan recorded the second fastest run, 31:42 but only earned the lowest, 1 mask, rating as she underperformed her handicap by 12 seconds.

Way, way too honest

Further back in the finishing order Matt Ashby recorded the quickest time of the day in 23:18 but could only finish 18th having underperformed his (well calculated) handicap by 3 seconds. Michael Linden was the only other athlete to dip under 25 minutes, finishing in 24:57, just outside his expected time.

Decent race to the tape

As always the handicap races are well anticipated and well received and the club is always grateful to Helen Terry for the effort she puts in. It should be noted that there were far fewer obvious bandits than previous years in the first handicap race. Outside of the rogues gallery forming the first 7 finishers, who “only” earned 4 masks, there were no 5 mask culprits and no 3 mask ratings. 10 Finishers bagged two bandit masks by outperforming their expected finish time by up to 4% while the remaining 9 competitors picked up the minimum one mask by finishing in a slower time than their handicap indicated.

The past two weekends have been quiet for races (but a large contingent of Harriers is expected to be at the St Albans Half Marathon this coming Saturday) which meant that notable recent performances on the weekend of 3rd / 4th June were restricted to the various Parkruns.

A large cohort of GVH athletes gathered at Rickmansworth Parkrun to help Ines Trent celebrate her landmark 50th Parkrun. Ines celebrated in style, posting a new PB for the Rickmansworth course, finishing in 32:24. Amanda Barker (24:07) and Merlin Allan (21:36) also managed their fastest times at Rickmansworth, with Merlin finishing 1st in his age category. Amanda was the first female GVH finisher while Nick Crowther was first home for the men, in 4th overall position.

Nice to see the club colours on show

A slightly smaller group of Gade Valley runners took part in Gadebridge Parkrun. Jon Roberts (2nd overall), James Birnie (5th) and Bill Hawes (13th) all finished first in their respective age categories, while Jono Marval, Patrick Carey and Neil Harper all put in strong performances. Jon Roberts’ performance was further notable as he lowered the GVH record for V50 Gadebridge Parkrun, held by Bill Hawes since August 2019, by 4 seconds, to 19:41 on his first ever outing around the Gadebridge course. Immediately after the race, when asked by Bill “how did you get on”, Jon’s response was “sorry mate”.

Finally, on holiday in Norfolk, Matt Ashby and his partner Jenny Stubberfield, took on the beautiful 5k of Sheringham Parkrun. Jenny, who needs to update her Parkrun profile if she cares about the results fairy finding her results, finished in 58th overall position, in 28:15 and described Matt’s performance succinctly with her summary: “GVH on tour in Norfolk! (Matt came first, of course [some emoji])” It was hard to see on my computer, but it looked like a rolling eyes emoji. Matt always enjoys enthusiastic and loyal support from his mother.

You can get your mum or Martin to say something nice if you want to hear it!

Full Handicap Results

Watch Time Handicap Actual Time Expected Time Performance Rating
1 Andy Newing 00:42:35 00:00:00 0:42:35 00:46:00 7.43% 4 masks
2 Kitty 00:43:35 00:09:30 0:34:05 00:36:30 6.62% 4 masks
3 Kirstie 00:43:53 00:09:00 0:34:53 00:37:00 5.72% 4 masks
4 Helen C 00:44:13 00:09:30 0:34:43 00:36:30 4.89% 4 masks
5 Matt Watt 00:44:14 00:18:30 0:25:44 00:27:30 6.42% 4 masks
6 Angeline 00:44:19 00:08:30 0:35:49 00:37:30 4.49% 4 masks
7 Naomi 00:44:37 00:14:15 0:30:22 00:31:45 4.36% 4 masks
8 Dan Green 00:44:53 00:16:15 0:28:38 00:29:45 3.75% 2 masks
9 Patrick 00:45:09 00:15:15 0:29:54 00:30:45 2.76% 2 masks
10 Gary 00:45:24 00:16:30 0:28:54 00:29:30 2.03% 2 masks
11 Isobel 00:45:27 00:07:30 0:37:57 00:38:30 1.43% 2 masks
12 Charlie Cadogan 00:45:33 00:16:00 0:29:33 00:30:00 1.50% 2 masks
13 Skip 00:45:35 00:16:15 0:29:20 00:29:45 1.40% 2 masks
14 Andy Wells 00:45:39 00:19:45 0:25:54 00:26:15 1.33% 2 masks
15 Merlin 00:45:49 00:16:30 0:29:19 00:29:30 0.62% 2 masks
16 Jono 00:45:52 00:16:00 0:29:52 00:30:00 0.44% 2 masks
17 Steve Newing 00:45:58 00:18:30 0:27:28 00:27:30 0.12% 2 masks
18 Matt Ashby 00:46:03 00:22:45 0:23:18 00:23:15 -0.22% 1 masks
19 Mary 00:46:06 00:07:30 0:38:36 00:38:30 -0.26% 1 masks
20 Kim 00:46:12 00:14:30 0:31:42 00:31:30 -0.63% 1 masks
21 Mike Linden 00:46:12 00:21:15 0:24:57 00:24:45 -0.81% 1 masks
22 Jon Robert 00:46:16 00:21:15 0:25:01 00:24:45 -1.08% 1 masks
23 Andy Bishop 00:46:22 00:16:30 0:29:52 00:29:30 -1.24% 1 masks
24 Gwyn 00:46:43 00:19:00 0:27:43 00:27:00 -2.65% 1 masks
25 Rob Bowler 00:46:58 00:16:00 0:30:58 00:30:00 -3.22% 1 masks
26 Andy Watt 00:47:18 00:16:30 0:30:48 00:29:30 -4.41% 1 masks