Ultra Madness for Harriers

The weekend of 18th and 19th June was fairly quiet but a number of Harriers took part in the weekly Parkruns. Jono Marval continued his excellent recent form, being the first Harrier to finish at Gadebridge Parkrun, while Anthony Fogden managed a new personal best, of 25:46 for the hilly 5k. Kim Morgan was the only female Harrier at Gadebridge.

Eight Harriers made the short trip to Watford to run Cassiobury Parkrun. Antony Beamish was the first to finish, crossing the line in exactly 20 minutes, with Andy Cook next home just under two minutes later. Sue Crowther was the first of 5 Harrier women to finish, followed by Helen Cook, Karis Thomas, Jo Kidd and Caron Williams.

Continuing the Harriers burgeoning reputation as a destination for Ultra runners (and perhaps ultra cyclists) was the order of the weekend outside of Parkruns. On Saturday, Phil Robbins led a group of runners on one of his trademark epic runs across London, Guy Woollett and Jon Roberts started the Arts and Science 600k Audax (which lasted into Sunday) and Sam Sparks and Martin Pike took part in the Lea Valley Ultra.

Why is a pretzel the symbol of Staffordshire?

First up, starting just after 7:00AM were Guy and Jon. According to Dictionary.com an Audax is “…a type of long-distance road cycling event in which participants must navigate a route within a specified period of time.” You learn something new every day. They started near King’s Cross Station before heading west through central London and then northwest through Wembley before following a route to the west of Birmingham and the Black Country as far north as Telford in Shropshire.

Look at me, I can do a selfie while riding my bike!

Guy and Jon then turned to the east to head approximately 150km due east before turning south about 40km northwest of Peterborough. They passed to the west of Peterborough before going through Huntingdon, Cambridge and Hertford before returning to Central London via Barnet. The whole adventure took just under 35 hours, so effectively all weekend. It made me tired just typing the last two paragraphs so I can’t imagine how Guy and Jon felt. Normally I’d make up a quote at this point but I think I respect the achievement too much to do that on this occasion.

Too much respect to make up a quote for this map.

Starting slightly later than Guy and Jon, Sam Sparks, who was on the panel at the GVH ultra running symposium last week, and Martin Pike took on the Lea Valley Ultra 50k, from 8:00AM on Saturday. According to its own website, the Lea Valley Ultra “…starts from Welwyn Garden City and takes you all the way to Hackney Wick. Following the scenic Cole Green Way and Lea Valley path from Hertfordshire to London.” Martin finished in 35th overall position, 30th male and 14th in his age category, in 4:48:15 while Sam did even better, finishing 12th female and 6th in her age category in 5:42:39.

Only 50k? What were you thinking?

Later still on Saturday morning, kicking off at the positively lazy start time of just after 9:00AM Phil Robbins led a group of 4 on one of his personally designed RIBIT runs. RIBIT stands for “Run it because it is there” and is a club founded by Phil who loves to take on challenging runs in unusual locations, always exceeding marathon distance (26.2 miles, 42.2k) in length. Over the past 7 or so years, Phil has led groups on themed runs around landmarks in London, long countryside routes celebrating parts of local history and several times following the whole route of one of the London Underground lines. 

There’s only one club in Hemel!

This Saturday the route was the Piccadilly Line. Phil led a group of 4, including GVH runners Phil Mercer and Nick Crowther as well as Dacorum AC’s Kate Rennie. They started at Cockfosters Station, the north easter terminus of the Piccadilly Line and followed the route through central London, along the river through Hammersmith and Turnham Green before following the North Western branch to finish at Uxbridge. Pendants may point out (and I’m definitely one of those, so I will) that this wasn’t the entirety of the Piccadilly Line and may wonder why the group didn’t then proceed south to Heathrow before following that branch back into the fork at Acton Town. Maybe consider the WHOLE line next time Phil?

Phil shows that high brow humour is beyond nobody