A weekend of epic sport that saw the Wimbledon Men’s Final and the Cricket World Cup Final both go to extra-time also saw some mammoth performances from members of our humble little running club (and I’m not taking about the Prosecco crew at the PubRun). Well done everyone that got out this weekend, when most of us were preoccupied on the canal…
This weekend saw only a small number of Gade Valley Harriers in race action, but there was no shortage of miles completed as long endurance events were generally preferred to shorter race distances, with four athletes managing to complete over 370 miles of competitive action between them, including an ironman triathlon.
One hundred of those miles were completed by one man, who as well as taking on the physical challenge of running a century of hilly miles along rough trails and loose paths, also had to deal with the mentally-demoralising repetitiveness of completing ten laps, of ten miles. Chris Dowling started the Wendover Woods 100 on Friday morning along with forty-four other like-minded long-distance runners for the one-off event which included 20,000 feet of ascent and descent, in almost perfect weather conditions for the time of year. Dowling ensured he put mind over matter from the start and reached the first split in just over an hour, in an impressive 14th place. As the competitors had to deal with five particularly energy sapping climbs and quad busting descents on each lap in addition to various undulations throughout, Dowling knew that the only way to complete the arduous course would be to walk the downhill sections in the early laps and then evaluate his condition as day turned into night.
Despite some lows throughout the night, Dowling was determined not to give up and battled around the final few laps to be one of only twenty participants to complete the energy-sapping course, crossing the line after an incredible 26 hours 15 minutes and eight seconds, in a superb eighth place.
Also, in ultra action were Teresa Reason and Anita Berwick who competed in the Race to the Stones on Saturday. The 100km event along part of the ancient Ridgeway starts in Oxfordshire and ends in Avebury – a Neolithic monument in Wiltshire which contains three stone circles – taking in views of stunning chalk ridges and Roman river crossings, as runners endure over 4000 feet of elevation.
Both athletes chose to complete the gruelling challenge in one day, despite there being a two-day option, making the feat even more impressive, and Reason was the first of the duo to reach the Stones, and fourth Female Vet 40+ (FV40) in 11:59:27. Berwick finished in 18:22:00.
Susie Ivin completed her 31st marathon on Saturday, in the Piece of Cake Marathon, a low-key 26.2 mile race though the Shropshire Hills. Starting in Carding Mill Valley near the beautiful town of Church Stretton, the route encapsulates everything the England Wales border region has to offer; panoramic views, rolling hills and miles of unspoilt countryside. Ivin crossed the line in 5:56:15.
Not content with just running a marathon Craig Hardiman took part in the Bolton Ironman triathlon on Sunday. His epic challenge started with a 2.4 mile lake swim in the Pennington Flash on a relatively cool morning. He exited the lake after one hour, 21 minutes and 20 seconds and saddled up on his bike to ride through 112 miles of hilly, breathtaking Lancashire countryside, in 7:29:59.
The ultimate endurance multi-sport event climaxed with a marathon-distance run which Hardiman completed in 4:25:36 to complete a total time of 13:30:59, including transitions.
Closer to home, a small handful of Harriers took part in Sunday’s Spire Bushey 10k, which winds its way around the leafy Hertfordshire town’s local roads. Al Flowers was first club member to complete the undulating course, and eighth overall, recording a time of 38:04. Phil Mercer finished in 43:45 – despite competing in and picking up a personal best (PB) at the Olympic Park Chase The Sun 5k on Wednesday evening with a time of 20:32. Sian Shaw (45:36) finished ahead of Trevor Normoyle (45:52) and Tracey Cotton (47:19) who was first FV40 whil picking up a course PB. Helen Heathcote crossed the line in 1:03:30.
David Goodman completed the Adidas City Run Shoreditch 10k in 41:21.
On Saturday Ross Deacon celebrated his birthday with a ParkRun PB, completing the two-lap 5k Rickmansworth course in 19:13. Gemma Tucker used the same location to record her milestone 100th ParkRun, with a time of 28:50.