Every year Gade Valley Harriers put on a Learn to Run course for non-runners, with the intent of getting them to be able to run 5km after just ten weeks. This year’s course was completed a couple of weeks ago and culminated in a 5k loop around the local area where they were met with warm applause from some more established club runners and the determination was clear to see as the group of ladies pushed themselves beyond their limits to achieve their ultimate goal.
Most of the graduates joined in with an organised 5k event for the first time on Saturday when they took part in the Rickmansworth ParkRun which traverses the paths of the beautiful Aquadrome. They were watched by a large turnout of Harriers who were keen to support their new recruits, after completing the route themselves.
Imogen Hudson was the first former Learn to Runner to cross the line in the drizzly overcast conditions, in an impressive time of 28:39, bit as much of a great time that was, it doesn’t take anything away from the rest of the graduates who have all worked so hard and have shown so much commitment to train throughout all of the different weather conditions that this summer has thrown at them, from extremely hot and humid evenings to cool, wet and windy nights, even arranging extra-curricular runs between themselves to boost their new found love for the sport of running.
Shortly after Hudson were Susannah Harker (31:46) and Jody Whitehill (33:55).
Jenny Plastow was another of the new club mates completing her second ParkRun in recent weeks, and she managed to improve her time by nearly a minute, completing the course in 34:12, just seconds ahead of Helen Harker (34:38). Nicole Tucker was also completing her second ParkRun, nearly four years after her inaugural one. She managed to take almost fifteen minutes off that time, clocking in at 35:04.
Sara Muncke (41:08), Caron Williams (44:23), Jackie Leach (44:32) and Angela Hunt (52:31) all completed their ParkRun debuts.
Another new club member to impress was Isobel Wilson who was taking part in her second ParkRun after participating in the Cassiobury Park event the preceding weekend. She managed to beat her time by three seconds, and finished as first Female Vet 65+ in a very impressive time of 25:32.
Junior Harrier Harry Rumble also picked up a personal best time (PB) with a time of 29:07.
In other action on a very wet Saturday was Rob Humphreys who embarked on the Lakeland 50 and had to endure 3100 metres of accent around the stunning Lake District on slippy terrain, making the descents less than ideal. Starting just before midday on Saturday, Humphreys was hoping to complete the gruelling 50 mile challenge before midnight but knew that the only way to survive the mountain climate would be to walk the uphills and make up time on the downhills. Despite taking a tumble early on in the event, he said he was still feeling fresh at the 30 mile checkpoint and passed a lot of runners to move up the field on the next stage. Things got tougher as day turned to night and as the temperature dropped so did Humphreys’ heart rate, meaning a need to run up the hills to keep warm as he, understandably, started to suffer some low moments.
But with just 5km to go, the end was in sight, albeit with a tough 300 metres of elevation standing in the way, and by now the dark had settled in making for a lonely home straight until his wife and children met him for an emotional final 2km – a downhill road section.
Humphreys smashed his target time on his first attempt at the 50 mile distance by completing the arduous course in 11 hours and 18 minutes.
On Sunday, it was the Ten Fest at Lee Valley – an event which gave participants a choice of 10km or 10 miles around the footpaths of Lee Valley Park near Waltham Abbey – and six Harriers entered the ten mile event in yet more damp conditions.
Simon Wallis led the team, crossing the line in 1:07:43, ahead of Dave Goodman (1:08:47), who picked up a PB, Steve Newing (1:12:31) and Phil Mercer (1:14:37) who was competing in his second race in 24 hours after collecting a 5k PB at the MK 5000 event the previous afternoon with a time of 20:25.
Holly Beckett (1:32:29) and Mary McCluskey (1:32:40) also picked up PBs.
In international action were newlyweds Hamish and Sian Shaw, who used their honeymoon in France as an opportunity to take part in the Alpe d’Huez triathlon.
Hamish completed the course in a total time of 2:53:10 and Sian followed up in 3:08:48.
Leona Flaherty completed the Down Tow Up Flow Half Marathon along the banks of the River Thames in Oxfordshire in a course PB of 2:10:17.